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Summer Scheming ‘22: Virginia Cavaliers, Oct. 29

Tony Elliott takes over the Hoos with a lot of offensive talent and a really bad defense.

Clemson v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes will head north to Charlottesville, VA to face the Cavaliers on Saturday, October 29th. This is the 19th matchup between UVA and Miami. The ‘Canes lead the Hoos 11-8 overall, dating back to the 1996 Carquest Bowl. UVA holds a one game win streak over Miami dating back to the 2021 season.

Info: Miami @ Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)

Day/Time/Channel: Oct. 29, 2022 / TBA / TBA

After Bronco Mendenhall stepped down, the UVA brass lured Tony Elliott away from Clemson for his first head coaching gig in his career. Elliott played wide receiver at Clemson, before spending all but five seasons of his coaching career as a Tigers assistant. UVA finished ‘21 on a four game losing streak, and Elliott has a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball, even if he’s an OC by trade.

2021 Record: 6-6 (4-4 in the ACC)

Bowl Game: N/A

“I remember that guy!”

Today’s throwback player is former UVA WR Herman Moore. From 1988-1990, Moore caught 27 touchdowns for the Cavaliers while averaging 22 yards per catch. A consensus All-American in 1990, Moore went on to be a 1st round NFL Draft pick of the Detroit Lions in ‘91.

The six-foot-four, 200 pound first-team All Pro had an illustrious NFL career, almost entirely in Detroit. After 11 years with the Lions, Moore played his final NFL season with the New York Giants. In 12 seasons of pro ball, Moore caught 62 TD’s while playing in four Pro Bowls.

Moore’s no. 87 jersey is retired by UVA, and he’s a UVA sports hall of famer.

Data & Personnel

UVA heads into the 2022 season as the SP+ projected 55th best team in FBS football.

SP+ Projection Overall: 55 (Miami 14)

SP+ Proj. Offense: 7 (Miami 21)

SP+ Proj. Defense: 112 (Miami 23)

The Athlon preseason ACC All-Conference team has a single Cavalier on the first team. On the offense, UVA has wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks. Wicks is a legit playmaker averaging 21.9 yards per catch, scoring nine times, and totaling 1,203 receiving yards last year.

On the second team offense, all purpose threat Keytaon Thompson made the cut, while linebacker Nick Jackson is on the second team defense. Thompson had over 1,000 yards to go with six touchdowns playing a variety of roles on offense. He might line up behind center, at running back, out wide or as a winged TE. Jackson made 117 tackles in ‘21, along with six TFL’s and 2.5 sacks.

Quarterback Brennan Armstrong, and WR Billy Kemp IV made the third team offense. Armstrong totaled over 4,500 yards in ‘21 along with 40 touchdowns. He’s a dual threat southpaw and one of the Coastal’s only returning starting QB’s from last season. Kemp caught six TD’s a year ago and racked up 725 receiving yards. Kemp also averaged over 20 yards per kick return last season.

The Hoos lost offensive lineman Victor Oluwatimi to Michigan, and offensive tackle Ryan Swoboda to UCF, but gained four-star defensive end Kameron Butler from Maryland. The Hoos also lost running back Wayne Taulapapa (5.2 yards per carry) to the transfer portal.

UVA scheme on O

Coach Elliott likes a pro style offense featuring 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) like much of the NCAA. The difference would be the reliance from Clemson’s offense on the run game, and play-action passes.

At UVA, they have Armstrong at QB, which gives Elliott a better passer, more accurate passer in ‘22 than he had at Clemson a year ago. In ‘21, Armstrong completed 65% of his passes for 8.9 yards per attempt, compared to DJ Uiagalelei’s 55% and six yards per attempt.

Above- Let’s discuss this RPO tag above. The safety is about 13y off the slot, the overhang is obviously coming in for run support. That leaves a 2v2 set up with the CB pressed on the outside receiver (OR).

With all of the painstaking film review, install time, etc that P5 programs go through- this slot still bubbles into the pressed CB? There’s no hand signal / site adjustment to just have him open his shoulders for an easy throw?

Above- The bubble pushes the slot to the sideline aka the 12th defender in a spill based defense. Pitt would love to push this guy out of bounds instead of him cutting back into space leaving the S in a 1on1 in the open field.

Above- Would it be perfect either way? Maybe not. But rather than momentum pulling the slot back and away, it’s a one step and accelerate if he just turns to catch the throw. Also- the throw has to travel a shorter distance and DJU’s ball (what a wobbler) took forever to get out there.

Above- By the time the ball gets out there, the OR lost his block and the slot is toast.

Time is both created and lost via space. Use the spacing given by the defense, don’t play into their hand.

Above- Happens again later in the game, except this time the OR forgets to block the most dangerous man (MDM). Clemson really should’ve dialed up smoke vs this look and switched responsibilities. Let the slot block the CB and have the OR come back to the ball a little as the screen guy.

Above- The Tigers mixed in outside zone quite a bit. I can see that being a staple of the Elliott offense regardless. Solid move to get some form of stretch or OZ on the books.

Can they do this in year one?

Elliott was at Clemson for most of his adult life. The Tigers were running a SCHEME, a full on program on offense from their drills, practice plans and tempos, and even terminology. What Elliott had going vs. starting over at UVA won’t be easy.

Above- Will UVA get this level of communication going that coach is used to?

Above- I absolutely love this GH Counter with the H staying same side. Tendencies be damned when it comes to LB reads and keys. However, it looks like ballet more than football with the grace and timing of the TE. Can UVA get there quickly?

What UVA can do

Above- Elliott won’t have to worry about ‘toughening up’ the Hoos. Bronco Mendenhall might’ve had a bad defense, but they didn’t play a soft brand of football. What Elliott expects from his TE here can be replicated in Charlottesville quickly.

UVA scheme on D

Elliott hired Air Force DC John Rudzinski to serve in the same role for him in year one at UVA. Rudzinski spent 14 years at Air Force, his alma mater, before taking the DC job at UVA. The Air Force defense finished ‘21 ranked 61st in SP+. The Cavaliers will base in a 3-4, but bounce into a 4-2-5 as well.

Above- A first look at the UVA defense against their offense, which is a standard picture in the ACC.

Above- UVA’s defense looking aggressive, gap sound, and... MAKING A PLAY! Good job there, fellas.

Above- Classic Clemson, er I mean UVA. Elliott’s offense dials up a play-action to the TE that came across the formation and the LB missed him with his eyes on the run action. Keep that in mind for Miami OC Josh Gattis with Will Mallory and Elijah Arroyo.

Above- Good, clean, legal hit with the back 7 making a play for UVA. Air Force played good defensive football under Rudzinski at DC.

Above- Looks like an RPO to me. The CB bails after starting above the hard deck (7 yards). Take what you’re given. Back under Mark Richt UVA played soft in the back four and Mark Richt didn’t adjust and take what he had.

Deep fades aren’t working vs. that look, just take your hitches and dropouts. QB Tyler Van Dyke is accurate, let him do work, soften them up, then hit them deep.

Above- A lil 21 (two backs, one tight end) personnel from UVA’s O vs their D. Zone scheme vs. a 4-2 front. Straight through the defense, linebackers bite hard to the FB side, RB cuts back and the safety half-asses his rotation down into the box for run support.

Canyonero keys to victory

1- Score some damn points. UVA’s defense was horrible in ‘21, and Miami couldn’t beat them. New staff, new era, but let’s hope we don’t see the same ol’ results.

2- Stop the pass. Miami’s strength will be in the defensive backfield in ‘22. Tyrique Stevenson, James Williams, Avantae Williams and Kam Kinchens are blue chip players in the back five. They’re going to have to play lock down ball against Wicks, Thompson, and Kemp.

3- Stay focused. Miami could be 6-1 heading into the Halloween weekend visit up to UVA. But, it’s the weekend before rival Florida State comes to town and the look ahead might be too tempting. This is what Coach Cristobal (stop calling him Coach Mario... he doesn’t provide fruit cups or a ride to practice in a minivan) is supposed to bring over Diaz, the focus and intensity to not take UVA lightly before playing FSU.

Way too early prediction: Miami by 4.