AUSTIN, Texas — You could have lined up every BYU player on the way to the bus outside Darrell K. Royal Memorial Texas Stadium Saturday and they'd have sung the same tune.
It was as if they'd memorized one answer to all questions about every aspect of the 17-16 loss to No. 24 Texas.
Play calls? Need to execute.
Cougar breakdowns on critical Texas drives? Need to execute.
An offense that struggles to score touchdowns? Need to execute.
It was a talking parrot convention.
"It was failure to execute at critical times," said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
"We didn't execute like we're capable," said quarterback Jake Heaps.
"It was just not doing small things that cost us execution," said senior offensive tackle Matt Reynolds.
"We didn't execute," said Spencer Hadley.
"If we executed like we are capable, we would have won," said safety Travis Uale.
All together now, how do you spell execute? E-X-E-C-U-T-E.
For the second week in a row, on the road in different time zones, BYU's offense squandered field position, time of possession and opponent turnovers and traded touchdowns for field goals.
For the second week in a row, BYU's defense, for the majority of a game, looked like it could sniff out and smother a 100-acre brush fire. And the offense, again, scored just one touchdown.
This time, against the Longhorns, it cost BYU a win.
This is a perfect case where a defense could really get aggravated with their buddies on offense. If you haul so much freight, you'd expect a payoff from the offense. As in touchdowns.
"We're not going to point fingers at anybody," said Uale, who joined BYU's other safety Daniel Sorensen with an interception in the first half when Texas tried to test the Cougar secondary deep.
"We stand behind our offense. We support them."
Well, yeah. You guys do support them.
Question is, when are all those high-powered guys who got the majority of preseason hype in fall camp going to deliver and support the defense in the custom they've deserved? That's the biggest question for Mendenhall as his squad returned to Provo early this morning to prepare for the home opener against Utah.
For three quarters of BYU's loss to Texas, the Cougar defense dominated the Longhorns. Even BYU's offense marched up and down the field like a week ago for two quarters.
"We're not going to say we did all the work," said Uale.
"We just need to execute," said Heaps.
"We have all the talent we need," said Reynolds. "We just need to work harder and become better. And execute."
Mendenhall said BYU's offense can improve this week with a lot of hard work and better execution so, in critical times, plays are made. He put that same onus on his defense.
Heaps, who completed 22 of 38 yards for 192 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, needed one or two drives to end up with touchdowns in the first half and the Cougars certainly would have defeated Texas.
It didn't happen.
"It hurts, it's tough. It's tough knowing we should have walked out of here with a win," said Heaps.
In the first half, Heaps attacked a lot of spots in the Texas secondary. With a 13-3 halftime lead, however, he never really attacked those same spots in the second half.
In the first half, he hit Ross Apo twice, once for a touchdown. He didn't complete a pass to the lanky Texan at all in the second half. Same with tight end Austin Holt, who had two catches in the first half and none the second. Wideout McKay Jacobsen had two catches in the first half, just one in the second.
Heaps did not challenge Texas' safeties in the second half, choosing to go for short passes in the flat. Texas quickly ran those down and stopped many for short gains.
Meanwhile, BYU's defense managed a dramatic fourth down stand inside the Cougar 15 but started to wear down as Texas got mean and dirty with power plays and passes with a rotation of three different quarterbacks.
Heaps and Company did manage an impressive 12-play 97-yard drive in the second quarter and had everyone believing that threw out a statement to the Longhorns that they were going to just take over the game.
But it wasn't their field, their home, or their momentum to keep.
Texas outscored BYU 14-3 to win this game as the Cougar offense hibernated the last two quarters.
Credit Texas for stopping BYU's run game and chasing down short, harmless passes the second half.
"We weren't that far off," said Reynolds. "It wasn't the same guy every play, we had a missed block here, a missed assignment there and it was enough to cost us. We do have a very good team. Texas has a very good team, but we are very good as well."
Well, perhaps. If they execute.
If it was any consolation in a loss, as the Cougars walked off the field, a middle-aged, distinguished looking Texas fan yelled down from the rail in the stands, "You belong in the Big 12."
Well, somebody has to execute that.
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