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From the Upper Deck: Hoos face must-win at Wake Forest

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Three keys to Virginia’s tilt with the Demon Deacons

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The time of year has unfortunately come. For Coach Mendenhall to make good on his “bowl games in December” statement from his opening pep rally, the Hoos are going to have run the table over the next four weeks to finish 6-6. It’s a tall task for any team, especially given the two completely different teams we saw wear the orange and blue the last two weeks. Play like they did against North Carolina, no chance. Play like they did against Louisville, “so you’re saying there’s a chance.” It all starts Saturday when the Hoos travel to Wake Forest looking for back to back road wins for the first time since Virginia won three in a row in 2011. So, what do the Cavaliers have to do to be victorious come Saturday evening? Here’s a look...From the Upper Deck.

  1. Throw, throw, and throw some more. Wake Forest has a good, not great defense. They’re middle of the pack in the ACC in most defensive categories. However they are far better at rush defense than they are at pass defense. The Deacs give up 244 yards per game through the air, compared to only 134 on the ground. Kurt Benkert and company should have a field day as it plays to Virginia’s strengths. The Hoos average 264.5 passing yards per game, and just 109.9 rushing yards per game. By airing it out, hopefully Virginia can put some points on the board and more specifically...
  2. Jump on them early. After playing two teams in the last two weeks who can score from anywhere on the field, Virginia gets a bit of a break against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons rank 12th or worse in the ACC in both pass offense and total offense. Wake Forest isn’t the type of team that is going to run up and down the field putting tons of points on the board. Instead, Wake prefers to grind out drives, control the clock, and win with the kicking game (Wake Forest is very good at punting and kicking field goals). As opposed to the last two weeks, you get the feeling that if the Hoos can get up by a couple scores, their lead will be insurmountable. That is unless Virginia doesn’t...
  3. Protect the football. For a team that doesn’t move the ball on offense particularly well, Wake Forest has been able to win five games. They’ve done that through a plus five turnover margin on the season which is good for second in the ACC. On top of that, they’ve been able to convert two of their turnovers into touchdowns. Wake Forest doesn’t have a running back or a receiver in the top ten in the ACC in rushing or receiving. Their quarterback, John Wolford, has thrown only two less interceptions than Benkert despite 100 less attempts. Yet, Wake Forest stands one win away from bowl eligibility. They’ve found ways to win games, something Virginia hasn’t done. Not turning the ball over will be a great way to ensure that trend is flipped.

Virginia and Wake Forest will get after it at 3 P.M. from BB&T Stadium in Winston Salem. The game is televised by the ACC Network. Stay with Streaking the Lawn for all of your football coverage and check back Sunday to see how we did.