On offense, the ‘Hoos haven’t made any notable changes which is actually slightly surprising, at least on the offensive line. Noah Josey in particular played 47 snaps at left guard against Georgia Tech and impressed in pass protection after replacing veteran John Paul Flores with the former Dartmouth transfer only playing 33 snaps. So JPF still being the starter is at least interesting
The back and forth at the center position is continuing. Ty Furnish played 49 snaps to Jestus Johnson’s 27, but neither was particularly good against the Yellow Jackets. Heading into the Miami game, Johnson remains as the listed starter. Obviously, still expect for them to split snaps especially depending on how the Miami defense lines up against the ‘Hoos.
At running back, Mike Hollins is also healthy again after missing the Georgia Tech contest. Xavier Brown had a couple big runs on Thursday but, otherwise, there wasn’t much production from the Wahoo halfbacks. So, ideally, Hollins will be able to add something in the backfield this weekend.
Defensively, again, not much is different. James Jackson is now listed as an “or” behind Josh Ahern at WILL linebacker as Ahern has been banged up. That both implies the staff’s confidence in Jackson and the possibility that Ahern will be missing more time.
Coen King pulled ahead of Lex Long at the free safety spot as the veteran replaces his younger teammate now that he appears fully recovered from injury. His diving interception in the back of the end-zone last Thursday was evidence enough of that. Granted, Tony Elliott did say in his presser today that he’s hoping Long will return to his quality of play from earlier in the season, so the depth on the backend will surely continue to be utilized for the Wahoos.
After such an up and down performance from the special teams unit against Georgia Tech, not much has changed on the depth chart itself. But, Elliott emphasized that among the players in undefined positions, he’s going to be getting his best players on offense and defense back on the field more in special teams in order to strengthen that third component of the game rather than rest those guys.
With Hollins’ return, he now slots back into the number one kick off returner spot while Billy Kemp should stick as the punt returner now that he’s fully healthy. His four returns for 46 yards against GT were a rare bright spot for UVA. Daniel Sparks was also incredibly good with three of his five punts landing inside the GT 20-yard line. Unfortunately, he did have one blocked. But that was a result of a failure by the guys in front of him.
After replacing Brendan Farrell in week four at Syracuse, Will Bettridge was not good in the rain down in Atlanta. Missing an extra point, a 39-yard field goal, and a 29-yarder, he left seven points on the board which the ‘Hoos could really have benefitted from. Yet, he still appears to be the starter this week by all indications.
Something else of note: Elliott mentioned that the snaps on field goals/extra points have been a bit off. Aidan Livingston has been the long snapper for UVA all season long. But his struggles in snap location could mean he’s replaced by Lee Dudley if the issues persist.