Stats that matter: Texas vs. BYU

Each week, HornsNation teams up with the ESPN Stats & Info crew to dig into the numbers that matter most and find three statistics which could make a big difference on Saturday. Today we’re looking at Texas’ first road test of the year at BYU (6 p.m. CT, ESPN2).

1. 43:32

Texas’ slow starts on offense have been a popular topic this week, so let’s look at the numbers.

In Major Applewhite’s first game as play-caller, the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State, Texas’ offense didn’t score its first touchdown until 15:20 had elapsed on the game clock. Against New Mexico State, 28:12 had been played before UT got into the end zone.

That means in its past two games Texas has played a combined 43 minutes and 32 seconds of first-half football without scoring a touchdown.

Let’s be clear: Three turnovers are the reason Texas started slow last Saturday. That was the difference this time. But combine Texas’ last two first halves and you gets 14 offensive drives. Only four of them ended with points.

2. The 13-22 Club

Need proof that BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy is one of the nation’s best players?

Last season, there were only four defenders in all of FBS who recorded at least 13 sacks and 22 tackles for loss: Georgia’ Jarvis Jones, South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Arizona State’s Will Sutton and Van Noy. That is some elite company. Van Noy's 2012 stats are remarkably similar to what Clowney produced, and his Poinsettia Bowl performance against San Diego State was as dominant a game as any defender had last year.

Applewhite said Monday that there are lots of ways Texas could try to stifle Van Noy and his pass rushing ability, but he's going to make some plays no matter what. Keeping David Ash protected is a must in this ballgame. Speaking of Ash ...

No. 3: 6-2

In his 19 career starts, Ash is 6-2 when playing on the road. Three of his biggest road wins last season – Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech – rank among the six best starts of his career in terms of Total QBR. Ash has a higher completion percentage in home starts (66.3 percent) but a worse TD-to-INT ratio. On the road, he’s a solid 13-7 in that category. At DKR? Ash has thrown 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.

Ash has said he likes the challenge of playing against a hostile crowd, and the Red River Rivalry blowout was the only road start he lost last season. If his track record is any indication, Ash should be better than expected on Saturday, even against an elite Cougars defense.

Three more to remember

41-8: BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall’s record in home games since taking over as head coach in 2005.

17: Daje Johnson has 55 career touches on offense and produced 10-plus yards on 17 of them.

57: The number of current BYU players who took two-year missions before playing for the Cougars.