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Don't call it revenge: Texas D out to stop BYU QB Taysom Hill

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The scene is Provo last year was as surreal for Horns fans as Hill said on Wednesday that it was for him.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

BYU Cougars junior quarterback Taysom Hill expects to face a "revenge attitude" and "intensity" when he comes to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday night for a rematch with the Texas Longhorns almost exactly one year after he ran for 259 yards and three touchdowns against the Horns.

But Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford doesn't see it as a revenge game for the Horns.

"I got to go back to when I played," he said. "When you go to The University of Texas, every game is a championship game. Revenge, being amped up - I'm not into all of that. You come to The University of Texas for a reason -- because you want to be the best and you want to play the best. If you need motivation to go out there and get fired up, you shouldn't be here."

"You're here for a reason and you want to be in position to play for championships one day. You want to be in a position to say you want to be All-Conference one day. You want to be here to have the opportunity to go to the league one day. Otherwise don't come to The University of Texas. If you got to be amped because of something that happened in the past, something is wrong with you."

Besides currently holding the title of defensive coordinator at Texas, Bedford can talk like that because he remembers what it was like to play for the Horns.

"I'll go back to years ago when I played here," he said. "We walked on the field and we were supposed to win because we were The University of Texas and that's why we came here. So I didn't need a paper clip or read an article that 'Joe Blow' said that they are going to run through us, that didn't phase me. When you came out there and I had that Horn on my helmet, the rest of it didn't matter. I looked at you and I was going to knock your block off and life goes on. This is The University of Texas and you the other people. It's just that simple. That was the mindset back in the day."

The desire to exert that type of physicality on that opponent was missing for Texas last season, as the 550 total rushing yards by BYU that day resulted in large part from that deficiency, poor angles, poor discipline, and overall poor execution.

Looking back on it, Hill described the experience on Wednesday as "surreal." For four quarters, the BYU quarterback said that he was "in the zone."

It's certainly hard to argue with that going back and watching the video of Hill romp 68 yards for his first touchdown run.

After the game, a weary and defeated Manny Diaz essentially threw up his hands, saying that there was a plan for how to stop the option runs of BYU, but that the players simply didn't execute.

On Monday, head coach Charlie Strong talked about what happened.

"The BYU game was critical -- it was outside the defense," he said. "It was a lot of perimeter plays with the secondary and sometimes with the linebacker. They saw it. It's something that they have heard about and that everyone talked about how -- they lost the quarterback last year against this defense. Like I say a lot of it has to do with responsibility on our part, where we weren't doing our job and we can eliminate those mistakes. If we just can eliminate those mental errors then you have a chance to go stop them."

Many defenses opt to combat the basic zone read by having a defensive end crash the play and then scraping a linebacker behind them to take the outside runner. Since North Texas didn't run any read option against Texas last weekend, it's hard to say if Strong will choose to combat it in a similar way.

The Horns could instead choose to keep the defensive end or read player wide on the play and force the running back -- or the quarterback in the case of the inverted veer -- pushed into the heart of the defense where there are more blockers, but there are also more players with a chance to make a play.

Part of the consideration has to be the size of Hill, who is listed at 6'2 and 232 pounds, much larger than any members of the Texas secondary who will see the field on Saturday.

In fact, Bedford compared to him to quarterback who used to give defenses more than a problems during his days at Florida.

"He reminds me a lot of a quarterback that won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Florida. He's 235 pounds. He is a strong guy. He is like a fullback when he gets the ball in his hands. He has a little Tim Tebow. He can run around and make plays. He's faster that what you think he is. He throws well on the run. Third down and short, he becomes a fullback. You see a quarterback power and a quarterback lead. He's a handful. If we can't contain him, it's going to be hard to win that ballgame. He's the key to their team."

So there will probably be more than a few called inside runs for Hill against Texas, but the Horns might be well-advised to attempt to keep him inside the defense.

At the least, the force player on the option has to be there, whether it's a linebacker scrape exchanging to leverage Hill or a safety coming up in run support.

And while the secondary looked much more physical last week agains the Mean Green, especially senior safety Mykkele Thompson, the aforementioned point about the size difference between Hill and the secondary means that better discipline and execution for the Horns may not always result in a tackle close to the line of scrimmage.

But Hill also hurt the Horns inside, as on this 3rd and 10 touchdown run.

Of course, stopping Hill isn't the only mandate for the Texas defense, as there are other threats on the BYU offense.

"He is just one of many guys that we have to stop," said Bedford. "If you focus on just a guy, those other guys will beat you. Do we have to stop him and control him? We need to control him so he doesn't go for 259 yards again that's number one."

Last week, Hill was in fine form running the football against UConn with 97 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including this twisting effort through the Huskies.

However, he also threw for over 300 yards for the third time in his career and has some weapons to complement his skills in the fast-paced Cougar attack.

"The other guys, they have some guys that can go. Their receivers are big, physical. They are matchup problems, 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 against 5-foot-11 corners, jump balls make you nervous. They have a running back, he's a 10.5 [seconds] 100 meter guy. If he gets a crease, he can take it the distance. We have to stop their entire team. It's going to take a team to win this Saturday at 6:30."

The Horns failed spectacularly last season in the task of playing as a team defensively. Unless they manage to do so on Saturday, Hill may well find himself in the zone again.