Virginia has a few studs that Louisville football will have to key in on.
The Cardinals will be facing 2-4 Virginia this Saturday. While that sounds like a promising chance for Louisville, the Cards themselves have limped their way to 2-5 as they head to the weekend.
After losing four straight ball games, Virginia pulled off an upset in their most recent game against North Carolina on Halloween. In that game, some of the team’s best players came up big and separated themselves from the pack on the Cavaliers team.
Ending that skid could put this UVA team in a position to steal momentum for the rest of their season.
We do not always think of Virginia as a team having an overwhelming amount of talent gathered through the recruiting ranks. Regardless, the team has some future NFL players on it. They have multiple that will likely be playing on Sundays around this time in 2021.
Let’s just say that the battle in the trenches is going to be hugely important in this matchup.
If Louisville wants to have a good chance of winning this football game, these are three key players they need to keep tabs on.
Jowon Briggs, Defensive Tackle
Briggs is manning the middle of the Cavaliers defense. Bronco Mendenhall runs a 3-4 base system that relies heavily on the defensive tackle to anchor the middle. However, this year, Virginia has run a lot of two linemen with their hands in the dirt with two stand-up rushers of the edge.
Briggs, in his sophomore season, is the man for the job in 2020 and beyond it appears.
As a recruit, he was ranked as the 75th overall player in the 2019 recruiting class by the 247 Sports composite rankings. He was a massive recruiting win for Mendenhall and the staff at Virginia.
Briggs has three total sacks so far this year and plenty more pressures on the quarterback.
He would probably be better suited as a 3-technique defensive tackle in an ideal world. While he does play that position a fair bit in the Cavaliers defense, he also is forced into duty playing nose tackle where he is a bit undersized.
His low center of gravity gives him a great initial punch off the line of scrimmage and Briggs’s motor is relentless through the interior.
For Louisville fans, a fair comparison to Briggs is former Louisville great and current Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. They are similar players by body make-up and they also do very similar things on the football field.
Like Rankins, Briggs would be labeled as “undersized” by many. However, that “undersized” bit is starting to die down as NFL teams continuously draft interior defensive linemen who are not of the “prototypical” size.
Briggs could be a major disruptor to the run and pass game this weekend if the Cardinals do not make him a highlight to stop in the game plan.
He will likely be a draft pick before it is all said and done. Athletes with production like Briggs do not simply slip under the NFL radar often.