Home Game Preview: How does UVA football stack up against Boise State?

Game Preview: How does UVA football stack up against Boise State?


uva-logo-new2boise stateThe turf at Scott Stadium is still green, visually boring, no doubt, for Boise State fans tuning in to see their Broncos taking on UVA on ESPN Friday night.

The Cavs (1-2) are coming off a short week after winning at home on Saturday, 35-29, over FCS William and Mary. Boise State (2-1) plays lots of Friday nights, and is coming in off a normal schedule following a 52-0 win over Idaho State last Friday night.

That’s the good news for the Broncos. The bad news is that starting quarterback Ryan Finley was lost to injury in the win over Idaho State, and a bit of a QB battle has broken out since he went down in the second quarter of the blowout.

Redshirt sophomore Tommy Stuart and true freshman Brett Rypien split time in relief of Finley, and both performed well (Stuart was 9-of-13 passing for 69 yards, with 46 yards on the ground; Rypien was 8-of-9 passing for 126 yards).

Head coach Bryan Harsin didn’t declare a starter for the UVA game, and told reporters this week that he expects both will see time.

Not that it seems as if it would matter to Virginia who gets the game-time reps. The ‘Hoos D has been a sieve in 2015, weak against the pass, worse against the run, and yet to force a turnover through three games.

Somehow, Boise State is a mere 2.5-point favorite coming in.

UVA offense vs. Boise State defense: Virginia is averaging 375 yards of total offense per game. Quarterback Matt Johns is having a solid season (64-of-96, 790 yards, six touchdowns, three interceptions, 150.2 passer rating). The Cavs could get a boost with the return to action of wideout T.J. Thorpe, a speedster who will stretch defensive coverages. Maybe that opens things up for the running game, which has yet to get untracked (111.7 yards per game, 3.6 yards per carry). The Boise State defense has been solid, limiting opponents to 286 yards total offense per game and 1.7 yards per rush on the ground.

Boise State offense vs. UVA defense: The Broncos can move it on the ground (197.7 yards per game, 4.2 yards per carry) and through the air (234.3 yards passing per game, aggregate 130.8 passer rating). The UVA defense is a movable object – gashed on the ground (183.3 yards per game, 5.1 yards per rush) and through the air (261.3 yards per game, 155.3 opponent passer rating).

Special Teams: UVA placekicker Ian Frye has missed makeable kicks in the 40-49 range each of the past two weeks. Punt Nicholas Conte had a kick blocked for a safety last week, but is otherwise averaging 49.6 yards per punt. Maurice Canady returned a punt for a TD last week, but kick returners are averaging a paltry 13.8 yards per runback. Boise State averages 19.8 yards per kick return, does little on punt returns, and punter Sean Wale averages 40.8 yards per kick, but has placed seven of his 17 punts inside the 20.

How this one plays out: UVA can’t stop anybody, and Boise State isn’t just anybody. The Broncos will move the ball consistently on offense. The Boise State D is solid, and will get enough stops against a Virginia offense that gets most of its production from a few big plays, with long bouts of one-yard runs filling the space in between. Special teams are a wash. UVA has home-field, and the pressure of playing to prevent its coach on the hot seat from a 1-3 start that will doom his continued tenure.

Final: Boise State 24, UVA 13

– Preview by Chris Graham



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