The Virginia football team picked up a comfortable win Saturday, dropping William & Mary 28-10 on a rainy afternoon in Charlottesville. It’s tough to glean too much from one game, but here’s what we’d buy, sell, and hold as the Hoos head into Week 2.
Buy Virginia’s receiving corps - Nine different Cavaliers caught passes against the Tribe, and quarterback Kurt Benkert had his most poised effort in a UVA uniform. Doni Dowling and Andre Levrone provided downfield highlights, and Joe Reed and Olamide Zaccheaus looked like dynamic playmakers each time they touched the ball. The Virginia receivers created consistent separation and provided Benkert with open targets all afternoon. Though a bigger offensive line should open more holes for the UVA running game, the passing game could be the strength of the offense this season.
Sell Virginia’s placekicking operation - UVA’s special teams were much improved in general Saturday, with the kickoff, punting, and return units performing well. The placekicking unit faltered, however, continuing a troubling theme from 2016. Freshman kicker AJ Mejia missed his only field goal attempt, and holder Nash Griffin bobbled at least one snap. Neither of those snafus cost Virginia against the Tribe, but similar mistakes could hurt against tougher opponents The best kicker on Saturday may have been Virginia alum Connor Hughes, who appeared in the #HoosTogether video.
Hold Virginia’s secondary - Virginia limited William & Mary to seven catches and 72 passing yards on Saturday. And the quartet of Tim Harris, Juan Thornhill, Quin Blanding, and Bryce Hall looked like the strength of the UVA defense. But we’re holding on this group after Harris left with an apparent arm injury in the fourth quarter. A tweet from Harris on Sunday morning appeared ominous.
Trust gods plan. Everything happens for a reason— Uvafootball#5 (@CRZYtharris3) September 3, 2017
The outlook for the secondary changes considerably if Harris misses significant time. The senior cornerback looked primed for a big year after missing most of 2016 with a shoulder injury. True freshman Germane Crowell Jr. is the next cornerback on the depth chart. Virginia could also move Thornhill back to corner from safety. Whatever happens, UVA will face a much sterner passing test from Indiana in Week 2.