The strength of each team is its defense. Linebackers Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho led the way as Texas limited a Rice Owls offense that returned nine starters to nine points and 224 total yards. BYU humbled Ole Miss and their belief that they could run on anybody with their elite offensive line.
Offensively for Texas, a trick play and a big special teams play led to 14 of their 34 points last week. It is going to take more than one good game by Garrett Gilbert to make everyone believe that he has turned the corner. It is hard to know what to make of the Longhorns run game. True freshman Malcom Brown was the number one high school running back last year. He had a modest 86 yards on 16 carries against the Owls. It wasn’t exactly an Adrian Peterson debut, but it was better than Trent Richardson did last week. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin returned to the team on Tuesday. He was expected to redshirt this season as he focused on track and field. It will be interesting to see how his unexpected return impacts the team.
The BYU offense moved the ball well enough against Ole Miss, but had trouble finishing drives. The Cougars had moments where they still looked young.
The X factor in the game could be the wild fires burning outside of Austin. They may reduce the size of the crowd and/or the passion and enthusiasm of the crowd. If the crowd is already somewhat neutralized by the fires, that will play into BYU's favor.
Things to watch for:
- BYU Front 7. If BYU is going to win, these boys need to have another superb game. They need to pressure the quarterback and stuff the run. Texas only returns two starting linemen from last year. Texas’ roster is full of great athletes who outmatch BYU across the board, except in this matchup.
- Secondary coverage. The Cougar secondary looked susceptible at times last week. They will be tested much more this week. Texas has fast, elite wide receivers. The Longhorns have no tight end presence, so Gilbert will be looking for his guys on the outside. The front seven won’t get pressure on Gilbert every play. The secondary needs to make sure they aren’t giving up big plays every time the Texas quarterback has time to throw.
- Reynolds watch. Matt Reynolds played a great game last week playing one-on-one with Kentrell Lockett. This week will be a lot tougher. Whether Alex Okafor or Jackson Jeffcoat line up across from Reynolds, he will be tested every play. These are both quality ends who will play in the NFL. Another good game, and Reynolds will have to be a front runner for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award.
- BYU receivers versus man coverage. This presented some problems at Ole Miss. The BYU receivers have to get open, even against press man-to-man coverage. Ross Apo and Cody Hoffman have a huge height advantage on Texas’ corners. If there is a weakness to the Texas defense it is the cornerbacks. BYU has to be able to exploit it.
- Hostile environment. This could be the largest crowd BYU has ever played in front of. Not only that, Texans are passionate about football. They will be loud. They will be rowdy. BYU can’t let the crowd be a factor.
TIME: 5:00 PM (Mountain Time)
TV: ESPN2, ESPN3.com
RADIO: KSL 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, http://www.ksl.com/
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