Virginia Football kicks off its 2017 campaign at home against William & Mary on September 2nd. After last year’s opening loss to Richmond, certainly the Hoos know not to take FCS openers lightly, and the Tribe are a particularly familiar challenge to start the season. W&M played UVa very close in a 2015 loss (29-35) and walked out of Scott Stadium victorious in their previous matchup in 2009 (26-14). Let’s take a look at what Wahoo fans should expect from the 2017 team:
2016 Record: 5-6 (3-5 in the CAA)
The Tribe had a disappointing 2016 campaign, culminating in a losing record overall and in conference. They opened the year with a 14-48 loss at NC State but closed out the year with a 34-13 win over rival Richmond.
RT Jerry Ugokwe (1st Team CAA)
RB Kendall Anderson (2nd Team CAA)
CB Trey Reed (2nd Team CAA)
QB Steve Cluley
Fr. QB Shon Mitchell (247sports 3*)
Fr. OT Griffin Gilder (247sports 2*)
Fr. RB Nathan Evans (247sports 2*)
Mitchell is a dual-threat QB out of Oscar Smith HS in Chesapeake, who enrolled last spring to battle for the starting role at quarterback. He was one of the highest FCS recruits in the country in last year’s class and listed as the 38th best prospect in Virginia by 247sports.com.
Best Name on the Roster:
This spring, head coach Jimmye Laycok announced the promotion of RB Coach DJ Mangas as the new offensive coordinator for the team. In his previous role, Mangas had helped the Tribe produce 1,000 yard rushers in each of the previous three seasons and he inherits a side that returns all three of their starters at the wide receiver position. The biggest question mark for this year however is at quarterback. Four guys are competing for the position currently, so the Wahoos will have to wait and see what kind of QB they’ll be facing in September. The Tribe also have a major unknown currently at the running back position, as their star last year, Kendall Anderson, is currently camping with the Atlanta Falcons. Presumed successor Albert Funderburke has been rehabbing a torn ACL. Jonathan Dunn is a senior tailback who saw time last season behind Anderson and Funderburke.
Considering last year’s struggle against UR and the historical struggles versus W&M, this matchup shouldn’t be seen as anything close to a sure thing. However, the Hoos have experience on both sides of the ball, a more talented roster, two five-star playmakers on defense, and a coaching staff with a year of assessment, training, and game planning under their belts. Whoever the Tribe go with at QB, UVa should be able to outscore them. This being UVa, I expect a closer game than it should be, but a two score or more victory.
Do you expect the Hoos to win against William & Mary?
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