BYU Cougars vs. Virginia Cavaliers Complete Game Preview
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BYU will kick off the 2013 season on Saturday afternoon against UVA, and a trip across the country to Charlottesville could be tougher than it appears. The Cavaliers will field a solid team, and playing on the road will add to the difficulty.
It will be a fun game to watch, as it will be the unveiling of the new Cougar offense. If Robert Anae's unit works as planned, BYU could walk away with an esteem-building win.
So, here is all you need to know about the Cougar-Wahoo matchup.
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Place: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Virginia
TV: ESPNU, ESPN3
Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)
Spread: BYU -1
Virginia's Keys to Victory
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Good Quarterback performance: UVA will not return last year's duo of quarterbacks, Phillip Sims and Michael Rocco but will instead field redshirt sophomore signal-caller David Watford. He will need to make his reads and deliver solid passes in order for the Cavaliers to win the opener.
Successful protection from the offensive line: Every good quarterback has to have a good line, and if Watford is planning on leading UVA to victory, he will need great protection. Facing Cougar playmakers including Kyle Van Noy and Spencer Hadley, the line, anchored by Morgan Moses, will need to protect the backfield.
Endurance from defensive players: The whole purpose of BYU's revamped offense is to put points on the board by wearing down the defense, and UVA will need to be prepared for that. If the Cavaliers can substitute properly and keep fresh players on the field, they will have a much better shot at preventing Cougar trips to the end zone.
BYU's Keys to Victory
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Get Cody Hoffman the ball: Sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill will be making his third collegiate start on Saturday, and if there's any way to get less pressure off his back, it will be to throw to Cody Hoffman. The senior standout has left his mark at BYU and will continue to do so as the season wears on. He will play the role of the star on the Cougar offense and will be critical in their success.
Establish a solid running game: The offensive line has been a big question mark throughout the offseason, and if it can open holes for the running backs early on in the game, it could change the entire outcome. Having a threat on the ground will open up the aerial attack, and the sooner, the better.
Consistency from the secondary: I don't expect this year's secondary to be outstanding, but if it is consistent, it will be enough. If they can prevent UVA from completing the deep ball over and over, the defense will be in much better situations.
Cavalier Players to Watch
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(See full depth chart here.)
David Watford (QB): I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a successful quarterback, as the signal-caller is the team's leader. It's a daunting task for someone coming off of a redshirt year, and we will watch how well Watford can adjust.
Morgan Moses (RT): The cornerstone of UVA's offense is lineman Morgan Moses. The 6'6", 335-pound tackle is on just about every preseason watch list possible for a lineman.
Demetrious Nicholson (CB): As one of the "old guys" in a very, very youthful defense, Nicholson will be a big key to success but also a leader. The cornerback started every game last year and is a likely candidate to be an all-conference player.
Cougar Players to Watch
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(See full depth chart here.)
Kyle Van Noy (LB): Despite having an opportunity to be a likely first-round NFL draft pick, the Reno native chose to return for his senior season at BYU. The dream-crushing, quarterback-smashing linebacker will definitely be someone to keep an eye on.
Cody Hoffman (WR): As an All-American wideout, Hoffman will be someone who will have the ball a lot. The leader of this year's loaded receiver group, the 6'4" speedster will find the end zone plenty of times this season.
Taysom Hill (QB): What's a "key players" list without a quarterback? Sophomore Taysom Hill will start under center for the Cougs, and as a true sophomore with little collegiate experience, the opener on Saturday will be this year's first glance at his potential.
What They Are Saying
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UVA head coach Mike London on Kyle Van Noy, according to The Salt Lake Tribune: "We will try to do some things to hopefully minimize his effectiveness. … He definitely has talent. He’s one of the best [players] in the country."
BYU's Van Noy on David Watford, via Deseret News: “Their quarterback’s really mobile. He can throw and he’s big.”
UVA's Tre' Nicholson had this to say, according to The Daily Progress:
It's pretty big. It's the first game of the season and the first one is always the biggest one. As coach says, we can't worry about the crowd, who's there or not there. We're the ones on the field and have to execute. Playing games like this is definitely going to push you a little harder going against a better opponent.
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It will be a fun game to watch, but BYU's defense will come out strong and hold Virginia's offense to little scoring. The Cougar offense will get rolling and wear down the D before long and will slowly pull away.
In all, it will be a fun game to watch, but the Cougs will come out on top.
Final Prediction: BYU wins, 24-7