Texas vs. BYU Complete Game Preview

Taylor Gaspar@Taylor_GasparFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2014

Texas vs. BYU Complete Game Preview

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    The Texas Longhorns will look to silence the critics Saturday against a BYU team, which embarrassed Texas last season.

    The Longhorns have heard about how terrible the performance was against BYU for the past year, and the team is fed up with it.

    "I'm still embarrassed about it," senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said of last season's loss to BYU. "I really don't want to talk about it, but that's what I'm here for. It was embarrassing, but it's another game to play on Saturday and I guarantee we'll be ready to go." 

    It's safe to say revenge will be in the eyes of the Texas Longhorns Saturday night.

    But the recent injuries to quarterback David Ash (concussion) and center Dominic Espinosa (ankle) will make that revenge much more difficult to obtain. 

    Can the Longhorns step up to the challenge and prove it can shut down the Cougars' potent offense?

    Let's take a look.

    When: Saturday, Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Where: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas

    TV: Fox Sports 1

    Austin radio: KVET 98.1/1300

    SiriusXM satellite radio: XM 202, Sirius 117, Internet 969, Spanish 550

    Last meeting: Sept. 7, 2013, LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, Utah

    Last meeting outcome: BYU 40, Texas 21

    Tuesday's spread: Texas (-3.5), per VegasInsider.com

Texas Keys to Victory

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    Offense: Run the Ball

    Running backs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray entered the season expecting to carry a lot of the load for the Longhorns offense. But the loss of Ash has made the duo's job even more vital for the offense.

    Nobody can honestly say they know what sophomore Tyrone Swoopes can be at the college level due to his lack of significant game-time experience. And until he sees more playing time, the Longhorns will need to heavily rely on the running backs.

    But opening up holes for the ground game may not be an easy task without veteran center Espinosa, who broke his right ankle against North Texas. The offensive line has to step up its game to allow the running backs to do their jobs.

    Defense: Contain Taysom Hill

    One word perfectly describes the Longhorns defense's performance against BYU last season: Brutal.

    BYU quarterback Taysom Hill had a field day against the defense, rushing for 259 yards and three touchdowns. 

    The defense was so bad that former head coach Mack Brown—who was a master of coach speak—was asked if defensive coordinator Manny Diaz would be coaching the Longhorns the following week, and his response was, "I'd like to watch the video."

    Diaz was fired the following day.

    Hill's performance against Texas was not a fluke. The quarterback finished last season with 1,344 rushing yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

    Last week, Hill rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns, and threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns in the Cougars' 35-10 win over UConn.

    The Longhorns have to find a way to contain Hill in order to stand a chance on Saturday.

BYU Keys to Victory

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    Offense: Taysom Hill

    No explanation really needs to be given for why Taysom Hill is so vital to the Cougars' success. The quarterback's performance against Texas last season was the final nail in Diaz's coffin and was the beginning of the end of Brown's career coaching the Longhorns.

    The 2014 Texas defense is a different group with first-year defensive coordinator Vance Bedford leading the charge. The Longhorns are coming off of a defensive performance, which included shutting out its opponent's offense and not giving up a play longer than eight yards.

    But some critics will continue to question the Longhorns defense until it shows it can stop a running quarterback, something it could not do last season. 

    BYU will need to plan on having a similar game plan to test the Texas defense. And that game plan means a lot of Hill runs.

    Defense: Stop the Run

    One could assume the Longhorns will plan for a heavy ground attack Saturday.

    BYU is coming off of a game in which it held its opponent to 71 rushing yards. But it would be difficult to compare UCONN's running backs to Brown and Gray.

    The Cougars defensive line needs to take advantage of the youth on the Longhorns offensive line and contain the talented running backs.

Texas Players to Watch

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    Cedric Reed

    Defensive end Cedric Reed has a personal score to settle with BYU. When asked about last season's game, Reed said he has had Saturday's game marked on his calendar all offseason. 

    Reed led the Longhorns in tackles against North Texas and will likely come out Saturday to seek revenge of the BYU offense that embarrassed the defense last year.

    Tyrone Swoopes

    Swoopes' first career start will come against a tough opponent. All eyes will be on the quarterback to see what he can do to help the Texas offense without Ash in the mix.

    Nobody should expect Swoopes to carry the offense on his back. But it will be interesting to see if he can manage the game and not turn over the ball.

BYU Players to Watch

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    Taysom Hill

    Can Hill emulate what he did against the Longhorns last season? It's a question many spectators will be asking themselves leading up to Saturday's game.

    The quarterback is coming off of a road win in which he was responsible for 405 of 513 total yards and 30 of 35 total points.

    It will be very interesting to see if Hill can continue to rack up those yards against an allegedly revived Texas defense.

    Jamaal Williams

    Hill deserves a lot of credit for what he did against Texas last season. But he was not the only player to disrupt the Longhorns defense.

    Running back Jamaal Williams rushed for 182 yards against Texas.

    Williams was suspended for the Cougars' first game of the season for violating the school's honor code, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. But he is listed as the starting running back for Saturday's game.

    The junior rushed for 1,244 yards in 12 games last year and will be looking to continue that success this season.

What They're Saying

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    Strong on what he expects from Swoopes

    "There's enough around him. I told him, 'I don't need a great player, I just need you to manage. You have two good running backs behind you. You put that ball in Brown and Gray's hands and let that offensive line come off.'"

    Texas cornerback Duke Thomas on last year's BYU game

    "I definitely have a sour taste in my mouth knowing how that game went. I understand how that looked to everyone else. Everybody on the team knows what we have to do and understands that we have to step up and do our job. We have to stop the quarterback. We won't let that happen again."

    Strong on his thoughts on the team's performance against BYU last season

    "The quarterback (Hill) is an unbelievable player. He's got high run potential written all over him. When you look at that game last year, he had 260 yards. If you get outside on the perimeter of the defense, you're going to have an issue. At one point, I counted 10 outside runs, and 550 yards rushing. When you talk about rushing yards, you don't want to give up more than 100 in a game. That's five games right there that you gave it up in one. You have to be able to contain them and make sure we don't allow the quarterback outside the defense."

    BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall on preparing for a backup quarterback, via BYUCougars.com

    I thought Ash was a really good player. It is the University of Texas and the thought that they may not have a really good backup isn't very smart. We've seen some of his (Swoopes) film from the spring game and some from the bowl game and he's really fast, athletic and big. The game plan might change a hair for them but it's week two, so there are lots of changes.

    BYU defensive end Remington Peck on having Texas' respect after last year, via BYUCougars.com

    I think we have their respect. If we don't, I don't know why we wouldn't. I feel like it's going to be a different game with a different team this year. Last season they came in a little bit cocky and thinking it was going to be an easy game, and it won't be like that this year.

Prediction: Texas Barely Pulls off a Win

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    The quarterback and center are the only two offensive players who touch the ball on every play. Texas has to replace both of those players.

    It's difficult to expect Swoopes to do more than simply hand the football to Brown and Gray. But how the two running backs perform Saturday will be vital to the offense's success.

    The Texas defense will need to step up and keep Hill and the BYU offense out of the end zone, which is something it struggled to do last season.

    But it would be stunning if the defense has the same issues it had against BYU last year. The Longhorns are coming off of a stellar Week 1 performance and have been hearing about last season's game for the past year.

    As Diggs said, he's still embarrassed about it and tired of hearing about how bad the game was. Now is the time for the defense to prove it is not the same unit from 2013. 

    The outcome of this game will be dependent on how well the defense can contain Hill, and if the Longhorns offense can open up the necessary holes to have an effective running game.

    After last week's dominating performance, Texas' defense may have the perfect amount of momentum to seek its revenge against the Cougars.

    Texas 24, BYU 21

    Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

    Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.