As always, we like to hear from you, our readers, and see what’s on your mind going into the season. Our cadre of writers will take turns giving their thoughts on your queries below. Of course, you needn’t wait for a Mail Call to interact with us… we man our Twitter account far more continuously than our employers or wives may like! So reach out anytime.
Let’s dive in and see what questions and concerns you have for us going into yet another high expectation season:
Great stuff so far, guys! Which position groups give you the “warm fuzzies” heading into this season?
— Kendall Howell (@Wahooze) August 26, 2020
Karl Hess: I’m in love with the linebackers…inside & out, top to bottom. It’s my favorite unit on the team. I feel like they can handle any situation thrown at them. Next for me is the safety group. I love the depth and versatility there. You can easily go three deep at either safety spot. Finally, my sleeper unit on the team are the tight ends. I’m looking for them to play a big part in the passing and running games this year.
Aaron: Definitely the linebackers and perhaps the defensive backs. The other groups all have some sort of issue, whether it is inexperience, lack of depth, a key opt out, an unproven player that needs to step up, or a significant hole with no answer at least right away. But the linebacker group is as solid as they come, and it has experience playing without stalwart Jordan Mack already. A veteran tough guy with ZZ Stop in the middle, Nick Jackson beside him, and Jackson seems like a natural fit in the scheme and already has some starting experience, so I’m excited to see him take it to a higher level, and then two beasts on the outside in Charles Snowden and Noah Taylor. And then you look behind those guys and you still see veterans and potential breakout stars. Matt Gahm had a key sack against VT and a key pick at Pitt, Rob Snyder has been solid when healthy, Elliott Brown has done a few nice things and is a senior, and then we have highly rated newcomers ready to pick their spots before assuming their own leadership roles, such as Hunter Stewart, D’Sean Perry, and Jonathan Horton.
The secondary was a strength of the team last season but devastated by injury. The ‘Hoos adjusted to life without Bryce Hall for most of the season and survived. If it can stay intact this year, it looks strong again, just not quite as good as the LB corps. CB Nick Grant now has a full year of starting under his belt and fared well last season, and CB Darrius Bratton is back after some promising starts in 2018. Behind them, Heskin Smith and Jaylon Baker saw valuable time in 2019 due to injuries. At safety, Joey Blount keys things, and he’s probably been underappreciated because of the play of Juan Thornhill and Bryce Hall the past couple of seasons, and now I think he still might be underrated due to Snowden and Taylor at LB, but Blount is a dude that can lay the lumber and set the tone. Swiss Army knife De’Vante Cross is solid at the other safety spot, and Brenton Nelson is a former ACC defensive rookie of the year from 2017 who has had some injury issues, but should not be overlooked. Not to mention JMU transfer D’Angelo Amos, an FCS All-American. How great is it that the ‘Hoos have him to deploy out of their back pocket in the secondary and in the punt return game?
Robert: Linebackers, linebackers, and linebackers. The outside ‘backers especially, but even the inside guys in Zane Zandier and Nick Jackson. From top to bottom this group is ready to deliver a sensational season.
StLouHoo: On offense, the offensive line. I’d feel a little better if Bobby Haskins were healthy and picking up where he left off last year manning the left edge, and we could roll him out with continuity on the interior and the next-level Ryan Swoboda at RT. As it stands, we’re doing reshuffling looking for our “best 5” with the season two weeks away. But at the end of the day, even with Haskins still working his way back, we’ve got six good OL to pull five starters from, talking about Reinkesnmeyer, Gellerstedt, Glaser, Nelson, Oluwatimi, and Swoboda, and a youngster guard in Joe Bissinger making things even more interesting. Whatever five gets rolled out, assuming they’ve had a week or two to gel at their positions, they’re going to be the best OL we’ve seen probably since Groh’s tenure.
On defense, the linebackers are the obvious answer for everything mentioned above, but I want to give a shoutout to the DBs too. The safties were already stacked at the start of the summer with Brenton Nelson healthy and joining up with De’Vante Cross and Joey Blount; the addition of all-FCS safety D’Angelo Amos, who’s reportedly killing it in camp, makes the safeties next level. And at the corner position, Nick Grant’s reportedly taken his game up a notch this year and Darius Bratton looks to be back and back in game shape after last year’s injury, and rounded out with the solid Heskin Smith, we’ve got three proven corners to work with. This is going to be a hard team to throw against, which in turn frees us to be even more creative and aggresive with the linebackers around the line of scrimmage.
Is Armstrong truly THAT big of a dropoff from Bryce? I get that he is not anywhere the athlete but I think he might make up for it with accuracy other areas. Is it that far apart?
— Peter Heller (@Pistol495) August 26, 2020
Karl Hess: It’s difficult to make an apple to apple comparison between Perkins and Armstrong because they have a different approach to the position. I think Armstrong will show to be a better overall passer. But when you look to them in the running game, the major difference is that Perkins was more likely to break a guy’s ankles or leap over him. And Armstrong is more likely to try to run through or over another guy.
I think you’ll see it play out like this. Perkins running would go for 2 yards, 2 yards, 15 yards, 2 yards, 25 yards. Armstrong is more likely to be 5 yards, 5 yards, 8 yards, 5 yards. You’re moving the chains either way but Armstrong’s highlight tape isn’t going to be as electric as Bryce’s.
Another thing to consider is that Perkins had some dynamite playmakers at his disposal over his two years at QB: OZ, Joe Reed, Dubois, and Jana just starting to come into his own. With Armstrong, we’ve hit reset outside of Jana and are waiting for that next wave of playmakers to reveal themselves.
Aaron: I do not think it is a HUGE drop-off. The sample size is small, but Armstrong has been plenty accurate at 68 percent in his two seasons. And while he may not be Bryce, he has shown his own type of athleticism and escapability. He’s also shown he’s ready for the spotlight, because I’ll never forget him coming in during big situations as a true freshman against GT and Louisville after Bryce got hurt and leading scoring drives. The guy is a gamer and solidly built. He will take a hit and keep on trucking.
Robert: Yes, Armstrong is a big dropoff from Perkins, at least initially. The athleticism is a logical place to start, as Bryce Perkins was one of the fastest players on the team and by far the most explosive option on the ground. Armstrong is a good runner in his own right, but he will likely never take off on a 65-yard touchdown run on a broken play, like Perkins did against UNC. In the passing game, while Perkins had his limitations especially in the center of the field, Perkins was a great decision maker and generally accurate, completing 64.5% of his throws. He was truly a generational, program-changing player.
Now, Armstrong does do some things better than Perkins. He puts a bit more zip on the ball and reportedly excels with the deep throw, an area of the playbook that was largely eliminated with Perkins. Hopefully the passing playbook will eventually expand to the extent where it was with Benkert, while still maintaining the threat Armstrong poses on the ground. But expecting the redshirt sophomore to match Perkins effectiveness is an unfair ask.
StLouHoo: I don’t think it’s necessarily that Brennan will ultimately be that big a drop off from Bryce once Brennan’s career at UVA is one and we compare their total bodies of work. Brennan and Bryce are certainly different quarterbacks in terms of style and strengths, but Brennan has the potential to end up just as winning a quarterback, just as big a legend at UVA as Bryce did. No guarantees of course, If Brennan ends up 80% of Bryce that’ll be a win because Bryce was an all-timer for UVA. But nonetheless Brennan’s got great upside.
But the relevant point is that Brennan could be a big dropoff in his first game from what Bryce was when we last saw him in the Orange Bowl. First games are often messy affairs for even the best of quarterbacks. There’s a reason it was going to be nice to have played VMI to let Brennan get some of his nerves worked out, even Bryce was shaky passing the ball in his first start, and that was just Richmond. Only time will tell how fast Brennan settles into a confident rhythm… asking him to start his career on the road against (a) our biggest rival and (b) maybe the nation’s best team is 100% being thrown in the deep end. It may October before we start to see him be the player we want the redshirt sophomore to be, meaning the dropoff in QB performance from what Perkins got us accustomed to could be a bit jarring.
I’m feeling like this offense is being greatly and grossly underestimated. Why do you agree or disagree with me?
— Kendall Howell (@Wahooze) August 26, 2020
Karl Hess: Yeah, I agree with that. Another year of experience and continuity on the offensive line will be the biggest difference maker. We’re going to need to lean on them as Armstrong gets his feet wet and we adjust to no longer having Reed and Dubois on offense while other guys begin to step in and step up.
Aaron: Related to the question above, I think this is probably true. Those not following the team closely think most of the offense was based around Perkins. Look, I love Bryce, he beat VT and took us to the ACC championship and the Orange Bowl, and he goes down as one of the best QBs in our history, but I am giving credit to the other players, the coaches, and the scheme as well. We already saw Kurt Benkert put up numbers in this offense. I think Armstrong can do the same, and those that have followed the team closely see he can do it. He just has that look and feel of someone ready to step in and be successful. This isn’t exactly a plug-and-play offense like Oklahoma, where the QB each season is in the running for the Heisman, but I think the QB at UVa as it stands right now is bound to put up some nice numbers. So if you believe in Armstrong, then a critic might point to the loss of Joe Reed and Hasise Dubois at WR. But I’d point to the development of WRs under position coach Marques Hagans and say it will probably continue, just with new candidates this season. From Terrell Jana to Olamide Zaccheaus, Doni Dowling, Andre Levrone, and even back to Hagans’ time under Mike London with Canaan Severin, there is always someone that breaks out under Hagans’ tutelage. This should empower the new crop of guys this season, because each one should be thinking, “I am the guy this year who is going to put up numbers unexpectedly like Jana did in 2019.” Plus, grad transfer Ra’Shaun Henry had 90 receptions last year, there’s a big opportunity for him, and Bronco has already praised him. And finally, a critic might point to the lack of a ground game, but in 2018, Jordan Ellis was a 1,000-yard rusher. We have our entire starting OL back, and Armstrong can run, too. I think the rushing attack can fare well enough as long as there isn’t major attrition as a result of injury. (who’s working on behalf of Ronnie Walker against the NCAA anyway?)
Robert: I would say it is being underestimated by the national media, but not without reason. After all, Perkins was nearly 80% of last season’s offensive production. I think the traditional ground game will improve behind a more experienced offensive line, and I’m cautiously optimistic that Billy Kemp and Ra’Shaun Henry can join Jana and form a solid receiving trio. My biggest concern is finding explosive plays this season. We know Wayne Taulapapa has his limitations in the open field and that Armstrong is not the runner Perkins was, so you have to hope Shane Simpson can provide a spark on the ground. In the passing game, you really hope the reports of Tavares Kelly making a third-year leap translate into game action, as his speed poses threats both on the deep ball and on screens in the open field. All told, I think Brennan Armstrong as a player is probably being slept on, but I would not go as far as to say the offense as a whole is being “grossly” underestimated.
StLouHoo: Slightly disagree. Being objective, I understand the concerns. UVA hasn’t had an underclassman QB really wow right out of the gate in a long, long time, even our last great homegrown Matt Schaub struggled to beat out Bryson Spinner as a RS Sophomore. It’s not unfair of the media to say that he might struggle this year (remember, he didn’t even get spring practice to really get reps as a QB1 coming into the summer); it doesn’t mean he won’t be great long term, just that he might not be great this year. And just like the rest of college football, I’m taking a “show me” approach to our traditional running game. The OL and Taulapapa didn’t wow me last year; are we really confident they’re suddenly going to become a competent running offense? The absence of Ronnie Walker and Mike Hollins only further underlines how tenuous our rushing attack is. So given all that uncertainty, I’m willing to concede we may see the offense be a bit of a roller coaster this year; the potential is there, but you’re not being a bad Hoo if you lack confidence at this stage.
Our friend Phoenix writes us and asks:
“How much of a threat do you think KT is as a runner? Do you think the staff might look into packages to use Thompson even with Armstrong as the starter, such as the Wildcat?”
Karl Hess: I expect Thompson to get on the field in packages somehow. He’s too good a runner to be affixed to the bench the entire season. It really comes down to how much you want to overwork him beyond his QB duties. I imagine Thompson will take all that the staff is willing to give him.
My expectation is that he slots somewhere between Perkins and Armstrong as a runner. He seems to be a good combination of the speed of Perkins with the power of Armstrong.
Aaron: Thompson is a much better runner than passer at this point in his career, and I’m intrigued to see what the staff does with him. Thompson rushed for a combined 268 yards and four TDs in the 2017 Egg Bowl against Ole Miss and the TaxSlayer Bowl against Louisville, beating Lamar Jackson’s Cardinals that year. I am in favor of the staff mixing him into some packages and getting him some time, especially at the goal line, where he can bowl people over. Thompson is big at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds (originally listed at 225 pounds when he committed). We’ve got him for two years, so we should use him. I am normally wary of using two QBs, and I’m sure a lot of the UVa fan base recalls the London regime trying to mix in David Watford in 2011 and then Phillip Sims and Mike Rocco together in 2012 when the situation should’ve just been left alone when Rocco was playing well. But I think this is a special situation under a different staff. I think UVa can deploy two QBs effectively and intelligently because Thompson brings a specific skill set to the table that can be used to help the offense. It won’t be haphazard and snap count-based, it will be scheme-based and situation-based. If the offensive staff has an organized plan to use Thompson, they should. I think it would more likely be Thompson coming in to be the QB for a play or two at the goal line, rather than some sort of special “wildcat” look, which is actually when a non-QB takes the snap. The team HAS had Armstrong in with Perkins on a couple of plays before, though, so maybe they can do the same with Armstrong and Thompson, and in that case, if Thompson takes the snap, is he technically not the QB?? But enough pondering, that would be more of a trick play anyway. Most likely, I’d look for Thompson at the goal line.
Robert: Keytaon Thompson is fast, and he certainly poses a very real threat on the ground. Look no further than the practice highlight video of him scrambling that the team released a few weeks ago. With the lack of depth at running back, it is possible the staff could look to wildcat formations with Thompson. That said, in short yardage situations I think Armstrong poses just as strong of a threat as Thompson as a runner. Thompson’s speed is more of a threat between the 20s, but by all accounts Armstrong has impressed passing far more than Thompson has in camp, and you do not want to lose that threat by inserting Thompson into the game. So I would say packages for Thompson are possible, but as Virginia has typically been conservative with respect to offensive creativity the past four years under Mendenhall and Anae, I would be surprised if they are heavily utilized. I think Armstrong is the guy and will have plenty of designed running plays in his own right.
StLouHoo: Thompson by all accounts is a really good runner. He scored 10 rushing touchdowns and has a 6.8 ypc average from his days at Mississippi State. His legs would be valuable on any roster. And at UVA, this year, we’re dealing with a running back room that was shredded by turnover and sits very thin. The ability to finding rushing offense by any means is going to be valuable. With that said, I have no idea how the staff will go about putting Thompson on the field to exploit it. He’s a big guy at 6’4″ so he’s got a high center of gravity to be a traditional tailback. Putting both QBs on the field together is probably in the playbook now, though it’ll be a special package. Thompson is still important to keep healthy and ready to take over as QB1 in case of emergency, so we can’t overuse him, but Thompson will see the field one way or another.
An obvious one: how will the Perkins-to-Armstrong transition change UVa’s offensive play-calling.
— Michael A. Butler (@mbutler50) August 27, 2020
Karl Hess: Initially, I was hoping for less designed QB runs. Perkins, sometimes, functioned as our lead option running the ball. At worst, he was always our backup running back. Now with questionable depth at the running back position, especially if Ronnie Walker’s waiver appeal doesn’t come through, I think we’ll see us lean more on Armstrong as a runner.
Armstrong also seems to have a better deep ball than Perkins. If the receivers prove capable, I wonder if we’ll be more willing to take shots downfield more frequently.
I’d also look for us to use the TE more. That’s not really a function of the Perkins to ‘Armstrong transition though. It speaks more to the addition of Tony Poljan to the team and an intentional adjustment by the staff to help mitigate the losses of Reed and Dubois.
Aaron: With the bevy of returning experience on the OL and Wayne Taulapapa, Ronnie Walker, Mike Hollins, and Shane Simpson set to be in the backfield, I’m sure the plan was going to be for Armstrong to hand the ball off more than Perkins did last season. But now, with Hollins opting out and Walker seemingly ineligible, I’m not sure anymore. The burden may shift back to Armstrong to run around like Perkins. But I think the staff will emphasize Armstrong getting the ball out of his hands quickly to guys like Jana, Henry, Billy Kemp, and transfer TE Tony Poljan should be a nice, big safety valve over the middle that defenses will need to account for. One difference is it sounds like the pace on offense could be sped up. It seems like we say that every year, but something center Olu Oluwatimi said recently lends credence to the theory. In an article on TheSabre.com, Oluwatimi said, “Bryce was very patient. As you guys watched the game when we’d break the huddle, you’d see him dissecting things and just looking around. That’s something I always saw on film before we even snapped the ball. BA is trying to get the most plays in the game. He’s just trying to put the pressure on the defense and just go, go, go. We love that about Brennan. If it’s a draw and he doesn’t see his first read, he’s gone. Bryce is going to hold it and try to make play. Brennan is just go, go, go. We love that about Brennan.”
Robert: It hopefully should expand the passing playbook, as Armstrong can better take advantage of the intermediate to deep throws. It also could open up the middle of the field (especially via transfer tight end Tony Poljan), as Perkins largely preferred quick throws to outside receivers. In the run game, look for it to shake out somewhere between the Kurt Benkert and Bryce Perkins offense. Armstrong will still have designed runs and likely will use the read-option, but he will not be utilized as frequently as Perkins was on the ground, with the traditional running back ground game taking the place of those carries from the past two seasons with Perkins. I think the offense we will see this season will actually be the closest in style to Robert Anae’s preferred system that we have seen under Mendenhall, and it could feature more up-tempo, as that is reportedly one of Armstrong’s strengths. Virginia fans should be excited to watch the offense come together this season, it just may have some growing pains with a new starting quarterback.
StLouHoo: I think we’re going to see a much more diverse passing attack utilizing a lot more of the field. Perkins liked throwing to the flats and the sidelines. It worked for him, even if it didn’t work as much for our TEs and such. The middle of the field was left open for his designed and impromtu runs. Brennan’s going to do a little bit of everything. He’ll still hit the flats and the sidelines, but we’ll go deep more often (good news for a burner like Kelly) and we’ll attack the seams as well (good news for the tight ends). Armstrong will still run, but it won’t be as frequent, though still a mix of design and scrambles. Hopefully the greater diversity helps by putting defenses more on their toes.
Who do you think leads the team in tackles, sacks, and interceptions?
— Marcus Leibowitz (@mleibro) August 27, 2020
Karl Hess: Tackles: Zane Zandier
Sacks: Noah Taylor
Interceptions: D’Angelo Amos
Aaron: First choices — tackles: Zandier; sacks: Taylor; INTs: Blount
Second choices — tackles: Blount; sacks: Snowden; INTs: Grant
Robert: I’ll take Zane Zandier in tackles; he is the obvious choice playing middle linebacker and leading the team with 108 tackles a season ago. Give me Noah Taylor for sacks, as he is the leading returning sacker (7.0 last year) and should be able to pin his ears back more frequently with the secondary’s return to health. Finally, I like Joey Blount to lead the team in picks again, although I could see Brenton Nelson pushing him if Nelson can stay healthy all season.
StLouHoo: Tackles: Zandier – if he’s healthy, he’ll be the next in a long line of ILBs to rack up stats, especially in this defense that prioritizes linebackers as your run stoppers. Sacks is a tough one, we spread the love around, but I’m going with Snowden, I think we blitz him a little more than we did last year. INTs: Nelson – UVA’s safeties typically lead the team in INTs (Blount last year, Thornhill and Blanding before him, and fellow safeties like Nelson and Cross chipping in), and Nelson had four when he was healthy as a freshman, so if he can get through the year at or near 100%, I like him to have a senior year renaissaince with picks.
Hoo is your pick for newcomer of the year?
— Brian Eley (@BrianEleyinNYC) August 27, 2020
Karl Hess: If D’Angelo Amos is eligible, he’s my pick. If we’re only looking at incoming recruits and 2019 redshirts, give me Elijah Gaines.
Aaron: There are many choices here, and I would categorize newcomers as transfers, true freshmen, and I think redshirt freshmen just now seeing the field should also qualify for this distinction. With that definition, for this season, I will go with Ra’Shaun Henry. Virginia loves to pass the ball, Henry tallied 90 grabs a season ago, and there’s a production void to be filled with the departures of Reed and Dubois. Those two guys and Jana all caught at least 74 passes a season ago, so Henry could stack up big numbers again. On defense, I’ll go with Amos, because he could even start at one of the safety spots, and he will have an opportunity to flash in the punt return game.
Robert: Give me Ra’Shaun Henry. Virginia has shoes to fill at receiver, and by all accounts Henry has risen to the occasion. A year after recording 90 receptions for 1,118 yards at St. Francis, he has had a strong camp and should be the favorite to start opposite Terrell Jana, especially following Dontayvion Wick’s season-ending injury. I would have said Ronnie Walker if his waiver had been approved, but don’t be surprised if fellow transfer running back Shane Simpson makes his name known both in the return game and as a receiver out of the backfield.
StLouHoo: Transfer is going to be D’Angelo Amos. I think any number of the transfers have a shot to blow up (RB Shane Simpson, WR Ra’Shaun Henry, and TE Tony Poljan are all safe bets to post healthy stat lines this year). But Amos could be special, both as a hard hitting safety and a punt return specialist. Rookies, I like Joshua Rawlings (I’ll say this again in the next question) followed closely by Lavel Davis. This offense needs guys to emerge as pass catchers, and right now we’ve got Terrell Jana and Billy Kemp as vets, but Rawlings and Davis have the opportunity to break out as big pass-catching targets for Armstrong. Maybe they won’t dominate the stat line, but don’t be surprised to see one of these guys have some big games as rookies.
Plant your flag on one young player from each side of the ball who will be a future star.
— Kendall Howell (@Wahooze) August 26, 2020
Karl Hess: The defense is littered with future stars. Since I picked Gaines in the previous answer, I’ll pick someone different here. Let’s go with Jonathan Horton. He’s going to be a pass rushing monster when it’s his turn to take an OLB spot. On offense, I’m going with QB Ira Armstead. It sounds like he’s already impressing.
Aaron: Saying Armstrong on offense is probably cheating, so I’ll go with Dontayvion Wicks on offense. Unfortunately, he is out for the season with an injury, but I am projecting him to become a star next year or in 2022. He has a decent-size frame at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, and he already got some time last year as a true freshman, catching three balls, including one TD against Liberty. So I think the fact that the staff trusted him enough already to put him out there and he showed he can produce, leads me to believe he will step up next year, when there will definitely be a need with Jana and Henry moving on.
On defense, I think Taylor is already a star, and he is a junior now, not really that young. Jowon Briggs seems like an obvious choice after playing a lot as a true freshman and poised to make more noise this season, and he came in as the highest-rated recruit in the 2019 class. Same for LB Nick Jackson, a likely starter this year. A little more off the radar, I’ll go with LB Hunter Stewart. As we said in our position preview, linebacker is the glory position of the UVa defense, so Stewart will get the opportunity to become a star if he breaks into the two-deep. If he contributes this season, he will have a significant chance to start in 2021. I already love his size at 6-foot-2, 240.
Robert: I’ll stick with the freshmen that are currently on grounds. On offense that only gives us five players to choose from, but let’s go with wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. At 6-foot-7, my initial thought was that he may be too tall for the position, but that fear seems to have been put to rest through fall camp. Davis’ play has been complimented by both the coaches and his teammates, and he could even carve out a role this season in the red zone and as a deep threat. Marques Hagans has earned every cent of his paycheck the past few seasons, and I think he’ll bring along Davis quite nicely over his career.
Defensively there’s a lot more options to choose from, but I really like safety Elijah Gaines. The Episcopal, VA product could have the opportunity to start as early as next season as Joey Blount, Brenton Nelson, De’Vante Cross, and D’Angelo Amos are all seniors. Once a Penn State commit, Gaines has obvious ball skills and the size to be a factor in the box. That said, it’s tough to choose just one of the defensive freshmen, and I also expect fellow safety Donovan Johnson and linebackers Jonathan Horton and Brandon Williams to earn early playing time, as well.
StLouHoo: On offense I really like Joshua Rawlings as kind of close to a sure thing. He’s the best TE recruit we’ve had in a long time, a big body that’s equally adept at blocking and pass catching, and he’s quickly impressed his coaches and teammates. He probably won’t break out this year, with grad transfer Tony Poljan buying him a year to come along slowly, but whenever Poljan moves on, Rawlings is going to be a favorite target for Hoo quarterbacks for years.
Defensively I’m going to resist the urge to pick a current starter like Nick Jackson (only a sophomore this year!) and go with a rookie, and in that case I really like Elijah Gaines like both Karl and Robert do. He’s smart, he’s athetlic, he’s tough, and he’s going to be a multi year starter and join a proud tradition of UVA safeties to excel and make the NFL.
Twitter user Matt @TheColdestSteel DM’ed us to ask:
“UVa plays tech in week 1, wins, and then the season gets cancelled right after. Where does this rank in terms of best seasons in program history?”
Karl Hess: If that comes to pass, I wouldn’t want to be a Hokie fan. It’s going to make a long, long, long offseason until November 2021 when the rivalry would presumably resume. They’re going to hear a lot of chirping, especially on social media.
Aaron: A muted celebration that would not rank on a top five seasons list or anything like that. Normally, a second straight win against the Hokies would probably be the capper to a pretty successful regular season, a time to reflect on the ups and downs and indulge in some chest-puffing and be really proud of the ‘Hoos, and it wouldn’t really mean all that in this case. I’d be happy that we’d have two wins in a row against them, but it wouldn’t be the same with possible COVID opt outs from them and the bellyaching that would follow, saying there should be an asterisk, etc. I’d also be really disappointed the rest of the season would be cancelled, because beating the Hokies would probably set us up for a nice year, and I’d be pumped up. The opposite result — a loss and then season cancellation is a big-time downer to consider, though, so I’d savor the victory and be thankful.
Robert: AN UNDEFEATED SEASON!! Kidding aside, we’ve come far enough in fall camp that I would be really disappointed if we didn’t get to play our current 10-game schedule. So if the season gets cancelled after the first game, I’ll be pretty bummed — win or lose. Fingers crossed we get to see a full UVA football season, and heck — maybe even schedule a non-conference game!
StLouHoo: I will refuse to compare it to past seasons, way too apples to oranges. But it won’t have been a total loss. Over the last couple decades, the success of a UVA season is (fairly or not) largely judged on the result of the Tech game. It’ll be enough to at least partially soothe the ache of a lost season for a lot of people. And it’ll be an askerisk kind of season that Hoo fans talk about over beers for decades to come.