Louisville, Virginia ready after extra week to prepare
Following the 2020 version of a bye week, Louisville travels to Virginia for a rescheduled Atlantic Coast Conference game Saturday afternoon at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va.
The game between the Cardinals (2-5, 1-5 ACC) and Cavaliers (2-4, 2-4) was pushed back one week following positive COVID-19 tests and subsequent quarantining within the Louisville football program.
Both teams originally were scheduled off this weekend due to the ACC’s foresight amid the pandemic, as the league allowed for 11 games (10 conference plus one non-conference) played over 13 weeks, with each school having two open dates.
Louisville resumed activities on Sunday following a four-day pause after 10 players and five support staff members tested positive and seven others (players and staff) had to be quarantined. It was the second outbreak for the Cardinals, who were short nine players in a 42-35 loss to Virginia Tech on Oct. 31.
“We waited until we got the results back before we even met with the guys,” coach Scott Satterfield told the Courier Journal. “When we first had our meeting, our guys were kind of looking around saying, ‘What are we doing?’ Once we got into it and started to practice, I thought guys were flying around and we had a very productive practice. We were excited about getting back out on the field.”
Having an extra week to prepare for Virginia wasn’t necessarily a good thing, according to Satterfield.
“You don’t want to overanalyze an opponent,” he said. “Even when you’ve had two weeks to prepare for a team, you don’t want to overanalyze. It ends up being information overload.”
The Cavaliers might have lost some momentum from their 44-41 upset of then-No. 15 North Carolina on Halloween night, but Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said his team is refreshed and recharged.
“It was nice to have a break, actually,” Mendenhall said Monday. “A subtle change in routine. A couple days off. A little bit of a break for our players. … Just a moment to pause, reflect on the first part of the season and to prepare for the second part.”
The crucial matchup Saturday figures to be Louisville redshirt sophomore running back Javian Hawkins against a Virginia run defense anchored by senior linebacker Charles Snowden and sophomore linebacker Nick Jackson.
Hawkins has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of his past four games and leads the ACC with 822 yards on the ground (117.4 per game). He has seven rushing touchdowns, including a 90-yard burst against the Hokies.
The Cavaliers rank fourth in the league against the run, allowing 3.3 yards per carry and 126.8 yards per game. The 6-foot-7 Snowden has 7.5 tackles for loss in his past two games.
Virginia’s offense could get a boost this weekend with the return of 6-7 true freshman receiver Lavel Davis Jr. and the debut of running back Ronnie Walker, a transfer from Indiana. Starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong is expected to play after leaving the UNC game late with an undisclosed injury.
–Field Level Media