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Pierce: Ex-Texas coach sings Taysom Hill’s praises

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Scott D. Pierce

By Scott D. Pierce

Tribune Columnist

First published Sep 02 2014 11:53AM
Updated Sep 2, 2014 11:31PM

There’s been a lot of talk about how Texas is going to be out for revenge against BYU on Saturday (5:30 p.m. MDT, FS1), what with the whuppin’ the Cougars put on the Longhorns a year ago.

Then-Texas coach Mack Brown, won’t be there for rematch. He’s been replaced by Charlie Strong. But Brown — now an ESPN analsyst — clearly hasn’t forgotten that Cougar quarterback ran through his defense a year ago.

"We did a horrible job defending the option last year, and he gained about 8,000 yards, I think, in our game," Brown said.

Well, not quite 8,000. But Hill did run for 259 yards and three touchdowns, and BYU rushed for a total of 550 yards in the 40-21 blowout in Provo.

"It was a lot more than we should have," Brown said, "and we changed coaches around after the game."

Brown fired his defensive co-ordinator, Manny Diaz, after that game. But it wasn’t enough to save his own job after an 8-5 finish.

But Brown harbors no resentment against Hill. The longtime Texas coach — who won a national championship in 2006 — sings Hill’s praises.

"He’s one of the top mobile quarterbacks in the country," Brown said. "He’s strong. He can run through tackles.

"They’re big and strong up front. He can throw it. That was a question mark early. He ruined his knee two years ago, but he’s back full speed ahead."

(Hill suffered a season-ending knee injury against Utah State in 2012, but returned to start for the Cougars in 2013.)

"I think he has a chance to be one of the better quarterbacks in the country," Brown said.

The retired coach said he’d made an agreement with his successor at Texas, "that I not talk about Texas and let him be the head coach and let him get started because, obviously, I know too much about that program."

Brown did talk in general terms about the challenges a defense faces when it goes up against a high-tempo, no-huddle offense like the one BYU employs.

"It really limits what you can do on defense," he said. "Number one, especially in an early ballgame you’ve got to be in great shape. You’ve got to try to substitute. Normally the tempo offenses will not let you substitute. You have to be up front with the big guys, especially on a hot day."

Speaking more specifically about BYU, Brown said, "They’re going to run 90-plus plays a game if they can. So when we’re talking about up-tempo offense, they’re one of the fastest in the country and they usually do not sit and change the play. They go and they continue to go.

"So you have to line up right on defense. You have to be in great shape on defense, and you have to have attention to detail with their option."

Not that he’s offering advice to his successor. Brown said he’s all about being a TV analyst now — he’s not coaching.

"I’m planning on being a college football analyst for ESPN and ABC, and I will not be the coach at Texas or the ex-coach at Texas," he said. "I will not have favorites. What I told ESPN and they asked me to do is be honest and give my true opinions.

"I, obviously, have a lot of favorites in coaching and they’re my friends, but that’s not my job. My job is to say exactly what I see. And after 42 years in coaching trying to get those messages and experiences and thoughts across to the fans. And that’s what I’ll do."

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

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