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THE COLUMN: Virginia vs. Pittsburgh Complete Preview

No. 23 Virginia takes on Pittsburgh, under the lights.

TIME: 7:30 PM (EST)

DATE: November 2nd, 2018

LOCATION: Scott Stadium | Charlottesville, VA


The Lowdown

Something feels different about this week. I can’t quite tell. Maybe it’s because the leaves are changing color and there’s going to be a sale soon on all sorts of fun-sized candy bars. Or maybe it’s because UVA has a Friday night game. OR maybe it’s because there’s a 23 next to Virginia’s name in the AP Poll.

Yeah, I think that’s the one. For the first time since 2011, the Hoos are ranked. Virginia sits at 6-2 (4-1 in the ACC) and are in the lead of the Coastal Division. It’s somewhat crazy that we’re speculating which bowl Virginia will be in and not just hoping for the team to make one, but here we are. The Wahoos are in control of their destiny and could theoretically make it to a “New Year’s Six” bowl game, if they win out...

First things first, Bronco Mendenhall will have to keep his players focused on one game at a time. In Virginia’s third night matchup of the year, they welcome a scrappy 4-4 Pittsburgh on Friday at Scott Stadium. Pat Narduzzi’s team has faced some tough teams this year, so it’s 4-4 record isn’t necessarily indicative of what their capable of. The Panthers four losses have come against Penn State, UNC, UCF, and Notre Dame. Last week, they got back on track by winning a shootout against Duke.

Fans normally don’t have too much to cheer for at Scott Stadium in November but, boy, is there a lot to be excited for this year. If you’re in the Charlottesville area, make sure to get out there and support the team as they continue to build the #NewStandard and try to punch their ticket to a marquee bowl game.

The Statistics

from Danny Neckel

The Good

Category UVA Category PITT
Category UVA Category PITT
Yards Defense 20th (327.4) Yards Offense 93rd (374.3)
Passing Defense 50th (214.4) Passing Offense 120th (146.4)
3rd Down Offense 12th (47.7) 3rd Down Defense 117th (46.9%)

The Bad

Category UVA Category PITT
Category UVA Category PITT
3rd Down Defense 86th (41%) 3rd Down Offense 8th (3.33)

Hoo’s Hoo?

Virginia Cavaliers

Jordan Mack, ILB

After starting in Virginia’s first four games, third-year linebacker Jordan Mack went down with an undisclosed injury against Louisville. Start playing Return of the Mack though, because he’s back in action this week. Last year, Mack was third on the team in tackles, with 114 tackles. Virginia’s defense has been good this season and will gladly re-welcome Mack back into the mix.

Virginia Cavaliers

Jordan Ellis, RB

Jordan Ellis has been a workhorse for Virginia all season long. So far, he’s rushed for 683 yards and seven touchdowns. Paired with the rushing efforts of Bryce Perkins, Virginia’s total run offense is at 1280 yards and 12 touchdowns. While Ellis’ numbers are comparable to those of last season, he has been a consistent threat for the Hoos’ offense and continues to be an important anchor for the Hoos offense.

Virginia Cavaliers

Mandy Alonso, DE

Virginia’s defensive line is the youngin, in many ways, of the team. The corps is led by third-year Eli Hanback, Alonso, who is a second-year, and true first-years, Jordan Redmond and Aaron Faumui. Then there’s defensive line coach Vic So’oto, the youngest full-time coach on the Cavaliers’ staff. Alonso and the other linemen have created a formidable run defense, allowing only 113 yards a game, which is good for 20th in the country.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Qadree Ollison, RB

The run game has been Pittsburgh’s bread-and-butter over the last few years. This year, Pat Narduzzi has leaned on Qadree Ollison. The senior running back has 795 yards and seven touchdowns so far. Pittsburgh likes to mix-and-match at the running back position though. Darrin Hall is also a senior running back and we’ll see plenty of touches from him too, as he has 429 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the season.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Kenny Pickett, QB

After playing in four games last year, sophomore Kenny Pickett now leads the helm for the Panthers. He’s had a modest season so far, throwing for 1156 yards, eight touchdowns, and five interceptions. Pickett does have mobile ability but has been streaky, to say the least. In the Panthers’ last three games, he’s ran for -29, -6, and 76 yards, respectively. Virginia’s defense has been stout and it should be a good test of Pickett’s true abilities.

Pittsburgh Panthers

V’Lique Carter, RB

As mentioned before, Pittsburgh has a history of using multiple running backs. Ollison and Hall are the main guys but there’s one more...V’Lique Carter probably wouldn’t be mentioned here if it weren’t for his performance last week against Duke where he had seven touches for 137 yards and two touchdowns. The freshman was originally recruited as a defensive back but look for the speedster to get touches as running back on Friday night.


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