Players to Watch: Week 2

Peter Sblendorio

Junior QB Taysom Hill

Hill absolutely terrorized the Texas defense last season, rushing for a staggering 259 yards and three touchdowns on just 17 carries while tallying an additional 129 yards through the air. The Longhorns appear focused on shutting Hill down after being embarrassed last year, and they figure to be better prepared this time, with defensive guru Charlie Strong at the helm. That, of course, is easier said than done, as Hill still possesses the big play ability to spurn Texas both on the ground and through the air. He got off to a torrid start this season, passing for 308 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 97 yards and two scores in BYU’s season opener against Connecticut.

Junior RB Jamaal Williams

After missing the season opener because of a suspension, Williams will make his 2014 debut against the Longhorns this week. Williams was a huge part of the BYU rushing attack that spurned Texas last year, rushing for 182 yards on 30 carries. Williams established himself as one of the better running backs in the nation last season, as he rushed for 1,233 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore. The Texas run defense appeared dominant Saturday in limiting North Texas to just 1.8 yards per carry, but the Longhorns face a much tougher task this week in stopping Williams.

Junior WR Mitch Matthews

After serving as the Cougars’ third receiver last season, Matthews steps into a bigger role this season as the feature wide out. The junior emerged as Hill’s top target last week, leading BYU with 5 receptions for 62 yards while hauling in a touchdown. Matthews only recorded one catch for 11 yards against the Longhorns last season, but finished the year with 23 snags for 397 yards and four touchdowns, second most on the team. He’s one of the few experienced receivers on the BYU roster, so expect Hill to target Matthews early and often this week.

Senior LB Alani Fua

With linebacker Kyle Van Noy now playing for the Detroit Lions in the NFL, Fua appears poised to takeover as the leader of the BYU defense. Fua showed considerable versatility in 2013, racking up three sacks and 63 tackles while also recording two interceptions and 10 pass breakups. At 6-foot-5, 234 pounds, Fua certainly possesses ideal size for an outside linebacker. He turned in a quiet game in the opener, picking up just three tackles, but his numbers should be impressive by seasons end. The Cougars once again boast a talented stable of linebackers, and Fua has a chance to be the best of them all.