It's an embarrassment to this program. It's an embarrassment to this university, and I knew it, and I didn't do anything about it. And I take responsibility for this loss. —Texas coach Charlie Strong
AUSTIN, Texas — For two quarters at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, BYU’s offense moved the ball up and down the field. But the Cougars committed too many miscues, stalled in the red zone, and squandered scoring opportunities.
In the third quarter, BYU made a few adjustments, and quarterback Taysom Hill simply took over.
Hill rushed for three touchdowns in that period as part of a 28-point blitzkrieg that buried Texas. In the end, the Cougars trounced the Longhorns, 41-7, Saturday night before a crowd of 93,463.
“Honestly, I felt the vibes from the team that it was just a matter of time,” Hill said of his team’s offensive explosion. “A lot of that was that our defense was playing so well that gave us great field position and it allowed us offensively (to have) momentum and their defense was on their heels.”
The Cougar offense burned the boys in burnt orange, and hooked ‘em again.
"It's an embarrassment," said first-year Texas coach Charlie Strong. "It's an embarrassment to this program. It's an embarrassment to this university, and I knew it, and I didn't do anything about it. And I take responsibility for this loss."
No, Hill didn’t rush for 259 yards like he did in a 40-21 romp over Texas (1-1) last year in Provo, but the Longhorn defense couldn’t stop him. Hill ran for 99 yards and he completed 18 of 27 passes for 181 yards. As a team, BYU rushed for 248 yards and accumulated 429 yards of total offense.
The Cougars (2-0) took the second half kickoff and promptly rolled to the Texas 30-yard line before Hill ran up the middle, dodging defenders, then hurdled Longhorn defensive back Dylan Haines inside the 10-yard line and glided into the end zone for BYU’s first touchdown.
“Taysom Hill is a phenomenal player,” said coach Bronco Mendenhall. “He made a lot of great decisions, but there are just some sheer athleticism things that aren’t coachable. He is just more poised than he was a year ago. He’s better at leadership and the game is slowing down for him.”
Hill’s first TD gave BYU a 13-0 advantage, but his heroics were just beginning.
Mendenhall credited offensive coordinator Robert Anae for making some halftime adjustments. In the season-opening win at Connecticut a week ago, the Cougar offense stagnated in the third quarter.
The coaching staff made a plan to ensure it didn’t happen again.
“Significant changes. I won’t share what we did. But from the minute we came in at halftime, we did things we hadn’t done before,” Mendenhall said. “When we came out at halftime we did things we’d never done before. We spent this week targeting those things. It hasn’t been a strength of ours. We knew we need to address it. Whether it translated directly to our third-quarter play, I can’t say. But we did target it and we did some unique things.”
Running back Adam Hine added two rushing touchdowns in the second half.
BYU’s defense limited Texas to 258 yards of total offense against a short-handed Longhorn team missing a handful of starters, including its starting quarterback, center and two tackles, due to injuries or suspensions.
On its first possession, the BYU offense drove down to the Texas 30-yard line before a couple of errant snaps by freshman Tejan Koroma, and an illegal formation penalty, killed that drive.
“We didn’t see it coming,” Mendenhall said of the bad snaps. “Maybe it was just nerves and jitters. It was uncharacteristic, but after the second series, we got it fixed.”
The Cougars’ ensuing drive featured a 65-yard touchdown run by Hill, but that was negated by a holding call on wide receiver Jordan Leslie — some 20 yards behind the ball.
“I guess I grabbed his jersey,” Leslie said.
BYU still drove to the Longhorn 3 but had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Trevor Samson to put the Cougars up 3-0 in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, BYU cornerback Robertson Daniel recovered Texas fumbles on successive defensive plays, but the Cougars could only score three points, on a 29-yard field goal by Samson to make it 6-0.
Near the end of the half, BYU marched down the field on a drive that started on its own 8-yard line, as Hill completed five passes, including a 14-yarder to Terenn Houk. But on first-and-10 at the 24, Hill's pass in the back of the end zone intended for Houk was intercepted by Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs with 1:44 left in the half.
But it was a different story in the third quarter.
BYU hosts Houston on Thursday (7 p.m. MDT, ESPN) in its home opener.