Ah, Virginia. The green rolling hills, beautiful campus, friendly people, and oppressive humidity that can stop a herd of elephants in their tracks. Virginia fans commented that they could never remember a game being delayed because of weather before – much less being required to evacuate the stadium. My thanks to whoever at UVA opened the Rice building across from Scott Stadium for us to take refuge in during the storm/delay.
BYU’s loss at Virginia was a tough one and left me frustrated and wanting more out of the team, and from the coaches.
- BYU’s defense. On a sloppy, wet field the Cougars’ defense held its own. They allowed only 223 total yards, and the longest drive allowed all game was 47 yards at the end of the first half that resulted in an improbable 53 yard field goal. The two touchdowns allowed came on drives of 16 and 13 yards which is a very tall order for any defense. I do think the defense can/should be more aggressive in getting after the quarterback and not giving the opposing offense time to get open on passing plays.
The Bad: There was so much bad, it’s hard to tell where to start.
- On offense, Taysom Hill is still a work in progress. He stares down his intended receiver from the snap, and never looks anywhere else. It’s not hard to tell where he’s going to throw the ball. He also seems slow to recognize the defense and to make decisions. He does seem to improvise well once on the run, however. The brace on his knee may be responsible for some of his slower reactions. He also wasn’t a very accurate passer. 13-40 for 175 yards are not the numbers we’re accustomed to seeing from BYU quarterbacks. That’s 32.5% and less than 4.5 yards per completion.
- While the offensive line ultimately opened enough running lanes for Jamaal Williams to pick up over 140 yards rushing, it looked like the overall performance of the O-line was weak. There were 14 tackles for loss or no gain against the offense. That’s too many, and that number has to come down.
- The punts take WAY too long to get off. I was surprised only one punt was blocked, and that one directly resulted in a touchdown. That has to get faster or we’re going to see many more blocked punts as the year continues and the competition gets much stronger.
- This is my only knock against attending the game in Charlottesville: getting out of the stadium after the game. I will never again complain about how long it takes to get out of LaVell Edwards Stadium after a game again. Charlottesville has narrow roads with only one lane running in each direction and that’s a recipe for disaster when trying to get that many people out of a stadium – and that was even after a lot of fans didn’t come back after the 2 hour delay. We sat on the shuttle bus for almost an hour to go 1.5 miles to get back to the handicapped parking lot (walking that kind of distance isn’t an option for me).
- The offensive play calling. At one point in the second quarter, a little 5 year old girl sitting with her family behind me asked “Daddy, why do they keep making the same play over and over? It’s not working.” When the 5 year old who’s only half paying attention can figure it out, you’d think Robert Anae could figure it out before that, but no. And what in the name of all that is good and right in the universe was he thinking when he called that pass play on third down in the 4th quarter?!?! It actually wasn’t a bad throw – it hit the receiver right in the hands and bounced off right to the defense. It was a gift, to be sure, but it should never have happened. Your defense is playing great, and you have all the momentum. RUN THE FREAKING BALL!!! Keep the clock running (or make Virginia call their last time out), punt the ball and make them put together a drive for the winning score – something they had been unable to do all game. I read where Anae took responsibility for the bad play call that led to the interception, but he shouldn’t have to acknowledge that he screwed up. He shouldn’t have screwed up. The play calling in this game reminded me of why I was so frustrated with Anae the first time he was here. I guess he didn’t learn much while he was away.
A lot of work is needed heading into next Saturday’s home opener against Texas, and for the rest of the season ahead, or this could shape up to be a frustrating year. Given BYU’s schedule, and what I saw on the field this past Saturday, I think right now we’ll be lucky to get to 6 wins and a bowl game.
Let me just say one other thing. I’ve been to a number of BYU away games. Utah, Notre Dame, Alabama, Air Force, and Texas have all been away destinations and, with the exception of Utah fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium, we have always been treated with nothing but kindness – and Virginia was no different. From the people we met and spoke to for 2 hours during the weather delay, to the fans on the shuttle bus after the game back to the parking lot, and everyone else we ran into. Nothing but warm smiles, sympathy (after the game), and good wishes – which is what I send to the Virginia Cavaliers and all their fans for the rest of the year.