Priorities, Picks, & Power Players – Indiana

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For each game this season, The Sabre will present a final peek at the week’s match-up with a new feature called Priorities, Picks, and Power Players. In the “Priorities” section, we take a look at the keys to a Virginia victory. In the “Picks” section, Sabre Editor Kris Wright and another Sabre representative make a case for who will win and give you a final score. In the “Power Players” section, The Sabre predicts who some of the key players could be for that Saturday’s showdown.

Take a look at Indiana!

Priorities

1. Limit Big Plays. Indiana has produced 36 plays – either runs, passes, or returns (kicks or interceptions) – of more than 20 yards this season. That includes 5 touchdowns of at least 25 yards (3 touchdowns of at least 59). The Hoos have to prevent big scoring plays.

2. Handle Special Formations. IU will line up in multiple receiver sets frequently as well as a “Pistol” formation and a variation of the “Wildcat” with a receiver at QB. Virginia struggled against the “Wildcat” at Southern Miss, but handled it better at UNC. Don’t be caught off guard with any unique formations this weekend.

3. Keep The RBs Involved. Virginia’s Mikell Simpson recorded 20 carries and 4 receptions last week and produced nearly 150 yards of offense. The team responded with a win. Keep the running backs involved and good things often happen.

4. No Turnovers. UVa did not have a turnover last week while a North Carolina interception led to a game-clinching touchdown for the Hoos. The Hoosiers have 6 interceptions this season and have recovered 6 fumbles (and forced 5) so they can produce take-aways.

Picks

KRIS ON THE HOOSIERS

Indiana is a brand new opponent for the Virginia program and, frankly, not many Hoos know much about them. After all, the Hoosiers are an afterthought in the Big Ten in most seasons. Of course, they got everyone’s attention when they almost upset Michigan at Michigan.

The match-ups are interesting for this game. As I mentioned in the Game Preview, all of the following are battles to watch: IU’s strong defensive pass rush against an improving UVa O-Line, Indy’s passing offense and big-play potential vs. Virginia’s strong secondary and solid pass defense, and the Hoosiers’ kick return game vs. the up-and-down Cavalier special teams.

Truthfully, I have a hard time picking a winner in any of those key match-ups. I could see IU’s ends having a dominant game and UVa’s offense struggling as a result. I could see Virginia’s secondary intercepting multiple passes and setting the tone. I could see a big kick return destroying the outcome like it did at USM. In other words, this seems like a pretty balanced contest on paper.

In the end, however, I have a hard time envisioning a Virginia loss on the day the program retires Anthony Poindexter’s jersey. I think the defense will be fired up and ready to punish IU. I think the energy early will set a tone and the Cavaliers will ride it all the way to the end. That’s an important thing as I’m still not convinced UVa is consistent enough to win “toss-up games” at this point. I think it will be a close Hoo victory in the end.

UVa 24, Indiana 17 – Kris Wright, Sabre Editor

PAUL ON THE HOOSIERS

The Cavaliers’ victory against North Carolina last Saturday was their first in nearly a calendar year. Will they make it two in a row this week against Indiana? On Homecoming against a traditional cellar-dweller in the Big Ten, the common, instinctive answer would be yes. But before making such a rash decision, let’s look at Indiana.

IU’s offense is more productive than that of the Tar Heels; the Hoosiers average 25.3 points per game, and even against Ohio State, they put up two touchdowns. The O-Line is also not as futile; Indiana has given up just six sacks in five games, and have sprung Darius Willis and Demetrius McCray, among others, for 119.2 yards per game on the ground.

That said, the way to beat Indiana is the same way the Hoos beat Carolina, which is what coaches preach all too frequently: run the ball and stop the run. That’s what the Buckeyes did, running over Indiana for 219 yards on the ground while holding the Hoosiers to 18 rushing yards of their own. Michigan couldn’t stop the Indiana ground game, but the Wolverines pulled out a 36-33 win by running for 149 yards of their own.

With a revitalized running game and a quarterback who is becoming wiser and more accurate with each game, the Virginia offense goes for 30-plus points on Homecoming, so long as the Cavaliers take care of the ball as they did a week ago. The defense will not be able to hold the Hoosiers at bay like it did against the Heels, particularly the Indiana passing game, which has consistently produced 200-plus yards. But, the Cavs will have enough success in shutting down the running game in key situations to keep the Hoosiers from putting 30 points of their own. Don’t you love when instinct and analysis are in unison?

UVa 34, Indiana 24 – Paul Montana, Sabre Intern

Power Players

Will Barker /Landon Bradley . TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes recorded 11 tackles including 2.5 Tackles For Loss/1.5 sacks. UNC’s Robert Quinn tallied 7 tackles including 4 TFL/3 sacks. Well, Indiana has two dynamic defensive ends too in Greg Middleton and Jammie Kirlew, who have combined for 43 career sacks. Kirlew has 46.5 career TFL. UVa tackles Will Barker and Landon Bradley had better be ready to play or it could be a long day for the Hoos.

Mikell Simpson . As the “Priorities” section says above, Mikell Simpson ‘s 24 touches last week produced 145 yards and 1 TD. Virginia needs a running game to open up the passing room for Jameel Sewell . Look for Simpson to produce back-to-back strong performances.

Chase Minnifield . Gut feeling: Chase Minnifield is on the verge of something big – a kick return, punt return, or interception return to ignite the team. He didn’t want to jinx a big return in Monday’s press conference by talking about it; hopefully we haven’t done that either!

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