After dropping a very winnable road game, the Virginia Cavaliers are back at it again Saturday as they “host” the Ohio University Bobcats in a game that will be played at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville due the possibility of Hurricane Florence affecting Charlottesville and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Ohio had a week off after defeating the Howard Bison 38-32 in their opener. The Bobcats have been of the MAC’s better teams in recent years, so they will be a formidable foe. However, if Virginia is to make a bowl game this season, a win on Saturday is almost a must. Here are three keys to Wahoo victory.
- Stop the Run - In what is likely to be an ongoing key to each game this season, the Hoos have to be better at stopping the run. As we only have one game for reference, it’s difficult to discern the identity of the Bobcats, but in their opener against Howard, it was the passing game that took center stage with Quinton Maxwell going 17-25 for 233 yards through the air, 154 of them to star wide receiver Papi White. But it wasn’t more than a season ago when it was the Ohio run game that took the Bobcats to second place finish in the MAC East division, led by A.J. Ouellette who returns for his junior season. A week ago, Virginia struggled to contain Indiana’s Stevie Scott, and along with giving up over 200 yards on the ground, the Hoos’ inability to contain the run made them susceptible to the pass. On the day the Hoosiers connected on four passes over over 18 yards including a 22 yard touchdown in the second quarter. The strength of the Virginia defense is in the secondary, and the key to a Cavalier win rests in stopping the run and forcing the Bobcats to pass.
- Take the Pressure off Perkins - Through two games, Bryce Perkins has exceed my expectations, and then some. But he can’t do it on his own. Against Richmond, Jordan Ellis and Olamide Zaccheaus were studs and the offense looked unbeatable. Then last week, Ellis couldn’t get much going and Zaccheaus was held to 15 yards on five catches. That can’t happen this week if Virginia is going to win. Perkins is at his best when the defense has to account for him and his other weapons. Against Howard, Ohio struggled with Bison quarterback Caylin Newton who gashed the Bobcats for 439 yards passing and 93 yards rushing. Those are numbers Perkins doesn’t necessarily have to repeat, but can if he gets a little help from his friends.
- Get Zaccheaus going - The Virginia passing game was almost non-existent against Indiana. Some of that could have been attributed to the weather, but regardless, that must change going forward. Virginia can’t run the risk of becoming one dimensional as it has in years past. And a key to that is Zaccheaus. In the opener against Richmond, he totaled 101 receiving, the fourth time he’s done that in his career. But it’s his all-around game that is key to Virginia’s success. In Zaccheaus’ four years in a Cavalier uniform, the wide receiver has gone over 90 total yards eight times. Seven of those have resulted in Virginia wins. Considering in that same span, the Hoos have only won 13 games, a good game from Zaccheaus is a harbinger of good things.
Kickoff is at 4:30 EDT from Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. If you’re able to make it out there, admission is free. If not and you still have power, the game will be televised by ESPN2. Be safe this weekend, and Go Hoos!