Texas Longhorns: Kyle Van Noy

Countdown: Texas vs. BYU

September, 6, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- You’ve watched and rewatched the Texas-New Mexico State game and then rewatched it again. You’ve gobbled up all the stories, videos and tweets we’ve offered up this week. Now it’s almost game time again. Here's our final preview of No. 15 Texas’ first road game of the year at BYU on Saturday (6 p.m. CT, ESPN2).

Five notes

1. Since losing to No. 1 Ohio State in 2006, Texas has gone 29-2 in nonconference games. The only losses were to Alabama in the BCS title game and at home against UCLA in 2010. The Longhorns are also on a 13-game winning streak in true road games and are averaging 43.7 points per game during that stretch.

2. How good was David Ash to end the New Mexico State game? Take out his first five drives of the night and he finished with a near-perfect QBR of 99.9. He led an offense that scored seven touchdowns of 20-plus yards vs. NMSU. In the entire 2012 season, Texas had 16 scoring plays of more than 20 yards.

3. Take any stat you want -- they all tell us BYU had one of the nation’s best defenses in 2012. Since the beginning of last season, the Cougars have given up only 19 touchdowns and 0.9 points per drive. The only school that bested that number? Alabama, at 0.8.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesQuarterback David Ash was scintillating in Texas' Week 1 victory against New Mexico State.
4. BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy leads the FBS with 22 career sacks, one better than South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney. In each of the past two years, he’s achieved the rare feat of recording a stat in every major defensive category: tackle, tackle for loss, sack, interception, pass breakup, quarterback hurry, fumble recovery, forced fumble, blocked kick and touchdown.

5. Injury update: Mack Brown said Wednesday that he expects receiver Marcus Johnson (ankle) to play against BYU. Sanders was suspended for the season opener but could have a key impact on Saturday. Defensive back Josh Turner (hip) has been practicing and should make his season debut as well.

Four quotes

1. "This is the first time that it's really been his team. This week last year, we were still trying to decide who to start at quarterback. I think that's what we should be talking about: how well [Jameis] Winston played at Florida State and how well David Ash played at our place, because our quarterback situation in the future looks really, really good. We're very excited about it.” -- Brown on Ash

2. "BYU has a great defense. They have a couple of good linebackers and a couple down players. We can prepare for those guys, and it's going to be a cage match, as we all have it in our heads.” -- Texas RB Johnathan Gray

3. "Desmond Harrison issue with Brigham Young was not one between Texas and Brigham Young. It was between Contra Costa College and Brigham Young. Never mentioned between the two athletic departments. Dead issue moving forward.” -- Brown

4a. "Probably Flying Squirrel. I didn't want to be the one who brought that up. I call him Daje. Some people might call him Flying Squirrel.” -- Ash, when asked for Daje Johnson’s nickname.

4b. "Whatever. I don't really have a nickname. If someone finds one that's good, I'll keep it. I don't know about Squirrel.” -- Johnson

Three keys

1. Slow down KVN: Brown acknowledged Wednesday that Van Noy is a surefire No. 1 draft pick and a defender who can destroy any game plan. He’s the kind of talent BYU needs to swing this game, and Texas must find multiple ways to limit his impact and keep him out of the backfield.

2. Score early: We can obsess over pass/run ratios and finding enough touches for every Texas skill player, but none of that matters. Texas just needs to get in the end zone, and do so early and often. I don’t think BYU can keep up in a shootout.

3. Run defense: BYU sophomore back Jamaal Williams is fresh off a 144-yard performance at Virginia that put him 11 yards shy of a career-best day. Lots of rushers had career-best days against the Longhorns last season. Williams’ versatility and the fast tempo of the BYU offense could make him a handful for a Texas defense that believes it’s better against the run than a year ago.

Two key players

1. Texas WR/RB Daje Johnson: Would anyone be shocked if Johnson is the focal point of Texas’ offensive attack on Saturday night? Texas coaches have been raving about his rare talents this week. Johnson has never had more than seven carries or five receptions in a game in his young career, but this could be his night. His explosiveness and versatility make him a must-use in the Longhorn offense.

2. BYU WR Cody Hoffman: Will he play or won’t he? Reports out of Provo say Hoffman’s status for Saturday is somewhere in between probable and doubtful. Bronco Mendenhall is calling Hoffman’s return from a hamstring injury for the UT game “possible.” The top target in the BYU passing attack put up 100 catches for 1,248 receiving yards in 2012 and has 28 career touchdowns. The Cougars need him back.

One prediction

No. 15 Texas 31, BYU 13
This is a statement game for Texas. Despite its season-opening loss, BYU is legitimately a top 40-caliber team with an elite defense and a serious home-field advantage. The Longhorns can prove they’re one of the Big 12’s best on Saturday, and this game will end up coming down to the superior firepower Texas has on offense.

Stats that matter: Texas vs. BYU

September, 4, 2013
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.

First Glance: Brigham Young

September, 2, 2013
A look at Brigham Young, the Longhorns' second opponent of the season. Texas plays on the road Saturday (6 p.m. CT, ESPN2).

Campus location: Provo, Utah

Nickname: Cougars

Conference: BYU is in its third year as an FBS Independent after leaving the Mountain West Conference following the 2010 season.

All-time record vs. Texas: 2-1

Last game: BYU lost a rain-drenched season opener on the road at Virginia on Saturday, 19-16. The Cougars overcame a two-hour severe weather delay in the first quarter but couldn’t mount a comeback late. Kevin Parks got the go-ahead score for Virginia on a 13-yard touchdown run with 2:36 left following a Taysom Hill interception. Hill’s Hail Mary throw to Ross Apo with time expiring was caught, but stopped 28 yards short of the goal line.

Last meeting with Texas: A nail-biter in 2011. After Texas lost Garrett Gilbert to a shoulder injury, Case McCoy and David Ash rallied the Longhorns after they’d fallen behind 13-0 in the second quarter. Cody Johnson’s 4-yard touchdown with 8:46 left ended up being the clincher in a 17-16 victory at Darrell K. Royal Stadium.

Key player: With top receiver Cody Hoffman sidelined with a pulled hamstring against Virginia, BYU running back Jamaal Williams took on the burden of carrying the Cougars' offense. He rushed for 144 yards on 33 carries Saturday, including 104 in the second half. Williams has rushed for 100-plus yards four times in his 14 career games as a Cougar, and you know Texas’ run defense will be put to the test after its consistent struggles in 2012.

Why BYU might win: Its impressive defense will have to win the day. All-America candidate linebacker Kyle Van Noy leads a BYU unit that was essentially one of the five best in the nation last year. The Cougars held UVA to 114 passing yards, 109 rushing yards and forced 13 punts. If New Mexico State could stifle the Longhorns' offense for nearly 28 minutes, you have to wonder what BYU is capable of this weekend.

Why BYU might lose: Its offense is still very much a work in progress. New offensive coordinator Robert Anae is preaching an up-tempo, physical attack, but the Cougars were doomed by costly mistakes against UVA -- highlighted by Hill’s interception, which came with less than three minutes left and BYU in front. Their line struggled, their receivers dropped passes and the dual-threat Hill was erratic, completing 13 of his 40 attempts. There’s no guarantee Hoffman will be ready to play by Saturday. Expect BYU to have serious trouble keeping up in a shootout if David Ash and Texas get rolling the way they did against NMSU.

Four Downs: BYU a litmus test 

May, 28, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Why you don’t have to wait for Oklahoma to learn about Texas

Texas playing BYU on Sept. 7 in Provo, Utah, will be a game that will tell the Texas fanbase and coaching staff just what they have in the 2013 Longhorns.

Question of the Week: Scariest UT games 

May, 16, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- There was a time when Texas would strike fear in future foes rather than have its fans be stricken with it when studying the schedule.

But times, personnel, records, well, let’s just wrap it up by saying a lot, has changed at Texas. These days, instead of having all those gimme games, worry and dread often accompany games way beyond the Red River Rivalry.

Of course, Texas coach Mack Brown has done his best to assuage those fears by continually pointing to 2013 as the year when Texas gets back to being Texas. Then again, an increasingly skeptical fan base probably needs more words to help cease its cuticle chomping. But there won’t be anything but words until Aug. 31. Words and, well, fear.

It is that fear HornsNation is ready to pounce upon with this week’s question of the week: Which team on Texas’ 2013 schedule should fans worry about most and why?

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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

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Each and every time Mack Brown insisted Case McCoy was the backup quarterback this spring it made less and less sense.

All the Texas coach had to do was take a few steps from his office over to the McCombs Business School and have someone explain the law of diminishing returns to see the flaw in his logic. If McCoy’s production, a constantly held variable the last two years as well as the next, were to stay the same or increase and the three young quarterbacks' practice snaps remained the same or decreased, the on-the-field production would suffer.

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