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BYU busted Texas with 3rd-quarter barrage

9/8/2014

AUSTIN, Texas -- A perfect quarter, it was not. But it came pretty darn close.

BYU embarrassed Texas once again, this time by a 41-6 score, thanks in large part to a third-quarter run no team could've overcome. This was a perfect storm in all three phases of the game.

In 26 plays, the Cougars' offense collected 199 yards, including 138 on the ground. They racked up 13 first downs and faced third down just twice. Their quarterback, Taysom Hill, accounted for 129 total yards and three scores for a near-perfect single-quarter QBR of 99.3.

A 6-0 nailbiter turned into a 34-0 thrashing in less than 11 game minutes.

The 28-point swing was one of the first things Texas coach Charlie Strong brought up in his postgame opening statement. In the past 10 years, a Strong-led defense had never allowed 28 in one quarter.

"You can't do that if you think you're going to play great defense," he said.

BYU went into halftime and made no more than three offensive adjustments, coach Bronco Mendenhall said afterward. They didn't need to tweak much. They just needed to unleash Hill.

He drove the Cougars 75 yards in three minutes to start the second half, then dropped the jaws of 90,000-plus when he hurdled diving Texas safety Dylan Haines at the end of a 30-yard touchdown scramble. Texas had roughed him up in the first half, but Hill wasn't touched on his first score to go up 13-0.

After Marcus Johnson was stuffed at his own 11-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, Texas promptly went three-and-out. BYU's offense came back went 55 yards in five plays, highlighted by Jordan Leslie's diving, juggling 27-yard snag in between a pair of Texas defensive backs. Adam Hine found the end zone on a strong stiff-arm and an 8-yard run to make it 20-0.

Texas' offense returned to brutal field position again, this time at the 7-yard line after a holding penalty. Another three-and-out. The Longhorns' first two drives of the second half produced minus-3 yards on six snaps.

William Russ' punt didn't cross midfield, and Mitch Juergens returned it to the Texas 29. Hill capped a quick seven-play drive with a 2-yard run in which he put his shoulder down and snuck around five Texas defenders. 27-0.

Can't get much worse than that, right? Just before Texas could push the panic button, Johnson got stripped on the kickoff return. BYU recovered at the Longhorns' 24-yard line.

"Even though you play short field, it doesn't matter," Strong said afterward. "Get into third down and just make a play."

But Texas' defense couldn't force third down. BYU was back on the goal line after a 12-yard pass, and Hill put the nail in the coffin with 4:33 left in the quarter, on a 1-yard keeper. 34-0. Ballgame.

Almost 50 percent of BYU's total yards Saturday came in one swift barrage. A run game held to 2.7 yards per carry the rest of the night cranked out 7.7 per rush in the quarter.

"There is no reason for it," Strong said. "You have to play better defense than that."

There are a handful of logical excuses -- field position, defensive busts, the takeaway, poor adjustments, tempo, confidence -- but another stands out: Hill is simply a phenomenal talent with a knack for burning Bevo.

"There are just some sheer athleticism things that aren't coachable," Mendenhall said.

When Hill scored to open the half, Texas needed to bounce back in a big way. It's about adversity, Strong said, and how a team handles heightened stakes. The Longhorns failed on that front in their first loss of the new coach's tenure.

"We started the game off really hard. It was the third quarter that got us," linebacker Jordan Hicks said. "Whatever it was, I'm not sure. We'll have to look at it."

That should make for one unpleasant film session. But as Texas players were reminded Saturday, after the worst quarter of Strong's head coaching career, what matters is how they respond.