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2017 Virginia Football Opponent Preview: Louisville

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Will the Wahoos continue their trend of strong play against their Atlantic Division “rivals?”

Kentucky v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

2016 Record: 9-4 (7-1 ACC)

9-4 and a Heisman winner makes for a pretty awesome season, right? Well, no one likes ending their season with three losses and losing to your instate rival...so...sort of! Beating FSU by 43 was probably the highlight for the Cardinals in a season filled with highlights (a certain last minute game-winning bomb of a throw comes to mind). Certainly 2016 was a success for Coach Petrino, but getting spanked by Houston and LSU sandwiching a loss to Kentucky was not a strong finish.

Notable Departures:

LB Devonte Fields (First Team All ACC)

TE Cole Hikutini (Second Team All ACC)

DT DeAngelo Brown (Second Team All ACC)

Notable Additions:

RB - Colin Wilson (4 star 247sports)

S - CJ Avery (4 star 247sports)

CB - Russ Yeast (4 star 247sports)

Best Name on the Roster:

Sr. CB - Zykiesis Cannon

Better Know a Virginian:

Fr. OL - Mekhi Becton (Highland Springs, Va)

You all remember Mekhi, right? The highly rated recruit was considered by most gurus to be a UVa lean throughout his recruitment. He visited Charlottesville multiple times and took official visits to Michigan State, Oregon, and other top programs - and as the college football season began to wind down, his recruitment started to trend away from the Wahoos. Perhaps the 2 win total had something to do with it - perhaps he really likes Papa Johns.

2017 Outlook:

Yeah, Lamar Jackson is pretty awesome. He alone should keep UL on pace for 9 wins or so - but he’s missing his top rusher, top three receivers, and three offensive linemen from last year’s squad. The junior QB should still be able to replicate his Heisman winning stats from 2016, but considering that season ended with a three game massive swoon, 2017 won’t be without its own hiccups.

The defense is replacing its coordinator and returns plenty of players in the secondary. Two talented edge rushers return to team up with ILB Stacy Thomas, but finding the right answer on the DLine will be the key question for DC Peter Sirmon. If the offense can avoid its own late season swoon, that will certainly help the defense do the same.

Games against Purdue, Murray State, and Kent State don’t really threaten the Cardinals with upsets - and while last year’s team did blow it against Kentucky, that one should still be a W on paper. Really it’s just Clemson and FSU that look more like losses than wins for now. Maybe UNC can surprise them early in the year in Chapel Hill? I’d imagine Louisville breezes through most of their 2017 - and if FSU or Clemson stumble, the Cardinals could easily be in the ACC title game...or the national playoff.

Prediction:

Well it’s not like UVa has folded in to the Cards in their “rival” matchups. Everyone remembers last year’s almost-win. They played them close in 2015 and beat them in 2014 as well. Maybe this year, the Hoos will continue the trend and keep it close - if UL’s OLine still has issues, the UVa defense could force enough mistakes potentially. Or maybe this year, Lamar Jackson bucks recent history and throws for 400 yards and runs for 3 scores. We sure do live in a world of uncertainty. Cardinals by 20 or so.

Poll

Will UVa pull off the upset in Louisville?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Yes
    (32 votes)
  • 75%
    No
    (98 votes)
130 votes total Vote Now