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.
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.