- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Are you ready for some numbers? It's time for our weekly stat digs, in which we team with ESPN Stats and Info to find the numbers that matter most for the Longhorns and their next opponent. Here are the stats to remember going into Texas’ rematch with BYU.
Charlie Strong does not have a problem with defending rushing quarterbacks.
In the past 10 years (six at Florida, four at Louisville) his defenses have give up a total of 600 rushing yards to quarterbacks. That's 131 games, 940 rushes, 600 yards. That's an average of 4.58 yards per game. We're including sacks in that number, but to put this in perspective: Last season, Texas gave up 715 rushing yards to QBs.
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill rushed for 259 yards against Texas last season. Strong's Louisville defenses gave up a total of 209 in the last three years. His teams of the past decade have never allowed a performance like the one Hill produced.
No team surpassed 300 rushing yards against Louisville during the Strong era. Excluding sacks, Texas gave up twice as many rushing yards to QBs (2,173) as Louisville did (1,034) in the past four years. No quarterback has surpassed 80 rushing yards against his defense in 10 years.
What's the point? While Hill is a rare talent as a rusher, history suggest he could have a hard time running wild again vs. Texas.
The good thing about the disastrous news Texas received on Monday is this: They've done it before.
Having to play nine games without David Ash last season gave these Longhorns experience handling a crisis at quarterback. Texas went 6-3 in those contests and developed a run-first identity along the way that helped set Case McCoy up for success.
In those six wins, Texas run-pass distribution averaged an even 60/40 with 100 more rushes than pass attempts. Texas surpassed 400 total yards in five of those six wins, outscored teams by an average of 15.7 points and had a plus-5 turnover margin.
Texas obviously has new play-callers and coordinators who will draw up their own blueprint for winning without Ash, and Strong said the scheme will have to be tweaked in some ways. But the learning process of retooling last season can at least gives these players confidence that, as Strong said, it's not the end of the world just yet.
The point of a season opener like the one Texas played against North Texas is you get a chance to be tested in a variety of ways before playing big-time foes. You can find out what works and what doesn't.
What we did not find out against North Texas is how the Longhorns defense will recover after giving up big plays. UNT had zero explosive runs or passes. Its longest gain of the night was 8 yards. It didn't try for many big ones, either, preferring instead to run the ball and play not to lose. While that's great for Texas, it's also problematic.
BYU's offense had 24 explosive plays of 10-plus yards against Texas last year. Those plays accounted for more than 70 percent of the Cougars' total offense. Texas defenders could not stop them from happening. They've talked all offseason about being a changed group, one that refuses to be called soft. They had it awfully easy in Week 1, and after giving up just 94 yards, there's really nowhere to go but down. This time around, when Hill and BYU's offense lands a few punches, how will this defense respond?
Three more to remember
55: The total number of snaps Tyrone Swoopes has played in his Texas career. The Longhorns offense has produced 200 total yards while he's been on the field.
13-2: Texas' record since 2012 when its offense attempts 40 or more rushes. Six of those wins came with Ash out. Texas is also 11-1 in that span when rushing for 165-plus yards as a team.
0-8: Hill did not complete a pass on third and long against Texas last season. But he did rush for 141 yards and a touchdown on six third-down carries. Yeah, that's 23.5 yards per carry on third downs.