College football season has arrived. Virginia football will kick off its season against No. 13 UCLA on Saturday. Here are the top storylines and headlines from Monday's press conference ahead of the Cavaliers game against UCLA.
Depth Chart Under Wraps
It's a secret. After Virginia was informed that UCLA would not make its depth chart public, UVa head coach Mike London answered by not releasing one on either.
“As it stands right now,” London said, “there are opportunities for depth chart changes. But at the same time, our scheme, our systems, where we’re playing nickel, dime — whatever the packages may be — they are all set.”
With no depth chart, London took some questions during his first Monday press conference to discuss position battles, but the starters will only be revealed on Saturday afternoon.
True Freshman Expected to Make an Impact
London has made it clear during many of his interviews this camp that he was very impressed by a few true freshmen.
“Besides the two that you guys already know about, we're playing David Eldridge,” said London. “He will play - and Olamide Zaccheaus he's going to play. He'll be receiver, slot, he'll be wherever we need him, basically."
Eldridge impressed the coaching staff with his speed, great hands and coach-ability during camp, while Zaccheaus' versatility attracted the staff to the Keystone State native. The first-year came to UVa as a running back pledge, however, he is now going to be a factor in other areas as well.
“He's very nifty,” said London. “I tell you what, he's very athletic. I don't know if you've seen any practices or whatever, he's made some phenomenal catches in practice. He's a part of the return game and special teams because we want that dynamic returner type guy."
“They both bring special things to the table,” said UVa quarterback Matt Johns. “Eldridge is a taller guy, he’s a bigger receiver. O [Zaccheaus] is such a fast guy. O’s from Philly, so we’re always talking about being Philly tough. He’s just a tough kid. I love competing with him every day."
Whatever it Takes
It's London's message to his running backs group. He will do "whatever it takes." On Monday, London did not name a starter but instead said Taquan Mizzell, Albert Reid, Jordan Ellis and Daniel Hamm will all play a role in the ground game at Virginia.
London, however, did take a moment to praise Smoke [Mizzell], who according to the head coach has impressed the last few weeks.
“Really, really pleased with Smoke Mizzell. He's done a tremendous job here of lately in terms of learning how to be a running back, and I really look forward to him having kind of a breakout season."
The UVa defense will go up against a true freshman at quarterback. UCLA head coach Jim Mora named former five-star Josh Rosen as his starter, and London says it is safe to assume they will be pressuring the young signal caller. Rosen does provide a challenge, since there is no college film available, however, London says they will still have a plan in place since the Bruins still have the same system.
"We know it's a system that they run. We know he's very talented and we know several players that can make him efficient surround him. That's the challenge for us. We get in the game and start playing against him is to actually find out what his strengths are and try to find his deficiencies, as well."