We are somehow already one-third of the way through the football season, and the Cavaliers are sitting at 3-1 (1-0 ACC) as they head to NC State to take on the Wolfpack this Saturday.
This week, we asked the staff who their offensive and defensive MVPs are at this point of the season.
Tiki: Offensive MVP is Bryce Perkins. Any other answer is wrong. He’s 42nd in the nation in pass yards, 33rd in ypa. He’s also 44th in the nation in rush yards. He’s also 44th in ESPN’s College QBR, which accounts for passing, rushing, sacks and penalties. He’s basically single-handedly made this into a good offense. Defense is much tougher. It seems there’s been a different MVP each game. Juan Thornhill probably hasn’t been that MVP for any game, but he leads the team in tackles, has an INT and 2 pass break-ups and also blocked a kick and returned it for 2 points. He may not have been the best player in any individual game, but he’s been the most consistent defender over the 4 games.
Wiley: No question Perkins is the spoon that stirs the drink on offense. His development over the first few games has been what impressed me the most. That debut against Richmond was great, but he seemed to really take a step back at Indiana—hesitant, not as sure of himself or where to go with each decision. Then against Ohio and Louisville, he showed all the skills that make him the early season leader for offensive MVP.
On defense, I’m gonna go with Chris Peace. He’s fifth on the team in tackles but leads in both tackles for loss (5.5) and run stuffs (6.5), and is tied for the team lead in sacks. As the linebacker depth becomes a big question mark here in the meat of the season, Peace’s leadership is going to be the key to holding it all together. He’s shown plenty so far to expect him to flourish in that role.
Ryan Reese: Can’t disagree that it’s gotta be Bryce Perkins. Olamide Zaccheaus and Jordan Ellis have been spectacular, but they were good last season and the offense wasn’t nearly as explosive as it is this year. Tiki is spot on regarding the number of players who could be defensive MVP, so I’ll add another name to the list, Bryce Hall. Where Thornhill has been involved as a run stopper and teams have generally avoided throwing at him, Hall leads the team in pass break ups with seven, is fourth on the team with 11 tackles, has one sack, one forced fumble, and just for good measure has added an interception.
Darns: I’m going to go a different route for the offense and choose Coach Anae. There’s no doubt that the Hoos have been more creative, consistent, and efficient on offense this season, and I’m going to give credit to the oft-maligned (usually rightfully so...sometimes not) Dr. Anae. Having players like Perkins, Ellis, and Zaccheaus...knowing what to do with them is another. The balance this season of rushing vs. passing is much better, and there have been fewer “UGH WHAT WAS THAT” play calls than seasons past (at least at this point). The Hoos are also making second half adjustments, outscoring their opponents 52-13 in the second half. That’s what I like to see.
Defensively, let’s stick with my dude the Abominable Snowden. He has improved steadily as more is asked of him. He is a do-it-all player who is dynamic in coverage, but can also (as Louisville can attest) introduce himself to the QB in a way they wish he wouldn’t. Thornhill, Hall, and Peace are incredible...Snowden is my spark plug.
Sayer: Bryce Perkins is the answer here. While his ability on the ground has transformed the team’s offensive dynamic, he’s also shown improvement through the passing game, which is going to be critical for the Hoos as they venture further into ACC play. In the team’s last two wins over Ohio and Louisville, Perkins completed 83.8% and 70.8% of his throws, respectively, a substantial increase from his numbers in the first two weeks.
On the defensive end, I agree with Tiki (again), for similar reasons. Thornhill has been a consistent player in UVA’s secondary, currently leading the team in tackles with 24, and will expect to be a huge factor in withstanding NC State’s passing attack.
How about you, readers? Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below!