AUSTIN, Texas — The BYU defense prepared for a variety of gadgets and formations leading into Saturday's 17-16 loss to Texas. In the end, it was good, old-fashioned smash-mouth football, with just a slight wrinkle that did it in.
The Longhorn offensive brain trust decided to scrap the variety of spread formations that only produced three points and 88 yards during the first half. They decided to come at the Cougar defense without much pretense in the and ran away with the game in the second half.
Texas presented a 28/9 run/pass ratio, opposed to the 15/11 ratio they employed in the first half of play. The emphasis on the run worked, as the Longhorns gained 120 yards, worked the clock, came back and secured a win.
"They had some good athletes that they brought in and threw at us some different runs," said linebacker Spencer Hadley. "I didn't feel that we adjusted well to what they threw at us."
After an anemic 2-for-6 effort by starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert, Texas coaches pulled him in favor of a rotation between sophomore Case McCoy and true freshman David Ash.
And the Longhorn coaches changed their offensive approach as well.
They took it right at the heart of a Cougar front seven that was dominant last week against Ole Miss and in the first half against Texas. They used a zone-read rushing attack that took the Cougars a little off-guard.
"I think it reflects coaching emphasis," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
"Not a lot of preparation time was spent on practicing against the zone read because we did not think they would use it in such volume."
The Cougars weren't any better at the point of attack on the offensive side of the football. Armed with four returning starters on the offensive line and their three primary ball-carriers from a year ago, the ground game only produced 58 yards — a 1.9-yard per carry average.
It's an offensive line that has a lot of pride and that pride took a hit.
"I thought their D-line played great. My hat is off to their entire team," said offensive lineman Matt Reynolds. "I think that we started out really well, and we got to the point where we just got stuck and couldn't get over the hump. We had someone miss on this play and a guy miss on that play and it was never just one specific thing over and over. It was small things across the board and we can't let that happen."
Some Positives: Being able to get out to an early lead with a chance to win at the end isn't an easy task on the road against Texas. While the team was bitterly disappointed, the Cougars will take some positives away from Austin.
One of the positives was the special teams play, which saw a lot of improvement from last week. Kicker Justin Sorensen connected on all three field goal attempts while the punt and kick coverage was able to pin Texas deep in their own territory on several occasions.
There was one gaffe — a 40-yard return by Texas' Marquise Goodwin — but overall the team was happy with the improvements made.
The BYU secondary also held the passing game in check, defending against the long ball well in consecutive weeks. Overall, the defense did well in holding Texas to just 17 points at home.
"Coaches were very pleased with how we played the deep ball," said safety Travis Uale. "You can play dominant defense, it's the little things that matter. Those perimeter plays that sort of got out of hand, that got them good positioning and got them to move the ball."