Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall met with the media on Tuesday to address some injury issues, the win over North Carolina, and the Cavaliers’ upcoming matchup with Louisville.
Unfortunately, the Hoos will be without DE Richard Burney and QB Iraken Armstead the rest of the season. “Richard [Burney] is done for the season with a health injury,” Mendenhall stated. “Our team has been saddened by that. He was elected to be the player that chose his jersey first, team captain, got an extra year of eligibility granted, has overcome so much adversity. An injury sustained, or health related injury really, after the Miami game is what led to this. So, again he won’t be with the team in an active way through the remainder of this season.”
Burney, a redshirt senior for the Cavaliers, has been a huge part of the defensive line and started the first five games of the season. He made is first career start in 2018 before an injury sidelined him for the season after just three games. Through the five games he played in this season, Burney has 16 tackles, two sacks, and three QB hurries. Adeeb Atariwa, a transfer from JMU, will get the start in his stead.
Armstead, a 6-3 first year quarterback, will also miss the remainder of the season with an injury. He had been used against Wake Forest and Miami as the Hoos implemented the hybrid three-quarterback system, and Armstead amassed 68 yards on 10 rushes over four games played.
Since this season is basically a wash by the NCAA standards — no one will lose a year of eligibility as a result of the pandemic — they could still earn redshirt seasons. This, of course, will be up to Coach Mendenhall, and he says the eligibility conversations haven’t been had with his team yet. “There will be a time and a place for that, and it doesn’t mean they aren’t talking about it, I’m sure they are,” said Mendenhall. “There is so much, it takes everything that we have to be ready for each game and so I haven’t wanted to add to that narrative. Maybe during the bye week I’ll make more transparency of how that process will work. But there’s only so much capacity we have, and once I add other things in there it’s just too distracting.”
There were not any updates around defensive backs Joey Blount or Brenton Nelson, but Mendenhall expects Indiana transfer running back Ronnie Walker Jr. to be available against Louisville. Walker had to miss the first few games as they waited for his waiver appeal to get approved, then was out with an illness. Virginia’s running game has been a very pleasant surprise this season, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Wayne Taulapapa (4.65 yards per carry) and Shane Simpson (5.74 yards per carry) have been outstanding, and QBs Brennan Armstrong (3.93 yards per carry) and Keytaon Thompson (5.52 yards per carry) are a credible threat with their legs.
As far as the QB picture goes against Louisville, it looks like Armstrong is “returning to health” after sustaining a knee injury late against North Carolina.
Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to game time!