Fan Friday: Virginia Vs. Richmond Preview + Poll

Virginia football season is finally here as the Hoos begin the schedule on Saturday against Richmond. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. at Scott Stadium. The Cavaliers have won 21 of their last 26 season openers at home and they hope to get the Tony Elliott era off to a good start as well.

The Hoos have posted a 29-3-2 record in this series that dates back to the first meeting in 1893. They won the last meeting in 2018, 42-13.

As Virginia tries to get win No. 30 in the series, the focus will be on returning quarterback Brennan Armstrong. After setting several single-season and single-game records last season, Armstrong has a chance to set some career marks this season. That includes the total offense record held by Bryce Perkins (7,910) and he needs just 191 yards to get there, which could happen in this game.

Other items of interest for fans as the offseason wraps up include whether new defensive coordinator John Rudzinski can stabilize and improve the defense, if the offense can balance things out with a better rushing attack, can the prolific receiving corps remain big play threats, and how special teams will look under a new coaching staff.

The Spiders could present some challenges. They closed the 2021 campaign with four straight wins and they enter this season as the No. 24 ranked team at the FCS level. Richmond proved stingy on defense for much of last season as it allowed just 20.0 points per game. The offense, meanwhile, hit the reset button with new offensive coordinator Billy Cosh, who engineered an offense that scored 29.2 points per game at VMI in 2021. Quarterback Reece Udinski and receiver Jakob Herres joined him at UR after transferring from VMI.

So how will the season opener shake out? Here are three keys to the game:

  • Which quarterback takes care of the ball the best? Armstrong threw for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns last season, but he also had 10 interceptions and some critical fumbles. Udinski played sparingly in 2021 at Maryland, but he had 15 interceptions in 2018 vs. just 5 in 2019 and 2 in 2020. He has posted 7,690 passing yards and 47 touchdowns in his career and has taken care of the ball other than in 2018. Turnovers are always a big deal in football so if either quarterback has issues Saturday, it could be a big part of the outcome.
  • Virginia’s red zone defense. For all the struggles that UVA had last season, the defense actually held its own in the red zone. The Hoos allowed just a 76.47% scoring rate inside the 20, which ranked 27th nationally and they allowed touchdowns just 50.98% of the time to rank 23rd nationally. Rudzinski’s scheme has some “keep everything in front of you” and “bend but don’t break” vibes so this will be a critical thing for the D again in 2022. Obviously, Virginia hopes to get off the field before then in a game where it’s the heavy favorite.
  • How will a new offensive line start off the season? UVA lost its top six linemen from 2021 so there’s a whole new group up front on offense. Jonathan Leech, the most experienced of the current group, is expected to miss this game with an injury too. The Cavaliers have some playmakers on offense and they want to run the ball more consistently under this coaching staff. To do that, the offensive line has to find a way to gel quickly. In season openers, penalties, missed assignments, and the like are always possible plus Richmond did put up 31 sacks last season so there will be a test Saturday right out of the gates.

With Game Day finally here, it’s your turn to make a pick. Vote in the poll before kickoff! Then check out the weekly fan picks below.

Who Will Saturday's Game?

  • Virginia (96%, 140 Votes)
  • Richmond (4%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 146

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It’s time for some football. Kickoff for the 2022 season is at 12:30 p.m. Saturday against Richmond at Scott Stadium.