Texas football head coach Steve Sarkisian has the opportunity to get a much-needed win in Big 12 play this weekend at home at DKR in Austin against his alma mater, the BYU Cougars. This is a big game for Texas to not only stay in the thick of the race for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game but also to stay on the right side of the win column amid a myriad of injuries.
Texas lost nearly a dozen key players on the two-deep at various points in the last three games. None of the injuries were bigger, though, than the Grade 2 AC joint sprain redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers had on his throwing shoulder in the win over the Houston Cougars by a narrow 31-24 margin last weekend.
Why No. 7 Texas football can dominate BYU in Week 9, despite being down its starting QB
The good news on the injury front is that the Longhorns are getting many players dealing with various ailments back against BYU in Week 9. In his Thursday press conference on Oct. 26, Sark said that multiple key players on defense (including DL Alfred Collins, CB Ryan Watts, and CB Terrance Brooks, among others) are expected to give it a go this weekend against BYU.
If the Longhorns can get multiple key players back from injuries this weekend and redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy has a solid outing in his first game as a starter, Texas should be in a good spot against BYU. Here are four reasons why the Longhorns can dominate BYU at home in Week 9.
BYU’s stagnant ground game will make its offense one-dimensional
BYU’s ground game is bad. There is no other way to put it as the Cougars rank last in the Power Five and third from the bottom in the FBS in rushing yards per game (79.3). BYU also ranks second to last in the Power Five and fourth from the bottom in the FBS in yards per carry (2.8).
Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick and the Cougars have struggled to amass any sort of formidable ground game this season consistently. BYU did rush for 150 yards and five yards per carry in a win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders at home last weekend. But that is the only game this season where the Cougars rushed for over 100 yards against a Power Five opponent.
Part of the blame for BYU’s ineffectiveness running the ball this season is various injury issues. BYU was without senior transfer running back Aidan Robbins for most of the first half of the regular season, at least before the Texas Tech game in Week 8. Robbins return could’ve sparked the Cougars on the ground last week, but he only averaged 3.3 yards per carry on 16 attempts.
On paper and in reality, this looks like a bad matchup for the BYU ground game vs. Texas’ front seven. Texas has boasted the best run defense in the Big 12 this season. The Longhorns lead the Big 12 in yards per attempt allowed, yards after contact per attempt, and rushing yards per game in conference play.
Given Texas’ success defending the run this season (especially in Big 12 play), I don’t expect BYU to come close to eclipsing the 100-rushing yard mark this weekend against the Longhorns.