STOP TAYSOM HILL
In 2013, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill gashed the Longhorn defense for 259 rushing yards and cost former Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz his job.
The Texas front seven from that game remains largely intact, but now it has a proven defensive coordinator in Vance Bedford. Senior defensive end Cedric Reed showed last Saturday that he can fight off double-teams and chase down running backs, but he will need an extra dose of discipline to contain the quarterback keeper.
Against North Texas, Bedford had no problem sliding senior cornerback Quandre Diggs to nickel for run support, and the senior’s most important role Saturday may be slowing down the run rather than stopping the pass.
If the Longhorns let Hill run on them, the junior will be able to hide his biggest weakness — throwing the ball. He completed just 53.9 percent of his passes last season and was a mere nine-for-26 against the Longhorns.
RUN THE BALL
This was going to be important regardless of who was under center for the Longhorns. BYU will try to run the ball and control the clock like it did last year, and a successful Texas ground attack can prevent that from happening.
Now that Tyrone Swoopes has been announced as the starting quarterback, the running game is exponentially more important.
Based off last year’s performances, Swoopes does not look ready to lead Texas to victory on his own. The sophomore looked skittish at times and threw some frighteningly inaccurate balls.
The tandem of junior Johnathan Gray and senior Malcolm Brown needs a big game in order to ease the pressure on Swoopes, give the offense the opportunity to run play-action and prevent BYU from blitzing the house to rush the young quarterback into mistakes.
CONTROL THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE
Texas’ defense dominated the line of scrimmage last week, despite facing an offensive line that was supposed to be the strength of the Mean Green offense.
BYU’s spread-option attack makes that achievement much harder to replicate, as an overly aggressive defensive line will open up running lanes for Hill. But if the Longhorns cannot get into the backfield, the Cougars will happily let junior running back Jamaal Williams carry the load.
The real battle for the line of scrimmage will take place when Texas is on offense. If the Longhorn offensive line cannot get a push, it is almost impossible to envision Texas winning.
David Ash’s absence places the burden on an offensive line that just lost three potential starters in Dominic Espinosa, Kennedy Estelle, and Desmond Harrison, to pave the way for Gray and Brown and take the focus away from Swoopes.
Texas’ pass blocking was solid, but not phenomenal, against UNT. If the offensive line cannot help Swoopes out, BYU could easily upset Texas for the second straight year.