Virginia did not play pretty football in its opener.
But that hardly mattered.
Virginia was gritty -- and that is what the Hoos needed to beat BYU 19-16 on Saturday.
In a game delayed for over 2 hours because of bad weather, Virginia showed a toughness on defense that was thoroughly missing a season ago. That defense put the Hoos in position to get a hugely significant win, considering Oregon looms next on the schedule. The last six minutes provided some of the wildest action of opening weekend.
Virginia led 12-7 midway through the fourth quarter, but BYU finally was able to put together a solid drive and took a 13-12 lead. Khalek Shepherd fumbled the ensuing kickoff and BYU recovered. The Hoos looked like they were imploding as BYU stretched its lead to 16-12. Virginia, so inconsistent on offense all game, did nothing on its ensuing possession.
It was the defense that came up big when it mattered. Anthony Harris intercepted Hill with 2:41 to go, giving the Hoos' offense one last chance to do something. Kevin Parks scored on a 13-yard run one play later to put Virginia back ahead. The defense, so strong for a majority of the game, held on to the lead this time.
Given all the restructuring coach Mike London did this offseason, on top of the hugely challenging nonconference schedule to start, this counts as an extremely impressive win. The defense seemed to play with an edge, and kept UVa in this game because the offense, quite frankly, still has some work to do.
David Watford, who won the quarterback competition this fall, was not at his best, going 18-of-32 for 118 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while adding 10 yards on the ground. Virginia managed 230 total yards. BYU has a heck of a defense, so that certainly had a role in the way the Hoos played. But as it stands, the offense has a ways to go to catch up to where the defense is right now.
After a 4-8 season, UVa will take a win any way it can get it.