Well that was a pleasant surprise now wasn’t it? The Virginia Cavaliers looked the part of the FBS squad hosting an FCS team, a far cry from when the Richmond Spiders visited Scott Stadium two years ago. But the season begins in earnest this week as the Hoos travel to Bloomington to take on the Indiana Hoosiers. The Cavaliers will look to avenge last year’s 34-17 defeat in Charlottesville and go 2-0 for this first time since 2012. Here’s what it will take to make that happen.
- Contain Ramsey - When these two teams faced off last season, the Cavaliers undoubtedly prepared to face Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow, who was a traditional pocket passer. Instead they squared off against Peyton Ramsey, who despite not running for significant yardage, made the Cavaliers pay by hitting long pass plays when the Hoos sold out to stop the run. But the element of surprise wasn’t what doomed Virginia. Instead, all season the Cavaliers struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks. In nine of Virginia’s 13 games, the defense surrendered at least 50 yards rushing by the opposing teams’ quarterback. Three times, their opponent ran for over 150 yards. So, keeping Ramsey contained and in the pocket will be critical this week. Let him run wild and it will be a long day for the Hoos.
- Pound the rock - I’ll admit, I love the look of this new offense. While we won’t see Bryce Perkins sling it 45 yards on a frozen rope a la Kurt Benkert, this offense is actually much more explosive. I’ll temper my excitement given it was Richmond, but Virginia was able to run the ball at will against the Spiders. Jordan Ellis was physical and provided the Hoos a between-the-tackles presence that hasn’t been seen in Charlottesville in several years. In addition to all of that, Perkins looked like he was shot out of a cannon on that first quarter 36 yard touchdown run. It was still “only” Richmond, but 301 yards on the ground is 301 yards on the ground. Do it again this week and this team could be on to something special.
- Take care of the football - Think of how different last week’s game would have been if Richmond’s Markus Vinson had picked off Perkins’ 30 yard pass two plays before his touchdown run. After surrendering a touchdown on an interception the drive before, the Virginia offense could have very well shot itself in the foot before it even had a chance to get rolling. Fortunately, the pass was dropped and Perkins scored two plays later. This week against, Indiana they can’t afford to come that close. A dominant run game can’t afford turnovers. With the lack of a quick-strike capability to fall back on through the air, Virginia will have to make the most of every drive they have. Limit the turnovers, keep the defense off the field, and Virginia will leave Bloomington with a win.
Kickoff in Bloomington is set for 7:30 PM and the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network. Check out all the other great content here at Streakingthelawn.com all week and as always, Go Hoos!