Texas vs. BYU: Will David Ash or Kyle Van Noy Have a Bigger Game?
Thanks to a generally lackluster slate of non-conference games, the Big 12's sole marquee matchup in Week 2 is Texas' trip to BYU.
(It gets better. I promise.)
It could be a good one, though. The Longhorns have shown the ability to score points in a hurry—albeit against New Mexico State and when not turning the ball over—and BYU's defense has already proved its mettle despite the fact the Cougars lost their season opener to Virginia.
To put it another way, it was hardly the defense's fault that BYU lost 19-16 in terrible playing conditions.
In that vein, the matchup to watch Saturday is between Texas quarterback David Ash and BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Interestingly enough, Ash saw his first real considerable playing time two years ago as a freshman at home against the Cougars when Garrett Gilbert got benched.
It's hard not to mention Van Noy without looking back at his one-man show against San Diego State in last year's Poinsettia Bowl in which he had [/deep breath] nine tackles, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one interception, one blocked punt, two defensive scores and a partridge in a pear tree.
Van Noy was disruptive against Virginia in Week 1 as well, recording another 2.5 TFL and a pass breakup. As Mack Brown said during his press conference this week, "He's one of those guys that once you start watching film, you have to know where he is on every play. You have to have a plan for him because he's that good."
Texas will have to keep its eyes on Van Noy, who will, in turn, have his eyes on forcing Ash into bad decisions. The junior quarterback threw two early picks in Week 1 against New Mexico State, but ended up with a statistically good game (343 yards passing and five total touchdowns).
Ash has been hot and cold throughout his career, so the edge here goes to Van Noy—unless UT can find a way to slow him down and/or remove him from the play. The hard part is Van Noy has such a persistence in his play that he almost always seems to be around the action.
Tackles-for-loss and sacks are Van Noy's specialty, as he led BYU in both of those categories a year ago. If Texas' offensive line, which is a veteran group, can't keep him from penetrating the backfield, it's going to be a long day for Ash.
The Longhorns have, strangely, been better on the road in recent years than they have been at home, but Ash's efficiency hasn't been as heavily influenced based on where he's playing. As I noted in our Week 2 predictions, I have Texas winning a close one against the Cougars. Individually, however, I see Van Noy causing more problems.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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