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Virginia Cavaliers Film Review: First Quarter

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Louisville at Virginia Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It has been a long time since I was able to do a full film review and I’m pretty happy that Louisville got the win on Saturday so I could write a positive review. The Cards played their most complete game of the season but, as usual, they started off slow and struggled to move the ball on offense and stop Virginia’s passing attack.

For the uninitiated, this is my view of these plays as a non-expert but I want to break the plays down to see what UofL did well and what they didn’t do well. Louisville played a good game but most of the first quarter was very rough to watch. Let’s get to it.

I really liked this play call by Louisville early on. I’ve been hoping for some new wrinkles to the run game and I don’t know if they’ve run this play since the 2020 season when they ran it against either Wake Forest or Pitt. Louisville’s run game is all about creating big plays by getting to the edge of the defense. This is a different way of doing that with the back getting the ball in space with blockers in front of him.

Michael Gonzalez and Braden Smith have to do better here to help this play reach its potential. Gonzalez has to drive his guy and not get pushed back. Smith needs to make sure he at least engages and redirects the player better than he does. It may not have meant much but you never know how much a little bit of space can mean to one of these backs.

As the season goes on, UofL will face better and bigger receivers and this play is something they can’t let happen. Jarvis Brownlee is in press coverage on UVA’s 6-7 receiver and he ends up getting beat across his face. His initial jam is solid for a guy going up against someone with such great length but gets pushed off the route after the jam and he is stuck in a trail position. It’s compounded by the run after the catch when he doesn’t get him to the ground after the catch.

The other thing that stands out about this play is that Brownlee is the only player in man coverage. I can’t figure out if he’s in the wrong coverage or if this is on purpose. Two things that I noticed were Monty Montgomery doesn’t drop into the area where this pass is completed. That would be a wide-open spot. Where would Brownlee’s zone drop be? Someone drops right behind him and there isn’t another route that’s in the flat. You can see how they play it at the top of the screen. Just a weird play but it stuck with me.

Yasir Abdullah doesn’t record a stat on this play but it was one of the best plays of the game by him or any other defender. His explosiveness on this play is unreal and he uses a very nice rip move to get the blocker’s hands off of him. He then follows it up by making sure he gets a hit on the runner to at least slow him up. He almost makes the tackle himself but his effort makes this an easy TFL for Momo Sanogo.

Brock Domann came out looking to win the game on every play and it bit him throughout the first quarter. UVA came into the game as one of the best coverage teams in the country and their corners were the main reason for that. So, not only am I doubtful that they really wanted to attach their corners down the field, but I also doubt they wanted to do that with Braden Smith.

On this play, you can see Tyler Hudson come open in the middle of the field. Louisville killed UVA with crossing routes later in the game and, to me, it seems like they saw something on film that they wanted to exploit. Domann should have gone to Hudson here as he’s running free in the middle of the field. He eventually settled in but Domann had some real struggles just managing the game early on.

Louisville did a much better job of limiting explosive plays on Saturday but this play just killed me. From everything I can tell, this is a simple Cover Three look with both corners bailing and the safety to the top of the screen responsible for the deep middle. Ben Perry covers the short outside at the top of the screen and M.J. Griffin drops down to do the same to the bottom of the screen. The issue is that both Monty Montgomery and Momo Sanogo blitz late and they leave the middle of the field wide open. My assumption is that Momo was supposed to drop to the middle of the field here with three receivers to his side.

This is the type of play that teams will look to make if UofL can take away some of the outside passes. They are essentially working to make teams find these types of throws but you have to actually make them work. These types of mistakes extend drives and lead to points just like it did here.

Brownlee just has to do better here. He allows Dontayvion Wicks to eat up his cushion and then Wicks just runs by him. Wicks gets a savvy push at the end but Brownlee isn’t even in a position to contest a well-thrown ball which this absolutely was. Corners get beat but you have to be in a position to at least make it tough.

Josh Minkins is also slow to get into this play. He doesn’t initiate his backpedal at the snap and then he doesn’t turn and run until Armstrong stops his rollout. I’m not sure there was much anyone could do on this play with the throw that was made but with the focus on stopping explosive plays, they didn’t do a good job on this one.

.Minkins redeems himself a bit on this play with a very nice tackle where he puts his hat right on the ball. Armstrong even has two hands on the ball here but Minkins gets low and makes the big play. I also love that Yasir Abdullah is there with him to make the play. UofL had an absurd amount of solo tackles against BC because not enough guys were running to the ball. You can see that changed this past weekend with Dez Tell also chasing the play and getting rewarded with a fumble recovery.

It sounds dumb but these are the types of plays that Louisville hasn’t made in previous years. For whatever reason, they have found a way to force a lot of turnovers this season and if they can continue to do so, they can hopefully turn these turnovers into points.

This is another example of Domann trying to make the big play instead of making the right play. He said after the game that he got in his own way and he hinted toward needing to let the playmakers make plays for him. This was one of those plays where he just made a decision before the play and went with it. Maurice Turner is at least getting 15 yards here and he could maybe score. Braden Smith is open in the middle of the field and a timely throw could have given him room to run after the catch. He could’ve also probably hit Francis Sherman in front of his defender. Instead, he forces a throw to Hudson.