The Five Things: Virginia vs. #15 North Carolina

Joey Blount, Brenton Nelson: Available?

uva footballVirginia’s front put bonkers pressure on Miami QB D’Eriq King last week: to the tune of 25 total pressures, including six sacks.

That kind of pressure usually translates into rushed throws, incompletions, drops due to bad timing between the QB and his receivers.

King’s numbers in the face of that onslaught – 21-of-30, 322 yards – tells you how bad Virginia’s secondary was.

UVA had to play without its starting safeties, Joey Blount (Pro Football Focus season grade: 72.2) and Brenton Nelson (PFF season grade: 66.7).

Opposing QBs are 3-of-8 for 13 yards on targets of Blount on 68 coverage snaps in 2020.

They’re 9-of-18 for 192 yards on targets of Nelson on 123 coverage snaps this season.

Their replacements: D’Angelo Amos (PFF season grade: 55.2) fared well, not allowing a completion on three targets.

Antonio Clary (PFF season grade: 57.7): not so well. King was 5-of-5 for 108 yards going at him.

If Blount and Nelson aren’t available, it could be a field day for UNC quarterback Sam Howell (1,403 yards, 64.2% completion rate, 10 TDs/4 INTs, 160.7 QB rating, 86.5 PFF season grade).

Do we see Carter, Williams go off?

Virginia is fourth in the ACC against the run (133.6 yards per game, 3.3 yards per attempt).

Carolina has two NFL-caliber running backs in the tandem of Michael Carter (116.8 yards/g, 7.9 yards/carry, 84.9 PFF season grade) and Javonte Williams (112.4 yards/g, 6.9 yards/carry, 10 TDs, 92.5 PFF season grade).

If defensive coordinator Nick Howell has to adjust his scheme to try to protect his banged-up secondary, that might open things up for the backs to do their damage.

If he doesn’t, the secondary is exposed to 6’1” junior Dyami Brown (PFF season grade: 69.9) has a team-best 24 catches and averages 16.7 yards per catch, and then there’s 6’3” senior Beau Corrales (PFF season grade: 71.2), who averages 18.3 yards per catch, and 5’11” senior Dazz Newsome (PFF season grade: 62.9), who will remind UVA fans of Joe Reed with his speed and shiftiness out of the slot.

Oh, and UNC also uses Williams (9 catches, 200 yards) and Carter (12 catches, 132 yards) as targets out of the backfield, so look for them to try to create matchup mismatches with ‘backers and safeties.

The three-QB thing

Credit to UVA offensive coordinator Robert Anae for coming up with a unique approach to having to cover for not having his starting QB two weeks ago.

The offense had a nice outing in the loss at Wake Forest, gaining 420 yards with the three-headed QB monster of Lindell Stone, Keytaon Thompson and Iraken Armstead.

Last week, Anae used the three-QB with Brennan Armstrong back in the mix, to mixed results.

The ‘Hoos gained a season-low 366 yards on a season-low 67 snaps in the 19-14 loss at Miami.

Looking at the postgame stats piecemeal, each of the three guys put up good numbers.

Armstrong (PFF game grade: 87.1) was 16-of-30 passing for 181 yards and two TDs through the air, and added 91 yards on 15 tries on the ground.

Thompson (PFF game grade: 68.6) got five carries out of the wildcat, going for 24 yards, and  Armstead (PFF game grade: 60.2) put in four wildcat carries for 22 yards.

Sum total for the QBs: 181 yards passing, 137 yards rushing, 11 yards receiving (Thompson had two catches for 11 yards).

The question here might be: is the sum worth less than the value of the component parts?

Another way of saying, maybe the offense is better with the starting QB taking the snaps, and not so much with all the efforts at trickeration.

Late line movement?

Some folks may have inside knowledge of player availability that the bulk of the rest of us don’t have.

Can’t say how I know this, but I have been made aware that it has been noticed.

That’s all.

Will you be watching?

This is the sixth straight week of UVA football being relegated to the ACC Network.

You’re either tired of Tim Hasselbeck and the endless loop of house ads, or you’re wondering if the neighborhood kids will be TP’g your house this year in the pandemic while you’re trying to catch up on “Fargo.”

Me personally, I’m into the Kansas City mob storyline this season, and I’m assuming the kids are social-distancing as they’re TP’g.

Story by Chris Graham


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