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PROVO — The Virginia Cavaliers travel to Provo this week to take on BYU in what is turning out to be a big game for both teams. This week, BYU is ranked No. 21 nationally and Virginia is still soaking in its upset over previously ranked No. 21 Louisville.
BYU fans can’t forget losing to a poor Virginia team last year 19-16, and Virginia fans can’t forget their disappointing 2-10 2013 season. While the Cougars want redemption this year, Virginia head coach Mike London is prepared for a much improved BYU squad.
“We are preparing hard for a very, very good BYU football team,” London said. “The players are excited about this opportunity to play against another top 25 team. Coach Mendenhall has done a fantastic job over the years with BYU.”
While BYU’s quarterback situation is set in stone, Virginia’s isn’t as much. In 33 of the 51 games London has coached, he has had at least two quarterbacks attempt one or more passes in a game. The two Virginia quarterbacks are Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns, who have combined for 604 yards and five passing touchdowns this year.
We are preparing hard for a very, very good BYU football team. The players are excited about this opportunity to play against another top 25 team. Coach Mendenhall has done a fantastic job over the years with BYU.
London said, “It will be a play it by ear situation, but both quarterbacks practice with the first and second teams, they take all the reps, so we are committed to putting the best quarterback (and) the best guy out there that can handle the situation as the game unfolds.”
While unsure of his main quarterback, London is very aware of how much BYU quarterback Taysom Hill has improved from last year along with the rest of the team.
“There are a lot of similarities (from last year’s BYU team) but the biggest thing is their quarterback. Hill does a fantastic job of running their offense, whether he is running the ball (or) throwing the ball. You see teams so stacked up on him and then he throws the ball, you see them backed off on him and he hands the ball off or he has a chance to get it to his playmakers. He is a very, very good player. He has improved a lot as you hope all guys do when they come back to play another year, but he is definitely a really, really good football player.”
In Virginia’s last two games, it has forced 11 turnovers. Five of those 11 forced turnovers came from pass interceptions, which may pose a threat to BYU’s thus far dominating offense. “As an ex D-line guy … the best pass defense is a pass rush, and I think we’ve got two really good guys that can put pressure on the quarterback,” London said. “Guys have really taken to heart the fact that they pride themselves in creating turnovers by the things they’ve been taught but also playing fast and hard and aggressive. It’s a mindset that you develop, and the guys right now have done a really good job at doing that.”
BYU vs. Virginia is set to kick-off at 1:30 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.
Contact Lindsey Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LindsPetey.