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Monday, May 13, 2013
Breaking down Texas' schedule: BYU

By Carter Strickland

HornsNation is breaking down Texas' 2013 football schedule every Monday this summer. This week: The Longhorns' second game of the season vs. the Brigham Young Cougars on Sept. 7.

BYU record in 2012: 8-5

Last meeting against Texas: The Longhorns won 17-16 in DKR in 2011.

Record against Texas: 2-1

Top returners: RB Jamaal Williams, TE Kaneaku Fields, OL Houston Reynolds, OL Manaaki Vaitai, WR Cody Hoffman, DL Eathyn Manumaleuna, WR Ross Apo, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Spencer Hadley

Key losses: QB Riley Nelson, DE Ziggy Ansah, LB Brandon Ogletree, P Riley Stephenson

Statistical leaders

Rushing: Jamaal Williams (775 yards)
Passing: Taysom Hill (425 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions)
Receiving: Cody Hoffman (1,248 yards)
Tackles: Sorenson (68)
Sacks: Kyle Van Noy (13)
Interceptions: Daniel Sorenson (three)

Did you know: Senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy was the only FBS player to record a stat in every defensive category -- tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, interceptions, pass breakups, quarterback hurries, fumble recoveries, forced fumbles, blocked kicks and touchdowns. Not only that, but Van Noy has recorded a stat in each category for two straight years.

Three things to watch

Spreading the wealth: Cody Hoffman had 937 receiving yards more than the next highest wideout on the BYU team. Hoffman, who is fifth on BYU’s all-time receiving yards list, had 100 catches and 11 touchdowns. Texas has had some success in shutting down receivers by putting its best corner right on them. But if Quandre Diggs is forced inside on nickel there could be issues. Plus Ross Apo, a former Texas commit, seems to do well against the Longhorns. He had a touchdown catch against Texas when he was a freshman.

Doing it with defense: BYU was No. 3 in scoring defense and No. 2 in rushing defense and should represent the stiffest test for the Texas offense in 2013. The Cougars did lose three of four defensive linemen, including first-round draft pick Ziggy Ansah, but have a very experienced back seven, including three returning starters at the defensive back positions. Texas is at its best when it can rush the ball effectively. The Longhorns have averaged 228 yards in 16 wins over the last two years and 125 yards in nine losses. In three of the four losses in 2012, Texas failed to rush for 100 yards. BYU’s defense allowed an average of 87 yards per game in 2012.

On the run: BYU will be breaking in new quarterback Taysom Hill but first might want to fix what is broken up front. The offensive line allowed 2.31 sacks per game last season. Hill is going to need time to get comfortable during the early part of the season. If the line cannot provide that there might be trouble. Texas returns six of its top eight players on the defensive line and all of its linebackers. Undoubtedly, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will try to bring as much pressure as possible.

View from the other side with Jared Lloyd, sports editor, Provo Daily Herald

1. BYU finished No. 3 in total defense in 2012. Will this year's team be even better?

It won't be easy for the Cougar defense to live up to the standard it set in 2012, but it does have some very good athletes. The strength will be at outside linebacker where All-American Kyle Van Noy and Spencer Hadley are the main threats. BYU also has very good safeties in Daniel Sorensen and Craig Bills, but there are questions that will need to be answered at middle linebacker, on the defensive line and at cornerback.

2. What one player does Texas need to account for on offense?

BYU is planning on speeding up the offense and increasing the pass game, so the Longhorns better be locked in on wide receiver Cody Hoffman. While he doesn't have blazing speed, all he does is make plays. He's caught 203 passes (100 in 2012) and 28 touchdowns in his first three years and has become the go-to guy for every quarterback who has been on the field for the Cougars.

3. How will Taysom Hill handle pressure and what he brings to offense?

Hill, although only a sophomore, does have playing experience as he started two games for BYU in 2012. He's more athletic than the traditional Cougar signal-caller (he gained 336 yards rushing last fall) but also has a good arm. BYU plans to by more dynamic with Hill being able to throw or run on any given play, although the Cougars have tried to instill more awareness to avoid another knee injury like the one that ended his season last year.

4. The run game seemed to suffer at times last season. What has been done to shore that up?

BYU will look to a diverse group of running backs to lead the way in its new up-tempo scheme. Sophomore Jamaal Williams brings the speed and will probably get the most carries, while Michael Alisa, Adam Hine and Paul Lasike will all see time on the field. There is a focus on getting the offensive line to be stronger and open up more holes as well.

5. Does BYU pull the upset in this one? Or would it even be considered an upset if BYU were to win?

Cougar fans probably wouldn't consider it an upset, particularly with the game being in Provo. BYU has been very successful at home, and the Longhorns haven't been as dominant in the last couple of years as they would like to be. This will be an early measuring stick for both squads on exactly how good they will be in 2013.