AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — It was the stuff of Texas nightmares: BYU quarterback Taysom Hill and the Cougars ripping the Longhorns for 550 yards rushing last season in a crushing and embarrassing loss.
It’s also a nightmare the Longhorns have had to live over and over again. BYU’s 40-21 romp through the Texas defense featured heavily in the low-lights film new coach Charlie Strong and his staff subjected their new players to shortly after they got to campus.
The reminders won’t stop until BYU (1-0) and Texas (1-0) play again Saturday night in Austin.
“We still hear about it. That’s just how these (coaches) are,” Texas senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “They are going to continue to rub it in our face and that’s what they want to do.”
Last season’s loss was galling on several levels for Texas. Coach Mack Brown had been promoting his team as worthy of a return to national prominence after three sub-par seasons. Instead, a national television audience saw Texas get pushed around like a high school team.
Brown fumed on the flight back to Austin and fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz the next day in a desperate attempt to save his season. But the fire under Brown had been lit and he was gone in December after 16 seasons.
And while the defense was embarrassed, the offense was beaten up in ways that are still affecting the Longhorns. Quarterback David Ash suffered his first concussion against BYU last season and has played only six quarters of football since.
Ash started Texas’ win over North Texas last week, but experienced headaches and dizziness shortly after the game and on Monday was ruled out against BYU. Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes will get his first career start and it will come behind a patchwork offensive line with three starters out for injury (center Dominic Espinosa) or suspensions (tackles Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle).
Texas officials have set no timetable for Ash’s return, but his injury history suggests it could be a long time — if ever.
A year ago, Ash threw a pair of touchdowns but Texas didn’t score again after he was hurt in the second half. The romp began when Hill sprinted 68 yards for BYU’s first touchdown. Texas never came close to stopping BYU’s option after that and Hill scored twice more on long runs.
“It was surreal. It was like I was able to see a childhood dream come true,” Hill said. “We just had so much fun.”
BYU finished with a school record for yards rushing. Texas set a record for most yards allowed.
Diggs called the defensive collapse “probably the most embarrassed I’ve ever been.”
New Longhorns defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, who played at Texas, was at Louisville with Strong last season. He watched the game on television and was shocked by what he saw.
“I grew up in a wishbone era – Oklahoma, Alabama – and 300 yards rushing back in those days was something special,” Bedford said.
The rematch will be a big test to see just how far Strong has taken his new team with his disciplinarian approach. The Longhorns returned most of their defensive starters from a year ago and held North Texas to just 94 total yards last week.
But Hill and the Cougars are something different altogether. Hill ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns and passed for three more TDs last week in a season-opening win at Connecticut.
Texas will be eager to avenge their embarrassment, Hill said, and the Cougars will be ready.
“I’m sure they’ve had an intense week of practice,” he said. “We’re prepared to come and match their energy.”
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