AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas linebacker Jaylan Ford didn’t want to give BYU any hope on Saturday.
Coming off the Longhorns’ 31-24 win over Houston on Oct. 23, in which Houston fought back from a 21-0 deficit to tie the game in the second half, Ford said the mission this week was to sustain that dominance over four quarters and not give BYU a chance at a comeback.
Consider the mission accomplished.
“Being relentless was a point of emphasis going into this week,” Ford said. He finished with a game-high 11 tackles and two quarterback hurries. “There are times we feel like we’re dominant and then we’ll let up, slip up … and our goal this week was not to showcase that.”
For the second time in Big 12 Conference play this season on Saturday, the Longhorns didn’t allow an opponent to score a touchdown, finishing with a season-high 12 tackles for loss and 10 QB hurries against BYU. Texas kept Baylor out of the end zone Sept. 23 in the conference opener, claiming that game 38-6.
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After incredible improvement in the defense from 2021 to 2022, there’s been even more from 2022 to 2023. Texas is No. 15 in the country in scoring defense, allowing an average of 16 points per game this season. Last season, the Longhorns allowed 21.6 points per game, and in 2021, they allowed 31.1. It’s not to take anything away from one of the best offenses in the country that Texas has, but the defense has put some games away early, and Saturday was a shining example of that.
“We did a better job at communicating,” senior defensive back Jahdae Barron said. “Our coaches had us in good positions to make plays, so we were in the right spots to create turnovers.”
Barron said drills at practice are paying off in regards to creating turnovers. Texas beat BYU at its own game on Saturday, winning the turnover battle 3-2 with a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery. Trying to create turnovers is a common talking point at head coach Steve Sarkisian’s press conferences, and Barron said it’s all about opportunity.
“Our coaches are putting us in situations like that in practice with turnover circuits, tackling circuits, punchouts circuits, so we can apply that to games,” Barron said. “It has been a big plus and the staff puts us in positions to have opportunities to get our hands on the ball.”
When the Longhorns meet No. 25 Kansas State on Saturday at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, the two best defenses in the conference will try to hold down two of the best offenses. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in scoring defense by one point, allowing 127 points to Texas’ 128.
Since a 29-21 loss to Oklahoma State on Oct. 6, the Wildcats have hammered three consecutive conference opponents. They got back on track against Texas Tech 38-21 then walloped TCU 41-3 and Houston 41-0. Quarterbacks Will Howard and Avery Johnson have powered the Wildcats on offense by air and on the ground, so it will be another test for the Longhorns defense to corral a quarterback that’s comfortable operating outside of the pocket.