The Irish have their toughest test on the remains schedule Saturday night, as they travel to Scott Stadium to take on the Cavaliers of Virginia. They boast one of the best offenses in the country, so the Irish will have to score plenty of points to go back to South Bend with a win. Here are five keys for Notre Dame to get a win in Charlottesville.
Run the ball
Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams (23) runs past Navy safety Rayuan Lane (18) for a 20-yard touchdown run in the second half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
We can literally use this key every week, even though the majority of teams have move on to a more passing happy offense, controlling the clock along with physically beating teams up is still a recipe for success. Recently, the Irish have found cohesion along the offensive line and Kyren Williams has returned to his form from last year. If Williams is able to go for over 150-yards, and his backups add in another 50, the Irish should be stilling pretty.
Containing Brennan Armstrong
Oct 30, 2021; Provo, Utah, USA; Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) looks to pass against the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
We all know at this point that Armstrong will be a game time decision, but if there’s any chance that the lefty can play, he’s going to be out there. He hold a 177.6 quarterback rating against Top-25 competition, so Armstrong rises to the occasion. Against BYU two weeks ago, he accounted for 337-yards through the air and 4 scores with 94-yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. If the Irish defense have to face Armstrong and are able to keep him contained, Notre Dame significantly increases their chance to win.
Force UVA into turnovers
Notre Dame linebacker Bo Bauer (52) celebrates a safety against Navy in the second half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Negative three against BYU, negative two against Wake Forest, and negative one against North Carolina. Those were the turnover totals in Virginia’s three losses this year, for a total of -6. If the Irish are able to play takeaway with the Cavalier offense, they should have a very good chance to get a road victory.
Jack Coan throws for over 200-yards
Nov 6, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) throws in the first quarter against the Navy Midshipmen at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Since the mini-controversy over who should start at quarterback, Jack Coan has finally settled in and is playing like the veteran he is. He’s making less questionable throws, guiding the offense to many more scoring opportunities and doing what he needs to for the Irish to win. Yes, Tyler Buchner will get some snaps here and there, but it’s Coan’s team and if he goes for over 200-yards in the air, the Irish should be sitting pretty.
Oct 9, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Virginia Cavaliers wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks (3) runs the ball against Louisville Cardinals defensive back Chandler Jones (2) during the first quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Armstrongs favorite target is Dontayvion Wicks, who’s has a monster season to date. He’s grabbed 42 balls for 972-yards and 9 scores. Those are huge numbers, even with multiple games still on the slate for Wicks. He’s going to challenge the Irish secondary and if they can limit him to minimal damage, it should put Notre Dame in a very good spot.