PROVO — In its convincing, and stunning, 40-21 victory over Texas Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium, BYU put together what coach Bronco Mendenhall called “a complete team effort.”
The offense racked up 679 yards, including a school-record 550 rushing yards; the physical Cougar defense punished the Longhorns and limited them to just three touchdowns; and the special teams contributed four field goals.
“It was a great win for our program,” Mendenhall said. “We played hard; we played physical; we played tough; and we executed well. We controlled the game on the ground and we put relentless pressure on their quarterback and kicked the ball well. That led to the kind of game you saw. It was really gratifying to have a team effort the way it was.”
Question is, after a sterling performance like that, do the Cougars really want a bye week?
BYU has this Saturday off, and can prepare for archrival Utah, which visits Provo on Sept. 21.
As the old adage goes, the greatest improvement for a team comes between Week 1 and Week 2 — and the Cougars took that adage to an astounding level.
BYU’s "go-fast, go-hard" offense, which struggled mightily against Virginia to open the season, exploded against Texas by relying on a smash-mouth style ground attack that Texas couldn’t stop.
The Longhorns’ defensive performance was so bad that coach Mack Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz on Sunday, according to Orangebloods.com.
For Texas, the 550 yards it surrendered on the ground to BYU was the most allowed in program history.
Meanwhile, Texas fell from No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25 to out of the rankings after the loss at BYU.
Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill ran for 259 yards by himself — the most by an FBS quarterback in the last 10 years, and just eight yards shy of former Texas QB Vince Young in 2005. Hill also ran for three touchdowns.
One of those long TDs was a 68-yarder that tied the school record he set last year against Hawaii for the longest run by a quarterback.
“I was able to break a couple of tackles and have some good runs,” Hill said. “All it comes down to is, we were taking what the defense was giving us. When we have the options we have off our run game, it’s tough to stop. You saw that.”
Jamaal Williams rushed for 182 yards and Paul Lasike gained 87 and added a touchdown.
In the latest national statistics, Williams is No. 2 in the country in rushing, followed by Hill at No. 5.
Williams suffered an unspecified back injury against the Longhorns, but both Williams and Mendenhall said Saturday night that Williams is “fine.” The sophomore running back sent a message on Twitter Sunday that read, “I will be ready for the Utah game.”
Now, the Cougars will be looking to build on that win over Texas. Of course, the defense was thrilled to see its effort matched by the offense.
“Our competitive advantage is how hard we’ll play,” said BYU cornerback Skye PoVey, who recorded a career-high nine tackles against Texas. “Some teams have speed or strength. We have those things as well, but I think something that makes us good is we play hard. You now see that on both sides of the ball. We play hard on offense and on defense. It’s fun to watch Taysom run the ball as hard as we’re trying to play defense, and watch the (offensive) line block. We’re just trying to practice hard and play hard.”
The Cougars are looking forward to hosting Utah. BYU has lost three consecutive games to the Utes. And after this year’s showdown, the two teams won’t play again until 2016.
Senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy has suffered through all three of those losses to Utah, and he certainly doesn’t want to go 0-4 against the Utes in his career.
Van Noy said Saturday night that the Sept. 21 meeting against Utah is BYU’s “Super Bowl.”
For now, though, the Cougars are savoring Saturday’s big triumph.
“It’s been the best one so far,” Van Noy said. “We still have a long season left.”