Virginia’s home opener against William & Mary in week two will mark the Cavaliers’ second of three-straight prime time games.
It also will be the first of UVa’s three Friday games this season. A road game at Miami in October and the regular season finale at home against Virginia Tech are also on Fridays.
We continue our 2019 opponent preview series with the Tribe, which finished last season 4-6 and is busy this fall breaking in a new coaching staff led by a coach familiar to Virginia fans.
The second game of the 2019 season will mark a return to Scott Stadium for former Virginia head coach Mike London, who will make his William & Mary debut the week before at home against Lafayette. He was hired late last year to replace longtime head coach Jimmye Laycock, who retired.
London posted just one winning season in six years as the Cavaliers’ head coach (2010-15). In 2011, Virginia went 8-5 and finished the year with a 43-24 loss to Auburn in the Chik-fil-A Bowl. It was the only bowl game the Wahoos went to under London, who resigned after the 2015 season.
London and his staff attracted some talented players to Charlottesville. He landed five-star recruits Andrew Brown and Quin Blanding and Virginia’s all-time leading receiver Olamide Zaccheaus, but the results never materialized on the field. London’s record at UVa was 27-46.
Several players who grew up in Central Virginia will take the field for the Tribe this season. Chief among them is Greene County native and former William Monroe offensive lineman Mark Williamson, who is an honorable mention preseason All-CAA pick. Last season, he earned third-team all-conference honors after starting nine games at left tackle.
Orange County native Kris Hooper is entering his third season as the starting kicker. Last season, he was 6-for-12 on field goal attempts. His longest cleared 39 yards, and he sent nine kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
Former St. Anne’s-Belfield wide receiver Kareem Johnson is in his fourth year in the program, and he’s looking for his first meaningful snaps. Former Monticello quarterback Kevin Jarrell has bulked up to 220 pounds is now listed on the Tribe’s roster as a linebacker.
Game-deciding matchupQuarterback Bryce Perkins will lead the passing game against a secondary that ranked No. 4 last season in the CAA in pass defense (190 ypg) and returns three starters, all of whom are seniors. Free safety Isaiah Laster is a preseason all-conference pick after leading the Tribe last fall with four interceptions. He’s joined by cornerback Corey Parker — a three-year starter and an honorable mention preseason all-conference pick — and strong safety Miles Hayes, who started four games at the end of last season.
Virginia leads the all-time series 29-6-1, and the Cavaliers have won three straight. They last lost to William & Mary in 2009.
The Cavaliers aren’t going to rise to national prominence on the back of a win over a team picked to finish 11th in the 12-team Colonial Athletic Association. But Virginia does have a chance to show how wide the gap is between its roster and one from the FCS ranks and assert its dominance over an in-state program.
At every position, Virginia should have the advantage in size, athleticism and depth, and there’s a chance the Wahoos will run the Tribe out of the building and give the backups some reps in the second half.
They can’t overlook William & Mary, though. Virginia is admittedly a very different team now, but look at what Richmond did to Virginia in 2016 during head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s debut.