Virginia got a surprise this past winter when Bronco Mendenhall retired out of nowhere. Mendenhall had built UVA into a program that could easily sustain after his departure. Hoos fans had to be happy when Tony Elliott chose to leave Clemson to take over the program after a 6-win season. However, the results have not been great so far as UVA has only had one complete performance on the year and it came in a loss. Elliott probably had unfair expectations placed on him but the regression on the offensive side of the ball has frustrated some fans.
Brennon Armstrong makes this offense go and there aren’t many quarterbacks in the country that have fallen off as much as he has. Armstrong is barely completing half of his passes this year and he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns this season. Throw in his handful of fumbles and Armstong just hasn’t been the player we are all used to watching.
While he has struggled, Armstrong is still a dangerous player with his arm and his legs. He has run the ball well this year on designed runs as well as on scrambles. He can still extend plays with the best of him and he knows where to deliver the ball when he needs a big play. Louisville has been wildly unpredictable on defense so they will have to work to contain Armstrong and take advantage of his poor play.
UVA hasn’t had a good running game for a good while now but Elliott has been able to change that so far. Perris Jones waited for his chance and it has paid off this season. Jones is averaging just over 60 yards per game which would be the highest average for a UVA player since 2018. He is also averaging over 5 yards per carry but he only gets about 11 carries per game. I’d imagine that will change this weekend with UofL fielding such a poor run defense.
The biggest issue for the Cavs this year is probably their wide receivers. Heralded as one of the best groups returning in the country, they just have not performed as expected. Dontayvion Wicks ended last season with 1200+ yards and a yards per catch average over 21 yards. That production is on pace to be cut in half. Wicks hasn’t really looked himself and it’s been hard to figure out why.
Keytaon Thompson will line up against UofL for what seems like the tenth time this weekend and he has been one of the few consistent players for the Hoos. He is averaging over 6 catches per game and his ability to be a reliable possession receiver has been underrated in this struggling offense. Thompson is a monster on third downs and he is very hard to bring down in the open field. He and Lavel Davis have the ability to make big plays for this offense. Davis is 6-7 so look for him on deep routes and red zone targets.
The Virginia offensive line was rebuilt this year after losing two starters to the transfer portal. They have not played overly well but I think they have been really good in the run game and they have held up pretty well with Armstrong being so indecisive in the pocket. UofL’s defensive line had an awful performance against a very bad Boston College offensive line last week. They will have to be better this week to slow down this offense.