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THE COLUMN: Virginia vs. Ohio Complete Preview

A not-so-home game in Nashville

TIME: 4:30 PM (EST)

DATE: September 15th, 2018

LOCATION: Vanderbilt Stadium | Nashville, TN


The Lowdown

Rain, rain, come again another day...

With the Southeast prepping for #HurricaneFlorence, Virginia and Ohio decided to move this Saturday’s game from Charlottesville to Nashville. The sorta good news? If you make the trip out there, you can watch the game FOR FREE.

The Cavaliers already faced poor conditions last week, when they fell 20-16 against Indiana. Overall, it was a messy game where the Hoos hung around but ultimately couldn’t make a stop or big play when it crucially mattered. Indiana had their way with the running game and exposed flaws in Virginia’s defense that future teams will undoubtedly try to exploit.

SO, are you ready for some #MACtion (you’re welcome MAC for plugging your “official” hashtag)??? On the slate for this week is the Ohio Bobcats - a team that shouldn’t be slept on. The Bobcats and their Head Coach Frank Solich had a great 2017 season where they finished 9-4 and capped off the season with a 41-6 win over UAB in the Bahamas Bowl. They finished ninth the country in scoring offense (39.1 PPG) and return a decent amount of key players for this year. The 2018 MAC preseason poll has Ohio finishing at the top of their conference and Virginia should be in for a battle on Saturday.

Hoo’s Hoo?

Virginia Cavaliers

Eli Hanback, DT

Last week, Indiana’s experienced offensive line had their way against Virginia’s defense front as Stevie Smith ran all over the Hoos. The Cavaliers only returned two starters on the line from last year, third year Eli Hanback and second-year DE Mandy Alonso. Last year, Hanback led the defensive line in tackles with 58 and this year he’s expected to fill the shoes of Andrew Brown.

Virginia Cavaliers

Hasise Dubois, WR

Last year, the air raid offense with Benkert at the helm spread the ball around with Virginia’s receivers. This year, the receiving corps will have to adjust to the new option offense with Bryce Perkins getting a large majority of his work done on the ground. While Olamide Zaccheaus is the main star, third-year Hasise Dubois will see plenty of action as one of the other main receiving options.

Virginia Cavaliers

Juan Thornhill, S

Last weekend, fourth-year Juan Thornhill blocked and returned a PAT 98 yards for a rare two-point defensive play. Thornhill has had the tall order of replacing Quin Blanding, who is the Hoos’ all-time leading tackler. While the run defense was definitely suspect, the secondary has been a little more stout. The Cavaliers will rely on Thornhill to hold down that part of the field as the team tries to fill some of the gaps at the line.

Ohio Bobcats

Nathan Rourke, QB

Nathan Rourke had a stellar 17-18 campaign as he led the Bobcats to a 9-4 record and threw for 2,203 yards with 17 touchdowns. He even rushed for 21 touchdowns which was the most among quarterbacks in Division I football last year. You’d tend to think that he locked up the starting quarterback position but Ohio Head Coach Frank Solich pulled him their game against Howard in favor of Quinton Maxwell.

Ohio Bobcats

Quinton Maxwell, QB

Normally the backup to Nathan Rourke, redshirt sophomore Quinton Maxwell came into Ohio’s opener against Howard University in the second quarter. He finished the game out with 17 of 25 for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Rourke had been touted as the starter for the Bobcats so it came as a surprise that Maxwell got his number called. Rourke has been named the starter against Virginia but Maxwell could show up at some point.

Ohio Bobcats

A.J. Ouellette, RB

Besides Rourke, redshirt senior A.J. Ouellette is the most important offensive player for the Bobcats. He has amassed some impressive records - Ouellette ranks ninth in program history in rushing yards (2,478) and 10th in touchdowns (20). For the last three seasons, Ouellette has led the team in rushing yards. After Stevie Scott’s performance last week, don’t be surprised if Coach Solich will utilize Ouellette early and often.