The Indiana University football program will face its first power five conference opponent on Saturday when the Virginia Cavaliers come to Bloomington for a game under the lights. The teams met last year at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia, with Indiana winning that contest, 34-17.
The 2018 version of Virginia appears to be improved, especially on the offensive side of the football. The Cavaliers struggled at times to put up points last year. But with a fresh face at quarterback, and returning stars running and catching the football, the trend arrow is pointing up.
Let’s take a look at the three names that the Hoosiers will be keying on this week in preparation for Saturday night.
QUARTERBACK – BRYCE PERKINS
The biggest difference that Indiana is going to have to prepare for as compared to 2017 Virginia is at the quarterback position. The Cavaliers will be much more dynamic with transfer Bryce Perkins under center.
Although he’s new to UVA, Perkins arrived at Virginia as a January enrollee and took part in the 2018 spring practices — so he’s had time in their system. He came to Virginia from Arizona Western Community College where he helped lead the Matadors to the 2017 NJCAA Championship game.
Perkins shined in his Virginia and FBS debut last week against Richmond. After opening the game with a pick-six, he settled into a 185 yard passing and 108 yard rushing performance. He accounted for four touchdowns on the day, two rushing and two passing.
In 2017 Perkins was 114-of-180 passing (63.3 percent) for 1,311 yards and seven touchdowns. But that’s really only half of the story when it comes to this truly dual-threat QB. He also rushed 69 times for 353 yards (5.1 avg.) and four touchdowns.
Perkins transferred to the community college in Yuma, Ariz., from Arizona State. He did not appear in any games for the Sun Devils after redshirting 2015 and missing all of 2016 with an injury.
RUNNING BACK – JORDAN ELLIS
While Perkins is the new kid on the block, the Cavaliers return experience at the skill positions as well.
Senior Jordan Ellis broke the 1,000 yard mark for his career at UVA with a 146 yard season opening performance against Richmond last week. He was named the ACC running back of the week for his efforts against the Spiders.
Ellis started all 13 games for the Cavaliers in 2017, toting the rock 215 times for 836 yards and six touchdowns. Also a threat to catch the ball, he added 22 receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown.
At 5-foot-10 and 225 pounds, Ellis is a big back with a low center of gravity that is difficult to bring down.
Indiana was able to hold Ellis in check last year. He rushed 14 times for 44 yards, although he did find the end zone with a 12-yard touchdown run.
H-BACK – OLAMIDE ZACCHEAUS
He’s a name IU fans should remember. Zaccheaus caught 12 passes for 72 yards against Indiana last year, good for the sixth most catches in a game in UVA history.
Think Virginia’s version of Reese Taylor — as a senior. At 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, Zaccheaus isn’t going to wow you with his size. But in today’s spread-out world of college football, getting quick, elusive guys in space is a thing, and the Cavaliers utilize No. 4 very well in that regard.
Much like you saw Indiana do with Taylor in week one, Virginia will try to get Zaccheaus involved in multiple ways including jet sweeps. He has 457 rushing yards in his career in Charlottesville.
In 2017 Zaccheaus broke Billy McMullen’s 16-year old UVA single-season record for receptions with 85. His 895 receiving yards in 2017 ranks No. 5 all-time on UVA’s single-season list, and he is the only player in program history with two career receptions of 80 yards or more.
Zaccheaus was 2nd team All-ACC in 2017.
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