Jonathon Brooks and CJ Baxter Jr. can run over a smaller BYU defensive front with the zone ground game
BYU’s defense has relied on a bend-but-don’t-break mentality and generating turnovers to make up for some of its pitfalls regarding total yards allowed and yards per play this season. The Cougars lead the Big 12 in forced turnovers per game, 2.3, and rank in the top five in the conference in opponent red zone scoring percentage (77.8 percent).
But BYU is prone to giving up yards in bunches even to mediocre Power Five offenses this season. BYU allowed nearly 600 total yards of offense and 6.8 yards per play to a TCU Horned Frogs team that had a first-time starting quarterback in redshirt freshman Josh Hoover (who took over for the injured Chandler Morris) in Week 7.
The Cougars also allowed nearly 500 yards of total offense and six yards per play in Week 5 against a Cincinnati Bearcats’ offense struggling to consistently move the ball down the field in Big 12 play.
What this means for the Longhorns is that the offense should have a chance for a big day in terms of production this weekend if they can get the ground game going early and often. With a first-time starter at quarterback, Texas will rely on the zone ground game with redshirt sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks and true freshman CJ Baxter Jr. to set the tone on offense.
BYU will probably load the box early in this game to try and stop the run first and force Murphy to beat them with his arm. But even that could be a tough strategy for the Cougars, who will likely be without starting defensive tackle John Nelson against Texas.
The Cougars were already overmatched size-wise by the Texas offensive line heading into this game. But now that they’re down they’re top interior defender in run defense, which means they will be even more undermanned and undersized this weekend.
It’s also noteworthy that Brooks has run the ball effectively against stacked boxes this season. He leads the Big 12 in rushing yards per game, yards after contact per attempt, and missed tackles forced against opposing defenses running 7+ defenders in the box.
If this game is anything like what Texas saw against Houston and the Oklahoma Sooners in the prior two contests, the BYU defensive front will wear down throughout, and Brooks can have a field day in the second half.