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What To Watch For: Virginia Cavaliers

Duke v Louisville Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images


Let’s call a spade a spade. Virginia has not played to the level of a team that should challenge the Louisville team we’ve seen over the last two weeks. That’s not to say that Virginia is a “bad” team. That’s not the case as they have four losses this season by a field goal or less. They’re not far from being a bowl-eligible team right now. But, in reality, they’re a 2-win team that got blown out by Georgia Tech last weekend and they’re walking into a buzzsaw.

Louisville is playing at a level that we haven’t seen since the program joined the ACC. There were short stretches over the last two seasons where Louisville won games comfortably. But, they’ve been dominant in the previous two games. It has been complimentary as both sides of the ball are executing at a high level and playing off each other's big plays.

UofL missed an opportunity to dominate Pitt when they had one win on the season. They should not see a repeat of that performance.


This is a truly banged-up Louisville team right now. Key players are either injured or playing hurt. That’s why I think that Jeff Brohm should be intentional about how he manages the snaps of the players that are banged up. Jawhar Jordan was pulled from the game last week once it was obvious that he wasn’t needed to lead the team to a win. However, Willie Tyler and Bryan Hudson stayed in the game. Getting those guys out of the game with an extra two days of rest before the next game would be smart.

Brohm also needs to get his young players some snaps. Of all of the players nursing injuries, none of them are going to be on the roster next year. Jordan and Jamari Thrash should have another year, but I’d doubt either will use that year. My understanding is that Jarvis Brownlee is not expected to return for a fifth year. You have to get some live reps for the guys who will replace them. At each of these positions, there is a player ready to step into an increased role. Brohm should find a way to get them onto the field.


Virginia’s quarterbacks are very prone to turning the ball over. They are among the worst in the country regarding interceptions, and both quarterbacks have shown that they will look to extend plays and/or run with the ball. I think UVA’s porous offensive line going against a very aggressive and tenacious defensive line will lead to more turnovers for Louisville. Strip sacks and quarterback hits should be up which means more turnovers.


Louisville hasn’t faced a lot of talented offensive players this season and when they have, the defense has done well to contain them. I’m not so sure that will happen with Malik Washington in the slot for Virginia. Washington is among the nation’s leaders in catches and yards and Virginia does a good job of mixing up the way they use him.

UofL’s defensive improvement has been built on an increase in overall aggression, to an extent. Ron English didn’t reinvent the wheel with his defense but the change to “mugging up” the linebackers at times to confuse and overwhelm the offensive line has been very nice to see. But, the way to beat that pressure is with quick passes to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and to set up one-on-one situations for your receivers in space. This is where I worry about Washington’s potential impact.

The Louisville secondary will likely be without Jarvis Brownlee again which could leave the defense a little short when it comes to who covers the slot. I think that UVA will make a concerted effort to get Washington the ball in space and he will put up numbers.