BYU may have failed at times on one side of the ball, but the Cougars exceeded all expectations where it counted.
The offense went off for a season-high 66 points in a shootout with visiting Virginia in LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, and BYU improved to 7-2 with the program’s 600th win. The victory bumped the Cougars up eight spots on the AP Top 25 Poll, to No. 17.
“We knew from the beginning they had an explosive offense,” BYU quarterback Jaren Hall said. “We were prepared and had a good game plan, and just executed along the way.”
The Cavaliers came in as the No. 3 offense in the country (they are now No. 2 in total offense) and averaging 50 points a game. They still managed to score 49 points, but were outperformed by BYU on offense.
The Cougars’ offensive performance was unlike anything they’ve seen this season. BYU opened the game scoring on its first four drives.
Overall, the Cougars scored on 10 of their 15 drives (nine touchdowns, one field goal).
By the end of the night, BYU put up 734 total offensive yards — 349 passing yards and 385 rushing yards, and made 83 offensive plays.
“Man, it was fun on offense,” wide receiver Puka Nacua said. “We had such a rhythm and flow. … Every time we stepped on the field, we’ve got to get a touchdown. That’s what we need. We need points on this board every time we get on the field. Super proud of my boys on offense, and super grateful for those guys on defense.”
Although the BYU defense ultimately made the needed adjustments, the Cougars did let a 21-0 start go to waste and gave up 35 points in the second half alone.
“It was expected,” Hall said. “We knew they’re a good offense and we’d have to keep rolling, and that’s what we did. So they got up, scored a couple touchdowns and got the lead back, but it didn’t deflate us at all. We just kept rolling, kept doing our thing and moving the ball.”
Linebacker Payton Wilgar said it was nice to see his offensive teammates having such a big output, which helped keep the defense in the game.
“That’s the beauty of the sport,” Wilgar said. “When the defense is struggling, the offense has got our back, and vice versa. To have an offense that can put up points like they did, it makes it a lot easier on the defense.”
Making quick time
BYU was quick to score in what it expected to be a high-scoring game.
The Cougars scored in 1:18 on their opening drive — and again on the second drive of the game. In fact, six of BYU’s 10 scoring drives were completed in less than two minutes. Two scores were made in less than a minute.
A big part of that was Hall’s performance.
The fourth-year sophomore, who just now completed his eighth complete career game, threw for a career-high 349 yards and three touchdowns. He connected with seven different receivers and was responsible for managing the ground game, which exploded with a career-high 266 yard and five touchdown performance from Tyler Allgeier.
BYU coach Kalani Sitake said what stands out about Hall’s ability to command the offense is his timing.
“He seems to know where to go with the ball no matter what the defense does,” Sitake said. “Defensively, Virginia did a lot of different things to try to confuse him and they brought some pressure. He made them pay. I think when you have a quarterback that can see things and go through the progression in the passing game it’s hard to do. And these guys have done it. I feel comfortable with all the other quarterbacks doing that, but I’m happy to see Jaren make that move and create some space with his legs. I thought he made good decisions. Obviously, there were a couple times where he probably shouldn’t have thrown the ball, but I mean, we trust him. We’ll see what happens, but I think it’s getting better every week.”