Loyal Cougars

Road Trip Review: Virginia

The Cougar Roadie reports on US History, tailgating — and surviving lightning, rain and sloppy football in Virginia.

I’m still partially in shock over the events of this road trip. Since I arrived in Virginia around 10 AM on Friday, I experienced just about every emotion imaginable in one trip. Excitement. Anticipation. Humility. Inspiration. Awed. Hopeful. Fearful. Bored. Annoyed. Wet. Happy. Worried. Shocked. Speechless. Numb. Tired. But that’s what happens when you take in a ton of US History one day, then spend over 10 hours inside a stadium the next.

My trip to kick off the season in Virginia was one for the history books, both literally and figuratively. It was pretty cool to see so many historical sites and hear just how much of America was shaped by what transpired in Charlottesville, VA. I’m always amazed at the feeling when I tour these types of places.

Not to be out done by the local history, plenty was made on the football field as well. Between a record long game, and some absolutely astounding stats provided by @GregWrubell (UVA had 13 punts; of 36 combined drives only 3 were over 40 yards; 16 of BYU’s 18 drives lasted 1:56 or less), Saturday was historical in its own way.

For many trips, I just fly in the day of the game, see the campus, go to the game and then fly out the next morning. However, on some of the more anticipated trips like Virginia, I head out early so I’ve got some time to see the sights and take it all in. For those who haven’t read any of my previous travelogues, my flight plans can get a bit messy as I fly standby. This weekend went fairly smoothly though, which was nice. I left SLC on a redeye for Charlotte, NC. From there I connected to Richmond, VA. and then drove the 70 miles from Richmond to C-Ville.

The drive was pretty, but it got old in a hurry as it was pure trees. I didn’t see a single building or store the entire 70 miles. Usually I don’t mind tree lined highways back East, but thanks to the Virginia Highway Patrol, it wasn’t the quickest expedition. In the first 50 miles of road leaving Richmond, we passed SEVEN troopers hiding in those trees. For someone with an 85 MPH lead foot in Utah, being forced to set my cruise at 70 in Virginia was torture.

UVA Campus

My first stop in C-Ville was the UVA campus. It’s always best to hit campuses on Friday when possible, because gameday crowds can be insane. We stopped by the bookstore to pick up a few items and then walked the grounds. Add UVA’s bookstore to the list of schools that dominate BYU when it comes to selection of items and apparel. Sadly, that list is getting quite long.

UVA CamusThe UVA campus is unlike any I’ve ever been on. First, it’s the only campus in America that is a designated UNESCO World Historical Site, which is kind of cool. Every building on campus, from the original six surrounding “The Lawn” to those built in the last 20 years, are all red brick with white columns and trim. It’s a very colonial feeling campus and I like that they’ve kept that tradition alive.

It’s also a fairly large campus. Since buildings have randomly been added as needed, there’s no real pattern to the layout and it didn’t take long for me to get completely turned around and walk in circles. It also didn’t help that every building looks quite similar. The only real difference from one to the next was minor nuances in size and the number of white columns in front.

As we explored the grounds, we came across a kind security guard who saw our BYU gear and welcomed us with a huge smile and suggestions. He led us into the basement of a building that was housing a special collections exhibit of the largest private collection of Declaration of Independence artifacts. The collection housed two of the 25 original copies given to signers (Washington’s and Adams’), it also held signed letters, notes and other correspondence from each of the Declaration signers. There was a reverence in the room, and as a fan of US History it really was cool to see first hand.


Continuing on our US History kick, we left UVA’s campus and headed a short five miles down the road to Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello. We explored the grounds and watched a short video they show about Jefferson and his life. I never knew just how dedicated he was to learning, improving life and the cultivation of the mind. I was blown away at how much research he’d done on architecture, engineering, phlebotomy and gardening. His personal catalogs, experiments and designs have influenced our nation for hundreds of years. I have a new respect for Mr. Jefferson and the work he did not only as a President, but more so as a citizen.

Friday ended with a stop at UVA’s campus hangout area, The Corner. Located on the edge of campus, The Corner is a string of small restaurants, shops, bars and college hang outs. The locals had all suggested a few Corner restaurants for us, and each was amazing. We had bagels from Bodo’s (best I’ve had outside NYC) and a campus favorite, Gus Burgers from The White Spot. I’m always a fan of schools that have greasy spoon diners that are cheap, tasty and I’m sure it was all really healthy too, right?


Per usual, we were back on campus early Saturday to get the full “Wahoo” experience on gameday. I was quite surprised at how many tailgaters BYU Alumni Tailgatewere setup by 10 AM. We parked almost a mile from the stadium and most lots were already packed with canopies and grills. Because of the spread out design of campus, there were tailgate parties stretched out over a square mile. It was impressive.

Our friends at Streaking the Lawn had invited BYU fans to join them for a fully catered tailgate on campus. I’d communicated with their crew quite a bit over twitter and email leading up to the game, so it was fun to finally put faces to names. They were all great people and very gracious hosts. I was happy to see quite a few BYU fans accepted their invitation and were mingling with the Hoos while munching on wings, chips, dips and drinks.

Our UVA friends were even sure to stalk up on water and non-alcoholic beverages for their new friends from BYU. I was very impressed with every UVA student and fan I met Saturday, they were all so kind and welcoming to everyone they met. There was also a great turnout at BYU’s “Cougartown” tailgate hosted by the local Alumni Association. Lots of food, speakers and BYU gear for sale.

We got to the stadium two hours before kickoff to see the “Wahoo Walk”, UVA’s version of a team walk. Buses dropped the team off a littPresten and Cavmanle over a block from the front gates. The band and cheerleaders were there to welcome the team, along with a few thousand fans. The path the team takes to the stadium was well marked with a many “Wahoo Walk” logos painted on the ground, so fans knew where to line up (hint-hint, BYU). The players and coaches made their way through the crowd high-fiving fans on their way into the stadium. Cavman was even nice enough to stop and take a pic with an opposing fan!

The Game

I’m sure you all watched the game and have seen many postgame reports, so I’ll skip the painful details. I’ll just drop a few quick thoughts that I had witnessing it unfold live.

1: Go Fast; Go Hard
BYU about to scoreI think GFGH is a great idea in theory, but I now question if tempo is more important than execution? At times it seemed we were so focused on snapping the ball quick, that tempo was achieved at the cost of making a clean play. I still believe GFGH can be very effective, but I think there critical moments in a game where we may need to slow down, huddle up, and make sure we pick up yards in key situations. In the end, I think tempo will help us more than it hinders us, but there are definitely some early season kinks to work out.

Thanks to a 2:09 delay, this was the longest I’ve ever been in a stadium. When the announcement was made, fans were rather surprised as we hadn’t seen a single strike yet and the clouds seemed far off, however it moved in FAST. They had instructed fans to completely exit the stadium, but many such as myself took that as a mere suggestion, not a rule. We packed the concourses and watched the storm roll by. I gotta admit, the lightning and thunder was no joke, it was a straight fireworks show for awhile. The only problem was the storm was only cool for about 20 minutes, the other hour and forty minutes was pretty boring. There’s only so much you can do to entertain yourself with no concessions open (bad move UVA) and HORRIBLE cell service.

3: Then Rain…
If a two hour delay in the first half wasn’t enough, we then had to get absolutely drenched in the third quarter. I’m not sure how it looked on TV, but that was no summer drizzle that rolled by, it was a 20-minute downpour. For the first few minutes, everyone tried to run for cover and watch the game on the video board while hiding in concourses, but eventually we realized that we were already soaked and had traveled 2,000 miles to be there, we weren’t gonna watch TV’s…time to play in the rain! In the end it actually was nice because it dropped the temperature 15 degrees and made the rest of the night quite nice.

4: BYU Fans
Well done, East Coasters. Well done. All the stadium ushers and UVA staff were floored at how many BYU fans made the trek to C-Ville. We left them with a very positive view of BYU and they all hoped this is a series that will be continued. I heard many compliments about the sheer number of blue clad Cougs, the great fan behavior and noise. For the most part I was proud to be included with y’all for the night. However, those of you who bailed early once UVA scored the go ahead TD, shame on you! Who leaves early when their team has the ball with 1:38 and a chance to win the game? 1:38 is an eternity.

5: Key Plays
Though there were many plays to discuss, a few will haunt me for years. First and foremost, I’ll never forget the slow motion image of the ball deflecting off JSwaggDaddy’s hands and hanging in the air for a UVA defender to pick off and return. Second, did anyone else have visions of the brutal Riley-to-Hoffman attempt in the 4th quarter at Notre Dame when Taysom over threw a WIDE OPEN Falslev late in the game? Making it even worse, Taysom’s overthrown ball was at nearly the identical spot as Riley’s in South Bend. Lastly, the fumble-safety. As I watched Taysom try to scoop the wet, slippery ball, all I could picture was Jake Heaps doing the same thing into the endzone versus Utah. Is it a requirement for BYU QB’s to skip Football 101 on the day “covering a fumble” is taught?

6: KSL Sports
Presten helping out JJI can officially add KSL Cameraman to my resume. The hard working Jeremiah Jensen was a one man band covering the game for KSL. No one will ever know just how hard he worked to produce last nights coverage after being up for 36 straight hours. After the game I was able to stick around and help him with his live shots for the 10:00 news and SportsBeat Saturday. It was pretty interesting seeing how things are setup, filmed and produced. I have a new respect for how much sportscasters do behind the scenes to bring us what we see as the finished reports.

Signing Off

Overall it was a good trip to kickoff the 2013 season. It obviously didn’t turn out like we’d hoped, but it was definitely a trip I’ll never forget. Though we lost a game I believe we played well enough to win, that was just one piece of a memorable journey. From the US History, gorgeous campus, tailgates, lightning delay, rainstorm and post game TV work, I’m coming home with lasting memories.

Next week is another chance to get in the win column and hopefully the boys in blue come out ready to shock the world!

Go Cougs. Hook the Horns.

Photo Gallery:


  1. Sanpete

    September 3, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Fun report. The coaches agree with your concerns about needing to execute while going fast, not just going fast, talked about it a lot after practice yesterday. But I was impressed with how fast they managed to go in the first game with this system, and how few obvious snafus there were with assignments. The players seem to understand the system.

  2. Presten Norton

    September 3, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Agreed. I was blown away how fast they were in person. I thought I had an idea of what it would be like, but seeing it live it was in a whole new gear. Could be fun to watch if we can get the kinks worked out. Also could play a part late in 4th quarters at altitude in Provo, as teams conditionong will be on full display.

  3. Todd

    September 3, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Nice report. Glad you enjoyed your trip to Charlottesville. One thing, Uva doesn’t have a campus..We call it the “grounds”. Goodluck against Texas!

    • Brett Hein

      September 3, 2013 at 11:35 am

      Whoops, P. (He shared that knowledge with us in his pre-season Virginia travel guide. I forgot, too)

  4. milton p. miller, u.va, '51

    September 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    great blog, best of this type i’ve seen. tid-bits re jefferson: he conceived of the u of va, lobbied the gen assembly for a charter, drew the plans, supervised the construction, hired the first faculy and wrote the curriculum. we say mr. j still roams the grounds. good luck, go cougars

  5. dmr

    September 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I am glad your trip to Cville was a good one. I have been a UVa season ticket holder for more years than I care to admit. The BYU fan turnout was impressive to say the least and were some of the best fans and nicest people I have met in Scott Stadium. This is a good series that I hope continues. I will be rooting for the Cougars from here on out. BTW, loved the tenacity of your team. Your defense is stout.

  6. RJG

    September 3, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Nice report. I’ll be sure and return throughout the year to read your thoughts. I’d echo dmr and say that I enjoyed interacting with the BYU fan base and what an impressive turnout you folks had. You guys have a very stout team that I see getting better with each game. Good luck the rest of the way and this week against the Horns.

  7. BradHoo

    September 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I will echo the sentiments of other UVa fans.. you guys were fantastic! Not only did your fans show up in great numbers, but they were LOUD. Virginia Tech (our Utah) has nothing on the Cougs. Best of luck the rest of the season and Go Cougs and Go Hoos!

  8. Uldene

    September 3, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Keep this news coming. I’ll be watching for your comments each week.

  9. Jaclyn

    September 4, 2013 at 7:59 am

    I was at the game, too, and even though we lost, I thought it was a great game. The Hoo fans were very nice to us (only got heckled twice and one guy was obviously very drunk), the stadium was very nice, and the teams were fairly well matched (though I would have liked to see how both teams would have done under better conditions). Hoo fans, if we play again at Scott stadium do you think you could have better weather for us? 🙂

    Btw, great review, Preston. I think you’ve inspired me to take on a new life ambition of becoming a cougar roadie, too.

  10. Angel

    September 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    So glad you enjoyed your trip to our Commonwealth (despite the loss)! The Streaking The Lawn folks are wonderful! We really enjoyed your fans – and wish our fan base would travel to away games as well as yours. Y’all are welcomed back any time! -And way to hook the Horns!!

  11. chip

    September 13, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Preston, I have a favor to ask. The picture of Taysom Hill talking with his family post game… The three people in the foreground are me, my daughter and my son who is holding out his BYU helmet for Taysom. It’s my son’s birthday and I’d like to give him a framed copy of this picture and write some words of counsel and love for him on the back. He loves Taysom. He is such a great example for my son of hard work, dedication and playing the sport with all your heart. My son, who is 9, mentioned how dirty and wet Taysom’s jersey was and all the scratches he had all over his arms and legs after the Virginia game. He remembers how down Taysom was after that loss. He could hear Taysom talking to his parents about the tough loss. And then one week later I’m sitting on the couch watching the Texas game with my son and the concept of overcoming adversity and hard work clicked with him. It’s like a light bulb came on. He talked to me about how he’s glad the BYU team didn’t give up after losing. And how the TX win was “the awesomest win ever!”

    Anyway, is there a way I can get that picture in a better resolution? And do i have your permission to print it? I’d appreciate it so much. chipkemp@yahoo.com