The Virginia Cavaliers’ secondary received bad news on Thursday, as junior cornerback Juan Thornhill was ruled as “doubtful” for Saturday’s crucial road game against the Pittsburgh Panthers (12:30 p.m., regional sports networks).
Thornhill, who suffered what the team is calling a “lower extremity” injury in last Saturday’s 41-10 loss to Boston College, is one of the key players on a Virginia defense that has allowed an average of 23 points per game this season. Thornhill has started all seven of UVA’s games this season and has steadied a secondary that lost cornerbacks Tim Harris and Germane Crowell to injury.
If Thornhill is indeed unable to suit up, the Cavaliers (5-2, 2-1 ACC) will likely call on redshirt freshman De’Vante Cross to play at the field corner spot. Cross has seen time in all of UVA’s games so far and has played on both sides of the ball. He’s made two tackles this season, and he has 27 yards on five rushing attempts.
If Cross isn’t the solution, Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall could be forced to get even more creative with his lineups. Junior linebacker Malcolm Cook wasn’t listed on Thursday’s injury report. If Cook can play at outside linebacker, that might open up an opportunity for Chris Moore to move back into the secondary.