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Texas suffers humiliating 40-21 loss to BYU

Was the thud in Provo the sound of the Mack Brown era hitting another low point?

George Frey

And now for the aftermath.

A week after the Texas offense set a school record for production, the Texas defense set a school record for futility, giving up 550 rushing yards to BYU in a 40-21 loss, including a record-setting first half that eclipsed previous school lows for rushing yards allowed, including the opening half against Oklahoma last season.

The question is where the Horns go from here. Surely, head coach Mack Brown will be back on Monday. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz probably will be, too, days after his defense utterly and totally collapsed in the thin air of Provo. After the 2007 run for Duane Akina, firing Diaz and installing the defensive backs coach as the defensive coordinator probably isn't an answer.

In fact, there may be no immediate solutions here. The defense is still soft and not coached particularly well, destroying the preseason narrative of improvement, of more toughness, more effort, better tackling. Does a slight regime change alter that or does Texas merely have to wade through what is looking like another disastrous season before assessing the state of the program?

Before DeLoss Dodds asks Mack Brown if he wants to continue coaching and Sally Brown makes the decision again for the Texas head coach.

And make no mistake -- the prognosis for the rest of the season is absolutely abysmal right now, as all the close games and even Ole Miss next week begin to look like surefire losses. The way Texas played on Saturday night against BYU, this team could lose four or five games this season. At least.

In worse news, David Ash left with more than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter after taking yet another big hit, this one after a serious of quarterback keepers. Ash finished the game with 16 rushing attempts and took numerous other hits on dropbacks, many of them from BYU star linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

A relative defensive struggle through the first 10 minutes of the game gave way to a flurry of explosive plays, including the 57-yard touchdown pass from David Ash to Mike Davis and a 68-yard touchdown run from BYU quarterback Taysom Hill on a zone read keeper, exactly the type of play that hurt the Horns last weekend against the Aggies of New Mexico State.

After that, a Joe Bergeron touchdown run early in the second quarter gave way to a litany of missed tackles and massive yards on the ground for the Cougars. How many? The first half came to a merciful conclusion after two more touchdowns from BYU and a late field goal that accounted for the 27-14 margin at halftime with the Cougars having gained 349 rushing yards. HIll himself averaged 13.8 yards per carry, despite completing only 4-of-17 passes for 62 yards. He finished the game with nine completions and 259 rushing yards.

The second half didn't start any better, as BYU inverted their zone read game -- running Hill inside and Williams to the outside. The result? A 26-yard touchdown run for Hill that included three more missed tackles for the Texas defense.

Meanwhile, the Texas offense struggled on the ground early in the game, getting stopped once again on a short-yardage look out of the Wildcat and barely managing to punch the ball in on third down after a Johnathan Gray run got to the goalline, but his next effort was stopped in the backfield.

The pass protection wasn't much better, as Ash was hit on virtually every drop back by BYU defenders and spent much of the first half unsuccessfully scrambling. Forced to mostly abandon the running game, the Cougars teed off defensively, bringing blitzes on almost every play. Even when they didn't, they were consistently able to get pressure rushing only three or four defenders, an absolutely inexcusable performance.

Then there were the penalties, including two personal fouls on redshirt freshman cornerback Bryson Echols, who extended a BYU drive that eventually resulted in a touchdown by roughing the punter, the second time Texas players made contact with the Cougar punter in the first half -- the first was not called. Echols later picked up a second personal foul for hitting punt returner JD Falsev on a ball that went well over the returner's head.

As for the second half, it was mostly an exercise in futility, as the defense wasn't able to make the plays to give the offense a legitimate chance to win the game and the offense couldn't get enough going on the ground to be able to protect Ash or Case McCoy.

It didn't help that Daje Johnson went out of the game on the first drive with an ankle injury and never returned. His return for the Ole Miss game is questionable at this point, but it's probably not a terrible assumption to think that he could be limited over the next several weeks if he's able to play at all.

For a program that has suffered numerous lows over the last three seasons, this performance against BYU ranks among the worst -- this team was supposed to have turned the corner. It's now clear that it has not.

What happens now?