Wahoos set to welcome high-octane offense to Charlottesville


Five of Virginia's final eight games will take place inside the friendly confines of Scott Stadium. Photo: Jack Looney Five of Virginia’s final eight games will take place inside the friendly confines of Scott Stadium. Photo: Jack Looney

It is Virginia’s most pivotal game of the season, and it comes against a team averaging 54.7 points per game. Louisiana Tech’s air-raid offense ranks in the top 25 in every major statistical category. The Bulldogs are the nation’s only team to have put up 50+ points in each of its games this season: LA Tech beat Houston 56-49, Rice 56-37, and Illinois 52-24. Conversely, Jim Reid’s defense allowed 83 combined points in losses to Georgia Tech and TCU.

That’s the bad. The good is that Louisiana Tech can’t stop anybody. Its defense ranks 115th in the country and is allowing nearly 500 yards of total offense per game. On paper, points should not be at a premium.

It will be Virginia’s first-ever meeting with LA Tech (of the Western Athletic Conference), but the game’s circumstances are reminiscent of a season ago. Then, Virginia was 2-2 when it hosted WAC-member Idaho. Had the Vandals converted a 2-point conversion on the game’s final play, the Cavaliers would have fallen to 2-3 before welcoming No. 12 Georgia Tech to Scott Stadium a week later. Instead, UVA escaped with a 21-20 overtime win and won six of its final eight regular season games, including an upset of the then-unbeaten Yellow Jackets.

Third-year coach Sonny Dykes is the mastermind behind the air-raid offense popularized by Hal Mumme and Mike Leach. UVA last faced the scheme in the 2007 Gator Bowl, a 31-28 loss to Leach’s Texas Tech team. Dykes is 16-12 in Ruston and led the Bulldogs to the 2011 WAC championship and an appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl, which they lost to TCU, 31-24. Dykes took over for Derek Dooley, who accepted the University of Tennessee head coaching job in 2010. Dooley, who also served as Louisiana Tech’s athletic director, was a wide receiver at Virginia from 1987-1990.

Virginia will wear throwback jerseys Saturday, modeled after the 1968 team that featured ACC Player of the Year Frank Quayle. Quayle served as UVA radio’s color commentator for 29 years before retiring after last season’s Chick-fil-A Bowl. His No. 24 is one of only six numbers to be retired by the football program.

It will be UVA’s final non-conference tilt of the season. The ACC schedule begins in earnest next week when the ‘Hoos travel to Duke.