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THE COLUMN: Virginia vs. South Carolina Complete Preview

The Hoos head to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl

TIME: 12:00 PM (EST)

DATE: December 29th, 2018

LOCATION: Bank of America Stadium | Charlotte, NC


The Lowdown

It’s been a minute since we last saw Virginia out on the gridiron. The Wahoos ended the regular season roughly - losing three out of their last four games. The toughest being that excruciating loss at Blacksburg, of course. Despite the ups-and-downs of this season, Virginia still had an extremely successful year. This was a team that was pegged to finish last in the ACC but, at a point, was ranked in the AP Poll for the first time since 2011. In his third year at the helm, Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall has instilled a positive and infectious #NewStandard for the football program. Fans saw the team really buy into that mentality this year and while the end of the regular season was a tough pill to swallow, the Hoos still get to play again this Saturday to try and end the year on a high note.

For perspective, this is the Cavaliers’ first back-to-back bowl game appearance in 14 seasons. The South Carolina Gamecocks await in the Belk Bowl, an old ACC foe for the Cavaliers. The two schools have matchups that date back to 1912 and features 34 previous games. The Gamecocks currently lead the series 20-13-1. This year, South Carolina had a somewhat average season. In a tough SEC conference, the Gamecocks finished 7-5, losing all their games against ranked teams but also picking up decent wins over Mizzou and Ole Miss. Just like Bronco Mendenhall, South Carolina’s Head Coach, Will Muschamp is his third year at his respective program. On Saturday, both will face the pressure of getting a win to signify that their program is on the right trajectory.

The Statistics

from Danny Neckel

The Statistics

Category UVA Category Auburn
Category UVA Category Auburn
Defensive Pts/Game 1st (56.7) Offensive Pts/Game 28th (80.2)
Offensive 3Pt% 7th (39.4%) Defensive 3Pt% 196th (34.5%)
Defensive 3Pt% 4th (28.7%) Offensive 3Pt% 31st (37.9%)
Offensive Effeciency 4th (1.141) Offensive Effeciency 10th (1.117)

The Bad

Category UVA Category SC
Category UVA Category SC
3rd Down Defense 90th (41.7%) 3rd Down Offense 29th (43.9%)
Passing Offense 83rd (382.5) Passing Defense 66th (230.8)

Hoo’s Hoo?

Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Virginia Cavaliers

Olamide Zaccheaus, WR

Fourth-year Olamide Zaccheaus had a record breaking year. He became No. 1 in Virginia’s all-time reception list, eclipsing Billy McMullen’s 16 year-old record. Zaccheaus also had 81 receptions (for 958 yards) - good for No. 2 in the ACC and No. 11 in the nation. He will almost surely get to 1000 receiving yards on the year against South Carolina and will hopefully make one last impression on scouts as he preps for the NFL Draft.

Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Virginia Cavaliers

Bryce Hall, CB

Alongside Zaccheaus, third-year cornerback Bryce Hall has received a decent amount of awards and recognition this season. He was named on the Second Team All-American by the Football Writers Association and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Hall has been a steady presence for the Hoos since he came on the scene and is garnering some serious attention as a potential high NFL draft pick. It’s not a given that Hall will declare for the draft though, so we might still see him in Scott Stadium next year.

Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Virginia Cavaliers

Bryce Perkins, QB

Without Bryce Perkins, Virginia would have not the year that they had. The third-year transfer set the UVA single-season record for total offense with 3,314 yards and also the school’s single-season record for touchdowns with 31. The dynamic quarterback has had some ups-and-downs this season, but has undoubtedly become the main leader under Bronco Mendenhall. Virginia fans can rejoice that they’ll have one more year to see Perkins play.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina Gamecocks

Jake Bentley, QB

Junior quarterback Jake Bentley has had a great season for the Gamecocks. He has compiled 2,953 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. If he throws for more than 47 yards against Virginia (surely, he will), Bentley would be just the fourth person his school’s history to surpass 7,000 career passing yards. While he’s pegged to return to school next year, there’s been talks about Bentley entering the NFL Draft in 2019. If he does, this might be his last chance to impress the scouts.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina Gamecocks

Bryan Edwards, WR

South Carolina has two star wide receivers in Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel. The latter, however, is foregoing the Belk Bowl to prep for the NFL Draft. While Samuel has caught the most yards and touchdowns on the team, Edwards has posted comparable numbers. So far on the year, he has 809 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. As an NFL prospect, Edwards will have one more chance to shine on Saturday. Look for Bentley to target him early and often in the match.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina Gamecocks

T.J. Brunson, LB

Junior T.J. Brunson is a stalwart for the Gamecocks’ defense. Last year, he was second on the team in total tackles. This year, Brunson leads the team with 94 total tackles, with the next best being DB Steven Montac who has 71 total tackles. He also has four sacks on the year. As Virginia tries to establish a run game on Saturday, look to hear Brunson’s name early and often.


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November 4, 1961 | UVA 28-20 SC