Five BYU Football Players To Watch For During Virginia Game

Oct 29, 2021, 2:45 PM
BYU Football - Jake Oldroyd...
Brigham Young Cougars placekicker Jake Oldroyd (39) celebrates his made field goal during a game against the Utah State Aggies in Logan on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football is back in the Top 25 rankings and looking for more. The Cougars host the Virginia Cavaliers in Provo for the first time since 2014. During that season, Bronco Mendenhall was the head coach at BYU. Now he’s going to be on the opposing sideline as the leader of the Hoos.

The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN2. If you’re at LaVell Edwards Stadium or watching at home, here are a handful of BYU players that you should be keeping an eye on during the sixth all-time meeting between the Cougars and Cavaliers.

Jaren Hall, Quarterback

It always starts with the quarterback position. Last week in the win over Washington State, Jaren Hall completed an impressive 75% of his passes. Last week, the game plan asked for a lot of running back Tyler Allgeier as he carried the rock 32 times.

But this week, BYU will likely need more from the passing game to counter Virginia’s prolific offensive attack. So look for Hall to air it out more than the 20 times in last week’s win.

Hall continues to get better with each week passing the football. This game has the makings to be another opportunity for Hall to have success.

Connor Pay, Center

With James Empey leaving last week’s game on crutches, BYU likely turns its attention to Connor Pay at the center position. Coming out of Lone Peak High School, Pay turned down Utah and UCLA to sign with BYU. He grew up a legacy recruit as his father played for the Cougars, but it was never a lock that he would play for BYU.

Kalani Sitake and Darrell Funk are likely happy that he ultimately signed with BYU football out of high school as Pay performed well as a backup at center last week and in last year’s bowl win over UCF. Sitake said Pay was a player of the game in the win over the Crimson Cougs on the Palouse.

Pay primarily played a lot of offensive tackle during his time at Lone Peak and likely never envisioned himself as a center in his collegiate career. Still, he has the makings to be another great one in the middle of the line for BYU.

Uriah Leiataua, Defensive End

Leiataua is one of two players on this year’s roster that signed a letter of intent for a Bronco Mendenhall-coached BYU team. A native of Compton, California, Leiataua signed with BYU in 2014. He has respect for Mendenhall, but he doesn’t believe the emotions will be there as no one on this roster played for Mendenhall.

When Leiataua signed with BYU football in 2014, it was one of the big wins on the recruiting for Mendenhall during the Independence era flipping a Stanford commit to BYU.

The senior edge rusher has 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks so far this season. Leiataua feels the defensive line, which is playing through numerous injuries, needs to create pressure up front on Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong.

Keep an eye out for Leiataua to be one of the guys that could potentially bring the heat.

Jacob Boren, Nickel

BYU’s base defense last week in the win over Washington State was primarily a nickel package that featured walk-on Jacob Boren in the starting unit. Boren ended the day in the win over Washington State as a co-leader in tackles with five.

Facing another pass-heavy attack, BYU could use Boren a lot again this week against Virginia.

Jake Oldroyd, Kicker

Oldroyd is in a little bit of a rut. Last year’s Lou Groza Award finalist has missed a field goal in three of BYU’s previous four games. Keep in mind that all of his misses have happened away from Provo, but the trend of misses has been a bit concerning.

Last week in the win over Washington State, BYU’s offense ran the football with Tyler Allgeier on a 3rd & 5 in Washington State territory, appearing as though they knew it was four-down territory the whole time. The play took place on the possession after Oldroyd missed his lone field goal attempt in the game.

Will Oldroyd bounce back now that he’s returning to the comfortable confines of LaVell Edwards Stadium? We shall see.

No. 25 BYU vs. Virginia

Kickoff: 8:15 p.m.


Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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