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THE COLUMN: Virginia vs. Liberty Complete Preview

The Hoos last home game of the year

TIME: 3:00 PM (EST)

DATE: November 10th, 2018

LOCATION: Scott Stadium | Charlottesville, VA


The Lowdown

Welp. Flying high was fun while it lasted. After dropping last week’s game against Pittsburgh, Virginia is no longer ranked. In a rain-soaked game reminiscent of the Virginia-Indiana matchup earlier this year, the Panthers’ Darrin Hall ran all over Virginia’s usually stingy run defense. At 6-3, the Hoos still are in the race for the Coastal Division crown but it’s realistically not worth thinking about until the bigger picture sharpens up in the last week. And, of course, Bronco Mendenhall’s team will have to run the table.

The Wahoos are now back down-to-earth and their first matchup is a visit from their Lynchburg neighbors just a short trip south on I-29. The Liberty Flames are playing in their first ever FBS season and are playing as an independent while they transition to becoming a full FBS member.

As one would imagine, Liberty has put together a scrappy season. They currently sit at 4-4 and have played a plethora of teams from North Texas (loss) to New Mexico (win). The Flames are 9th in the country in passing yards/game (323.9). But, they have also not played any teams in the FPI top #50 yet. And, they’ve lost to two teams outside of the top #100...

Take what you will from that, but the Hoos will need to use this game to recalibrate their season. In many ways, this Saturday’s game is just what the doctor ordered for the Cavaliers and the Hoos will need to make sure to fill their prescription.

The Statistics

from Danny Neckel

The Good

Category UVA Category LIBERTY
Category UVA Category LIBERTY
Rushing Offense 64th (170.2) Rushing Defense 121st (238)
Rushing Defense 29th (128.7) Rushing Offense 84th (153.5)
Scoring Offense 86th (26.6) 3rd Down Defense 120th (38.3)

The Bad

Category UVA Category LIBERTY
Category UVA Category LIBERTY
3rd Down Defense 78th (40.2%) 3rd Down Offense 45th (42.1%)
Passing Defense 35th (197.3) Passing Offense 9th (323.9)

Hoo’s Hoo?

Virginia Cavaliers

Terrell Jana, WR

Second-year Terrell Jana was one of the bright spots for the Hoos last week. While Jana has appeared in all of Virginia’s games this year, he had only caught three passes for 29 yards going into last Friday. However, he finished the Pittsburgh game with three catches for 71 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Bryce Perkins could use a third reliable option at WR and, maybe, Jana can step-up to the challenge again.

Virginia Cavaliers

Aaron Faumui, DE

Last week, I featured Mandy Alonso and highlighted the stoutness of Wahoo’s run defense. Well, that didn’t age well at all as Pittsburgh and Darrin Hall ran all over Virginia. It’s possible that it was a one-off game, but the Hoos could be thin at the defensive line this week because Alonso went down with an injury last week. First-year Aaron Faumui will need to hold it down this week as Liberty may try to go with a ground-and-pound method again.

Virginia Cavaliers

Tim Harris, CB

Veteran Tim Harris has had a rough last two years. In the opener last year, he suffered a season-ending wrist injury. In 2016, Harris had suffered a season-ending injury in the second game of the season. Right now, he’s sharing one cornerback position with second-year Darius Bratton (the other spot being occupied by Bryce Hall). Harris has a couple more chances to truly showcase his talent.

Liberty Flames

Stephen Calvert, QB

Last year, Stephen Calvert led the Big South in passing yards (3,363), completions (257), and touchdowns (29). The Junior currently has 2528 passing yards and 18 touchdowns and has his team 9th in the nation in passing yards/game. However, some of that could be skewed due to the weaker competition that the Flames have faced. That being said, the Flame’s air game is nothing to sniff at especially as Liberty will try to exploit the multiple injuries in the Virginia secondary.

Liberty Flames

Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR

Antonio Gandy-Golden is Calvert’s main wide out. Alongside Calvert leading the Big South in passing last year, Gandy-Golden led the conference in receiving yards (1,066) and receptions (69). His transition to the FBS has been pretty seamless as he currently has 844 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He’s had two 200+ receiving yard games this year and there’s no doubt that he’s enemy #1 for the Hoos’ secondary this week.

Liberty Flames

Frankie Hickson, RB

Another key piece to the Flames’ offense is Lynchburg-native, Frankie Hickson. He is the Flames’ go-to running back and so far he has 678 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 149 carries. Last year, Hickson was also a dynamic return specialist but has only has five return kicks this year. Do also look for Liberty to also handoffs to Peytton Pickett, as he’s the team second option at running back and has about half the about as carries as Hickson.


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