Know Your Foe: The Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia's head coach Bronco Mendenhall, center, gives a direction as the team plays against William and Mary in an NCAA college football game in Charlottesville on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. (Daniel Sangjib Min/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

When the UConn football team rolls into Virginia to play its second game of the season on Saturday, it will face a team that looks somewhat similar to itself.

Like UConn, Virginia has suffered from a lethargic offense over the years and this season seems no different for the Cavaliers. Virginia started out the season against FCS opponent William & Mary and their starting quarterback Kurt Benkert had a good showing.

Benkert went 27-for-39 for 262 yards passing and threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions. Now, his receivers only registered about 6.7 yards per catch, but it was overall a very efficient performance through the air.

The cracks in Virginia’s run game began to show even against an FCS opponent. The offensive line only got enough push to average 2.9 yards per rush on the ground, and they had to rely on the passing game to put the game out of reach of their opponents.

This might be a death knell for Virginia against a very good UConn defensive line who held Holy Cross to under three yards per rush even without their best defensive lineman, Folorunso Fatukasi.

The week afer, when they played Indiana is when the wheels really came off for the Cavaliers. The offensive line once again couldn’t get a push early, but this time it was understandable. The Hoosiers have one of the better defensive lines in the Big Ten.

However, Indiana got up 17 points early, and this development forced Virginia to air it out to come from behind. Benkert put the ball up 66 times, completing 39 passes for 259 yards, hardly efficient numbers.

All of that is somewhat acceptable for Virginia, who has been proud of the defensive product they put on the field in the past few years. The secondary, led by blue-chip cornerback Quin Blandig, has shut down the pass in their first two games, only allowing 6.3 passing yards per passing attempt, good enough for 25th in the nation.

Virginia’s run defense, on the other hand, has been much more mediocre in 2017. The Cavaliers gave up 168 yards on the ground to William & Mary and 121 to Indiana.

UConn and Virginia will kickoff Saturday at 12 p.m. in Charlottesville, VA.


Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu