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Virginia Film Review: Third Quarter

NCAA Football: Virginia at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Things ticked up on both sides of the ball for Louisville in the third quarter. Their first drive was aided by a targeting call and they were able to even the score. Louisville’s defense essentially shut down the Virginia defense and got another turnover. Special teams even chipped in with a nice punt return.


Louisville still has some issues with contain on defense. Bryce Perkins was a little gimpy but he was still mobile enough to hurt you with his legs. Any time you see a defender have to turn around to chase a runner you know something went wrong and Russ Yeast has to do just that. Rodjay Burns is the first player to blow their assignment as he crashes down the line to take the running back.

This play ended up being UVA’s third longest play of the game.


Amonte Caban had a very nice game against the run. Here he’s at right end and he fires off the ball to get an angle on the left tackle. He ends up deep in the backfield and forces the running back to avoid him on the ground. That allows everyone else to come in and clean things up.

It’s also great to see C.J. Avery get off of his block quickly and meet the runner at the line of scrimmage.


I can’t say enough about how Bryan Brown called third downs in this game. He brings late pressure here with Russ Yeast coming on a safety blitz. If this play is actually run to the sticks Yeast would be getting home for a sack. He also plays with some cushion on the outside knowing that Virginia rarely runs anything to the sticks. Perkins throws a four yard route and Chandler Jones is right there to make the tackle.

Also, take notice on the entire defense running to the ball. The effort of this defense has been great all year and I’m happy to see that a few rough games haven’t dampened that effort.


Micale Cunningham came back into the game in the third quarter and was able to pick up a first down on this qb draw. I’m not sure Satterfield could’ve called a better play with UVA showing blitz. If they actually brought all of the guys that were showing, there’s a possibility that Cunningham slips through and takes off with just a few defenders down the field. You can see here, though that when the linebackers bail out after the snap, they turn their backs to the play and Cunningham has the entire middle of the field to run through.

The first two plays on this drive didn’t work but I do think that Satterfield keeping things fairly safe was a smart move. A botched pitch or something similar would potentially give UVA free points that their bad offense wasn’t going to produce.


It’s always nice to have a Dez Fitzpatrick in the toolbox. Louisville gets into a third and long and they go with a deep comeback to Dez. The line does a good job protecting on a straight drop back throw. Cunningham also shows better footwork than he did in the first half. He gets to the top of his drop and makes a decision. It’s a little bit late but you can be a little late when you have guys like Dez and Seth Dawkins who can go up and get the ball.


Louisville still hadn’t found much success running the ball but Jordan Mack got called for targeting on the previous play and Satterfield decided to run to the side of his replacement. They’re able to create a lane with Mekhi Becton pushing his guy around like a little brother and Caleb Chandler getting his head across the guy that replaced Mack. Javian Hawkins keeps following the path until he gets to the hole that they opened and he gets a nice gain.

Kuddos to Keion Wakefield for a great block in the slot. His guy definitely makes this play if he doesn’t hold his block.


I believe Satterfield has called this play three times and I’m pretty sure this is the third different formation he’s run it from. It’s a “man beater” that is nearly impossible to defend. They get Tutu Atwell matched up against Joey Blount. Blount is a talented safety but he’s not equipped to cover Tutu while he’s running away from him.

I also have a weird theory. Micale Cunningham struggles with throws under 10 yards in the middle of the field but he’s fine everywhere else. He gets pressure right in his face on this play but his footwork is perfect and he delivers a dime. It’s night and day from the short throws in the first half where he looked extremely skittish. Something I’m keeping an eye on as the season goes on.


I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before but Louisville initially lined up on this play with everyone on the line one spot to the right. They then did a mass shift to the left and then snapped the ball once they were set. You can see that the UVA defensive front doesn’t get completely set and Javian Hawkins gets a pretty easy touchdown.

I’ve always hated it but Louisville goes unbalanced here and it works out well. They’ve used it a good amount this year and even though it telegraphs the runs most of the time, the defense still has to stop it.


Dorian Etheridge was a wildcard to me in this new scheme. He’s never seemed fast enough in the past but he’s been flying around in this new scheme. I’m not sure if he’s just improved on his conditioning and his body or if the old defenses just didn’t allow him to fully open things up. He gets from behind the defensive line to Bryce Perkins in a flash here and nearly gets a big sack.

I also think that he might have saved them from a big play. UVA is running a wheel route with a natural pick and Russ Yeast gets caught up in the wash. This might have gone for a touchdown or a big play if Etheridge doesn’t read it quickly and get after the quarterback.


Marlon Character got his first career start and he made the most out of it. Bryan Brown calls a corner fire here and both Character and Khane Pass play it perfectly. They called this earlier in the game and Pass got burned when the blitz didn’t get home in time. This time they time it well to keep it disguised and the zone coverage on the other side of the field takes away Perkins’ options. When he turns back for his next read character is there for the big hit. It doesn’t get much better than this when you call a blitz.


Louisville tried to run a reverse here but Hassan Hall does the smart thing and doesn’t hand the ball off. I still thought it was a really good call looking to take advantage of UVA being so aggressive on defense. It also nearly worked.

You can see Mekhi Becton staying home at the top of the screen which is how you know this wasn’t a fake hand off. Caleb Chandler is also blocking his man towards the runner while the rest of the line creates a wall expecting the defenders to be chasing Tutu. I really hope we see this again this season. This play works because you’ve been hitting the defense with outside zone all day long.


Here’s Cunningham taking another sack that he shouldn’t. It’s impossible to know exactly what the routes were here but on a different angle you can see that the bottom slot guy runs a corner route. A lot of what they do is mirrored so it’s possible that they’re running a corner route at the top of the screen, also.

So, I don’t think that Cunningham had anywhere to throw this ball but he needs to make that determination much more quickly. Then he can become an athlete and try to get the first down with his legs. At the very least you have to launch this ball over Ford’s head and keep the field position. Louisville ends up puntiing here when they maybe could have kicked a field goal or gone for it.


Tight coverage is key because you never know when you’ll have a chance to make a play on the ball. Boosie Whitlow and C.J. Avery are right where they need to be here and Whitlow wraps around Joe Reed and knocks the ball out of his hands before he can get it tucked away. This staff has done a good job of getting guys game reps to build depth. Whitlow and Yasir Abdullah have done well at the “dog” outside linebacker spot with Nick Okeke as another option with plenty of game experience. Being able to get big plays like this from a guy who is technically a backup is great for the rest of the season.


Scott Satterfield got back to running Cunningham late in the game and it really worked well for the offense. Virginia just didn’t look prepared for any option plays in this game and Cunningham was able to get outside with ease. He also puts Joey Blount on a highlight film here with a nice hesitation move.

This was the most glaring sign in this game that Cunningham either isn’t 100% or his knee brace is hindering his running ability. He’s flat out limping after the play but he is just not running normally before that. He also seems to avoid taking a step right before he gets to the sideline. Satterfield has said that both quarterbacks are “healthy” but I do wonder if Cunningham is fully healthy. Satterfield likes to point out that everyone is “banged up” at this point of the season. Maybe Cunningham is just a little gimpy but plenty healthy to play. If that’s the case, I doubt we see him play a full game going forward. Managing his snaps is a good idea when you have a guy that’s played well like Evan Conley has.