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What To Watch For: Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia games always end up being pretty simple to figure out.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WHOEVER WINS THE TURNOVER BATTLE WILL LIKELY WIN THIS GAME

Virginia has a negative turnover margin this season but their margin is +5 in their wins while they are -9 in their losses. That overall margin also includes their win against Duke where they forced 7 of their 10 turnovers on the season. You read that right. Virginia got 7 turnovers in their first game this season and then they fell back to earth with three over their next five games.

The Hoos have had just as many issues forcing turnovers outside of their first game and they have been absolutely awful when it comes to protecting the football. However, UVA is even over their last two games and they came close to knocking off two ranked teams in a row. They’ve protected the football and the defense has been opportunistic with two fumble recoveries in their win over UNC last weekend.

We all know the issues with Louisville when it comes to turnovers but I think that this game will have an even bigger focus on turnovers. Virginia hasn’t been particularly good against the pass which means that Louisville should be throwing the ball more and opening themselves up to interceptions and a solid pass rush. Louisville also has to help things on defense by taking advantage of a team that turns it over themselves. They didn’t do so against Georgia Tech and it was a big factor in the loss. They can’t allow that to happen again.

LOUISVILLE HAS TO COME OUT THROWING THE FOOTBALL

As I said above, UofL has to throw the football this weekend. Virginia has had some injuries at Safety but they also haven’t been great at Cornerback with their experienced starters. Louisville should be attacking these guys nonstop on Saturday.

The other factor here is that they need to attack with the pass game early on. Virginia wants to stop the run and put you in long yardage situations. That allows them to dial up their pressures out of the 3-4 with Charles Snowden coming off the edge and one of their inside Linebackers coming downhill on a blitz.

UofL should counteract that with some quick throws as well as shots down the field. Virginia has decent speed on defense while also having a bunch of very long athletes. Forcing the issue outside the numbers could lead to that pass rush being held in check.

VIRGINIA WILL MISDIRECTION LOUISVILLE TO DEATH

Virginia isn’t really good enough to line up and just beat people on offense. They don’t have dynamic players even though they do have a few guys who could break a big play if given the space. But they don’t have the NFL talent like they’ve had recently that could consistently make plays for them. That has led Virginia to pretty much throw the kitchen sink at defenses.

Keytaon Thompson is the guy they rely on this year to keep defenses off balance. Louisville fans will remember him as the guy who led Mississippi State to a bowl win over UofL in Lamar Jackson’s last game. He is now a swiss army knife for UVA and they’ve gotten better each week figuring out the best ways to use him. He will line up all over the field and they have started to figure out that using him on power runs and counters works well.

I expect the Hoos to try to do what UK did last year with Lynn Bowden and run Thompson on counter plays while adding some trick plays where he throws the ball.