BYU at Virginia: The Way Too Early . . . .

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Taysom Hill1.  August 31 will be BYU’s first game of the season and they will be on the road in the ACC at the Virginia Cavaliers.  The team will be rolling out a new quarterback in a new offensive system.  What expectations will you have of the QB and the offense in week 1?

Carl: 90+ offensive plays.  I expect Anae to run all sorts of variations to keep the offense fresh and moving.  I fully expect to say of the offense after the game ‘That was refreshing’. Real game situation timing is my only concern.  But I fully expect that to be worked out very early on in the game. I look for Hoffman and Williams to have good days, setting the tone offensively for the season.

Matt: There is likely going to be a lot of kinks in the armor to begin with. Nobody outside of the team knows what this offense looks like; heck, they won’t be certain until they actually see it.  We’ll see a new quarterback in a new system with giant play cards being held from the sideline to call in the plays. The key will be weathering the kinks in the first half and making the correct adjustments in the second half.

Mike: My expectations are that we see a heavy dose of BYU’s running game.  Virginia ranked 44th vs. the run last year including allowing 461 yds. vs. Georgia Tech. If Anae has anything other than a power running game vs. Virginia, I’ll be stunned.  From all spring practice accounts Taysom Hill’s accuracy is way behind schedule.  Hopefully he can get some easy throws, but relying on a sophomore quarterback in an early road game is asking for trouble.

Phil Sims2. On May 31, it was announced that Virginia junior Phil Sims was declared ineligible and had withdrawn from school.  How does this affect the Cavs quarterback situation?

Carl: Virginia has been battling the quarterback conundrum this year like BYU has done recently.  The departure of Sims only eliminates one of the 3 possible choices at the QB spot.  During the annual spring game, David Watford was forgettable with a line of 5-10 55 yards.  It was freshman Greyson Lambert who ruled the day, going 21-36 for 248 yards and 2 TD’s.  Sims was heavily in the talk for the starting role, but his departure leaves it open to either of the others.  

Matt: In January, senior-to-be Michael Rocco transferred to Richmond, the second straight year that Virginia lost a quarterback to the Spiders via transfer.  On May 31, the team announced that incumbent Phil Sims was no longer eligible and had withdrawn from school.  That leaves two redshirt freshmen and an inexperienced sophomore left in the fold.  Sophomore David Watford, and RS freshmen Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns will battle for day one starting duties.  Lambert and Johns are both taller passers but it doesn’t matter who gets the start on August 31 because the inexperience is likely to shine through.

Mike: Apparently Sims along with 2012 starter Michael Rocco (transferred to Richmond) are both out for 2013.  As Cougar fans can attest breaking in a new QB can be downright painful.  Obviously this bodes well for BYU.  Look for Bronco to try to take away UVA’s rushing attack that ranked 96th last year and dial up some aggressive blitz packages.  I’m curious why UVA can’t keep a QB in school?

Virginia Football3.  In 2011, the Cavaliers were 8-4 and played in a bowl game, but last season returned to the norm by winning only 4 games all season while suffering a brutal 8 game losing streak.  What do you expect from this team as a whole when they line up across from BYU?

Carl: I see both teams as undefeated and a blank slate.  I see lots of energy coming from a Virginia team that will be looking to start the season correctly.  On paper BYU should beat this team comfortably, but there’s something about a home crowd and a 0 in the loss column that gives fans and teams Hunger Games type hope.

Matt: I don’t expect a lot from this team the whole season and after learning about the needs they have at quarterback, tight end, defensive line, and safety, I’m even more down on this team.  I think they will be excited to play again and will catch BYU trying to work out some stuff, but in the end of the game, BYU will be on top.

Mike: Virginia was awful last year and is frankly a perennially weak ACC team year over year.  There is nothing to suggest they will have a breakout season.  The Cavs will be ready for BYU, but this is a road game BYU should win.

Bronco4. Last year, BYU’s defense was dominant.  They have been told since the end of last season that they can’t repeat this year.  What do you expect from this defense in Charlottesville?

Carl: Is it wrong to say I expect them to come out and dominate like they’ve been to this dance before?  I don’t see any reason why the defense won’t shut down UVA’s running attack and make them 1-dimensional with an unknown starting QB.  I’m confident that they won’t over-hype themselves in to playing poorly.  I expect them to act like this is nothing new and that we’ve been dominating defensively for years.

Matt: This defense will be flying to the ball.  The front 7 will be pressuring all day and since they’ll only know to game plan for Kyle Van Noy, the likes of Bronson Kaufusi and Spencer Hadley will be pressuring their young quarterback and forcing errors.  The linebackers should keep the run game pretty much in check as well which will force 3rd and long situations that will play right into Nick Howell’s defense.  I expect the Cavs will have some moderate success as they have an advantage of playing in August in the humidity of Virginia, but BYU’s defense will rule the day.

Mike: I like to think Bronco is hooked on great, not good, defense.  In my opinion, the difference between 2012 and the rest of Bronco’s defenses were the athletes.  Last year BYU had two USC transfers and a top 5 NFL pick.  Bronco likes spreading his “Talent is Overrated” message, but as stubborn as Bronco can be, even he has to see what his scheme can do when he has “Talent”.  Away from KVN, BYU will have vastly less talent this year, but I still expect Bronco’s defense to look good week one.  That may have more to do with a weak Virginia offense than anything.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 6.22.02 PM5.  Does BYU win or lose this game and why?

Carl: I like BYU, but it won’t be easy.  They have to control the emotions from both teams, stay focused and in control.  If they can control tempo, this should be a good warm up for what lies ahead for the Cougars.  But I figure they’ll struggle to get their legs and emotions underneath them.  They could find themselves in a grind-it-out game in to the 4th quarter.  But BYU is more experienced and should be more talented to get a win in any type of situation.

Matt: BYU will win but I think that is because our offense vs. their defense will be just a bit better than their offense vs. our defense.  While that sounds stupidly simplistic, let me explain.  Our offense will struggle to play in the heat and humidity.  They will struggle with a new quarterback and a new play book.  But they will find success because the playmakers on offense are that good.  Defensively, I expect the Cougars to own the day and allow no more than 2 field goals to the Cavaliers.  In the end, our offense will have to score; I wouldn’t expect anything less than 17 points.

Mike: Again this game reminds me of Georgia Tech in 2012; a below average opponent in a less-than-hostile environment. I have this as one of my 8 wins for BYU this year.

About the author

Matt Quinney

I'm a BYU guy and I'm not going to apologize for my opinions, but I also am a graduate of the University of Utah so my allegiances go both ways. I've been a sports fan as long as I can remember and when I blog, you'll see a lot of Cougars, some Jazz and Utes, and an occasional post about RSL or even the Dallas Cowboys.

  • LouisD

    I hear a lot of gross underestimation of BYU’s offense though I do believe the comment about heat and humidity for Virginia are valid. The Ol Miss game two years back played out exactly as I expected and the lower mid continent humidity range and the temperatures were spot on matches for the historic record and very similar to what BYU had been practicing in up in Provo where August is the Monsoon month (high heat and humidity). Ultimately I like the BYU D to shut down Virginia though they will have some big plays. 6-12 points is my prediction. Offensively I think BYU looks polished in some of the same ways it has in the past, but not in the Mendenhall era. I believe that changes with the new attacking philosophy and more plays per minute. BYU scores 31 (or more).