Report Card: How UVA’s 34-33 win at Louisville graded out

bronco mendenhall
UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Pro Football Focus graded the Virginia defense effort in the 34-33 win at Louisville exactly what it did for the 30-28 win at Miami, at 58.9, which makes sense, considering.

The offense grade – 71.0 – was a tick better than the 70.3 for the win at Miami.

Way up: the passing game grade (81.4, vs. 44.6). Way down: run blocking (45.1, vs. 79.2).

Offense

Passing game

Brennan Armstrong rebounded from his career-worst start at Miami (51.2 PFF grade) with an 86.2 grade this week, which was a solid finishing grade for a guy who threw two INTs in the third quarter.

Armstrong, on the day, passed for 487 yards, completing 40 of his 60 attempts, with three TDs.

BA was 11-of-19 for 146 yards against the blitz, and 7-of-9 for 107 yards on play-action.

The latter number ain’t bad considering how unproductive the ground game was.

Screens were throwaway plays – Armstrong completed all seven of his attempts, but the plays gained a total of four yards.

On passes that traveled 10+ yards through the air, Armstrong was 17-of-29 for 341 yards.

The O line allowed 13 Louisville pressures and five sacks.

The highest-rated lineman: Olusegun Oluwatimi, with a 69.1 PFF grade.

Two receivers to highlight:

Keytaon Thompson (80.3 PFF grade), 9 catches/15 targets, 133 yards

Ra’Shaun Henry (73.8 PFF grade), 9 catches/12 targets, 171 yards

Running game

Almost nonexistent. Accounting for sacks, the rushing game gained 66 yards on 20 carries.

Wayne Taulapapa (66.4 PFF grade) had 42 yards on 10 carries to lead the way.

Just not enough emphasis in terms of game-plan structure.

Last week, the running game contributed 11 first downs. This week: just two.

Last week, Virginia had 19 runs at the A and B gaps, gaining 147 yards, with seven first downs.

This week: 11 carries at the A and B gaps, for 45 yards.

Defense

Pass defense

There was almost no pressure on Louisville QB Malik Cunningham: no sacks, just six pressures.

Virginia had been averaging 12.6 pressures per game coming in, down from the 20+ pressures per game the unit averaged in both 2019 and 2020.

So, what the D had been doing to put pressure on QBs this season was already bad, and it was half that yesterday.

Ugh.

Cunningham was an easy 17-of-27 for 279 yards, and his first pass of the game was a 92-yard TD pass.

Against blitzes, he was 6-of-9 for 72 yards. On play-action, he was 4-of-8 for 126 yards.

Run defense

Two big runs by Hassan Hall accounted for 105 of Louisville’s 233 rushing yards, and both were – you guessed it – between the tackles, the A and B gaps.

Louisville ran 19 times for 172 yards at the A and B gaps.

Special teams

Placekicker Brendan Farrell graded out at 61.9. He was 4-of-4 on extra points and 2-of-3 on field-goal tries, the makes from 22 and 25, the miss from 45.

Farrell got a 73.2 grade on his kickoffs. Six of his seven kicks resulted in touchbacks, and the one that was returned only gained 14 yards.

Punter Jacob Finn graded at 68.9. Finn averaged 38.8 yards per punt, with two of his four punts downed inside the 20.

The return guys were nothing to write home about. Mike Hollins flubbed a fair catch on a kickoff that resulted in the offense having to start at the UVA 2. Perris Jones returned a kickoff eight yards.

Billy Kemp IV had two punt returns for a total of 19 yards.

Story by Chris Graham


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