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PROVO — The Cougars addressed the media one final time on Wednesday as they gear up for a rematch with Virginia this Saturday. BYU enters the game with a perfect 3-0 record, while the Cavaliers are riding the momentum of a 23-21 upset over then 21st ranked Louisville.
BYU fell to Virginia in Charlottesville last season in a devastating 19-16 loss, but the Cougars say this year will be different.
“This is going to be a great game,” said junior running back Jamaal Williams. “Last year, we weren’t all there. We were still trying to figure out who we are.”
As offensive coaches and players talked about this year’s Virginia team, they all noted the dominant threat the Cavaliers pose on the defensive side of the ball. Virginia is ranked 17th in the nation in run defense, allowing only 84.7 rushing yards per game.
Senior wide receiver Jordan Leslie says he realizes the added pressure this puts on his squad.
“It’s gonna be a physical game for us,” Leslie said. “We’re gonna have to come out and be strong, and make plays downfield.”
The Cougars have struggled with the long ball through the first three games. BYU is one of only 24 FBS teams without a pass play of 40+ yards. Receivers coach Guy Holliday says long pass plays are still definitely part of the Cougars’ game plan, but he isn’t overly concerned with how things have played out so far.
“We’re completing 68-70 percent of our passes, so you really can’t complain about that,” Holliday said. “Yeah, I’d like to throw every ball deep and catch 60 percent of those. We’d be really good, but that’s not realistic … it’s gonna be relative to what we get from the defense.”
Despite having no completions over 40 yards this season, the Cougars have managed a 3-0 record in large part due to a talented dual-threat quarterback in Taysom Hill. Hill had 26 carries for 160 yards in last week’s matchup against Houston and said the added contact didn’t have any lasting effects.
“I felt fine after the game,” Hill said. “I’m ready and willing to do what it takes to win the football game, so that’s my mindset.”
“The one thing about Taysom that makes him special is that he’s a playmaker,” coach Holliday said. “We’re looking to balance [the offense] out a little more, but man, if you don’t think No. 4 is special, we’re not watching the same game. … As long as we’re winning, I’m gonna celebrate.”
Holliday briefly addressed Nick Kurtz’s rehab. He said Kurtz is on schedule to return within the original 6-8 week estimation, which would put him back on the field for the Utah State game in Provo on Oct. 3.
When asked if the coaching staff had considering redshirting Kurtz, Holliday said they would evaluation the situation based on what’s best for the team and Kurtz individually, but they’re currently planning on him returning to play as soon as he’s healthy. Sydney Carlson is a KSL sports radio intern and BYUtv Sports producer. You can follow her on Twitter @sydneykayc