VANQUISH THE FOE: The quarterback situation at UVA has been flux with Grayson Lambert and Matt Johns both getting reps under center. With a slightly stronger showing against Louisville, has Mike London settled on Lambert?
Paul Wiley: I think you'll still see both get some reps, but Lambert should be getting the lion's share. This debate has raged among the UVa faithful since Johns played so well against UCLA. But Johns has faded a bit and Lambert really came on strong in the last two weeks, especially against a quality Louisville defense. We're used to QB uncertainty, but we don't like it, so I would feel pretty comfortable saying that most UVa fans are looking for a decision to be made so the offense can find its footing.
VANQUISH THE FOE: Taysom Hill is much improved from when BYU and UVA faced a year ago. Is the junior quarterback more of a threat to run or pass against this UVA defense?
Paul Wiley: Given how well the UVa defense has played, neither? Is that too glib? In all seriousness, Hill is a phenomenal quarterback and deserves all the Heisman hype he's gotten the past few weeks. I'm sure Jon Tenuta has had a few nightmares prepping for Saturday. That said, I don't know if he's necessarily faster than Eli Harold and Max Valles. Brett Hundley wasn't, Reggie Bonafon wasn't, and they both took some abuse. I have concerns about how our young (extremely talented, but young) CBs cover deep balls, so there could be some openings there for Hill to burn us deep. Especially off play-action, if his OL can give him time to throw against an aggressive Tenuta scheme.
VANQUISH THE FOE: The BYU defense is coming off a victory over Houston where they allowed 10 yards on the ground. How much of a factor will the rushing attack, led by Kevin Parks, be a part of this game?
Paul Wiley: It should be really good. There's way too much talent in the offensive backfield to be as anemic as we are running the football. Kevin Parks ran for over 1,000 yards last year, and we were TERRIBLE. Taquan Mizzell and Khalek Shepherd and Daniel Hamm each bring a different gear and a different look to the backfield. But so long as we're trying to run out of the shotgun without legitimate read-option looks, all we're doing is starting three yards deep and giving the defense time to get to the ballcarrier.
I think this offense is designed to use the run to set up play-action; it's sad that after a year-plus of it, the best I can do is guess at what Steve Fairchild is trying to do. Perhaps with Lambert emerging as more of a passing threat, some lanes will open up for Parks. But if Virginia is going to win this game, it won't be because we poured on the points.
VANQUISH THE FOE: The UVA defense is the heart and soul of this football team. Who are the key playmakers that BYU needs to game plan for?
Paul Wiley: As I mentioned above, Eli Harold and Max Valles, just freaks of nature both. Valles is a converted TE who has taken to OLB like a fish to water. Henry Coley is the brains of the operation; not the flashiest player, but will hardly ever get caught out of position and can make a QB's life miserable on a delay blitz. Both safeties can be pretty special when they're on. Y'all got to experience the Anthony Harris Show up close and personal last year, and five-star freshman Quin Blanding is looking more comfortable each game. The best thing about this defense this year is that Tenuta can use one playmaker to apply pressure, and another to capitalize on the mistake that pressure causes.
VANQUISH THE FOE: BYU fans are familiar with the UVA offensive coordinator from his days at CSU. Tell us how you really feel about Steve Fairchild.
Paul Wiley: No. You seem like nice people who run a family blog, and I can't say those things if children might read them.
VANQUISH THE FOE: After two straight wins and a quality performance against UCLA, is this the most confident you have seen this UVA football team under Mike London?
Paul Wiley: No. Because I don't trust Steve Fairchild to not screw it up. Plus we did have a season under London that we won eight games and went to the Chick Fil A Bowl. I think there's more optimism right now than there has been in a long time, in part because some of the dumbest mistakes of the last two years haven't reared their ugly heads just yet. With a team whose key players are still so young (Lambert's a sophomore, most of our WRs have two or three years left, Harold is a junior, Valles is only a sophomore, etc etc), there is some hope around Charlottesville that things are at least headed in the right direction.
VANQUISH THE FOE: How do you see the game playing out?
Paul Wiley: It's going to be a dogfight. LaVell Edwards would be heart-broken over the type of game I anticipate this being. I wouldn't be shocked if BYU won 17-13. I wouldn't be surprised if UVa won 17-13. I would be surprised if either team scores 20 points. Seriously. I think in the end, UVa's first road game of the year provides another teachable moment and the Cougars get revenge for last year's bizarre loss in Cville. I'll go BYU, 19-14.