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What UVA Football fans need to know about the BYU Cougars

uva footballNotwithstanding the emotion that will surely be there for Bronco Mendenhall and his staff, the game in Provo between Virginia and BYU features two pretty good 6-2 teams.

The Cougars won back-to-back games against ranked teams (Utah and Arizona State) in Weeks 2 and 3, and their losses are to Boise State and Baylor, the latter now ranked 16th nationally.

Vegas has BYU as a 2.5-point favorite, but there’s a distinct home-field advantage for the Cougars in Provo, playing in LaVell Edwards Stadium, elevation 4,630 feet, nearly a mile high.

The home crowd is also known to be, if not caffeinated, a bit rowdy.

It will be, no doubt, the most intimidating atmosphere the 2021 Cavaliers will play in.

Offense

QB Jaren Hall (Pro Football Focus season grade: 86.3) is a game manager (1,348 yards, 9 TD/3 INT).

His line protects the heck out of him – he’s only faced pressure on 25 percent of his dropbacks.

Just under 40 percent of his pass attempts come off play-action, and he has a 110.5 NFL passer rating on those throws.

That’s because the Cougs can run the ball. Tailback Tyler Allgeier (PFF grade: 77.8) averages 107.6 yards per game and has scored 11 TDs on the ground.

And the bulk of his yards come the hard way, up the A gap – he has 522 yards on 100 attempts behind the center and between the guards, 60.6 percent of his total on the season.

Five receivers average at least two catches per game, led by Neil Pau’u (PFF grade: 79.2) with 37, Gunner Romney (PFF grade: 71.8) with 26, and Puka Nakua (PFF grade: 82.0), with 20 (with a 22.2 yards per catch average).

Romney is doubtful after suffering a knee injury in last week’s win over Washington State, as is center James Empey (PFF grade: 70.1).

Defense

BYU gives up 22.5 points and 386.3 yards per game. The D has forced 12 turnovers (1.5 per game) and has held opponents to 17 TDs on 30 red zone drives.

The front averages 14.4 QB pressures and 1.8 sacks per game, led by linebacker Payton Wilgar (PFF grade: 71.1), with two sacks and 10 QB pressures, defensive tackle Gabe Summers (PFF grade: 71.0), with 10 pressures, and defensive end Pepe Tanuvasa (PFF grade: 70.1), with two sacks and nine pressures.

The secondary is led by safety Malik Moore (PFF grade: 82.4), who has 23 tackles and three pass breakups, safety Chaz Ah You (PFF grade: 67.5), who is second on the team in tackles (39), with two pass breakups and one INT, and cornerback Caleb Hayes (PFF grade: 68.3), who leads the team in pass breakups (6) and has allowed just 13 pass completions in 28 targets (62.8 NFL pass rating against).

Special Teams

Placekicker Jacob Oldroyd (PFF grade: 68.2) is 14-of-15 on extra points and 6-of-9 on field goals, including 2-of-5 on kicks of 40+, with 16 of his 26 kickoffs going for touchbacks.

Punter Ryan Rehkow (PFF grade: 79.3) averages 48.9 yards per kick, with 16 punts of 50+, 10 downed inside the 20 and seven resulting in fair catches.

Story by Chris Graham