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Indiana Hoosiers at Virginia Cavaliers: game preview, stats, odds, kick time, channel and more

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It’s the Hoosiers at the Hoos! What a time to be alive!

William & Mary v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Game Info / How to Watch

Who? Indiana Hoosiers (0-1, #48 S&P+) at Virginia Cavaliers (1-0, #72 S&P+)

When? Saturday, 9/9 3:30 PM, Charlottesville, Virginia

Channel? ESPNU

Vegas? INDIANA -3

S&P+ Projection? INDIANA 28 - Virginia 25

____________________________________

Fresh off yet another game against Ohio State in which Indiana hung tough past halftime before eventually folding in the face of superior depth and athleticism, the Hoosiers head east to Charlottesville to take on the Virginia Cavaliers.

The Cavs are 1-0 after a convincing, if uninspiring, 28-10 win over FCS William & Mary. Coming off a 2-10 season, UVA is not in position to nitpick about any victories, but there were certainly some red flags given the quality of the opponent. LET’S DIG IN.

FIVE FACTORS

- Explosiveness (86%) Efficiency (83%) Field Position (75%) Finishing Drives (72%) Turnover Margin (73%)
- Explosiveness (86%) Efficiency (83%) Field Position (75%) Finishing Drives (72%) Turnover Margin (73%)
INDIANA (#90 offense) 1.06 (104th) 38.4% (104th) 29.4 (72nd) 4.46 (67th) -9 (123rd)
MICHIGAN STATE (#9 defense) .095 (3rd) 34.0% (14th) 27.5 (29th) 4.05 (45th) 0 (59th)
- - - - - -
MICHIGAN STATE (#78 offense) 1.12 (92nd) 40.9% (78th) 30.5 (54th) 4.19 (87th) 0 (59th)
INDIANA (#22 defense) 0.99 (9th) 38.2% (39th) 29.1 (67th) 4.67 (88th) -9 (123rd)

(Using yards per play for explosiveness until isoPPP numbers are available. Laziness!)

It’s more informative than last week, but still not incredibly useful given it is only one game of data and not even REMOTELY COMPARABLE DATA. The Cavs’ numbers come from a game against an FCS team while Indiana’s came against Ohio dang State. Virginia’s offensive numbers were marginally better across the board, but given the massive discrepancy in opponent quality, Indiana fans should be encouraged.

PASSING

Kurt Benkert is back for the Hoos coming off a year that included 2500 yards and 21 touchdowns, but also had a completion percentage of 56% and a woeful 5.4 yards per attempt. Out of the 128 teams that competed at the FBS level last season, Virginia’s passing offense was 125th in explosiveness and things don’t look great in that department after that game. Benkert averaged only 6.72 YPA against William & Mary, a number not too dissimilar to Richard Lagow’s performance against the nation’s #2 ranked team.

Of the four pass-catchers to garner at least a 10.0% share of the targets last season, only two return- senior Doni Dowling (50 catches, 626 yards, 4 TDs) and junior Olamide Zaccheaus (51 catches, 584 yards, 7 TDs), the latter leading the Hoos in touchdowns despite being only 5’8”. They were both at the forefront of the offense last weekend, combining for 11 catches, 132 yards, and a touchdown. Indiana struggled to defend Ohio State’s young receivers in space, and the task won’t necessarily be easier against a duo that has plenty of experience in high-level FBS ball.

RUSHING

UVA averaged a rather poor 3.76 YPC against the Tribe and that’s after taking away the sack yardage. Junior Jordan Ellis received 20 carries, and turned in 80 yards and a score in return. Granted, Indiana was even worse in this department against Ohio State and for the balance last season. In fact, it has been awhile since either team really lit up the box score with their run game. The Hoos were 114th in explosiveness running the ball last year, and checked in at 92nd overall in rushing S&P+.

DEFENSE

Virginia was able to hold up when it mattered, obviously, limiting the Tribe to a touchdown and a field goal, but they did allow over 4 YPC and 168 yards to the FCS outfit, providing a glimmer of hope that Indiana’s stable of backs might be able to find some breathing room against a front seven that doesn’t have a handful of first-round picks. It will be crucial moving forward for Indiana to get something established on the ground and make life a little easier on Lagow. Tasking any quarterback with 65 throws in a game just isn’t a recipe for sustained success.

The Cavaliers were a horrendous defensive unit last season, giving up a lot of big plays (101st in explosiveness) and allowing offenses to stay on schedule (92nd in efficiency). Their only saving grace was field position, as offenses, on average, had to start inside their own 29 yard line, good for 46th in the nation. Of course, a lot more goes into starting field position than just defensive play, but nevertheless UVA excelled at it. If Indiana can stay out of situations in which they have to drive 70+ yards to punch it into the endzone, they should be in good shape.

Monster inside linebacker Micah Kiser leads the defense for the Hoos, adding a sack and TFL in his first game coming off a season in which he collected a combined 16.5, along with an interception and 5 forced fumbles. Alongside Kiser on the outside is Malcolm Cook, who missed all of last season dealing with myocarditis, a frightening heart condition that, when undiagnosed, can be deadly. Cook looked ready to play in his season debut, collecting 13 tackles and a sack to celebrate his clean bill of health. Indiana would be wise to know where these two are at all times, as either is capable of blowing up a play at a moment’s notice.

Virginia will be missing top corner Tim Harris, who is now out for the year following a wrist injury, and true freshman Germane Crowell is expected to slide into this place.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Freshman AJ Meija missed his only field goal attempt last weekend (42 yards), but nailed all four of his extra points. Lester Coleman averaged 43.75 yards across his four punts.

In the return game, UVA returns both of their primary returners from last season. Joe Reed took 27 kicks back last season and got off to a good start this season, getting 91 yards on three returns. A year after averaging 9.8 yards per return, Daniel Hamms season got off to a slower start, managing only 7 yards on two returns.

THREE THINGS

  • F E E D S I M M I E: With Virginia’s top corner out for the year and a true freshman in his place, Indiana would be wise to get him isolated on Simmie Cobbs as often as possible. Cobbs is coming off an 11-catch, 149 yards, one touchdown performance against Ohio State. If UVA brings a safety over top to help (much like Ohio State did in the second half), the Hoosiers will need the likes of Donovan Hale, Luke Timian, and Ian Thomas to come through in their one-on-one battles.
  • Establish the running game: Indiana’s running game was non-existent against Ohio State’s fearsome frontline, and if it’s MIA again this weekend, there’ll be some serious concerns about the unit. The offensive line clearly needs a boost, and that will hopefully come in the form of Brandon Knight’s return from injury. It was too difficult to get a read on the individual talent of the running backs against Ohio State as they were constantly trying to escape tacklers at the line of scrimmage. I would be stunned if Indiana’s opportunity rate was greater than 10%.
  • Create havoc: The Hoosiers defense performed admirably for nearly three quarters, but couldn’t get their mitts on the ball or rattle JT Barrett all that much. Indiana probably misses Marcus Oliver, who created a good bit of mayhem from his linebacker position next to Tegray Scales, but the entire secondary returns from last season, and they picked off 11 passes and got their hands on a ridiculous 48 more in 2016. More of that going forward, please.

PREDICTION

I think Indiana is ready to come out and show they’re better than they were in the second half against Ohio State, and with a worse opponent on tap, I think they can overcome the tribulations of the road and come out victorious. I think they jump out to an early lead and hold it for the game. HOOSIERS 27, Cavaliers 17