NCF Nation: Jamaal Williams

Texas stunned by beatdown from BYU

September, 8, 2013

PROVO, Utah -- BYU ran for more than a quarter mile on Saturday night.

Mack Brown had said he was ready to find out just how far Texas’ run defense has come. The answer he received was startling and painful.

There was no progress to be found in BYU’s 40-21 beatdown of Texas at LaVell Edwards Stadium. With a straightforward game plan and remarkable ease, the Cougars rushed for a school-record 550 yards and stunned a Longhorns team that absolutely didn’t see this coming.

“I’m disappointed more than anything else,” Brown said. “That’s why I want to get home and watch it. I’ll watch it on the plane going home.”

The film Brown will watch might play like a mix tape of Texas’ greatest defensive failures of 2012, most notably because UT’s knack for missing tackles against aggressive offenses returned.

[+] EnlargeTaysom Hill
AP Photo/Rick BowmerBYU quarterback Taysom Hill ran through the Texas defense for 259 yards and three touchdowns.
To focus too heavily on Texas’ defensive woes, though, is an injustice to what BYU accomplished Saturday. Taysom Hill was incredible, rushing for 259 yards and three touchdowns on only 17 carries. Most of those runs came on zone-read keepers, over and over.

And over and over, Texas’ front seven got suckered by the fake handoff and watched Hill scamper around them. What made that so difficult to defend?

“I don’t know,” defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said.

The last three FBS quarterbacks to rush for 250 yards in a game? That would be Vince Young, Denard Robinson and now Taysom Hill. He’s a limited passer (9-for-26, 129 yards), but that didn’t slow the Cougars' offense down one bit.

Texas had talked all week about its intentions to slow down Jamaal Williams. He rushed for 182 yards, and Paul Lasike chipped in 87 yards and two scores. BYU owned the line of scrimmage by the second quarter and kept executing, scoring on every drive it had in the second and third quarters.

“We expected to run on them. We didn’t expect to break the school record,” Hill said. “It was working, and we were able to move the ball really efficiently on the ground. There was no need to go away from it, and we didn’t, and this was the result.”

There were moments when Texas had momentum and a lead and seemed poised to take control of the ballgame. Those moments slipped away quickly, though, because BYU flat-out did whatever it wanted.

Its defense lived up to the hype, getting constant pressure on David Ash without needing more than four rushers and forcing UT to go 5-for-17 on third downs and 0-for-3 on fourth. Texas’ plans on offense were built around Daje Johnson, and when he went down with an ankle injury there is no doubt Texas’ plans for attacking BYU were thrown off.

“When you lose a guy that’s involved in packages, like Daje obviously, you’ve got to find somebody else to put in that place, and certain things immediately go out the window,” offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said.

For Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, the toll taken by watching his defense fall apart again was obvious. BYU didn’t do anything on offense that he and his players had not expected, and he admitted that.

“They got after us. They outplayed us,” Diaz said. “The quarterback obviously was the difference in the game. We just could not execute getting stops. It was runs, it was scrambles. Very disappointing.”

Texas’ defensive leaders did not throw Diaz under the bus after the game. They insisted he has 100 percent of their trust. Brown said everyone should bear the blame.

“I didn’t think our coaches or our players lived up to what we needed to tonight to win -- including me,” Brown said.

Brown was then asked point-blank if Diaz will be coaching Texas’ defense next Saturday against Ole Miss.

“I haven’t even gotten out of the game, so ... I’d like to watch the video,” he said.

He won’t like what he sees, but that doesn’t matter now. Texas has to pick up the pieces. Arguably the two most important components of its offense, Ash and Johnson, left the game with injuries of unknown severity.

The Longhorns badly need that duo on the field, but the defense is the far greater concern. Add this all up, though, and it’s clear: BYU taught Texas and the rest of the country that the gap between where the Longhorns thought they were and where they really stand is far more than a quarter-mile wide.

Brigham Young season preview

August, 21, 2013
Today we're looking at Brigham Young, which is ready to put its elite defense to the test against tough FBS Independent schedule.

Brigham Young Cougars

Coach: Bronco Mendenhall (74-29, 8 seasons; 74-29, 8 seasons at BYU)

[+] EnlargeBYU's Kyle Van Noy
Douglas C. Pizac/USA TODAY SportsKyle Van Noy had 13 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and two interceptions last season.
2012 record: 8-5

Key losses: DE Ezekiel Ansah, QB Riley Nelson, LB Brandon Ogletree, OL Braden Hansen, DT Romney Fuga, LB Uona Kaveinga

Key returnees: LB Kyle Van Noy, WR Cody Hoffman, S Daniel Sorensen, RB Jamaal Williams, LB Spencer Hadley, TE Kaneakua Friel, OT Ryker Mathews, WR Ross Apo

Newcomer to watch: Junior college transfer cornerback Robertson Daniel appears to be the favorite to replace Jordan Johnson in the starting lineup. He hasn’t played in quite a while after sitting out the entire 2012 season to work on academics, but he’ll need to contribute.

Biggest games in 2013: Even with some powerhouses on the schedule this season, the Sept. 21 matchup with Utah still has to be priority No. 1, especially after BYU lost a heartbreaker last year with two missed last-second field goals.

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The Cougars have questions marks at a few positions, including nose guard, corner and on the offense line. The big-picture question is this: BYU has one of the best defenses in the country, but just how good can its offense be in 2013 after finishing 65th nationally in scoring last year?

Forecast: Make no mistake: Van Noy is as good as advertised and makes this BYU defense a formidable problem for an opponent.

The preseason All-America candidate racked up 13 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and two interceptions. BYU is replacing its starting defensive line, two linebackers and now both corners after Jordan Johnson (torn ACL) was lost for the season in fall camp. And yet, with Van Noy leading the way, this unit can still go down as one of the nation’s best.

It’s the Cougars offense that has to take the next step. New offensive coordinator Robert Anae is pushing a “go fast, go hard” mantra with faster tempo, and he inherits one of the better receivers in the country in Hoffman, who put up 1,248 receiving yards last season. Taysom Hill will be trusted to run the faster scheme and has recovered from a knee injury that cost him the final seven games of 2012.

BYU is in for another challenging schedule in its third year as an FBS Independent, with trips to Virginia, Wisconsin and Notre Dame and home games against Texas, Georgia Tech and Boise State on the slate. That could prove brutal if Hill and the Cougar offense don’t rise to the occasion, but a defense this good can go a long way.

BYU beat San Diego State 23-6 in the offensively challenged San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Thursday night. Here is a quick rundown of how it happened:

It was over when: The BYU defense took the scoring into its own hands. The Cougars and Aztecs slogged it out for three quarters, combining for three field goals. The turning point came early in the fourth quarter, when BYU scored 20 points off San Diego State turnovers. It all started when monster BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy rushed quarterback Adam Dingwell in the end zone, forcing a fumble and recovering it for a touchdown. The Cougars recovered another fumble by Dingwell on San Diego State's next possession, and Jamaal Williams scored on a 14-yard run. Van Noy later returned an interception for a score. So BYU got a 20-point swing thanks to three takeaways from its exceptional defense, ranked No. 3 in the nation headed into the game.

Game ball goes to: Van Noy. What more can we say about Van Noy, who has been an absolute force the entire season? He added to his school record with his sixth forced fumble of the season -- the turning-point play in the game. Not only that, he also had a blocked punt earlier in the contest, and iced everything with his pick-six. BYU had only one defensive score all year headed into the game. Van Noy is thinking about leaving school early for the NFL draft. If he does, his final performance will be one to remember.

Stat of the game: 2. Van Noy scored more touchdowns than anybody on the field. Yes, you read that right. The most valuable defensive player was the most valuable offensive player, too. And BYU needed every bit of his offense, considering how badly Cougars quarterback James Lark and his teammates struggled to generate much of anything. BYU, a program that has developed one elite quarterback after another, has had major problems at the position for three consecutive seasons. It's head-scratching to say the least.