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Countdown to Virginia Football :#76 Michael Mooney

We’re catching up on some of the guys we missed during the countdown. Assuming he’s healthy, Michael Mooney is your starting LT on September 3rd.

NCAA Football: Richmond at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Position: OT
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 290
Year: RS Senior
Hometown: Malvern, PA

We’ve noted on several occasions how thin the Hoos are on the OL. With as few as 13 total OLs on the roster, the Hoos will not be able to afford injuries on the OL. Meanwhile, starting LT Michael Mooney is coming off a major leg injury which forced him to miss 7 games last year. He also missed a game in 2014 with an injury. That’s not a good start.

The good news is that Mooney has played in 28 games, and started 14. He was the starting left tackle to begin the season the past 2 years. He’s a big, strong, mobile OL who excels at run blocking. He’s actual an ideal fit in the spread offense because of his mobility. Previously, that mobility helped him get to the second level to put a hat on a LB. It also helped him get out into the flats for one of Steve Fairchild’s patented screen passes. While those skills are still useful, his mobility will actually help him even more now. In a spread offense, the OLs have more ground to cover. Since the Hoos will likely not use TEs or FBs as much as they did in the pro-style offense, you’ll often seen Mooney left on an island against the opposition’s top pass rushers. (Could this be why the coaching staff is talking about a preference for mobile QBs?)

The video above highlights Mooney’s mobility and his toughness. He finishes blocks. Watch the first play in the video. The play begins around the 20 yard line, and at the end of the play Mooney is near the 40. There are no other linemen within 10 yards of him. Yes, he benefits from not making contact with a defender until 5 yards downfield, but that is because of his quickness off the snap and mobility in getting to the second level. You see this time and time again in the video.With Mooney and Eric Smith on the outside, and Jackson Matteo in the middle, the Hoos have the beginnings of a solid OL. But the guard spots are question marks and if one of the others gets hurt, the Hoos could be in real trouble. Let’s hope Mooney is past his injury and will be ready to go come September 3rd.