​Virginia vs. Wake Forest: a breakdown

Cavaliers must win final four games for bowl eligibility


Senior running back Taquan Mizzell and Virginia will need to establish a ground game Saturday against Wake Forest.

Anna Hoover | Cavalier Daily

Three keys to a Cavalier victory

Limit penalties

The Cavaliers average 6.88 penalties and 61.75 penalty yards per game, both of which rank outside of the top 80 in the nation. These penalties often come at inopportune times, so against a strong 5-3 Wake Forest team, Virginia is going to need every yard it can gain. Penalties only stand in the way.

Limit Wake Forest’s offense

The Demon Deacons average only 20.6 points per game, putting them firmly ahead of just eight teams in the nation. However, twice this season they have scored over 30 points, and the Cavaliers let up over 32 points per game. Virginia must make sure that its offense gets ahead early, so as to not let the menacing Deacons hang around.

Get in the end zone

On the season, with Alex Furbank, Dylan Sims and now Sam Hayward, the Cavaliers have converted just half of their field goal attempts, missing two under 40 yards. When junior quarterback Kurt Benkert’s offense gets in the red zone, he has to make sure they hold on to the ball and score touchdowns.

Virginia players to watch

Kurt Benkert

Slowly but promisingly, the transfer quarterback is winning over the Cavaliers’ fanbase. With a quarterback rating of 126.5 for the season, gutsy performances against Oregon, Louisville and Central Michigan and a penchant for throwing the long ball, Benkert represents exactly what Cavalier football has been looking for at the quarterback position.

Taquan Mizzell

After a rocky start to the season, the senior running back known affectionately as Smoke seems to have figured it out lately, and now has five touchdowns and close to 1,000 all-purpose yards, with his 20 carries Saturday marking a season high. Against Wake Forest, Smoke could be in for another big day, as the Demon Deacons cede more than 130 yards per game on the ground.

Micah Kiser

If Kiser can maintain his play of late, leading the Virginia defense, there is a promising future for football in Charlottesville. His 91 tackles, 8.5 for loss and 5.5 sacks lead the defense and his leadership in the middle of the squad is noticeable.

Wake Forest players to watch

John Wolford

The junior quarterback out of Jacksonville, Fla. is in a bit of a tailspin. He has thrown six interceptions over the past three games, while completing just 52.5 percent of his passes over that span.

Marquel Lee

The Demon Deacons are a punishing defense, holding teams to fewer than 20 points four times this season. The rock leading the group is senior linebacker Marquel Lee, who was recently named ACC Linebacker of the Week and is consistently the vocal and physical leader for the team.

Duke Ejiofor

If Lee is the rock, then junior lineman Duke Ejiofor is the flint making the spark for the Demon Deacons’ defense. His 32 tackles and 7.5 sacks are to be feared, especially as his .94 sacks per game ranks 16th nationally.


MatchupJacob Season: 101-33Week 9: (9-6)Robert Season: 89-45Week 9: (7-8)Grant Season: 100-34 Week 9: (8-7)Mariel Season: 99-35Week 9: (7-8)
(5) Louisville at Boston CollegeLouisvilleLouisvilleLouisvilleLouisville
Georgia Tech at (18) North CarolinaNorth CarolinaNorth CarolinaNorth CarolinaNorth Carolina
Pittsburgh at MiamiMiamiMiamiMiamiMiami
Syracuse at (3) ClemsonClemsonClemsonClemsonClemson
(23) Virginia Tech at DukeDukeVirginia TechVirginia TechVirginia Tech
(19) Florida State at NC StateFlorida StateFlorida StateFlorida StateFlorida State
Penn at PrincetonPrincetonPennPrincetonPrinceton
Texas at Texas TechTexasTexasTexas TechTexas
Maryland at (2) MichiganMichiganMichiganMichiganMichigan
Iowa at (20) Penn StatePenn StatePenn StatePenn StatePenn State
(10) Florida at ArkansasFloridaFloridaFloridaFlorida
(22) Oklahoma State at Kansas StateOklahoma StateOklahoma StateOklahoma StateOklahoma State
(9) Nebraska at (6) Ohio StateOhio StateOhio StateOhio StateOhio State
(1) Alabama at (15) LSULSUAlabamaAlabamaAlabama
Virginia at Wake ForestVirginiaVirginiaVirginiaVirginia

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