» Treat it like any other game: The Cavaliers can’t step onto the field Saturday thinking about beating one of college football’s most recognizable brands in one of its most historic venues. They have to get off the bus Saturday and treat everything like business as usual. When programs starting buying into the pressure and pressing to make something happen, mistakes happen and those mistakes turn into losses.
» Don’t turn the ball over: The one mistake Virginia cannot afford to make is turning the ball over. The Cavaliers know the caliber of program and athletes they’re going to be facing. Their task is monumental enough without adding to it by having to overcome turnovers.
» Get Perkins some help: Like every other team the Cavaliers face this season, stopping quarterback Bryce Perkins will be priority No. 1 for the Fighting Irish. Given that and the beating he has already endured this year, Virginia has to find ways to get more players involved in the running game. Whether it’s the coaches or Perkins trusting his backfield mates to get the job done, a few more carries need to go to someone else.
» Make Perkins throw on the run: Most of Bryce Perkins’ interceptions this season have come when he’s flushed out of the pocket and forced to make a decision to run. The Irish need to flush him out of the pocket to get him out of his comfort zone, but they can’t over pursue. Even if it takes a spy, they need to let him roll out and try to make a throw, and if he tries to fit a throw in a tight window, they need to be there to pick it off.
» Win on early downs: The Cavaliers are coming off a game in which they went 1-for-11 on third down. Pressure is already intensified on such a critical down, and Notre Dame needs to ratchet it up a couple more notches. Bring exotic blitzes, disguise coverages, do whatever it takes to force a mistake.
» Limit Reed’s touches: If there’s one Virginia player other than Perkins that defenses don’t want touching the ball this year, it’s wide receiver Joe Reed. Reed just looks a step faster and more confident in everything he does this season. Notre Dame isn’t going to want to kick to him, and when he’s in an offensive formation, the Fighting Irish may want to think about slanting coverage to whatever side of the field he’s on.