Notebook: Inside UVA’s 41-33 loss at #21 BYU

uva-logo-new2UVA dominates stats, except for the important one: Virginia outgained #21 BYU by nearly 200 yards, had more than twice as many first downs, had the ball twice as long, and still lost.

It wasn’t turnovers, maybe the lack of them, at least on the Brigham Young side. The ‘Hoos had forced 13 opponent turnovers in their first three games, but the Cougars didn’t cough up the ball once on Saturday.

“We needed to force turnovers. We just have to get off the field. If the offense scores 33 points, we need to win the game,” said linebacker Max Valles, who had five tackles and a sack in the loss.

Virginia did commit two turnovers, one that led to a second-quarter BYU field goal, the second that didn’t lead to points, but possibly kept the Cavs off the board. Facing fourth-and-literally-an-inch at the BYU 40 midway through the third quarter, Greyson Lambert fumbled on a quarterback sneak to snuff out the drive.

Get that first down, get some points on the board, who knows what happens from there.

Virginia also hurt itself with struggles in finishing out drives. Ian Frye, to his credit, was a perfect 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts, but one came after the ‘Hoos lined up to go for a fourth-and-goal at the 1 early in the second quarter before a false-start penalty forced the kick, and a second came at the end of the first half when UVA played it conservative inside the 10 and settled for three.

“We’re encouraged by a lot of things that happened statistically, but the end result is we didn’t win the football game. You play to win games, and our execution wasn’t good enough to win,” coach Mike London said.

 

Johns shines in relief effort: London had again resisted naming a starting quarterback, but was clearly settled on Greyson Lambert, who ran for a score and threw for 188 yards on 21-of-35 passing. But after consciously going to a quarterback rotation in wins over Richmond and Louisville, London was forced to de facto backup Matt Johns late in the third quarter after Lambert went down with a lower-leg injury.

Johns did well in his latest relief effort, leading Virginia on three scoring drives while throwing for 139 yards on 14-of-23 passing in little more than a quarter of work.

“We are fortunate to have quarterbacks to step in when someone gets hurt and come in and play well,” said wideout Canaan Severin, who had four catches for 58 yards in the loss. “That is the same with the wide receivers and the tight ends and the running backs. We have depth, and we trust anyone who is in the game.”

There was no word after the game about Lambert’s status for next week’s home game with Kent State. Expect the either/or to return to the two-deep on Monday.

Maybe that’s not the worst thing, as good as Johns looked again in relief.

“At the end of the day we didn’t win, and it’s frustrating, but I think our offense gave us a chance,” Johns siad. “And at the end of the day that’s all you can ask for. This team never gives up. I’m so proud of our guys.”

 

BYU’s MVP? The punter: Scott Arellano had as much impact as you can imagine a punter having on a game. He averaged 59 yards per punt on his first four kicks, including two third-quarter kicks that gave BYU field position that translated into touchdown drives, then pinned Virginia at its own 2 for its final drive in the fourth quarter.

The ‘Hoos eventually scored on a 13-play, 98-yard drive after that last punt, but the fact that the drive started so deep in UVA territory helped bleed clock, forcing Virginia to go for an onside kick after the TD that Brigham Young recovered to clinch the game.

And so it was that Arellano was in the media room after the game, answering questions.

“Our sports psychologist talked today about staying in the zone and not being too extreme. I had a rough warm-up and wasn’t very happy about my pregame, but our first punt came along, and I made great contact with it, and from that point I just started having a lot of fun and felt really good. When I start having fun, I start stacking one on top of one another,” Arellano said.

– Column by Chris Graham

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