Here are three keys for Virginia heading into Saturday night’s game against Auburn:
1. Get back to basics. Virginia is a better team than what ACC fans saw in the regular-season 38-0 loss to Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers didn’t help themselves in that game, as quarterback Michael Rocco was sacked four times and intercepted twice. The Hoos entered that game averaging 177 rushing yards and finished with just 30 on 26 carries. The offensive line will need to protect better, Rocco will need to make better decisions and the Cavaliers have to get their ground game going again.
2. Look out for DE Corey Lemonier. He has forced four fumbles and is tied for 12th nationally in sacks with 9.5. Virginia’s offensive line has been one of the best in the ACC this year, allowing just 15 sacks all season (including four of which came against Virginia Tech). The Cavaliers’ offensive line has had the same five starters for all 12 games this season, and Austin Pasztor was a first-team All-ACC selection.
3. Continue the first-down success. UVa has averaged 20.6 first downs per game, which ranks No. 3 in the ACC behind Clemson (22.4) and Virginia Tech (21.1) and is No. 53 in the nation. UVa’s opponents are averaging only 16.9 first downs a game, which ranks as the third-fewest in the ACC and No. 17 nationally.