Virginia (1-4, 0-1) is facing a must-win situation on Saturday. The Cavaliers will have some tough road games after this week, and will need to record their first win in the ACC, if they want any chance at bowl eligibility. Most importantly, a win on Saturday will also help UVa Head Coach Mike London, whose job is on the line.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
Steve Fairchild started this year with the idea of implementing a more power running offense. Those ideas quickly evaporated, and the Wahoos are still trying to find their latest identity on the offensive side of the ball. Although the ‘Hoos this season have recorded a few explosive plays, the staff has been known to be more conservative in their play calling.
|TE||Charlie Hopkins OR Evan Butts|
QB Matt Johns: After starting the season consistent, the Cavaliers’ quarterback has fallen the last two games, throwing two pick sixes and four interceptions in total. Johns seems shaken up after the Boise State loss, but he will need to shake it off if the ‘Hoos have any chance of turning this season around.
RB Taquan Mizzell The former four-star running back had a lot of hype coming from high school, and it seems like he has finally found his role. The Cavaliers have utilized Mizzell as a pass catcher this year, in the slot especially. On the ground Mizzell has netted 196 yards on 53 carries, averaging just under 4-yards per carry. He is second on the team with 340 yards receiving on 25 catches-with three receiving touchdowns to his name.
WR T.J. Thorpe: Thorpe returned to the lineup three weeks ago against Boise State, after breaking his clavicle during training camp. Although Thorpe is still getting back to fitness, he has already recorded 145-yards and a touchdown on six catches. He will be one of John’s main targets on Saturday.
WR Canaan Severin: Severin is another top target for Johns and the ‘Hoos. Severin has the ability to make things happen in the end zone. He currently leads the receivers with 348-yards and two touchdowns on 26 receptions.
Plenty of injuries on the offensive line and it shows. In the last two games, Johns has received plenty of pressure, and the UVa quarterback has never been able to settle down. The ‘Hoos’ ground game has also suffered, averaging just three-yards per carry this season.
In the game against Pitt, the Cavs were also hurt by penalties and the inability to score touchdowns in the red zone.
The ‘Hoos have not been able to sustain many drives, and will go for that one explosive play that will set them up near the end zone. UVa will utilize Mizzell in the slot, while trying to use Severin and Thorpe’s athleticism and strength in the air to stretch the field.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE
With the exit of their best pass rushers, Eli Harold and Max Valles, their All-American safety, Anthony Harris, and leaders Henry Coley and Daquan Romero, the Virginia defense is still adjusting to find the best group. Defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta is now in charge of the secondary, while assistant Mike Archer is now coaching the linebackers.
|DT||Andrew Brown OR Andre Miles-Redmond|
MLB Micah Kiser: Kiser learned behind Henry Coley, and it shows. He leads the ‘Hoos with 50 tackles, 34 solo and eight tackles for a loss. He has also recorded 4.5 sacks this season for 28 yards and on Saturday forced a fumble on the goal line.
S Quin Blanding: Blanding is second on the team with 36 tackles. The ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year is now one of the leaders of the secondary. He has also recorded 1 pass break up, and is a big part of the pressure in Jon Tenuta’s scheme.
SLB Michael Moore: Moore moving from defensive end to linebacker this season. He has 25 tackles this year, 13 solo and 7.5 for a loss. He has also recorded three sacks on the season, including one on Saturday, which forced a fumble and led to a UVa touchdown.
The Virginia defense tightened things up on Saturday against Pittsburgh. They allowed just 146-yards of offense in the final three quarters, however, in the first quarter, the defense allowed over 200-yards. Jon Tenuta’s blitz happy, all pressure defense, allows opponents to pick up some big plays, especially on the secondary. UVa’s opponents average over eight-yards per pass, nearly 13-yards per catch.
The defense remains a work in progress for the Cavaliers. The ‘Hoos still struggle in the pass rush, and are still trying to find the best combination at defensive end and linebacker. Their strength remains up front, while the Cavs still have to deal with miscommunication in the secondary which has cost them this season.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS
K Ian Frye: After going through a bad spell, where he missed three field goals, Frye is back to form. He is 5-for-8 this season.
KR Olamide Zaccheaus: The true freshman has really been a bright spot for the ‘Hoos. Zaccheaus averages over 21 yards a return.
PR Maurice Canady: The cornerback has provided a good lift for the Cavs as a punt returner. Canady has already returned a punt for a touchdown for Virginia this season (a 74-yard TD against William and Mary).