Week one is in the books with the Hoos picking up a 1-0 record with a win over William and Mary, and Indiana is coming to Charlottesville tomorrow. So we asked the staff: What or who impressed you the most in the first game, and what unit will have to perform the best to pull off an upset of Indiana?
Pierce: I was happy with Benkert's performance for sure. there were a couple missed throws that would've helped the game look more like a blowout, but overall I think Benkert looked poised and played a solid game. Going 27-for-39 for 262 and three scores is about as good as anyone should hope for - and we should also consider that there seemed to be a little bit of the play-it-safe standard play calling going on, so maybe we'll see some trickier/more interesting stuff from [Offensive Coordinator] Anae and Benkert this week. That said, they'll really need to step it up to have a shot against Indiana. Yes, Benkert was efficient (and turnover free!) against W&M, but to beat IU he'll need to be efficient, light on mistakes, AND make those game-changing type of throws. The Hoosiers will put up a few scores no matter how well UVa's defense (and their new true frosh CB) plays, the Wahoos on offense are going to need to keep pace to pull of a win.
Tiki: The WRs impressed the most. How talented are these guys? Joe Reed and Doni Dowling taking short throws and turning them into big gains. Andre Levrone going deep for a TD. Even DeVonte Cross got in on it, though he couldn't stay in bounds on a tough sideline catch. I haven't even mentioned Olamide [Zacchaeus], who had some big catches including a tough back-shoulder in the end zone. Six WRs combined for 19 catches for 245 yards with two TDs. Anybody who was concerned about where Smoke's touches were going to go should feel much better.
Danny: The two players than impressed me the most were junior defenders Malcolm Cook and Juan Thornhill. While seniors Micah Kiser and Quin Blanding rightfully get a lot of attention, Cook and Thornhill each recorded double digit tackles. It was a career high for both and each had a tackle for a loss as well. In order for UVA to pull off the upset, the defensive backs need to come up big. Indiana threw 65 times for 410 yards vs Ohio State last week and two players caught over 10 balls each. Freshman CB Germane Crowell will have to learn fast if Virginia is going to come away with a victory.
Wiley: I was most impressed with the total play of the defensive unit, which seemed to be playing with a mindset toward just smothering William and Mary and not giving up big plays. For the most part, they did just that. The Tribe only had two plays go for 20-plus yards: a 28-yard pass right after halftime, and the 25-yard McKee scramble in the 4th quarter. Even more impressive? UVA only gave up seven plays of TEN or more yards, including only two in the first half. That's a sign that the defense is playing soundly within the scheme and swarming to the ball.
They're going to have to do that again vs. Indiana. The Hoosiers registered five plays that gained more than 10 yards—including a 28-yard pass completion—on their first POSSESSION against Ohio State. Lagow isn't the most consistent passer, but he kept Indiana in that game by hitting Simmie Cobbs for big chunks of yardage all at once. With Tim Harris out, I fully expect IU will look to Cobbs for big plays early and often, testing Virginia's young DBs.
Tiki: I just realized I didn't answer the second part of the question. I'm going to stick with the WRs. Indiana plays a nickel as their base defense, so they are ready to defend the pass. Their DBs aren't particularly big, but they cover well. The Hoosiers are going to score, so the Hoos need to come up with some big plays to stay in the game. We know those plays aren't coming from the running game, and that means the WRs are gonna have to come up big again.
Darns: I was impressed by my man Malcolm Cook. The dude basically hasn’t played a down of football in three years due to injury and illness...then ended up leading the defense in tackles in week one. He also recorded his first career sack. Not. Too. Shabby. The defense as a whole was pretty solid, minus one drive where W&M relied on their not-super-mobile QB to rush, something Coach Mendenhall said they were willing to give up. I’ll take it.
As for this week, I’m going with the offensive line. Virginia will have to get a running game going to open up some passing, which will rely heavily on the line. Additionally, Virginia will have to give Benkert time to hit the receivers, which will rely heavily on the line. Jack English is expected to return to the line after his opening week suspension, which should help bring more size and experience to the line. Get that ball moving, fellas.
What is your take? Let us know in the comments below! Hoos host Hoosiers on Saturday at 3:30pm on ESPNU.