Some Texas players are responding to questions about BYU with, “it’s not about revenge.”
Other comments point to Texas circling the Sept. 6 rematch as the most important game of the year.
What to believe?
The facts are these: BYU steamrolled Texas 41-20 last year in Provo. Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill scooted for 259 rushing yards and BYU rushed for 550 yards total, the most ever given up by a Texas team.
Longhorns defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was out of a job the next day. Eventually, long-time head coach Mack Brown stepped down and former Louisville coach Charlie Strong was brought in to restore some semblance of order in Austin. Strong has reportedly watched the BYU game video numerous times, getting angrier with each viewing.
There’s no question where Texas fans stand: BYU offensive tackle De’Ondre Wesley said he heard about a sign in front of church in Austin that reads “Though God does not teach of revenge, he’ll make an exception for BYU. Go Horns.”
Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks, a Butkus Award candidate in 2014, had a career-high 16 tackles in the BYU game. For other reasons, it was a night that was hard to forget.
“I remember the physicality they played with,” Hicks said. “They manhandled us all over the board. It was one of the all-time lows for us as a team.”
Hicks said the defense has come a long way since that painful evening in Provo last year.
“We've grown a lot with this new coaching staff and just as a unit on defense,” Hicks said. “We hold ourselves to a standard and we want to prove that we are not the team that was on the field last year. It's a completely different team and we want to show that to the world.”
Hicks is just glad to be on the field at all. He played in only four games in 2013 before an Achilles injury sidelined him for the season.
“It's a blessing to be out there, back playing and feeling the way I feel,” he said. “You know, it's a sigh of relief. It's one of those things where you've had to sit and watch for so long, and when you can finally let it out there and let it all go and let it all loose. I was just focused on having fun and making sure that I was enjoying the moment, because it can be taken away so quick.”
Hicks said Strong has used last year’s BYU-Texas video as a teaching tool.
“He was just obviously pointing out the things that we didn't want to see,” Hicks said. “A lot of times it's hard to look at yourself perform badly and have to accept it. But he's a teacher, he's a coach and he puts it in front of you. He tells you what you need to work on and emphasizes that in practice and helps you move forward.”
Texas’ defense looked formidable in holding North Texas to just seven points and 94 yards of total offense last week.
But North Texas didn’t have Hill, who piled up more than 500 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in a 35-10 win at UConn to open the season.
“I looked at last year's game and the quarterback (Hill) is an unbelievable player,” Strong said. “He's got Heisman potential written all over him. If you get outside on the perimeter of the defense, you're going to have an issue, and the outside run -- at one point, I counted 10 outside runs, and 550 yards rushing. When you look at a defense and that's a stat, you talk about rushing yards, you say, 'Hey, we don't need to give up more than a hundred a game.' That's five games right there that you gave it up in one. You have to be able to contain them and make sure that we don't allow the quarterback outside the defense. And it's all about responsibility.”
But not about revenge.
"As a whole team we do feel embarrassed but it's nothing about revenge,” Texas safety Mykkele Thompson said. “It's the most important game because it's the next game that we have.”