Virginia versus Indiana — a breakdown

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Senior wide receiver Andre Levrone caught two passes for 56 yards and a touchdown against William & Mary. 

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

After a season-opening win against William & Mary, Virginia will look to put together a second consecutive win to start the season as they get ready to host Indiana this weekend. With one game already in the books, the CD Sports staff shifts it focus towards Indiana and takes a look at some players and keys to watch out for this Saturday. 

Players to watch

Germane Crowell 

With the announcement coming this week that senior cornerback Tim Harris will miss the rest of the season due to surgery on the wrist he injured in Saturday’s game, someone will need to step up to fill the void his absence has left. Freshman cornerback Germane Crowell took over that role against William & Mary when Harris went down, and according to Coach Bronco Mendenhall, he will have to compete to keep that role. It will be interesting to see if Crowell wins the job and gets significant reps come Saturday, for he has an opportunity to play a huge role against a Power Five team like Indiana. 

Andre Levrone

Levrone started off his season strong last week, catching two passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. The senior nearly had a second touchdown on a perfect route, but senior quarterback Kurt Benkert overthrew him in the endzone. After battling with injuries throughout his career, Levrone came into the season as a wildcard for the Cavalier offense. He adds length and speed to the receiving corps and could evolve into a deep play threat if he develops a rapport with Benkert.

The senior can play a big role in causing fits for the tough Hoosier secondary on Saturday. His speed on the edge can open up holes in coverage for receivers junior Olamide Zaccheaus and senior Doni Dowling, and Benkert can use his big reach as a safety blanket for big plays. Levrone can give the Cavaliers and edge against Indiana while enjoying a breakout game himself.

Keys to the game

Virginia’s defense

Virginia’s defense had a successful afternoon against William & Mary in the season opener — the Cavaliers only allowed 10 points and numerous players had strong performances. Three players finished with double-digit tackles — junior outside linebacker Malcolm Cook with 13, senior free safety Quin Blanding with 12, and junior strong safety Juan Thornhill with 10. Junior outside linebacker Chris Peace also added an interception after Blanding’s hit on William & Mary tight end Andrew Caskin caused the ball to come loose. Saturday’s game against Indiana will be a tougher challenge for Virginia’s defense, especially because of Indiana’s fast offensive tempo. It will be interesting to see if Virginia’s defense can rise to the occasion like it did against the Tribe.

Turnovers and secondary play

While Indiana senior quarterback Richard Lagow posts prolific starts, he has struggled mightily with turnovers throughout his career. Last season, he threw 17 interceptions to only 19 touchdowns. Last week, the senior was intercepted twice by the Ohio State defense and turned the ball over a third time on a lost fumble.

If the Virginia defense can capitalize on Lagow’s miscues, it will create trouble for the Hoosiers’ momentum all afternoon. The Cavalier secondary showed it can ballhawk as a unit last season when it intercepted Duke then-freshman quarterback Daniel Jones five times on the road. This game will likely come down to whichever team wins the turnover battle — the Virginia secondary can help its team’s case by forcing Lagow into miscues. 

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