The Cards and Cavs are cross-divisional ‘rivals’ as Louisville steps into Maryland’s place in the ACC Atlantic Division who would play UVA each year prior to the Terps departure to the Big Ten. Now Louisville will get Virginia home & away every year. The two programs have met just twice: A Cards win in 1988 30-28 at Cardinal Stadium; and a Cavs win the following year 16-15 at Scott Stadium.
In 1988, now Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden & Deon Booker led the Cards back from a two TD deficit to win by two in front of a home crowd of 30,142. Booker rushed for 110 yards in the game, the 5th consecutive (school record) 100-yard performance by Booker. Howard Schnellenberger’s 1988 team finished 8-3 but was denied a bowl bid.
33,400 at Scott Stadium witnessed Virginia kicker Jake McInerney hit a 37-yard FG as time expired to break the hearts of the Louisville Cardinals. Browning Nagle and Carwell Gardner really couldn’t get going against the “Hoos” as the Cards were limited to just 253 yards of offense. Eventual ACC Player of the Year Shawn Moore led the final drive setting up the final FG accounting for 55 of 60 yards. 1989 was UVA’s 1st 10-win season in program history and won the ACC Championship.
Why The Virginia Cavaliers Are Called the “Hoos”
Short for Wahoos, the University of Virginia’s school yell is ”wa-hoo-wa” and was adapted from a Dartmouth College Indiana Yell in 1888. Students & Alumni tout the Wahoo slogan on the basis that the fish that shares the same name has the ability to drink up to twice its body weight daily.
But the origin may also date back to a baseball article written by the Washington & Lee student paper in the 1890s (a hotly contested rivalry at the time) describing UVA students & fans as “a bunch of rowdy Wahoos”. Now the term has been shortened to just “Hoos’ but both variations are extremely common among Virginia culture and vernacular.
Virginia’s Scott Stadium (Carl Smith Center, Home of David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium) holds 61,500 after an expansion to begin the 2000 season was completed was originally constructed in 1931 to hold 22,000. It is a grass surface and a long tradition of a mounted Cavalier riding into the stadium with the football team occurs prior to every UVA Football game.
Scott Stadium features a pergola in the north endzone at the top of a grass hill seating area, the stadium’s signature. Virginia is 247-180-12 all time in this facility.
Louisville vs. Virginia PODCAST
|Scoring Offense (ppg)||48.5 (12th)||32.5 (63rd)|
|Total Offense (ypg)||469.5 (47th)||358.0 (100th)|
|Passing Offense (ypg)||242.0 (66th)||219.5 (78th)|
|Rushing Offense (ypg)||227.5 (37th)||138.50 (93rd)|
|Scoring Defense (ppg)||17.0 (38th)||20.5 (55th)|
|Total Defense (ypg)||268.0 (19th)||395.0 (77th)|
|Passing Defense (ypg)||212.5 (54th)||302.5 (109th)|
|Rushing Defense (ypg)||55.50 (6th)||92.50 (28th)|
|Punt Returns (ypr)||0.80 (107th)||7.50 (67th)|
|Kickoff Returns (ypr)||29.33 (13th)||42.40 (3rd)|
|Opponent Punt Returns (ypr)||11.33 (87th)||12.00 (90th)|
|Opponent Kickoff Returns (ypr)||23.63 (103rd)||13.86 (6th)|
|Punting (ypp)||43.29 (54th)||46.40 (19th)|
|Field Goal %||100% (1st)||75% (51st)|
|Opponent Field Goal %||100% (77th)||66.7% (49th)|
|First Downs (per game)||26.0 (30th)||17.0 (110th)|
|Opponent First Downs (per game)||13.0 (8th)||18.5 (53rd)|
|Penalties (ypg)||38.0 (33rd)||29.5 (16th)|
|Turnover Margin (season)||+2 (29th)||+4 (7th)|
|Time of Possession||37:43.00 (1st)||31:00.00 (50th)|
|Sacks (per game)||1.5 (77th)||3.5 (13th)|
|Sacks Allowed (per game)||2.50 (96th)||0.50 (8th)|
|Tackles for Loss (per game)||5.50 (66th)||9.50 (6th)|
|Tackles for Loss Allowed (per game)||7.00 (103rd)||2.50 (5th)|
|Interceptions (season)||3 (15th)||3 (15th)|
|Passes Defended (per game)||5.00 (33rd)||7.5 (7th)|
|Fumbles Recovered (season)||1 (50th)||6 (2nd)|
|Fumbles Forced (season)||0||5 (3rd)|
|Fumbles Lost (season)||2 (87th)||2 (87th)|
|Kicks/Punts Blocked (season)||–||–|
|3rd Down Conversions (%)||52.94% (21st)||45.71% (53rd)|
|Opponent 3rd Down Conversions (%)||20.00% (7th)||44.12% (100th)|
|4th Down Conversions (%)||85.71% (24th)||66.67% (33rd)|
|Opponent 4th Down Conversions (%)||25.00% (30th)||33.33% (40th)|
|Red Zone Conversions (%)||100% (1st)||87.50% (59th)|
|Opponent Red Zone Conversions (%)||71.43% (34th)||80.00% (51st)|
|RedZone TD Conversions (%)||92.31% (11th)||50% (83rd)|
|Opponent Red Zone TD Conversions (%)||42.86% (32nd)||40.00% (24th)|
|Kickoffs (ypk)||62.24 (65th)||62.00 (67th)|
|Plays||159 (28th)||147 (56th)|
|Yards Per Play||5.91 (66th)||4.87 (103rd)|
Louisville Offense vs. Virginia Defense
Louisville’s Offense has played 2 games to start the season without two of its expected primary weapons in Michael Dyer and DeVante Parker. The Cards will not get Parker back for at least 3 more weeks but they are expected to finally get to see the 2014 version of Michael Dyer. Dyer missed the 2nd half of the 2013 season with a sports hernia injury that required surgery and then missed the first two games of the season with a deep quad contusion.
The Cards didn’t need him after starting 2-0, leading the nation in Time of Possession, and scoring the 12th most points in College Football thus far. Louisville has moved the ball with balance thus far in 2014 and have been wildly successful in converting 3rd downs. Coach Petrino is known for his offense and has lamented his team’s lack of connected deep passes and yards after catch thus far.
Virginia’s Defense has been excellent against the run and in creating turnovers as the Hoos are the #7 in the nation in Turnover Margin through 2 games at +4. It all starts with the UVA pressure upfront in the mostly 3-3-5 defense. Eli Harold (6-4, 250) formerly the #1 OLB in the country (5-star) and on the Watch List for the Bednarik Award starts at Defensive End for the Cavs and has already registered 9 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 sack, and a forced fumble + recovery. On the opposite side Mike Moore (6-4, 265) has 3 TFLs of his own with a sack and a fumble recovery. Harold and Moore together are great at getting behind the line of scrimmage and disrupting an offense.
Defensive Tackle David Dean (6-1, 295) does an outstanding job of holding the point of attack to free up his linebackers. Dean is backed up by Andrew Brown (6-4, 305) who was #1 Defensive Tackle in the country out of high school last year has registered 1 tackle thus far in his true freshman season.
The Linebackers REALLY shine for UVA and particularly the combo of Henry Coley (6’2, 245) and Daquan Romero (6-1, 230). Coley is on the Lott Impact Watch List and currently is the Hoos leading tackler with 22 including 4 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, 2 pass break-ups, and 2 forced fumbles. THAT is productivity from your middle linebacker. Romero is just as effective & 2nd on the team in tackles with 20, 3 TFLs, a sack, an INT, and a forced fumble with a recovery. Major disruption in the offense comes from these two. But don’t count out Max Valles (6-5, 240) who also makes his share of plays with 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble to his credit. The front 6 of Virginia’s Defense REALLY gets after it and they have allowed opponents to rush for just 92.5 yards per game and are 13th in the nation in Sacks and 6th in Tackles for Loss.
Virginia’s Defense is all about pressure and gaining takeaways….Safeties Anthony Harris (6-1, 185) SS was an All-American in 2013 according to Sports Illustrated after leading the nation in interceptions with 8. Harris was a 1st Team All-ACC performer for a team that won ZERO ACC games. Anthony is on the Watch List for the Walter Camp, Bednarik, Nagurski, Thorpe, and Lott Impact Awards. THAT should tell you something. Free Safety Quin Blanding (6-4, 215) is a 5-star true freshman and was the #3 safety in the country out of high school last season. So far Blankding has been up to the task registering 16 tackles (tied for 3rd) with an INT and 2 pass-break ups. This is a dangerous duo.
Virginia has BIG corners. Brandon Phelps (6-0, 185), DreQuan Hoskey (6-0, 180), Maurice Canady (6-2, 190) and Tim Harris (6-2, 200) are your usual suspects in the Cavalier defensive backfield. Clearly the UVA defense is set up to create pressure and stop the run as the Cavs do such a great job upfront but have given up 302.5 yards per game through the air (109th) which is worse than UVA’s 67th finish a year ago. Small sample size, but neither stat is where a coach would like his pass defense to be. UVA could get some help from its most veteran player Demetrious Nicholson (with 30 career starts) if he can return from a nagging turf toe injury. Nicholson has yet to play this year.
When Louisville has the ball, it will be interesting to see how the Cards attack the Virginia defense given UVA’s ability to rush the passer and create takeaways. With 9 turnovers gained by the Virginia defense, 6 from fumbles (5 forced) I would expect the Cards to put a premium on ball security in this game. Will Gardner’s two lost fumbles inside his own 15 against Miami are reason to give pause to going into a drop back game and trying to pick apart the Virginia secondary, but it is a risk worth trying. I expect that the Cards will really do what they can with their backs and tight ends to occupy as much of the Virginia Front 6 as possible to keep the pressure off and give Will Gardner time to work the Virginia secondary.
But I don’t expect Louisville to abandon the balance that we’ve seen Bobby Petrino exercise throughout his career particularly with Michael Dyer returning to the backfield. Louisville is going to run the ball, but they are also going to hit their backs in the flat a lot (I predict in this game) and I wouldn’t be surprised if Corvin Lamb finally gets a run at a screen on a 3rd and long.
Also look out for the Cards to really use a quick release system for Will Gardner when passing, and probably even some zone read to keep the defensive ends honest. Once the running game is established as a viable part of the offense I expect the Cards to take a handful of shots deep off play-action.
The biggest key for Louisville offensively isn’t scoring each time it has the ball, but rather to NOT turn it over to Virginia’s ball-hawking defense and creating easy scoring opportunities either directly from the Virginia Defense or a very pedestrian Hoo Offense.
Louisville Defense vs. Virginia Offense
There were many questions in the pre-season about Louisville’s defense transitioning to Todd Grantham’s new style. The Cards have MORE than answered that call through 2 games proving that the roster had the athletes to play the position and the experience with the multiple looks that the players had played in previously. Currently Louisville has allowed the 19th fewest Total Yards despite playing two offensive oriented programs in the 1st two weeks in Miami and FCS Murray State. Most importantly, Louisville has really discouraged the run game currently the 6th best run defense in the nation despite seeing Miami’s uber-talented Duke Johnson in Week 1. The Cardinals have allowed just a 20% conversion rate on 3rd down, good for 7th in the nation. This all comes a year after the Louisville Defense finished #1 and #2 in Total and Scoring Defense in 2013. The Cardinal D is here to stay.
Virginia has used a 2-QB system in both games thus far with Greyson Lambert (6-5, 235, Soph.) winning the starting job in Spring Practice. Lambert has started both games of 2014 and is the expected starter vs. Louisville. Greyson has hit on 76.3% of his 38 passes, but for only 214 yards in 2 games. Additionally Lambert has thrown 2 INTs (1 for every 19 attempts). Lambert and Louisville’s Will Gardner were the state of Georgia’s top QB prospects in 2012 and squared off in High School with Garnder’s Coffee High School beating Greyson’s Wayne County 42-27.
The Hoos bring Matt Johns (6-5, 210, Soph) off the bench who lead a nice comeback vs. UCLA. Johns hasn’t completed for a high percentage and has thrown 1 INT in 29 attempts, BUT has hit for some big gainers including 3 Touchdowns. UVA also has David Watford (6-2, 205, Jr.) who has a great deal of experience starting and has played a lot of football for Virginia. Watford during his career has been…..shall we say…..inefficient…..and has thrown just 1 pass in 2014.
The Virginia offense uses a lot of read option, counter traps, screens to the running backs. Simple concepts designed to keep defenses off-balance. The primary beneficiary to the passing part of that has been former #2 Running Back in the nation out of High School Taquan Mizzell (5-10, 190) who leads the Cavs with 11 catches…..but for just 41 yards. Mizzell also has 17 carries for 47 yards. The Primary Back for Virginia, however, is Kevin Parks (5-8, 200) who is a career 2700 yard rusher for Virginia, a Doak Walker Award candidate and on just about every pre-season ALL-ACC team. Parks is a dynamic runner out of the backfield and should be considered Virginia’s primary weapon.
Wide Receiver Darius Jennings (5-11, 175) & Running Back Khalek Shepherd (5-8, 200) are both dangerous kickoff returners. Jennings has 19 career starts with 2654 Career All-Purpose Yards. Darius is also UVA’s leading receiver in terms of yardage with 118 yards on 7 catches through two games. Shepherd is Virginia’s 3rd back, and has a really nice history of catching the ball out of the backfield. Canaan Severin (6-2, 210) could be a big target for UVA in the Red Zone along with Doni Dowling (6-1, 215), Mile Gooch (6-3, 210) & Andre Levrone (6-2, 210) but there just isn’t a lot of production from this group to really know which player is one to key on…..the UVA passing game just hasn’t been consistent.
One thing the Cavaliers could do is incorporate their Tight End more. I don’t want to say it is a ‘dead’ position in terms of receiving production but Senior TE Zachary Swanson (6-6, 250) has just 1 catch in two games during 2014 and just 28 catches in 37 games (1 TD) for his career. Virginia really just doesn’t do much with its tight end in the passing game, making the Hoos easier to defend.
The UVA offensive line is led by Right Guard Conner Davis (6-5, 300, Sr.) who has 22 career starts at Virginia. Right Tackle Eric Smith (6-5, 295 Soph) has 10 starts to his ledger and was a freshman All-American in 2013. Beyond that, Virginia’s offensive line has very little experience and the left side but has given up just 1 sack on the year and just 5 TFLs (both Top 10 performances thus far). Virginia however is the 100th offense in the country, 110th in 3rd down conversions, and has been OK in the Red Zone.
For the Cards, Miami’s offense was much more of a challenge than Virginia’s will be. The Cardinal Defense has been outstanding so far in 2014 having allowed just 536 yards through 2 games and are stopping opponents at 80% of the time on 3rd down. UofL has been doing that without a lot of production behind the line of scrimmage with just 3 sacks and 14 tackles for loss.
Given UVAs offense we may see UofL more in their base defense a lot to focus on Kevin Parks as opposed to the Nickel look that we’ve seen from the Cards so far in 2014. I don’t think we’ll see many sacks based on what Virginia does on offense. If Louisville stays home and tackles well they should get off the field often on Saturday.
Virginia hasn’t beaten a FBS school since August 31, 2013 against BYU in last season’s opener, a 3-point win over the eventual 8-5 losers of the San Francisco Fight Hunger Bowl. Before that the Cavs hadn’t won two games in a row since November 10, 2012 when UVA beat NC State (7-6 in 2012) and Miami (7-5 in 2012) during Virginia’s 4-8 2012 season. Virginia’s talent is better than that and the whole situation could be a case study on why recruiting doesn’t solve everything.
Louisville on the other hand is 16-1 in its last 17 games. But the Cards are traveling to Virginia in a new environment and the 2nd conference game in Week 3. Louisville and its new staff are not yet a finished product. One major playmaker DeVante Parker is OUT, another major playmaker Michael Dyer is QUESTIONABLE and yet to play this season. UofL’s QB Will Gardner had two critical fumbles vs. Miami backed up deep inside his own 15. Virginia has forced 9 turnovers in just 2 games in 2014.
But Louisville’s defense really has been outstanding having carried over much of the production from a year prior. The Cards have been excellent against the run and impossible on 3rd down. Meanwhile Virginia has really struggled on 3rd downs.
Much will be made about the strength of Virginia’s defense and how the Hoos match-up with the Cards, but if Virginia can’t move the ball against Louisville how many short fields can UVA withstand? That’s the key here. Louisville’s offense is still under development but there is at least the expectation of improvement. Virginia’s offense has been putrid with little to no change….or hope of improvement. Louisville may have to grind to move the ball against Virginia but Virginia will have to re-invent itself to move the ball against Louisville. That’s the difference.
X-Factors could come in special teams, in scoop & scores or Pick 6s. But I do think Louisville will be able to assert its will against UVA and win a grind of a game and a good learning lesson for the Cardinals on the road. Louisville 24, Virginia 13.
Attending, Listening, Watching
Tickets should be easy to come by as just 34,533 took in last week’s game vs. Richmond at the 61,500 seat Scott Stadium. It was the lowest attended game at Virginia since 1989. The drive from Louisville is straight down I-64 and the area is reportedly nice for a weekend getaway if you are Cardinal fan looking for a last-minute excursion this weekend.
Saturday is Military Appreciation Day at Scott Stadium and there will be a Wounded Warrior Recognition along with a coin toss from Brigadier General Risch and a pre-game parachute exhibition. The field will have a red, white, and blue honorary ribbon.
Over the Radio Waves the legendary Paul Rogers is on the play-by-play and joined by Craig Swabek in the booth and Doug Ormay on the sideline on the Learfield Sports Network. 840 WHAS in Louisville.
In Virginia Dave Koehn, Tony Covington, and Jay James will call the game on the Virginia Sports Network. 97.5 FM or 1070 AM in Charlottesville.
XM Channel: 203; Sirius: 93
WAVE 3 TV has the game on the ACC Network in Louisville with Play-by-Play from Tim Brant, David Archer in the booth, and Rachel Baribeau on the sideline.
Virginia Game Capsules
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