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Keys to victory: Louisville at Virginia

Keys to victory: Louisville at Virginia

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Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong, front, runs the ball next to North Carolina linebacker Tyrone Hopper during Saturday’s game at Scott Stadium.

Bennett Conlin's keys to victory for Saturday's matchup between Virginia and Louisville.


Virginia

Maintain offensive momentum: Virginia’s offense feels confident with Brennan Armstrong starting at quarterback. Despite battling a knee injury entering this week, Armstrong expects to play. After scoring 44 points against North Carolina, Virginia wants to build off that showing. Louisville’s defense makes it easy to score, allowing at least 40 points to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Miami.

Consistently stop the run: Louisville running back Javian Hawkins leads the ACC with 117.4 rushing yards per game. The tailback is a big play waiting to happen. UVa’s defense, on the other hand, ranks fourth in the ACC in rushing yards allowed per game. The Wahoos need to consistently stop Hawkins, who can quickly break off chunk gains at any moment.

Take care of the ball: Armstrong didn’t throw an interception against Miami, and Virginia only lost by five to a quality foe. When he only threw one interception against North Carolina, and the Cavaliers upset the Tar Heels. UVa can win games when it wins the turnover battle or at least keeps it close by taking care of the ball. That starts with Armstrong.


Louisville

Score in bunches: UVa’s secondary continues to battle injuries to Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson. The injuries, as well as an inability to win one-on-one battles on the outside, lend itself to poor defensive showings. Four of UVa’s past five opponents have scored at least 38 points.

Pressure Brennan Armstrong: Armstrong gains confidence weekly. He’s starting to see the field well, and his turnover rate seems to be declining. UVa offense coordinator Robert Anae credits the offensive line for part of that growth. Louisville needs to generate pressure Saturday, despite dealing with defensive linemen missing time recently due to COVID-19.

Start fast: UVa tends to start slowly, and the Cardinals play their best when they can lean on the running game. If Louisville jumps out to an early lead, the Cardinals can rely on Javian Hawkins and the ground game for most of the day. If the Cavaliers flip the script and lead by multiple scores, it forces the Cardinals to pass the ball effectively.

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