Indiana Watch List

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The Virginia football team looks for its first road win under coach Mike London this weekend with a trip to Indiana on Saturday night. The Hoosiers present some unique challenges for the Cavaliers, who will face a variety of offensive formations with a no huddle flair and the potential of a stacked line from IU’s defense. Here are a few things to monitor in the Indiana Watch List.

The Pistol

A few seasons ago, the “Wildcat” seemed to be all the rage around college football as teams from Arkansas all the way to UVa with Vic Hall unveiled versions of the scheme. Right now, the Pistol formation is one of the most popular trends in the game as numerous teams run packages with the quarterback in the shotgun and a running back aligned directly behind him in the backfield. Anyone who watched ESPN’s Thursday night game with Arizona and Oklahoma State saw enough of the Pistol to have a wide knowledge of the variations possible with the formation.

Virginia likely will become very familiar with it this weekend. Indiana uses the Pistol with quarterback Edward Wright-Baker (No. 7) as the trigger man. UVa coach Mike London says the formation presents some challenges to the defense.

“It allows the quarterback to open any way and run the ball. When you get comfortable and try to stop the run, that same action that the quarterback opens up and brings your linebackers up and it’s the same action you get off of play-action passes, which they throw behind your linebackers and in front of your safeties and things like that,” London said. “You can bring a guy in motion and put some elements in it where the quarterback can keep it or fake the dive and then pitch it or hand it off to the motion guy or fake the dive, fake the sweep, and then use play-action pass with it. It’s tricky and your linebackers have to get a good read, maybe on what the offensive line does with run-read looks. You still have to be on the ball because if you go flying up there to defend the run, they’ll throw the ball behind you.”

When it comes to the Pistol on Saturday, here are two key things to watch on Saturday:

  • Linebacker pursuit and poise. As Coach London says above, the linebackers have to help stop the run against the Pistol but they are also susceptible to play-action passing if they become overzealous crashing the line. Remember, one area of concern from last season for Virginia became linebackers in pass coverage; it’s an area that was vastly improved
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