When the 2013 schedule was announced this past winter, everyone knew this would be one of the toughest schedules, if not the toughest, in BYU’s history. Every game on the 2013 schedule with the exception of Idaho State and Middle Tennessee State could be considered a toss-up at this point. So today’s game with Virginia is huge for a chance to be ranked in the Top 25, to get 10 wins, and to ultimately be in the national conversation.
Today’s game reminds me in so many ways of the 2011 game at Ole Miss. New offensive staff, a quarterback that is the clear cut starter, a road game in a venue BYU doesn’t travel to very often, and it’s an opponent that is coming off a subpar season. The expectation heading into that Ole Miss game was a lot of fireworks from the offense, that obviously didn’t happen. BYU pulled out a win 14-13 over the Rebels in SEC country, but it set a precedent that the 2011 team was not as good as advertised. Throughout that season BYU struggled offensively and never performed well against quality opponents. This game today with the Cavaliers will give us a strong indicator of what the 2013 Cougars can be.
It is imperative for BYU’s offense to get off to a fast start. Since the likes of Max Hall, Dennis Pitta, and Harvey Unga left BYU in 2009 the Cougar offense has been nothing stellar. It would be great for BYU’s mindset heading into the daunting schedule of 2013 with a solid performance offensively. We know BYU’s defense will play well. Will they give up some big plays to the Wahoos? I think so. You lose your starting cornerback and have two new players starting at the position, yeah, there’s going to be moments where the defense breaks. But overall, the D will do enough for BYU to win on Saturday. But can the offense perform at a high level? I think the tempo is a bit blown out of proportion, but they need to be efficient and have big plays. When was the last time BYU had a quick strike drive that resulted in a TD? Not many from last season come to mind.
Finally, BYU needs to have the attitude that they are the better team. Virginia is a solid program with rich history. But nothing about Virginia Football since legendary head coach George Welsh retired has been anything of note from the Cavalier program. BYU crushed a better Georgia Tech team last year in Atlanta, BYU is capable of doing the same today on the Cavaliers. But do they have the attitude and the talent to execute and get it done?
With a potential win today, BYU finishes the first month of the season at home with three straight games in LES. Get this one and you could be looking at a BYU program with national headlines surrounding them and a chance to crack the top 25 polls with huge games looming.