When the Broncos have the ball
The quarterback shuffle: All eyes will be on the Boise State quarterback platoon of true freshman Brett Rypien and sophomore Tommy Stuart. Coaches have indicated both will play in packages tailored to their skills. Stuart is the bigger run threat; Rypien has the better arm. Both made their Boise State debuts last week against Idaho State, which likely has the least-athletic defense on the Broncos’ schedule. Virginia might have the most athletic. “Maybe they’re crazy enough to not even think about (the situation),” coach Bryan Harsin said. “Why not? Just go out and attack it.”
Turnover drought: Virginia is one of two teams in the FBS without a takeaway this season. The Cavs will try to break that funk against a Boise State offense that has been turnover prone with two against Washington and three against BYU.
When the Cavaliers have the ball
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Look familiar? Virginia, like Boise State, is known for its wide variety of formations and personnel groupings. The Broncos’ experience facing that style of offense in practice will help, but the Cavaliers are different. For example, tailback Taquan Mizzell is the nation’s most productive receiver out of the backfield. “You can’t fall asleep,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “Every single play it’s: ‘What are they trying to set up? Who are they trying to get the ball to?’ ”
The quarterback must go down: The Broncos aren’t satisfied with their seven sacks this season (tied for 30th in the nation). The Cavaliers are tied for 23rd nationally with just three sacks allowed. “We’re doing some good things with the run game,” defensive line coach Steve Caldwell said. “We’ve got to create some pass rush though. We’re not where we need to be yet.”
Wale, Rausa deliver: Boise State’s kicking combo of punter Sean Wale and kicker Tyler Rausa, both juniors, has produced excellent results so far. Wale has placed seven of his 17 punts inside the 20-yard line with just one touchback. Rausa has made all three of his field-goal attempts, including a 45-yarder, and forced touchbacks with more than half of his kickoffs.
Watch out for Canady: Virginia senior Maurice Canady returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown last week against William & Mary, the Cavaliers’ first punt-return touchdown since 2004. He returned a blocked field goal 65 yards for a touchdown last year.
Groza semifinalist: Virginia senior Ian Frye was a candidate for the nation’s top kicking award last season, when he made 22 field goals. He’s 3-for-5 this year.