Louisville’s offense exploded last Saturday vs. a below average defense in Syracuse. Statistically, Virginia’s defense is in the same stratosphere but with a slightly tougher strength of schedule.
Kyle Bolin will get the start for the Cards, but Quarterbacks Lamar Jackson & Reggie Bonnafon are expected to be available vs. the Cavaliers. How Petrino elects to utilize everyone will be interesting. Will Reggie be used at Running Back as he has been used throughout the past few weeks? Will Lamar get situational series? How short is Kyle’s leash?
No matter what happens at the QB position one thing really was easy to see on Saturday: Louisville’s Running Game can really be a weapon when the Quarterback can get under Center. Brandon Radcliff, Jeremy Smith, and LJ Scott were all newly found weapons in an offense that needed a spark. Sure it was against Syracuse and Lamar Jackson probably would have had a big game vs. the Orange as well, but getting the Running Backs involved is a big deal for Louisville.
Moving over to Virginia, Louisville will be going against a defense that is much different than it was a year ago. A year ago, Virginia was a physical, tough and stubborn defense. This year the Hoos give up a ton of points and yards…mostly through the air.
So Kyle Bolin will get the nod and you can bet that Petrino will try and keep a balanced attack against UVA to keep that defense on its heels. Bolin needs to do a better job on 3rd down while passing, he’s converted 0 of 16 attempts while passing on 3rd down in 2015. The good news is that Virginia is 63rd in allowing opponent 3rd downs.
One thing that stands out comparing last year’s UVA team to this year’s are the interceptions. Last year Virginia was #23 with 15 INTs, this year Virginia is last in getting INTs having notched just two on the season.
It will be interesting to see if the Cards can run the ball on the Cavs. UVA hasn’t been awesome stopping the run but they haven’t been poor either. If Louisville can continue (or even build on) its rushing effort from a week earlier with its running then the Cards may have really developed an entire new phase of its offense, something that can be huge moving into the last 25% of the regular season.
This is a game to get everyone involved. Virginia’s defense is best attacked by doing multiple things. Running, Play-Action, Short Passes, Intermediate, Hitting the Backs, Hitting the Tight End, and just basically spreading the ball around. Because this is also Petrino’s style I expect the Cards to have a successful day.
Last year Louisville was bullied by a tough Virginia Defense, the Cavs batted balls down, they created turnovers and just overall asserted their will over the Louisville Offense. I don’t expect that type of performance again, if Louisville protects the ball the Cards can have a big day.