UVA’S THREE KEYS TO VICTORY
1 Control the run: Javian Hawkins leads the ACC averaging 117.4 yards per game and the Cardinals haven’t been afraid to ride the sophomore. His 133 carries are the most in the league this season. UVA is more than familiar with Hawkins’ skills. Last season, in a 28-21 Louisville win, Hawkins ran for 136 yards and two scores. That day, the Cavaliers struggled to box in quarterback Malik Cunningham, who ran for 114 yards and a touchdown, not counting sack yardage. This year? Virginia’s run defense ranks fourth in the ACC, allowing just 126.8 yards per game and 3.3 per carry.
2Keep Armstrong upright: Virginia’s new starting quarterback has looked better than expected — when healthy. He’s also missed a game with a concussion and might have missed the Louisville game with a knee injury, if it had been played last weekend, as originally scheduled. The Cavaliers have given up just 12 sacks in six games, tied for the fewest in the conference. But Armstrong has taken some big shots, in the pocket and when he runs, which he does frequently. He’s carried the ball 61 times this season and there’s no denying, the UVA offense is better when he’s got the ball in his hands.
3Remember the deep balls: Because Louisville’s offense is so run-capable, it’s easy for defensive backs to get sucked in, drawn up to the line and rendered helpless when a play-action pass goes over their heads. Virginia is likely to play again with two backups — JMU transfer D’Angelo Amos and rookie Antonio Clary, with Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson both likely to miss their third straight games. Louisville has connected on 28 pass plays of 20 yards or longer already this season.