BOZICH | Final look at Louisville-Virginia football, weather inc - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Final look at Louisville-Virginia football, weather included

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FROM STAFF AND AP DISPATCHES

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WDRB) – A final look at Saturday's Louisville-Virginia football game, starting with seven things to remember:

1. Weather might be a factor. It has been drizzling most of the morning, with stronger storms reported in Harrisonburg, about 35 miles northwest of the stadium. But Weather.com puts the chances of rain at 0 percent until 3 p.m., when it climbs to 25 percent. The current temperature is 65, with a high expected of 73.

2. Scoring first is a key for beating Virginia in the Mike London Era. The Cavaliers are only 3-22 under London in games when the opposing team scores first.

3. The Cavaliers have two freshmen on defense to watch – safety Quin Blanding (wears #3) and defensive line Andrew Brown (#9). Both players were ranked among the Top 10 players in the nation by at least one recruiting service last season. Blanding has made 16 tackles with an interception and two passes broken up in UVa's first two games.

4. Not only has Virginia lost its last 10 ACC games, the Cavaliers have been beaten in their last six conference games by an average of 22 points.

5. I predict that back-up quarterback Reggie Bonnafon, who looked solid against Murray State last Saturday, will play several series against the Cavaliers. I'll also predict that back-up halfback Michael Dyer will not play.

6. Virginia played in front of more nearly 27,000 empty seats last week, the Cavaliers' smallest home crowd (34,533) since 1989. Scott Stadium holds 61,000. Considering the weather, the crowd for the Louisville game will probably not exceed the 44,749 UVa drew for its season opener against UCLA Aug. 30.

7. The line continues to shrink. Louisville opened as a 10-point favorite. The spread remained at 6 ½ near the end of the week, but is now 5  about an hour  before kickoff. What does Las Vegas know?

Here is the Associated Press game preview written by Kevin Chroust:

After passing its first ACC test and drubbing an FCS school in a five-day span before home crowds, Louisville is headed out to familiarize itself with its new conference's surroundings.

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The 21st-ranked Cardinals will be challenged in an ACC road environment for the first time Saturday in a matchup with Virginia.

"It will be the first time we get to travel together ... and then deal with the crowd noise offensively and defensively, so it will be a good challenge on the road against a team that I think is playing well," coach Bobby Petrino said.

Petrino's return to Louisville (2-0, 1-0 ACC) began with a 31-13 win over Miami on Sept. 1 and continued in expected fashion last Saturday with a 66-21 victory over Murray State.

The Cardinals ran up 603 yards of offense and scored on nine straight possessions, but much of the mileage did not fall on key members of the offense. Starting quarterback Will Gardner exited after giving Louisville a 28-7 lead on the second play of the second quarter with his second touchdown pass. Top running back Dominique Brown was given just five carries, gaining 40 yards and a touchdown, after carrying the ball 33 times for 143 yards and a score against Miami.

Freshman Reggie Bonnafon followed Gardner, going 8 of 11 for 112 yards and a touchdown after the starter registered 133 yards on 13-of-22 passing. Freshman L.J. Scott spelled Brown, rushing 11 times for 126 yards and a score on his way to ACC rookie of the week honors, while sophomore Brandon Radcliff saw a team-high 15 carries for 97 yards and two TDs.

The lofty numbers might not be replicated against ACC competition, but there could have been some value in getting young players on the field to develop depth at the skill positions. The Cardinals lost quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, running back Senorise Perry and wide receiver Damian Copeland entering the season, while star wideout DeVante Parker remains sidelined after undergoing surgery on a broken foot late last month.

"These games are sometimes hard to play, especially coming off a game like Miami where we had so much time to prepare and it was so intense," Petrino said. "But we showed maturity and we did a nice job preparing for it, and they came out and executed well."

Virginia (1-1, 0-0) faces its second ranked foe after falling 28-20 at home to then-No. 7 UCLA on Aug. 30.

Things came much easier in last Saturday's 45-13 home win over Richmond despite a modest 330 yards of offense. It had a great deal to do with the defense forcing seven turnovers, something Petrino has no doubt relayed to his offense.

"They have two really active defensive ends and a couple good guys inside that push the pocket, so most of their turnovers have come as a result of pressuring the quarterback and either the quarterback fumbling the ball or having to throw under pressure and have an interception," Petrino said.

The victory ended a 10-game losing streak for the Cavaliers, who will now try to win consecutive contests for the first time since Nov. 3-10, 2012.

"It just feels good to get that taste out of your mouth," defensive end Eli Harold told the school's official website.

The next task is ending an 11-game skid against FBS schools and a five-gamer versus the Top 25.

Slowing down Louisville, though, could be difficult considering Virginia let Richmond run up 422 yards of offense and 21 first downs.

"We'll go back and look at the negatives, and that's one of them," said coach Mike London, whose defense had been a bit more optimistic after limiting UCLA. "Louisville is a team that has a lot of great skill players, and we'll definitely have to shore up what we're doing from that aspect."

The Louisville defense hasn't been exposed in that way. It'll be up against the Cavaliers' rotating quarterbacks, Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns. Lambert is among the nation's leaders with a 76.3 percent completion rate, but Petrino sees both quarterbacks as similar threats.

"They don't do a lot of different philosophies when the two of them are in the game," Petrino said. "They are going to run their offense. They make it difficult on you with their running game and the read-zone. They both can execute that, I think they feel like both can throw the ball."

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