Football is upon us yet again and if you are a Virginia fan like me, there is no telling what kind of emotional rollercoaster we are about to board. One thing is definite, though, and that is this team will be fun to watch – especially in the first game.
The thing I love most about playing a FCS opponent to open the season is how many players get quality playing time, giving us a glimpse into the depth of the team. This only happens, though, if business is handled on the field and in years past home-openers against inferior foes has been shaky, at best, for UVA (see Richmond in 2016). The ship seems to have been righted under Bronco Mendenhall and W&M should be an easy opponent to start his year 6 campaign.
What to Watch for:
In these types of games I am generally looking for one thing and one thing only: dominance. If you are going to compete for an ACC Coastal Championship and the right to play in the ACC Championship you cannot struggle against an inferior opponent. UVA should be better than W&M in every facet: offense, defense and special teams. They should have the better recruits, the better talent, the better coaches – this should be Varsity playing JV. I have respect for W&M as they are an amazing academic institution, but they should look outmatched against the product Bronco has built at UVA. Therefore, my preview is very simple: Virginia needs to dominate.
Players to Watch:
QB Brennan Armstrong – My biggest issue with Brennan Armstrong last year was his decision making, specifically his running. There were countless occasions where Brennan would check option 1 or 2 and then take off running, as evidenced by the fact that he was UVA’s leading rusher. If UVA is going to be successful in this (or any) game, Brennan needs to stay in the pocket longer. We cannot reach our potential if he leads the team in rushing again this year.
WR Dontayvion Wicks – This dude can be dynamic. The 6’1” 2nd year has been generating a lot of buzz in camp and if he can meet expectations, this offense will be hard to stop.
TE Jelani Woods – The Oklahoma St transfer might be the best TE at UVA since HEEEEEEEEEATH Miller. He has 2nd-3rd round draft potential now and could be a 1st round pick if he continues to trend upward. My favorite thing about Woods is that he chose #0 because, “I feel like this coming year I wanted to make a statement that nobody can stop me.” His presence is a dream for OC Robert Anae given the mismatches he can exploit when Woods and Keytaon Thompson are on the field together.
WR Keytaon Thompson – Being officially listed on the depth chart as FTB (Football Player) is all you need to know about this young man. The Senior is a utility knife with his ability to run, catch and pass the ball. Just ask him and he will perform.
UVA – 42
W&M – 21