If it's Friday, it's blogger Q&A. This week, SB Nation's BYU site Vanquish the Foe tackles our toughest inquiries
STL: So last year's game was ... weird. We'd like to apologize for making every commentary on BYU's season include the phrase "but they lost to Virginia!" How much are BYU fans looking for revenge this year?
VTF: What's this? BYU and Virginia played a game of football against each other last season? Whatever are you speaking of? But seriously I think I speak for the entire BYU fanbase when I say that we have done all that we can to forget about last years stale fart of a game. Murphy's Law held true in that everything that could have gone wrong for BYU, did indeed go wrong. The offense couldn't find any rhythm, the defense had their lapses and the specials teams were truly "special". It wasn't the same BYU team we saw the rest of the season. That being said, this game is at the top of the "must win" list for most BYU fans.
STL: Losing Kyle Van Noy from last year leaves a big gap to fill in the Cougars' defense. But BYU still looks stout on that side of the ball, ranking in the nation's top 25 for yards allowed per game. Who has stepped up this year and kept the defensive unit moving?
VTF: The new ring leader on defense would have to be safety Craig Bills who quite frankly has zero regard for the personal safety of others. In last week's game against Houston, Craig lit up multiple wide receivers who had the misfortune of running routes over the middle. Said hits prompted USAToday college football writer tweet "BYU plays right on the edge of being dirty. IF not over it." Don't expect to see any different from Bills on Saturday. Outside linebacker Alani Fui is also a big playmaker with his strong end rush presence and ability to stuff the run. It will be interesting to see if converted defensive end Bronson Kafusi will be healthy for this week's contest to run at the other outside linebacker position.
STL: What is it about Texas? Sure, they aren't Alabama, but y'all have beaten them like a drum two straight years. Beating a team so badly they fire their defensive coordinator is a whole other level of destruction. Did they say something? Did Joseph Smith really really hate cows, or burnt orange?
VTF: You know that one scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie decides that he's had it with yellow-eyed bully Scut Farkus and just beats the living tar out of him? I like to think that this is what happened between BYU and Texas. There was a common narrative within the BYU fanbase that Bronco Mendenhall's team always won the games they were supposed to win but they could never beat a ranked team when it mattered. So last season when the #21 ranked Longhorns came to town, Taysom Hill and company took off the gloves and delivered a smackdown. More fuel was added to the flame this offseason when BYU got flack from A CERTAIN UNNAMED CONFERENCE for not being included as a "Power Five School" in regards to scheduling requirements. Texas just happened to the first Power 5 school BYU faced this season and you saw how that went. Maybe the'll have something left if the tank for a certain ACC school from Charlottesville.
STL: Taysom Hill is an intriguing QB. Watching him play last year, he definitely had athleticism to burn. He doesn't seem to have lost anything on that front so far this year, as his name keeps creeping into Heisman chatter. What are the things he does that fit y'all's system so well? What are some weaknesses opponent may exploit?
VTF: The nickname of BYU's offense is Go Fast, Go Hard and that is exactly what Taysom Hill does best. There are few quarterbacks it the country that can outrun safeties and corners on one play and run over linebackers the next. The offense if set up in such a way that he can make plays and distribute the ball to all parts of the field. If he has room to operate, watch out.
Taysom could use some work in the downfield passing attack but that's just as much on him and it is on his offensive line and wide outs. The teams that BYU struggles the most with are those that play tight man coverage and can can get a good rush with only four down lineman. Because the receivers struggle to get off press coverage and the line is still developing, Taysom doesn't have time to make those throws downfield.He can still make throws under pressure but he is most effective passing when he has time in the pocket.
STL: Y'all have scored more than 30 every game so far, and rack up nearly 260 yards a game on the ground. Beyond Hill, who are the playmakers that fuel the BYU attack?
VTF: Taysom's running mate is Junior running back Jamaal Williams. He might not be the most physically gifted running back but you won't find a guy who fights harder for extra yardage than him. About three times a game you will see Jamaal push the pile a few more yards or carry a defender on his back in order reach the first down marker. The other two running backs Paul Lasike (converted rugby player) and Algie Brown aren't slouches either. Anyone who tries to arm tackle them will not be treated nicely. Wide receiver Jordan Leslie is turning into the go-to receiver for Hill and will likely receive the most targets. Look for newcomer Devon Blackmon to be a possible X factor in the game. He has seen limited time on the field due to his limited knowledge of the playbook but when we gets on the field, he is electric.
STL: Coming off a close game against Houston, with an off-week on tap before a quasi-rivarly game with Utah State, any chance Virginia catches BYU napping this week? Does the altitude come into play? Bottom line: who ya got?
VTF: Make no mistake, BYU is taking this UVA team VERY serious. After what happened last year, they know that the Hoo's are capable of beating them in a slugfest. There is a chance that this could have been a trap game if UVA would have lost to Louisville but beating a ranked team doesn't exactly make you more inconspicuous.
The sideline reporters on ESPN like to make a big deal about the altitude in Provo but I honestly don't think it makes that much of a difference. Sure, for the average joe who hasn't exercised since 2007 will have a hard time adjusting to the altitude. These are college athletes who have been training for years. If the altitude does become a major factor, Steve Fairchild should probably be fired.
I'll call this one 28-13 BYU with the Cougars pulling away in the second half. The Virginia defense is very impressive but I think their offense will put them in too many tough spots.