There’s nothing like a big win over an FBS opponent to get your young guys some seasoning and experience. Virginia did a little bit of that in its 38-18 win over UConn, getting two more true freshman defenders onto the field for the first time in their careers.
2017 Redshirt Tracker
|32||Darrius Bratton||DB||Boise State|
|38||Charles Snowden||LB||Boise State|
|25||Lamont Atkins||TB||William & Mary|
|26||PK Kier||TB||William & Mary|
|27||Jamari Peacock||FB||William & Mary|
|29||Joey Blount||FS||William & Mary|
|41||Germane Crowell||CB||William & Mary|
|56||Matt Gahm||LB||William & Mary|
|84||Terrell Jana||WR||William & Mary|
|89||Brian Delaney||K||William & Mary|
|91||Mandy Alonso||DL||William & Mary|
|95||A.J. Mejia||PK||William & Mary|
Defensive end John Kirven and outside linebacker Elliott Brown are the new faces on the Cavaliers defense. Kirven earned his number last week before the loss to Indiana, and Brown joins fellow freshmen Matt Gahm and Zane Zandier as linebackers to make an appearance in 2017.
The other change for freshmen this week is wide receiver Shawn Smith earning a jersey at Thursday practice.
Smith will wear #80, worn last year by fellow receiver Hasise Dubois.
The clock still ticks for quarterback Lindell Stone’s first appearance. Saturday sure looked like a prime opportunity, with Virginia enjoying a big lead late. While one ordinarily wouldn't want to burn a shirt until necessary, consider what playing Stone this year would do:
- It is virtually certain that this is Kurt Benkert’s final season in Charlottesville. Stone is the heir apparent to be the starter next year. Playing time in zero-pressure situations this year would get him some real game experience before the snaps really count.
- Wyatt Rector will join the program either in January (if he signs and enrolls early) or, like Stone, in summer school before 2018 fall camp. Transfer Matthew Merrick will also be eligible for next year and 2019.
- Playing Stone this year means he would exhaust his eligibility in 2020 after (presumably) starting for three years. Redshirting Rector next year would extend Rector’s eligibility to 2022. Which would let the Hoos have 2 years of Benkert, 3 years of Stone, then 2 years of Rector.
- Redshirting Stone this year reduces the options for multi-year starters. Even if Merrick starts both of the next two seasons (2018 and 2019), Stone would start 2020 and 2021, leaving Rector buried for most of his time at Virginia. Given that Rector is the only current/committed future Cavalier that could be classified as the “Thorterback” that Mendenhall wants, one would think the better plan is to get an experienced Rector on the field as early as possible.
There aren’t many apparent opportunities left on the schedule for Virginia to take and hold a comfortable lead. Which means few opportunities for the coaches to get Stone used to the taste of FBS competition before being thrown right into the crucible.