The 2014 contest between Texas and BYU was very, very different from the 2013 contest...well, except for the final score.
While the 2013 edition featured a scrappy Longhorns offense just completely unable to keep pace with a BYU offense that posted obscene numbers, the 2014 edition was all about a Longhorn defense submarined by an inept offense.
35 - 82 (2.3) - 0: Texas total carries - net rushing yards (yards per carry) - rushing TDs
4: total Texas turnovers
A Texas win this weekend was predicated on a strong run game that controlled the ball and didn't turn it over. Failure on both fronts. The run game, hampered by a patchwork offensive line, had nowhere to run and did little with what opportunities were afforded them. Malcolm Brown (14 carries for 28 yards) showed off some uninspired running and Johnathan Gray (14 for 47) still looked like he's not completely back from the Achilles tear.
Tyrone Swoopes contributed 4 carries for 25 yards (excluding sack yardage), and would be a fine hammer inside if complimented with some form of explosive, gamebreaking back. That back is either suspended, or just not on campus. Absent dramatic improvement by the Texas offensive line, or some creativity from Shawn Watson, the 2014 Texas run game will be painful to watch.
The other downfall of the Texas offense was turnovers. John Harris fumbled first fighting for yardage in an otherwise strong night for the senior, Johnathan Gray coughed one up deep in our end of the field that directly led to a field goal, Marcus Johnson fumbled one in kickoff return in a night riddled with questionable returns, and Tyrone Swoopes tossed an interception late, well after his ideal pitch count.
42 - 185 (4.4) - 6: BYU first half plays - yards (yards per play) - points
33: BYU first half starting field position, on their side
With fresh legs, and an offense that hadn't completely imploded yet, the Texas defense held up in the first half. Two early Texas turnovers didn't do in the defense, as the first (the Harris fumble) led to a 9 play 8 yard drive where BYU punted, and the other a 6 play 12 yard drive that resulted in a BYU field goal. Some fortitude from the unit that didn't display such qualities in similar positions last year. BYU was able to sustain drives in 2 of the half's 7 possessions, with an early 8 play 71 yard drive resulting in a FG, and a late 9 play 68 yard drive ending in a Quandre Diggs INT.
25 - 183 (7.3) - 28: BYU first four drives of the second half plays - yards (yards per play) - points
46: BYU starting field position on first four drives of second half, on the Texas side of the field
Either Charlie Strong is the worst halftime motivational speaker ever, or the BYU offense came out with some quality adjustments the Horns were unprepared for, but the opening 9 play 75 yard drive that stuck the first knife in the Horns on the night was methodical and unstoppable. Down 13 - 0, the Horns followed with this:
3 and out by offense, followed by a 5 play 55 yard TD drive by BYU
3 and out by offense, followed by terrible special teams play and a 7 play 29 yard TD drive
Marcus Johnson fumbles the ensuing kickoff, and promptly returns with a 4 play 24 yard TD drive
Ron Burgandy said it best...
Texas could've used Brick on the night.
BYU finished the night with 86 plays for 429 yards (5.0 yards per play total), gaining 4.2 yards per rush and 6.7 yards per pass. A far cry from the 99 - 679 (6.9), 7.6 per rush of a year ago, but equally difficult to stomach.
20 - 31, 176 (5.7), 1-1: Tyrone Swoopes completions - attempts, passing yards (yards per pass), passing TDs-INTs
The common expectation for Tyrone Swoopes headed into this game was he was a better runner than passer, and his passing abilities would ultimately hold him back. However, he was able to show off some impressive arm strength and surprising accuracy on the run. But with the BYU front seven having their way with the Texas OL, the Cougars were able to sit back in a two high safety look and dare Swoopes to take shots.
There's plenty of room for Swoopes to grow as a passer: some of his decision making remains slow and he had a few notable errors reading blitzes pre and post snap, including staring down a slant that led to his only interception. But the baseline for Swoopes is higher than expected, and he performed about as well against a salty BYU defense behind the patchwork Texas OL as experienced David Ash performed behind a mostly starting group against North Texas. Hopefully he continues to progress.
8 - 77 - 1: John Harris receptions - receiving yards - receiving TDs
The other bright spot on offense continues to be remade senior John Harris, who built upon his performance last week with David Ash to set a new career high for receptions and adding a TD under new QB Tyrone Swoopes. While his renaissance seems to be taking place as the Texas offense resets, it's good to see him going out on his own terms. Keep it up, John.
11 - 5 (24) - 3 (22) - 1: Malcom Brown tackles - tackles for loss (yards lost) - sacks (yards lost) - forced fumbles
Not be to lost in the outting, Malcom Brown had a career night, posting career highs in tackles (11), sacks (3), and his first recorded forced fumble. Brown was difficult to block all night long, and made life drastically easier for the Texas LBs (Jordan Hicks finished with 11 tackles and Steve Edmond contributed 10). Enjoy the performances from big Malcom Brown while you can, an NFL paycheck likely waits for him after the season's end.