BYU Football: 5 Lessons Learned from Week 1's Loss to Virginia
BYU entered the 2013 season on the wrong foot, suffering a bizarre road loss to Virginia. Despite gaining more offensive yards and leading for much of the game, the Cougars earned a frustrating loss to start the year.
There are many things to be taken from the game, both positive and negative. With a strong defense and plenty of offensive struggles, lessons are abundant, and here are five of them.
The Offense Has a Long Way to Go
BYU's offense has struggled in recent years, but with a revamped offensive staff, better things were expected this season. The inconsistency continued on Saturday, but there were several bright spots.
Although quarterback Taysom Hill had a rough day in the rain, Jamaal Williams averaged 4.4 yards per carry despite a poor showing from the offensive line. But aside from Williams and one long touchdown drive, there wasn't a whole lot to brag about.
The offense will need to take a big step up for Saturday's matchup against Texas or else it could be a long game.
The Defense Is Better Than Expected
After losing seven starters, the Cougar defense was expected to take a huge step down from last year's extraordinary level. Led by Uani 'Unga and Daniel Sorensen, the D held UVa to only 223 total yards and three yards per play.
BYU will surely play much better offenses than Virginia this season, but if Taysom Hill and the Cougar O can improve, the defense won't need to be outstanding.
'Unga's rib injury could be a huge blow to the solid unit, and BYU will need to recover from that.
Justin Sorensen Looks Much Better
After a dreadful year of Cougar place-kicking in 2012, it was a breath of fresh air to see Justin Sorensen drill a 36-yard field goal and a PAT last weekend. If the offense can get into the blue zone more frequently or in field-goal range, having a solid kicker will be much appreciated.
Sorensen has taken a lot of heat for last year's missed field goal at the conclusion of the Utah game, along with many other missed kicks. He looks much improved, if not simply healthy, this season.
Offensive Play-Calling Is Not Looking Good
Robert Anae made some questionable decisions against Virginia when it came to play-calling, and he hasn't been treated kindly for it. The offense sputtered after Anae tried to, over and over, run the ball behind a line that wasn't blocking the middle well.
At the start of the second quarter, Anae ran three straight running plays up the middle to Williams, and after 61 seconds, the ball was back in Virginia's hands.
The UVa game was filled with interesting play calls and disastrous time management, things that we can only hope will improve in future weeks.
Anae's 3rd-and-6 Decision Was Blown out of Proportion
Anae made some very questionable decisions against the Cavaliers, but respect has to be given where it is due. Taysom Hill's interception in the fourth quarter was not Anae's fault, and it was a respectable call to pass on third down with six yards to go.
The argument many Cougar fans have made is that Anae should have run the ball and punted and let the defense win the game. Problem is, the cornerstone of the D up until that quarter, Uani 'Unga, was on the sidelines with an injury. His backup, Austen Jorgensen, was in the game and had a missed tackle seconds later that led to Kevin Parks' game-winning touchdown.
Had Anae punted, we don't know what the outcome would have been. Would Virginia have scored? Would the defense have held strong? Considering what we do know, that 'Unga was out and Jorgensen does not have much experience, passing seems as the logical thing to do.
It may not have ended well, but it wasn't a stupid move. The decision was blown out of proportion, and it's understandable that Anae wouldn't trust a weakened D to handle Virginia at that point of the game.