The Virginia Cavaliers welcome No. 15 North Carolina to Scott Stadium on Saturday evening, and head coach Bronco Mendenhall met with the media Monday to discuss the Hoos’ loss at Miami and the upcoming challenge against the Heels. Virginia shot themselves in the foot several times against the Hurricanes, falling 19-14 in a frustrating game over the weekend. Despite the Cavaliers’ 1-4 record, Mendenhall remains high on his team. “I told the team this morning this, this is one of the toughest teams I’ve ever coached. I mean they are so physically tough, but also mentally tough.”
Virginia’s defense, which ranks 13th in the ACC with 34.8 points surrendered per game, will face a stiff test in Sam Howell and North Carolina. Howell, who averages just over 280 yards passing per game, is a deep ball threat and will test the thin Cavalier secondary. “Our secondary over the past couple of weeks hasn’t been as consistent in their execution or communication, and so big plays have been more than what we would have liked,” Mendenhall stated. “So, execution, execution, execution in the back end will lead to consistency, we just need that to happen sooner rather than later.”
The Cavaliers held No. 11 Miami to just 19 points in Saturday night’s loss in part thanks to the stellar play of linebacker Nick Jackson. The 6-1, 235 pound second-year out of Atlanta had a team-high 16 tackles against the Canes as Virginia held Miami to just 2.5 yards per rush. His improved performance hasn’t gone unnoticed. “Nick Jackson is currently our best defensive football player in terms of his production, his consistency, and how he’s playing,” Mendenhall stated definitively. “He’s dynamic. He’s fast. He’s assignment sound. He’s an excellent tackler. He’s fast. He’s benefiting by kind of being mentored and tutored by Zane [Zandier]. But our inside linebackers right now have played at the highest level of anyone on our defense.”
In news past this week’s game, the ACC announced that Virginia’s November 7 contest against Louisville will be another 8pm start on the ACC Network.
Depth Chart and Notes
- Virginia won’t know the availability of defensive backs Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson until likely Thursday
- Transfer RB Ronnie Walker Jr. will possibly be available for the game against North Carolina
- No updates were given on RT Ryan Swoboda