Mack Brown has a national championship at Texas, has won two Big 12 Conference championships and shares of six divisional crowns, and is just four years removed from appearing in the BCS championship game. Yet, the heat on the coach who resurrected Longhorn football into the new millennium is likely to reach a hellish temperature after a historically anemic defensive performance against BYU.
Once among the nation’s hottest coaches, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was left to watch his unit give up a record 550 yards in Texas’ 40-21 loss at LaVell Edwards Stadium. A popular BCS championship pick among some pundits, the Longhorns likely saw those hopes kicked up in the same cloud of dust that followed in BYU quarterback Taysom Hill’s strides to the end zone on any one of three touchdown rushes.
Hill exploded for 259 yards on the ground to pace the Cougars (1-1), which bounced back from a rough start in Robert Anae’s return as offensive coordinator. BYU managed just 16 points against torrential downpours and a tenacious Virginia defense in Week 1, but had no problem with the Longhorns on Saturday.
Despite winning nine games in 2012, Texas has underachieved in three straight seasons. Saturday’s outcome does little to assuage concerns Mack Brown opponents have about the direction of the program. Diaz’s defense sank to a low surpassing last October’s matchups with West Virginia and Oklahoma, when the Longhorns surrendered 111 points in two weeks.
Though those Big 12 Conference defensive misfires certainly exposed inadequacies in the Longhorn defense, Saturday’s performance poses an entirely different quandary for Texas. BYU has struggled offensively against most BCS conference competition, including last week at Virginia. The Cougars’ 16 points against the Cavaliers in Week 1 are amplified by the 59 Oregon scored in Charlottesville in Week 2.
Texas led twice early, going ahead 7-3 initially on David Ash’s 57-yard touchdown pass to Mike Davis. Joe Bergeron rushed for a score in the second quarter that put the Longhorns up 14-10, before the deluge began.
Where does Texas go from here? The victories to take away from Saturday are virtually non-existent. The Longhorns scored three touchdowns against a BYU defense that was one of the nation’s stingiest a year ago. UT did not turn the ball over — though that only exacerbates the ugliness of the defense’s woes.
Other Big 12 members have their glaring issues through the season’s first two weeks, save a Baylor team that has yet to face a legitimate test. But with one of the most veteran teams in the nation, merely having less problems than conference counterparts is a low bar for a program that wants to compete for national championships.
After Saturday’s loss, winning another crystal ball simply isn’t in the cards for 2013.