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THE COLUMN: Virginia vs. UConn Complete Preview

Hoos vs. Huskies this week!


TIME: 12:00 PM (EST)

DATE: September 16th, 2017

LOCATION: Scott Stadium




by Paul Wiley

A running game, a running game: my kingdom for a running game! Virginia's offensive ineptitude overwhelmed an honestly excellent defensive performance against Indiana. But Kurt 'n the Boyz (trademark pending) will look to go HAMm against a less stout UConn Huskies squad in week three.

That squad has, at best, graded out as incomplete in 2017. A squeaker win over Holy Cross was followed by a hurricane-canceled game one week later. And a brewing quarterback controversy has slowed the implementation of TEH LASHLEE's Auburn-inspired offense. Will the Hoos avenge a frustrating 2016 road loss? Or will an anemic attack send this campaign completely off the rails?


Provided by Danny Neckel


Doni Dowling
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Doni Dowling - WR

Last year, Doni Dowling led UVA in receiving yards, with 626. Now in his fourth year, Dowling will aim to be the focal point again, in a seemingly more pass-happy offense. So far, he has caught six passes for 76 yards in the Hoos’ season-opening win against William & Mary and caught five passes for 24 yards against Indiana. The observant might have also noticed that he changed his number from #7 to #5, in honor of injured cornerback, Tim Harris.

Juan Thornhill
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Thornhill - CB

Third-year Juan Thornhill is becoming a larger presence for the Wahoo’s defense. Last year, he led UVA in interceptions, with three. ICYMI, Thornhill also had this sweet pick last week. While Virginia’s opponents have run the ball almost twice as much as they have thrown it (82 rushes vs 43 passes), Thornhill will be called upon to lock down wide receivers.

Daniel Hamm
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Hamm - RB

Hamm, while listed as a running back, doesn’t get too many touches behind Jordan Ellis. He primarily serves as on special teams as both the kick-off and punt returner. It’s early in the season, but the Virginia offense hasn’t shown the ability to get explosive plays so maybe it’s time to look towards special teams and Hamm.

Bryant Shirreffs
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Bryant Shirreffs - QB

Shirreffs was named starting QB for the Huskies prior to their cancelled game last week versus USF. UConn head coach Randy Edsall originally named David Pindell quarterback for their opener against FCS side Holy Cross, but benched him in the third quarter in favor of Shirreffs. Subsequently, Shirreffs went 124 yards on 9-for-13 passing. This week, look to see Shirreffs under center but don’t be surprised if Coach Edsall decides to switch it up during the game.

Nate Hopkins
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Hopkins - RB

As a redshirted freshman, Nate Hopkins has proven his ability to lead the ground game for UConn. Hopkins led the rally to avoid an embarrassing loss versus Holy Cross, where he rushed for 130 yards and a whopping three touchdowns. With uncertainty at the quarterback position, look for Hopkins to carry to load this Saturday for the Huskies.

Hergy Mayala
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Hergy Mayala - WR

Besides his cool name, Mayala is a pretty decent wide out. He was a bright spot for the Huskies against Holy Cross, with nine receptions for 106 yards and one touchdown. Last season, Mayala only caught 23 receptions for 296 yards but he figures to be a larger focal point for the Huskies offense this year.



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