Can The Cavaliers Start A Winning Streak Against The Hoosiers?

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Can The Cavaliers Start A Winning Streak Against The Hoosiers?

The photograph is of Anthony Poindexter, who will have his jersey retired before the Indiana game at 3:13. 

Virginia vs. Indiana

The Virginia Cavaliers (1-3) enter this game having finally picked up their first win of the season; a 16-3 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Indiana Hoosiers (3-2) enter this game attempting to recover from two brutal losses at the hands of Michigan and Ohio State. 

Indiana's Last Two Games:

Michigan

Indiana's loss to Michigan was controversial, to say the least.  The Hoosiers had the ball at their own 26 yard line with less than three minutes remaining in the game. Trailing by just a field goal, Indiana only needed 50 yards to attempt a game-tying field goal.

On first down, QB Ben Chappell targeted receiver Damarlo Belcher on a short drag route. Belcher made the grab, but Michigan DB Donovan Warren latched on to the ball at the same time. After falling to the ground, Warren wrestled the ball away from Belcher, and the officials ruled that Warren had intercepted the ball. The call, to the disbelief of the announcers and everyone else, was upheld after a booth review.  Indiana went on to lose a heart breaker.

Despite the loss, the Hoosiers showed that they are a legitimate opponent. RB Darius Willis showcased his big play ability with an 85 yard TD run. Willis finished the game with 152 yards and two TDs on 16 carries. The dude is fast.

Willis is not the only Hoosier that the Virginia defense will have to pay special attention to. Receiver Tandon Doss has just as much big play potential for the Hoosiers, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada likes to use him in a Percy Harvin role. Against Michigan, Doss caught 5 balls for 104 yards. He also ran for 41 yards and a TD on three carries.

On Doss's 25 yard TD run, the Hoosiers perfectly executed an option out of the pistol formation. The pistol formation also had some wild cat influence, as receiver Mitchell Evans was lined up in the QB position. Canada likes to use his big play guys, and is not afraid to have them all in the backfield at the same time.

The Hoosiers had more total yards, passing yards, and rushing yards than the Wolverines. The Hoosiers however, lost the game because they were forced to settle for field goals in the red zone.

Indiana moved the ball into the red zone five times, but only had one TD to show for it.  They were held to four field goals, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.

Ohio State

Indiana followed up their heartbreaking loss to Michigan with a blowout loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes dominated the ground game and time of possession, but the Hoosiers managed to out-gain the Buckeyes in the air. Doss was a big reason why the Hoosiers were so successful in their passing game. He finished the game with 96 yards and a touchdown on six catches. 

Outlook

Virginia's Secondary vs. The Hoosier Receivers

This will be the first major test for Virginia's secondary. Ras-I Dowling, Chris Cook, and Chase Minnifield will have their work cut out for them in shutting down Indiana's dangerous passing game.

If the Virginia secondary can shut down Tandon Doss, then the Cavaliers will be on their way to winning this game. Through five games, Doss has 32 catches, 470 yards, and one TD.

Damarlo Belcher has 23 catches for 270 yards on the year for the Hoosiers, and two other Indiana receivers have over 100 receiving yards. Doss is dangerous, but Virginia's CBs are very good, and Al Groh has historically done a good job of shutting down the opposition's play-makers.   

With Indiana's threatening passing attack, Virginia may opt to play a little more conservatively. This means less blitzing. Against North Carolina, Groh was confident that his CBs could shut down the young Tar Heel receivers in single coverage. As a result, he frequently blitzed the safeties. Groh may decide that his corners need extra help against Indiana's dangerous receivers and keep the safeties back in coverage.

Virginia's Front Seven vs. The Hoosier Offensive Line/Backfield

With Indiana's use of the wild cat, the LBs will probably play more conservatively when receiver Mitchell Evans is in at QB. Offenses that use misdirection can easily torch an overly aggressive defense. However, when Chappell is in at QB, the LBs must be aggressive in order to pressure the throws.   

QB Ben Chappell has only been sacked five times in Indiana's five games. The Hoosiers have a very solid OL, and if Virginia opts for a more conservative defense, Chappell will have all day to through the ball.

Virginia needs to have more than a three man rush in order to pressure Chappell, so the LBs will have to continue their dominant peformance from the North Carolina game. Chappell is by no means a mobile QB; so getting to him early and often will be pivotal in stopping the Indiana attack.

The blitzing during the North Carolina game prevented the Tar Heel's ground game from finding any success. The LBs and safeties plugged the holes, and stopped RB Shaun Draughn from advancing past the line of scrimmage.

The lack of blitzing that we may see Saturday against Indiana means that Hoosier RB Darius Willis will likely have more room to run. The Hoosiers average 131 rushing yards per game, so it is very likely that we will see Willis surpass 100 yards on Saturday.

If Virginia opts to go with the conservative "bend, don't break" defense, then Indiana will definitely be able to move the ball downfield. The question is if Indiana will score six or three in the red zone.

Virginia's Offense vs. The Hoosier Defense

Indiana's defense is average, but that still poses a problem for a Virginia offense that has struggled all season. The Hoosier defense allows an average of 24 points and 337 yards per game. The Virginia offense averages 19 points and 272 yards per game. 

Indiana's weakness is their secondary, which allows 218 passing yards per game. If Virginia can establish the ground game and use that to open up the vertical passing game, the Cavaliers will be looking at two straight wins. If however, Virginia falls into the monotony of the QB option read, then they will have trouble moving the ball.

Prediction

Hoos 17 - Hoosiers 16

 

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