BYU looked great going into halftime, up 13-0, but Texas made some great halftime adjustments and outscored the Cougars 17-3 in the second half to win the game. BYU led the game until 8:34 remained in the fourth quarter and they had opportunities to win, but they simply came up short at the end.
It doesn’t make it any less painful, but I did pick Texas to win this game (23-17). BYU had great chances, and even had the lead until 8:34 remained in the 4th quarter. BYU’s offense ran out of gas somewhere around halftime, and the defense wasn’t able to come up with a magic touchdown like last week against Ole Miss.
So, what went right/wrong for the Cougars? Let’s revisit our keys to the game:
Domanation. Brandon Doman did a much better job with pace this game. There were times when the offense went no-huddle, to keep the defense on its heels, and when the Cougars did huddle, they tended to get plays in and be on the ball more quickly than last week. Play calling was very conservative, including a 3rd and 9 draw play that left many fans wondering if Robert Anae had snuck a play in.
Jake Heaps. Heaps did seem to throw a more accurate ball this week – at least I don’t remember there being quite as many that were too far in front of or behind the receivers. He ended up being 22/38 for 192 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT’s. That’s an average of 5.1 yards per throw. Heaps did spread the ball around again, hitting 11 different receivers, but the top two, Holt and Apo, only had 41 and 40 receiving yards, respectively. He was too quick to use his check-down receiver, especially in the second half. Highlight of the day was a 97 yard touchdown drive in the second quarter that put the Cougars up 13-0.
The Rush Attack. The rushing game was abysmal. The Cougars only managed 43 yards on 23 attempts…an average of 1.9 yards per attempt. Heaps lost nine, but that doesn’t help the picture very much. The rushing leader was DiLuigi who posted 39 yards on 14 carries. Quezada was second with 5 carries for 7 yards. Yeah. 7. The lack of a run game really hurt the play action – as it’s supposed to be the run that the defense bites on to allow you to make the throw to an open receiver. No run game made for a long day and too many passing attempts for Heaps.
Special Teams. You want a bright spot? Here it is. Justin Sorenson was 3/3 on field goals, all of which were right around the 30 yard line. That is a good bit of consistency at short-to-mid range that he hasn’t shown in the past. I wish he’d had the opportunity to go for the game winner, but the offense simply couldn’t get anywhere on their final three drives, netting 6, 7, and -6 yards, all deep in their own territory.
Bronco D. The defense had an amazing start to the game, shutting out the Longhorns through nearly two quarters. The Texas drives in the first half ended like this: punt, punt, interception, interception, punt, punt, field goal. The yards per drive: 6, -3, 5, 47, -1, 0, 19. Texas figured out a few things at halftime, and their next three drives averaged more than 50 yards each, and resulted in two touchdowns. A big part of the second half difference was that Texas did not play their starting QB, Garrett Gilbert, as he had been too kind to the Cougars, going 2/8 for 8 yards and 2 INT’s. In all, BYU gave up 123 passing yards and 166 rushing yards, with most of those coming in the second half.
What we know about Texas (2-0)
It is hard to tell a lot about a team early in the season. Mack Brown’s team certainly didn’t look like Texas in the first half, but they made enough plays to win it in the second. We will have a better picture of the Longhorns when they go on the road to UCLA next week, looking to avenge their big loss that came from the Bruins last year.
What we know about BYU (1-1)
The defense had a great first half, and the offense had a good first half. Both played a mediocre to poor second half, which is a concern. If Texas is back, maybe both teams really are “that good,” but I think this game left us with more questions than answers regarding just how good the Cougars are right now. Two long road-trips on consecutive weeks against BCS teams don’t make an easy start to the season, but it won’t get any easier next week, as the Cougars head home to face Utah. The Utes are coming off a close loss of their own, having lost 17-14 at USC, and both teams will be looking for a big win over their rival in week 3 to set the tone for the rest of the season.