Failure to Finish Drives Dooms BYU

The Brigham Young Cougars could have put the game away in the first half, maybe even the first quarter. BYU scored on its first two drives, but it was just two field goals. The Cougar defense was dominating, but the offense could not finish drives with touchdowns. In the end, that doomed BYU to a 17-16 loss to the Texas Longhorns.

Early on, the BYU coaches prepared a good game plan. The BYU players were making big plays. After forcing a Texas punt after three plays, Jake Heaps connected with Ross Apo twice for a total of 34 yards to help move BYU down to the Texas 13-yard line. That is when the drive stalled. Justin Sorensen kicked his first of three field goals.

The BYU defense forced a second punt by Texas. McKay Jacobson returned the punt 25-yards to the Texas 37. This time the offense reached the 16-yard line before Sorensen trotted onto the field.

At 6-0, all Texas needed was one big play to not just get back into the game, but to be ahead.

On the next Texas drive, BYU was still the team making big plays. Daniel Sorensen intercepted a Longhorn pass after Corby Eason and he both tipped it.

The BYU offense couldn’t do anything with the ball. BYU punted and pinned Texas on the 3-yard line. That is when the Texas offense came to life.

True freshman running back Malcolm Brown ran for 13 yards. Texas substituted David Ash at quarterback to run the option.

Quickly, Texas had moved the ball to mid-field. Garrett Gilbert returned to the game at quarterback for Texas. He promptly threw his second interception. Travis Uale picked off an ill-advised throw by Gilbert at the BYU 3-yard line.

Heaps guided BYU on its best drive of the night. He completed 6 of his 8 passes on the drive for 81 yards. On nearly every play, the intended receiver was wide open. That was especially true on the six-yard touchdown pass to Ross Apo that completed the 97-yard drive. BYU was in complete control leading 13-0.

Changing quarterbacks didn't change the results for Texas on offense. With Case McCoy and Ash rotating at quarterback, the BYU defense still forced a punt without allowing a single first down.

The game started to change, however, when Heaps and his intended receiver miscommunicated and Texas received a gift interception. That put Texas in scoring territory. A field goal with 1:44 left in the second quarter made it 13-3.

After allowing BYU to gain over 150 yards offensively in the first 29 minutes, the Texas defense limited BYU to 91 yards the rest of the game. That allowed the Longhorn offense to score two touchdowns while the BYU defense reacted to all the new formations and schemes that it hadn't prepared to defend.

The defense eventually did adjust, but the Cougar offense could not adjust to the increased intensity of the Longhorn defense. BYU had two chances to retake the lead. BYU didn't even get a first down.

Texas sealed the win with a trick play to convert a 3rd and 8. After that, they could run out the clock.

Things to watch for:
  1. BYU Front 7. They were playing a great game. Too great, otherwise, Gilbert would have played the rest of the game, and no way does he get Texas more than 10 points. They struggled with the option, but started to make stops at the end of the game when it mattered the most.
  2. Secondary coverage. The Cougar secondary played well. They intercepted two passes.
  3. Reynolds watch. From my observations, Matt Reynolds turned in another good game. I hope the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Awawrds voters have been watching.
  4. BYU receivers versus man coverage. This was the problem in the second half that led to BYU losing the game. Heaps couldn't find receivers open downfield..
  5. Hostile environment. The crowd was big, it was pro-Texas, but it was not a factor early in the game while BYU was dominating.
NEXT: Utah
DATE: September 17, 2011
TIME: 7:15 PM (Mountain Time)

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  1. That's it. The whole second half was played too conservative by the offense. They started playing to "not lose" again. Doman said that he was going to bring the killer instinct but he hasn't yet. Hopefully, he can find his killer instincts and be aggressive and then instill it in his players. The whole offense needs to let loose and play to win.


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