News broke Saturday morning that the September 19 season opener for both the Virginia Cavaliers and Virginia Tech Hokies would be postponed due to a potential COVID-19 outbreak for the Hokies. Virginia Tech has now paused football activities for four days, and coach Justin Fuente had said on Wednesday that they likely would not have been able to field a team as a result of positive cases and contact tracing if they had to play that day.
“I don’t know if we could, to be honest with you. I don’t know if we’d have made it,” Fuente told Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I figured somebody would ask me, could we play today in this deal? And I’m going to tell you, I did everything in my power to construct a practice that we got good out of today with the guys that we have. So I mean I guess the answer to your question more directly would be glad, yeah, I’m glad we’re not playing.”
On a media call on Saturday morning, Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock told the media that the combination of positive tests and contact tracing had depleted the roster, and that, “If we could line up and play, we would respect the game and line up and play.” He also referenced that one of ACC’s benchmarks is seven healthy offensive linemen, although he didn’t explicitly speak to whether the Hokies satisfied that benchmark or not.
Virginia will now face Duke on September 26 in Charlottesville, a game moved up from November 14.
Understandably, the Virginia players and coaches were upset about the delay, and some of them took to Twitter to express their frustrations. Third year offensive tackle Ryan Nelson wanted to make it clear who still had the Commonwealth Cup:
You get one shot at the title. Still our cup, still our state, we did what we needed to do.— Ryan Nelson (@Ryan_Nelson_54) September 12, 2020
Linebacker Charles Snowden didn’t hold back, calling out some of the Hokies that had been active on Twitter.
And when the game rescheduled I hope yall keep that countdown going since you care so much— Charles Snowden III (@csnoww3) September 12, 2020
He wasn’t here for VT’s Tré Turner clapping back, either.
Nahhh y’all not. If that were the case we’d be seeing you in 7 days, so I’m not tryna hear that. Get your guys to start doing the right thing https://t.co/FaQrZLwOOm— Charles Snowden III (@csnoww3) September 12, 2020
Running back Shane Simpson recently joined the Virginia squad, but he has already become a part of the team and was vocal online:
People always talk about Sacrifice and wanting to do the right/little things but, when it comes down to it people all talk my brothers and I are ready and will stay ready ‼️ https://t.co/FAwFKQ1rb7— 1️⃣3️⃣ (@Shane_Simpson18) September 12, 2020
The coaches didn’t stay silent, either. Offensive line coach Garrett Tujague, running backs coach Mark Atuaia, and special teams analyst Drew Meyers all expressed their pride in what the Cavaliers have done to this point.
It is really this simple... you either are committed to your team or you are not. There are those that can sacrifice for each other and then there are those that CAN NOT. The greatest thing is... You get to make that choice. #DisciplineEqualsFreedom #PowerOfChoice#WeAreUncommon— Coach Garett Tujague (@Coach2J) September 12, 2020
**DISCIPLINE**— UVACoachAtuaia (@UVACoachAtuaia) September 12, 2020
Sorry, I’m so distraught I can’t even tweet properly. All I know is I love my players and they INSPIRE this ol’ man to the moon and back. They are amazing in all aspects and great can’t think of enough positive adjectives to describe them. They are my MUSE!!!!
Our players were committed and dedicated to playing this season and game, and our leader develop a successful plan. We didn’t surrender an outcome, we chose to control it. We are all disappointed, but also proud that #THEStandard held once again ⚔️— Drew Meyer (@drewmeyer5) September 12, 2020
Mostly, the Virginia players seemed disappointed after following protocols and seeing those results in the testing.
0 Cases— Brenton Nelson (@NelsonBrenton) September 12, 2020
Our commitment, sacrifices and desire to play show up in the numbers. UVA athletics set the standard and this family fought everyday to uphold it. At the end of the day we’ll control what we can control. It’s On to the Next. ‼️— Wayne Taulapapa (@WayneTaulapapa) September 12, 2020
Zane Zandier saw a silver lining in the whole delay, noting he can brush up on more of his quarantine skills:
I’m hearing we have more time to sharpen our competitive edge through endless games of backgammon and dominoes. GOOD #BubbleKings— ZZ (@zzandier) September 12, 2020
Martin Weisz, a third year who retired from football this summer due to medical reasons, came through with the best tweet of the day:
Keep that trophy masked up! Next up, Duke.