The most points the BYU football team has scored this season is 35, and it came five games ago in a win over South Florida.
The Virginia Cavaliers have scored fewer than 30 points just once this season.
As the No. 25 Cougars (6-2) and Cavaliers (6-2) prepare to face off Saturday — a game that will mark Bronco Mendenhall’s first return to BYU since taking the head job at Virginia in 2015 — it’s clear that not only will BYU’s defense have to employ its best vise grip, but its offense might have to keep pace with Virginia’s.
The Cavaliers have the second best passing offense in the country, and the fourth best total offense. It also has the most first downs of any team in NCAA football.
BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said Wednesday that what makes that side of the ball special for the Cougars is its versatility. Need to eat clock with the run game? No hay problema. Need to speed things up and make some long passes? Pas de problème.
“We’ve won games various ways this year,” Roderick said.
Which means if the Cougars find themselves in a barn burner against Virginia, they fell confident that they have plenty of gasoline to bring to the firefight.
“You look at our roster, top to bottom, we’re set to do something like that,” BYU quarterback Jaren Hall said when asked if the team is prepared for a potentially high-scoring game. “Now we’ve just got to go and do it.”
Junior offensive lineman Joe Tukuafu said the Cougars have a strong run game. They have a capable passing game. Their tight ends can catch, their quarterback can throw.
So Tukuafu is not concerned about producing enough offense, either.
“As long as we execute all the plays that we should, we’ll be able to go toe-to-toe if it goes down like that,” Tukuafu said.
Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong is second in the country at passing yards per game at 402.5. BYU coach Kalani Sitake said that aside from Armstrong’s elite talent, the Ohio native has “moxie” as well as elite leadership.
“When you have all that combined with all the skill that they have on the team, you’re going to score a lot of points and make a lot of defenses look silly,” Sitake said. “So, we’ve got to be ready to work and we’ve got to make sure that we don’t make a lot of mistakes because they can put you in a bind with matchups and a lot of different things.”
Regardless of how good Virginia’s offense has been, Roderick knows BYU won’t beat the Cavaliers with just scoring alone.
“Our offense, defense and special teams complement each other,” Roderick said. “Our styles fit together in a way where we do our best to control the game as a team.”