Jamaal Williams, Sophomore RB
While the Texas defense showed more improvement stopping the run than the pass against New Mexico State, the Longorns will need to be increasingly on their heels this Saturday against BYU. The Cougars’ rushing game is led by sophomore back Jamaal Williams., who was a workhorse in BYU’s season-opening loss to Virginia last weekend, totaling 144 yards on 33 carries. Last season, Williams rushed for 775 yards and an impressive 12 touchdowns, showcasing his ability to lower his shoulders and power his way into the end zone. While Williams won’t kill the Longhorns with his speed, he has shown the power to break tackles and keep moving after first contact. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season and appears ready to improve that number this season. Texas seems to have figured out how to properly tackle ball carriers, something that may prove difficult if it isn’t weary of Williams.
Uani Unga, Junior LB
Despite a loss last weekend, the BYU defense showed that it has a lot of big athletes. Uani Unga is one of them. Unga tallied 10 tackles in the loss to Virginia, which is a little more than one-third more than he had all of last season. Unga is a stout 233 pounds and can get into the backfield with speed alone. The Texas offensive line looked to be in perfectly working order against New Mexico State but Unga will look to test the tackles on the edge. David Ash was forced into two interceptions last weekend and if Unga does what he is capable of doing, Ash could very well turn the ball over a few more times against BYU.
Kyle Van Noy, Junior LB
While Unga represents the athleticism that the Cougars’ defense possesses, Kyle Van Noy represents the strength. Van Noy led the Cougars last season with 13 sacks while also recording 52 total tackles and two interceptions. He also showcased a bit of versatility by returning eight punts for BYU last season. Van Noy is a strong and quick linebacker who is always around the football no matter where he is on the field. Van Noy is an experienced member of the BYU defense and brings a level of tenacity that the Longhorns will need to be aware of. If Texas wants to keep Ash on his feet and the ball out of BYU’s hands, containing Van Noy should be their top priority.