Taysom Hill completed an underwhelming 53.9 of his passes last season, but he erupted for 259 rushing yards against the Longhorns. The junior completed 77.8 percent of his passes against UConn last week, suggesting that his passing has improved since last season.
Tyrone Swoopes has the tools of an All-American, but the sophomore has been inconsistent in his brief appearances for the Longhorns, and his 38.5 percent career completion percentage will not suffice against BYU.
Junior Johnathan Gray and senior Malcolm Brown showed they can carry the offense, after rushing for a combined 147 yards in the season opener. The new-look offense’s use of a fullback should create space even if the Cougars plan on loading the box to force Swoopes to pass.
1,000-yard rusher Jamaal Williams returns to the Cougar backfield after a suspension. Cougar running backs still topped 100 rushing yards against Connecticut in the junior’s absence.
Redshirt senior John Harris broke onto the scene by snagging 110 yards and a touchdown against North Texas. Junior Marcus Johnson’s speed should resurrect the deep passing game this week.
The Cougars lost three starters from last year’s group, but the lack of a clear number one wideout means three receivers, including Mitch Mathews, create a balanced attack for BYU.
Last year, BYU’s offensive line paved the way for 150-plus yard rushing performances against Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Talented freshman left tackle Ului Lapuaho allows senior De’Ondre Wesley to move to right tackle, where he is a more natural fit.
The injury to center Dominic Espinosa and suspension of tackles Kennedy Estelle and Desmond Harrison could ruin this unit for the Longhorns. On the bright side, Swoopes should be on the same page with Jake Raulerson, thanks to their time together on the second team.
The Mean Green ran almost all of their outside zone reads away from senior Cedric Reed, but the Longhorn defensive end still fought off double-teams to disrupt the run game, and redshirt sophomore Hassan Ridgeway, a first-time starter, tallied two sacks for Texas.
The BYU group is relatively inexperienced, but a crop of talented freshmen alongside Remington Peck, redshirt junior defensive end, make this one of the Cougars’ deepest position groups.
The Cougars lost top playmaker Kyle Van Noy to the NFL. Nonetheless, the inexperienced group showed its talent by holding UConn to a paltry 2.3 yards per carry in the season opener.
Texas brings back the same trio of linebackers that gave up 550 rushing yards to the Cougars last season, but new defensive coordinator Vance Bedford appears to have already generated drastic improvements from this bunch.
The Longhorn secondary struggled last season, but they turned in a two-interception performance against North Texas, and senior cornerback Quandre Diggs showed he is not afraid to get in the box and stop the run.
Senior safety Craig Bills anchors the BYU secondary. Senior cornerbacks Robertson Daniel and Jordan Johnson also return to a unit that held opponents to 218.9 passing yards per game last year.
The Cougar special teams unit struggled in coverage last year, and senior kicker Trevor Samson, transfer from Fresno City College, missed his only field goal attempt against UConn. Redshirt junior Adam Hine adds explosiveness to the return game, but it’s more a case of Texas’ special teams being worse than BYU’s being better.
A missed field goal, short punts and uninspiring returns defined the Longhorns’ inexperienced special teams performance against UNT. Junior Nick Rose kicked five touchbacks however, and punt coverage only allowed only 3.5 yards per return.