Virginia thinking big against Louisville’s Hawkins
One of Virginia’s tallest players and one of Louisville’s smallest share the Saturday night spotlight when the Cavaliers host the Cardinals in Charlottesville, Va.
Virginia outside linebacker Charles Snowden, a 6-foot-7 senior, was named the ACC Linebacker of the Week after tallying 10 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble in Saturday’s 44-41 upset of then-No. 15 North Carolina.
Snowden has 18 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in his last two games for the Cavaliers (2-4, 2-4 ACC), who snapped a four-game losing streak.
“I had gotten off to a slow start this year and now to finally be producing and making plays, it feels great,” Snowden said after the win. “Sacks are always a great thing.”
Louisville has a great thing going right now with running back Javian Hawkins, a 5-foot-9 redshirt sophomore who broke off a 90-yard touchdown run in Saturday’s 42-35 loss to Virginia Tech. Hawkins has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of the last four games for the Cardinals (2-5, 1-5).
Hawkins, who finished third in the ACC with 1,525 rushing yards last season, leads the league and ranks third in the nation with 822 yards on 133 carries (6.2-yard average) through seven games this season.
Hawkins rushed 28 times for 136 yards and scored two touchdowns in a 28-21 victory over Virginia in Louisville on Oct. 26, 2019.
He is facing a Cavaliers defense, anchored by Snowden and sophomore linebacker Nick Jackson (ACC-leading 10.7 tackles per game), that ranks fourth in the conference against the run (126.8 yards per game).
“They try to keep everything inside, which helps the defense do a really good job of stopping that run,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “We like to run the ball, but it will be imperative for us to be able to hit some plays in the passing game down the field, there’s no question about it.”
The short-handed Cardinals quickly fell behind 21-0 and never led against Virginia Tech, suffering their third loss by seven or fewer points this season.
Louisville was missing eight players on defense against the Hokies due to COVID-19-related issues, including junior linebacker Monty Montgomery (team-high four sacks) and fifth-year senior free safety Isaiah Hayes. Because of the league’s 14-day quarantine protocol, Satterfield said he “would anticipate that all those guys who missed last week will miss this week as well.”
That list includes punter Ryan Harwell and defensive linemen Micah Bland, Dayna Kinnaird, Malik Clark, Ja’Darien Boykin and Tabarius Peterson, according to the Courier Journal.
The Cardinals face a balanced Virginia offense that gained 210 rushing yards and 208 passing yards against North Carolina. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong threw three touchdown passes and also rushed for a score.
Armstrong sustained an injury to his left leg on Virginia’s final drive but walked off the field under his own power and is expected to start Saturday night.
Counterpart Malik Cunningham, a redshirt junior, passed for a career-high 350 yards and three scores against Virginia Tech. Cunningham (280.9 yards per game) and Armstrong (254.4) rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in the ACC in total offense.
–Field Level Media