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The 5th Side: A new column with thoughts on Virginia Football and beyond

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I legitimately do not know where I’m taking this thing.

NCAA Football: ACC Kickoff Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning — happy Tuesday, everyone. And more importantly, guess what...it’s GAME WEEK! While I’m super excited for the Virginia Cavaliers to take the field once again, this time in front of a packed Scott Stadium, I’m also excited to debut this weekly column I’m calling The 5th Side.

Sorry, Bronco, I know this is a blatant rip off of your 4th Side concept, but everyone knows that the key to a successful football game is actually five sides: Offense, Defense, Special Teams, Atmosphere, and Keyboard Warrior. Here I am.

Before you get too lofty expectations of this column, I truly, genuinely do not know where I’m taking this. Some weeks, it may be just a few thoughts and observations of what I saw in the game. Some weeks, it may just be a link dump, or a social media share. Others, just a bunch of one-line thoughts with no follow up, or maybe something completely unrelated to athletics. I’ll try to keep it tied to UVA, but again, no promises.

So let’s get this party started with this week’s installment.

Loaded UVA Coaching Staff. When UVA takes the field on Saturday at Scott Stadium against in-state foe William & Mary, there will be a ton of familiar Cavalier faces on the sidelines — except, they’ll be on the W&M sideline. In addition to former UVA head coach Mike London, the Tribe have OL Coach Gordon Sammis (OG 2003-07), QB Coach Matt Johns (QB 2012-16), DB Coach Ras-I Dowling (CB 2007-11), DL Coach Keenan Carter (DT 2003-07), and OL Coach Darryl Blackstock (LB 2002-05). By comparison, the only former UVA players now coaching are WR Coach Marques Hagans (2000-05) and DL Coach Clint Sintim (2005-09). Former 2018 alums Chris Peace and Joe Spaziani are also on the sidelines as graduate assistants.

Fund UVA Football. Fund the world. The UVA Board of Visitors recently had a retreat at JPJA where current rector Whitt Clement and former rector Rusty Conner were supportive of Athletic Director Carla Williams’s $136M proposal for an athletics project that would include $65M to build a new football training facility and $22M to renovate the McCue Center for the Olympic sports. She called UVA’s current facilities the worst among the ACC, and that there’s no reason that the Orange Bowl is just an anomaly rather than the standard. Bronco Mendenhall added that he’s now lost eight four- and five-star recruits in a row, say that, “they look at the facility and it says to them that we don’t care about football.” [Daily Progress - Supporting new football facility means supporting all UVa sports, board told]

I won’t save you. Finally, six years into the job, Mendenhall has a team that’s entirely consisting of his own recruits. This was a fun video to watch players parrot back the key words and phrases that Mendenhall uses on them, in many cases words we outsiders have often seen already. De’Vante Cross enjoys “I won’t save you” the most. [CBS19 - The words behind the culture of UVA football under Bronco Mendenhall]

More next week.