Provo • Be careful what you wish for.
That was BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall’s general response Monday evening about news that broke earlier that day that Texas would be without starting quarterback David Ash when the Longhorns play host to the Cougars on Saturday (5:30 p.m. MDT, Fox Sports 1) at Royal-Memorial Stadium.
BYU at TexasSaturday, 5:30 p.m. MDT
TV » FS1
Ash took a hit in the first half of Texas’ 38-7 win over North Texas on Saturday and began experiencing concussion-like symptoms later that night. Coach Charlie Strong announced Ash is out and will be replaced by sophomore Tyrone Swoopes.
"Man, I thought Ash was a really good player. But it is the University of Texas, and the thought they don’t have a really good backup [is crazy]," Mendenhall said. "We have actually seen [Swoopes] film through the spring game, and he played some in the bowl game. So he’s fast, and athletic and big. Just what you would expect at a really quality program from their quarterbacks."
Coincidentally, Ash suffered a concussion in last year’s 40-21 loss at BYU and has played sparingly since then. He suffered a foot injury during spring ball that limited his work in those practices.
Swoopes is 6-foot-4, 243 pounds and was a four-star recruit in Texas’ 2013 recruiting class. He appeared in only five games last season, rushing for 79 yards and a touchdown and completing 5 of 13 passes for 26 yards.
"You look at Tyrone, he’s big and physical," Strong said. "If he ever gets on the perimeter, he’ll look like Taysom Hill from BYU."
Mendenhall said BYU’s game plan won’t change much.
"Game plan might change a hair for them, but it is Week Two," he said. "How much are you going to deviate from what you do the rest of the year? It will be interesting, for sure."
Strong also said that starting center Dominic Espinosa suffered a broken ankle against North Texas and will have surgery Wednesday. The Longhorns will also be without WR/RB Daje Johnson and safety Josh Turner, who are suspended.
Mendenhall said losing a fifth-year starting center can be devastating for an offense.
"Probably more so than the quarterback, just in terms of quarterback-center exchange, making line protection calls, being able to handle that," he said.
Offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, who missed the North Texas game, will play against BYU, Strong said.
Earlier Monday, Strong heaped praise on BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, who rushed for 269 yards against the Longhorns last year in Provo.
"He is a Heisman candidate, and he has improved," Strong said. "He is so competitive. That offense goes as he goes."
Asked if Texas was satisfied with how its defense played Saturday, Strong said he can’t use that word because of what BYU did to the team last year, when Mack Brown was at the helm.
"They won’t be satisfied with [BYU] because last year they rushed for 550 yards, so not much has to be said," Strong said.
Mendenhall acknowledged that Texas wanting revenge against BYU will fill headlines the next few days.
"That will be the story all week, what happened last year. But I don’t think from a coaches perspective that that will affect the outcome of the game at all," Mendenhall said.
As for BYU, the only major injury was suffered by reserve linebacker A’i Ho Ching. He has a concussion and will likely miss the Texas game. All five suspended players who didn’t play against UConn — Jamaal Williams, Devon Blackmon, Marques Johnson, Jordan Johnson and Robertson Daniel — are back on the two-deep chart and should play.
"That is day-by-day and it will be the entire season, in terms of behavior and what they have to do to live up to the contracts they have with me," Mendenhall said.Next Page >
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.