TIME: 6:00 PM (EST)
DATE: September 1st, 2018
LOCATION: Scott Stadium | Charlottesville, VA
WHERE TO WATCH: ACC Network
OK, let’s just get it out of the way. Virginia’s spidey senses were definitely not tingling two years ago when Bronco Mendenhall opened up his coaching tenure with a 20-37 loss at home to the Richmond Spiders. Now in his third year, Coach Mendenhall faces off again with the same FCS team but with vastly different expectations and a much different team.
After a making a bowl game last year, the Cavaliers look to replace a starting quarterback, its all-time leading tackler, its fifth all-time leading tackler, an NFL defensive end, and two of its top receivers. It’s a tall order and the media has already picked the Hoos to finish last in the Coastal Division. So, what’s in store for year three? Coach Mendenhall leads another young team, this time with a promising transfer quarterback in Bryce Perkins sparking the offensive charge. On Saturday, a lot of questions about this team will be answered...so buckle in and get ready.
Bryce Perkins, QB
Virginia’s starting quarterback has been making a lot of noise of lately. The Arizona State transfer via Arizona Western won the starting job back in the spring. Last year, the Hoos offense ran through Kurt Benkert, who primarily was a drop-back passer. Perkins, on the other hand, likes to be mobile and can be the main key in a true read-option offense. Look for Coach Mendenhall and Anae to utilize Perkins’ legs a lot during the season.
Olamide Zaccheaus, WR
Last year, OZ set the Cavalier’s single-season receiving mark with 85 receptions, while also leading the team with 895 receiving yards. He is also 54 catches away from being UVA’s all-time leader in receptions. Zaccheaus will undoubtedly be a main target for Perkins, the new QB, especially after the departures of Andre Levrone and Doni Dowling. OZ will have a lot of eyes on him this year, and deservedly so.
Jordan Ellis, RB
Under Bronco Mendenhall’s coaching, players on the Virginia Cavaliers have to earn the right to choose their jersey number every year. For the last three years, Jordan Ellis has always been the first to choose. Last season, Ellis started off hot but cooled towards the tail end. This year, Ellis will have a chance to improve on his grind as he’ll be called upon for a large share of carries.
Kevin Johnson, QB
Johnson has the task of replacing Kyle Lauletta (drafted by the New York Giants) who broke the record for most passing yards at Richmond with an impressive 10,465 yards. Johnson, did step in to play for the Spiders (and gave up his redshirt status) in 2016 during their FCS Playoff run after Lauletta suffered an ACL injury. Johnson, now a Junior, is working with a strong receiving team so expect him to test the air often.
Dejon Brissett, WR
The older brother of Syracuse basketball’s Oshae Brissett chose to stick with football and is the Spiders’ leading returning receiver. Last year, Brissett had 63 catches, 896 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also a first-team All-CAA choice. The Spiders figure to have a strong receiving team as they also return Cortrelle Simpson and Tyler Wilkins, who were second-team All-CAA last year.
Andrew Clyde, DL
A First Team All-CAA, Clyde led the conference in sacks last year with nine of them. He had a career-best game against Colgate with 10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, a sack and two pass break-ups. Now a Senior, Clyde has been named to the preseason All-CAA second team and emerged as a defensive leader for the Spiders. Look for him to challenge the Cavaliers’ offensive line in hopes of disrupting their new option offense.