Texas Football Breakdown: Scouting Week 9 vs. BYU

Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2023 college football season is fast approaching, and the hype for Texas football in Year Three of the Steve Sarkisian era is high. The Longhorns bring back 17 starters from a 2022 squad that won eight games and had flashes of greatness. Those flashes must become more consistent if the Horns want to leave their mark during their final season in the Big 12.

In July, Texas was selected atop the Big 12 Media Preseason Poll for the first time since 2009. The Horns received 41 of 63 first-place votes, ahead of Kansas State’s 14 and the four received by Oklahoma and Texas Tech. This solidified Texas as the program to beat in the Big 12 this fall.

The Longhorns first took the field for fall camp on Wednesday, Aug. 2. The hype for Texas football and the 2023 season has grown with every passing practice. I thought it would be apropos to take a game-by-game look at the Longhorns’ 2023 opponents, diving into every aspect of what Texas will face this fall.

Take a look at the first seven Texas games I previewed earlier this month:

Texas returns home for its Week Nine matchup against BYU. The last time the BYU Cougars came to Austin, the Longhorns were utterly embarrassed. The 41-7 loss was one of the worst defeats inside DKR in the modern era. This Longhorn squad has little ties to that 2014 team as they look to blaze their own path. According to ESPN’s matchup predictor, the Horns have a 92.8 percent chance of beating the Cougars on Oct. 28.

Here is everything you need to know about the 2023 BYU Cougars and their matchup against Texas.

Breaking down how Texas football matches up against BYU.


Head coach Kalani Sitake returns for his eighth season in Provo, looking to lead the transition for the Cougars into the Big 12. Coach Sitake was a part of the 2011 Utah staff when the Utes transitioned from the Mountain West to the Pac-12. That experience will be invaluable as he looks to smoothen the transition for the Cougars into the Big 12.

BYU has been the model of consistency in college football this century. The Cougars have had winning seasons in 16 of the last 17 years, notching double-digit wins in seven. Sitake has led the Cougars to a record of 29-9 in the previous three seasons.

The BYU roster went through a major overhaul this offseason. 37 new players arrived in the spring looking to compete for a team that lost 12 starters from a season ago. The offense again looks a few steps ahead of the defense entering the season.


Former USC and Pitt quarterback Kedon Slovis will be the signal caller for the Cougars this fall. Slovis brings nearly 10,000 passing yards and 68 touchdowns with him to Provo. He has struggled with decision-making over the past few seasons but can pick apart a defense when given time in the pocket. Slovis brings no element of a dual-threat ability, something Cougar fans have become accustomed to with Jaren Hall and Zach Wilson.

Kody Epps, Keanu Hill, and Chase Roberts will be the top three targets for Slovis at the receiver position. The trio caught 97 balls for 1,388 yards last season. Hill and Roberts are legitimate 6-foot-4 targets, while Epps is incredibly elusive in the slot. Slovis will not find any issues with the weapons at his disposal.

The running back position looks to be by-committee this season, with UNLV transfer Aidan Robbins expected to take the starting snaps. Backups Miles Davis and Hinckley Ropati return as rotation pieces.

The offensive line may be the most impressive unit on this side of the ball. Three transfers, Kingsley Suamataia (Oregon), Paul Maile (Utah), and Weylin Lapuaho (Utah State), bring a bevy of experience and high-quality production to the room. Starting center Connor Pay is back to lead the unit. Look for the Cougars to use this massive offensive line to maul defenses all season.

The BYU offense provides an intriguing matchup for the Horns. None of their skill position groups jump off the page, but none will lag behind. Their attack will be very balanced this year and could cause some problems for Texas if they can get a good push up front. If Texas can get the Cougars off schedule, it’s a massive advantage for the Horns. The last thing you want to do is let Slovis and this rushing attack needle you to death.


The 2022 BYU defense was poor, to say the least. They finished outside the top 90 nationally in a bevy of statistics, including scoring defense, total defense, third down conversation percentage, negative play percentage, and opposing QB rating. The Cougars gave up at least 20 points in all 13 games last season.

Former defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki was fired midway through the season. The defense marginally improved in the second half of the season before Sitake brought in long-time Weber State head coach Jay Hill to run his defense.

The early returns on Hill have been strong as he implemented an attacking style of defense throughout the offseason. The BYU defense returns eight starters from a year ago who will likely benefit from this new style of defense.

The linebacking unit is as strong as you will find in the Big 12. Max Tooley, Ben Bywater, and Chaz Ah You bring experience and production to the position. They work well together as the leaders of the defense. Tyler Batty leads the charge off the edge after racking up 17.5 tackles for loss over the past three seasons.

It gets a bit dicey in the backend, with the Cougars relying on FCS transfer Eddie Heckard and Jakob Robinson at corner. Freshman All-American safety Micah Harper will only continue to ascend and is a player who can flip the whole momentum of a game.

The Texas offense is going to have to be patient in this game. The linebacking trio will make it hard to run the ball, but the 2022 Cougars showed a propensity to break as the game wore on.


I do not buy BYU’s 11th-place selection in the Big 12 Media Preseason Poll. This is a top half of the conference team, and frankly, a game that makes me a bit scared. Texas lucked out by not having to travel to Provo in late October. By this time in the season, the Texas offense should be humming. I do not believe BYU has the offensive explosion to keep pace with the Horns, but I would not be shocked to see this game stay close for its entirety. – BYU 24 Texas 30

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