We are now just ONE DAY AWAY from the Virginia Cavaliers opening up the Tony Elliott era against Richmond at 12:30 on Saturday. Following the departures of all five of UVA’s starting offensive line over the offseason, the ‘Hoos enter the fall with a revamped O-line that will be the biggest unknown when the season kicks off tomorrow.
With the depth chart for the Richmond game released earlier this week, the starters on the line appear to be set in place.
While true freshman McKale Boley will man the left tackle spot against Richmond on Saturday, the starting job is on loan from senior Jonathan Leech who is dealing with a mild injury on his arm but should return to the starting lineup soon. Leech is probably who the staff have heaped the most praise on over the course of spring and fall camps and should provide stability at that position.
Dartmouth transfer John Paul Flores will line up at left guard and adds experience along with flexibility. He’s a realistic option at backup center and could likely fill in at any spot on the line in a pinch should injuries require him to do so.
At center, sophomore Ty Furnish will be the man responsible for filling the huge shoes that now Michigan center Olu Oluwatimi left behind. Originally slated to be the backup to Jestus Johnson, Furnish earned the spot throughout fall camp. While a bit undersized at 6’3”, 279 pounds, the Georgia native makes up for it in mobility and has added nearly 40 pounds since arriving on Grounds last fall. He’s an intelligent player who has the opportunity to hold the center spot for the next three years.
For the right guard spot, graduate senior Derek Devine finally gets his moment in the sun after four seasons of little-to-no playing time opportunities. Providing good height next to the smaller Furnish, the 6’6” Devine has experience playing for Garrett Tujague and is another semi-veteran UVA presence along with Leech.
At right tackle, Furnish’s classmate Logan Taylor will open the season as the starter. After appearing in two contests last year, the 6’6”, 300 pound Virginia native takes over the right tackle position with plenty to prove.
Perhaps the most notable name among UVA’s offensive line depth is freshman McKale Boley who will be thrown right into the fire in game one as the temporary starting left tackle. Boley is quite far along physically for a freshman as he stands 6’4” and weighs 331 pounds. The staff has highlighted his technique and footwork along with his ability to consume information quickly.
Jestus Johnson is the next guy to know. The backup center, Johnson is a guy who could also likely play guard as well. Backup left guard Noah Josey is another player who’s been in contention for a starting spot and provides playable depth while RT Charlie Patterson has garnered praise from the coaching staff.
Those four along with the typical starting five make a solid group of nine. Granted, with the inexperience in the room it’s hard to predict how each of them will perform in ACC play against live competition. If the line can stabilize itself and get comfortable against some of the weaker competition on the front end of Virginia’s schedule, the UVA offense would be without significant weakness. But, if this group can’t mesh together and provide at least decent protection for Brennan Armstrong along with reasonable space in the running game, things could go downhill fast for the Wahoo attack.