Virginia football is facing essentially a must-win situation on Saturday, as the Cavaliers host Syracuse for their Homecomings game. Here are the top headlines for the Wahoos, as they prepare for the Orange.
Another Hit to the Line
The Virginia offensive line took another hit. Left tackle Michael Mooney was carted off the field in UVa's loss to Pittsburgh. Mooney was scheduled to receive an MRI on Monday, and according to Head Coach Mike London, he is "doubtful" for Saturday's game against Syracuse.
This is bad news for the 'Hoos, who are already suffering plenty of injuries on the line.
Here is the updated injury list:
At C: Jackson Matteo, John Pond
At RG: Jay Whitmire, Steven Moss
At RT: Eric Smith, Jay Whitmire
No Urgency; No Changes
Although the 'Hoos are 1-4 on the year, the Cavs told reporters on Monday they are not letting it affect them. On the contrary, London said he is proud of his team's resolve.
"The goal is to win football games. We all get it; I get it. That's what it's about, and the improvement of that is critical as well," London told reporters on Monday. "But there's no quit in this team. There's a tremendous amount of fight."
Even though London is on the proverbial hot seat this season and has a 1-4 start to the season, Matteo downplayed the environment around the team, saying nothing needs to change.
“No level of urgency. We don’t need to rush things. We don’t need to change anything," said Matteo. "Everyone in that locker room is doing everything they can to make sure that this team is successful. We’re not going to change anything. We’re this close, and we’re going to stick to our game plan, we’re going to do what we’ve been doing, and we’re going to successful.”
Playing for London
UVa wide receiver Donovan Dowling returned from a pair of knee injuries last Saturday in the loss against Pittsburgh. Dowling had just a few snaps in that game. Although the door remains open for the playmaker to possibly medical red-shirt, Dowling has a strong resolve to play this year.
“I felt if my coaches needed me,” Dowling told reporters. "I put trust in them because without them I wouldn’t be here. They wouldn’t steer me wrong. My family wanted me to redshirt. Other coaches that I really admire wanted me to redshirt. I hear ’em left and right.
"I have faith in my coaches, and I want to contribute to my team," he added. "Knowing there’s a lot going on and a lot on Coach London right now and his staff, and I love having them around, if I could do anything, I’m going to do what I can.”
When pressed by Daily Press' David Teel if his decision to play this year had anything to do with London's job status:
“Pretty much," answered Dowling. "I love Coach London and I love [UVa wide receivers coach] Coach [Marques] Hagans, who really put his neck out there to get me here...I’ll do what I can for them.”
Nicholson Changes Position
Demetrious Nicholson did not feature against Boise State due to a "medical" issue, according to Virginia. However, against Pittsburgh, Darious Latimore played corner, while Nicholson feature on the special teams unit.
London told reporters that Nicholson was 100% fit, and is expected to be featured with this team, but against Pitt, the coaches made the decision to go with Latimore.
True Freshman Stepping In
Virginia first year tight end Richard Burney made his debut against Pittsburgh. He is one of seven true freshmen who have played for the 'Hoos this year. London said he benefitted from the bye week, and is expected to play a role on the offense and special teams as the season continues.
"Richard Burney, we'll bring him into the field in terms of offensively what he can do," said London. "He can run - that's one thing. His opportunity, particularly from a special teams standpoint, and upgrading that area is something that was critical."
Andrew Brown and the Front
Virginia defensive tackle Andrew Brown has had an issue with his hand the last few weeks, but it seems the 'Hoos have found an answer.
"The hand issue was very uncomfortable wearing a big club," said London. "We finally got through that. Now he's back to just taping up his two knuckles, two fingers together there. He's one of the guys you talk about has to play more, will play more."
London also mentioned Myles Robinson, another true freshman, stepping up. "You talk about a guy who draws a double-team block to allow Micah Kiser or some of the other guys to make plays. Myles Robinson has done a really good job of doing that as well."
For the third game this year, the 'Hoos will face a true freshman quarterback. Unlike the other two times, the Cavs are hoping for a better result when they face Syracuse signal caller Eric Dungey.
"Dungey is a complete guy," said London. "I believe he's number one in the ACC for passing efficiency. I think he's got seven touchdowns, maybe one interception. Threw the first one last week. He's very efficient with the ball. Because of the style of play, option style, he'll run the ball. He's got the where that he'll pitch it when he needs to.. he's a very good football player."
UVa's game against the Orange will kickoff at 3:30 P.M.
The ACC also announced on Monday that the Cavaliers' game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill will also kickoff on 3:30 PM on October 24th. It will be broadcasted on Regional sports networks.