Long time BYU season ticket holder here. Thought I'd share a few thoughts from the game on Saturday. I sit about 4 rows up in the northeast corner of the stadium, so I'm pretty close to the action and energy on the field. Here are a few observations from the game last night.
- Texas Fans - Class act! Walking over to the stadium across campus, that crazy monsoon wind/rain/lightning storm blew in, so we all stood around huddling under the stadium as a big mass of fans. Our end of the stands had the visitor's section, so there were a lot of Burnt Orange shirts in the mix. Great Texas friendliness all around. There was a confidence in almost every conversation with Texas fans that they were going to win, but very cool people - nothing "in your face." They were so confident that I was actually nervous we were going to get blown off the field if our offense from the Virginia game showed up. Once inside the stadium, I was surprised at how few UT fans here were relative to how big a national name UT is - very unlike when teams like Notre Dame have come to BYU to play - they fill their section and then buy up tons of other seats. A descent representation of UT fans by the numbers, but the visitor section wasn't even full. Maybe it was that crazy rain storm. When your team ran onto the field just before kick off with the cheerleaders running with the huge longhorn and TEXAS banners, I turned to my brother in the spirit of the moment and said, "You know, it would be kind of cool to be from Texas." He nodded while staring at the UT team and banners and said, "Yah." A funny side note, the only unruly fan I saw was a drunk guy being dragged past us by two cops while we were all under the stadium waiting out the rain - he had on an Oklahoma hat and shirt and was there harassing UT fans.
- Warm-Ups and Body Language - From my 4th row seats, I sit at the end where the visitors warm up. The BYU fans around me were commenting on the physical specimen of the UT players - they just looked big and athletic - almost intimidating to some degree. Very unlike the Mountain West Conference or WAC teams that traditionally used to roll into Provo. But these UT players even stood out among my memories of other big time schools who come to Provo each year. These were the best athletes in the country, and you could tell by looking at them. However, I noticed they just seemed calm and cool, but almost too calm. There wasn't any fire. One of the UT coaches was barking and getting into it with some lineman trying to fire them up, and there was some jumping around and yelling as a team at midfield for a bit, but they just looked flat emotionally. My pre-game impression was, "Man, these guys are so good, they even act cool, calm, and collected like this is just a simple business trip," and because I wasn't too confident after BYU's showing last week in Virginia, I thought UT was just going to come out and swat us aside all calm, cool, and collected. Then that same lack of fire and energy kept going through the game, and when BYU came out more fired up than I've ever seen them before, UT's energy couldn't match BYU's. I kept waiting for UT to finally wake up and say, "Enough!" and go nuts on us, but it never happened until finally, in the 4th quarter, you could just see UT wilt collectively. Really strange.
- Physicality - The BYU offense played with a physicality that I haven't seen in several years. Post game local radio interviews had players saying stuff like, "After the Virginia game last week, coaches told us that with this new Go fast, Go hard offense, the offense has to play with the same tenacity as the defense - be mean, and be physical. Get nasty!" Not a direct quote, but close. And they were. UT never seemed to get mean and nasty at any point in the game. Watching from 4 rows up, it seemed like UT players kept waiting for their superior athleticism and talent to just break some big plays (there were a few) and then the game would settle down and they'd win. If at any point the UT players had collectively matched the physicality of the BYU players, they could have asserted their will. BYU has first string talent to hang with big time schools, but they don't have 2-deep like UT. It was BYU knocking guys out of the game and asserting their will when UT should have been at least matching that and even surpassing it. That was one of the most hard-hitting games I've seen in LaVell Edwards Stadium - it was very physical. BYU was pissed about Virginia last week after going into the season expecting a special year with the unique talent they have this year. UT never seemed to get pissed. BYU seemed hell-bent on physically beating on UT until they broke, and I never saw anything like that same spirit ever emerge among the UT team. I spent 3 quarters with the BYU fans around me wondering out loud when UT was going to get pissed, too, and start fighting back. We were convinced until the end of the 3rd quarter, we needed an even bigger lead in case UT woke up. Never happened.