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Sunday Afternoon QB: 3 lessons from BYU's high-scoring win over Virginia

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Neil Pau'u (2) celebrates a touchdown as BYU and Virginia play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. BYU won 66-49.

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Neil Pau'u (2) celebrates a touchdown as BYU and Virginia play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. BYU won 66-49. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

PROVO β€” The BYU Cougars faced former coach Bronco Mendenhall and his Virginia Cavaliers Saturday night in a shootout that resulted in 115 points scored and over 1,300 yards of offense between the two teams.

The Cougars ended up on top and won Mendenhall's return to Provo 66-49. There was a lot going on in an absolutely crazy game, but we learned a few things during the Cougars' seventh win of the season.

Here are three lessons from BYU's high-scoring win over Virginia.

The bend, don't break defense is for an entire game and not just a series

The BYU defense has its critics, and I would have to assume there are many β€” me included β€” who has become frustrated a time or two during this 2021 season. Overall, the defense has played quite well; and even though they gave up 49 points to Virginia, the defense actually had a strong showing.

When most of us think of a bend, don't break defense, we think of letting an offense drive on a series and then buckling down and stopping them from getting into the end zone. It would seem, however, that doesn't seem to be the case with this BYU defense. It's more the idea that they'll let opposing offenses gain yards and score points.

But that seems to give the defense and their coaches something to learn from and make adjustments. That seemed to be the approach for the Virginia game.

The Cougars started off strong and only gave up 7 points to the most prolific offense in college football. Then, the second quarter hit and the defense gave up 35 points going into halftime down by 3. And while 49 points is a lot to give up in a game, BYU's defense made adjustments, changed assignments and schemes and held the Cavaliers to just 7 points the entire second half.

It's one of the craziest box scores I've ever seen, but the BYU defense deserves more credit in this win than they seem to be getting.

When Jaren Hall is on he doesn't need his legs

A healthy Jaren Hall is a scary quarterback to opposing teams. Hall finished the game with a career high 349 yards through the air and three touchdowns. He also had 42 yards on the ground and one touchdown. The star of the game, though, was Tyler Allgeier, and it was deserved with 266 yards and five touchdowns. But Hall was the quiet X-factor.

Hall was poised and his throws were on target. He missed a few and a couple were nearly picked off, but overall he had a phenomenal game. The windows he found to drop some of his passes were jaw-dropping. The long touchdown toss to Puka Nacua was one such throw.

Hall is dynamic and a fast and agile runner, but he didn't need those tricks Saturday night. He made some impressive moves with his feet, but it was his arm and decision making that made the difference for BYU's best offensive performance in a very long time.

2021 still has potential to be a special season for BYU

The BYU Cougars have two losses on the season, but they also have seven wins and five of those are against Power Five opponents. They also have one more shot at a P5 before the season ends.

BYU is currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, and while it's a long shot, a New Year's Six bowl is not completely off the table if the Cougars can win out. That's not an easy ask with a trip to LA to face USC at the end of the season.

In all likelihood, BYU will end up accepting an invitation to the Independence Bowl when the dust on the 2021 regular season settles, but even that isn't the end of the world.

That bowl after a strong season with some big wins would be disappointing, but the Cougars would also have a double-digit win season with a Top 25 ranking for the second straight year.

A NY6 would be nice for Cougar Nation, but even with two losses, not all is lost. 2021 still has the potential to be a very special season for BYU.

Up next, the Cougars will take on Idaho State at home on Nov. 6.

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