Virginia Football Notes: Garner Making Most Of His Opportunity

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Kirk Garner has seen a lot of action in Virginia's nickel defense this season. ~ Kris Wright

Garner “Blessed” To Have Expanded Role

Virginia’s defensive backfield will be in the spotlight when Central Michigan’s prolific passing attack comes to Scott Stadium. This is just fine with redshirt junior Kirk Garner, a safety in UVA’s nickel defense.

The 5’11”, 180-pound Garner came to UVA as a highly regarded recruit out of Good Counsel (Olney, MD). He redshirted in 2013 and primarily played special teams in 2014 and 2015. Through three games, Garner has accumulated 11 total tackles including one tackle-for-loss. He totaled only seven tackles the two previous seasons combined.

“It’s a blessing to say the least,” Garner said of his role. “I’m thankful for the opportunity. The biggest thing for me is to stay calm and see live action.”

Central Michigan, which is averaging 319 yards passing per game this season, features quarterback Cooper Rush, a 6’3″, 220-pound senior who has thrown 11 touchdowns and only three interceptions in three games. Rush likes to spread the ball around, as evidenced by the fact that four Chippewa receivers — three wideouts and one tight end — have at least 10 catches. The Virginia defensive backfield, which features inexperienced cornerbacks, is ready for the challenge according to Garner.

“We’re always taught we have some of the hardest jobs in the game of football,” Garner said. “If we’re all on the same page, it works out well. Week to week, we’ve all been progressing no matter who is out there. If we continue to do it, we’ll rise each week and from that point on who knows how good we can get?”

Moving On From U-Conn

Whether it is a close win or a close loss, keeping perspective is what is most important to head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

“I think the best way to frame either one of those is the head coach and the leadership has to have the perspective that is real in relation to the current situation,” UVA’s first year head coach said at his September 19 press conference. “It doesn’t take any luster off the wins. That doesn’t take any sting off the losses. But the perspective is what has to be in place to carry on. I think that’s what a leader’s job is to do so to make sure that perspective is in place based on real data that will help the team continue to improve.”

Sophomore wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus echoed his coach’s sentiments, indicating perhaps that the team has moved on from a tough 3-point loss at Connecticut.

“We know the reality of the situation,” Zaccheaus said. “Each game we’ve improved tremendously. We’re working hard. We just have to be consistent.”

Zaccheaus has been a consistent part of the passing game so far this season, reeling in 14 catches for 157 yards and one touchdown. The 5’8”, 180-pound speedster has yet to carry the ball, though, which is something he did successfully last season when he averaged 7.9 yards per rush. Moving forward this season, I’d be surprised if Zaccheaus’ role doesn’t grow.

True Freshmen Report

Seven true freshmen have played this season. The list includes wide receivers Hasise Dubois and Joe Reed, defensive end Juwan Moye, outside linebacker Jordan Mack, inside linebacker Landan Word, cornerback Bryce Hall and safety Chris Moore.

Mack, no. 37, has been a starter since the season opener against Richmond, while Dubois earned his first ever college start last week against U-Conn. Dubois had two catches for 42 yards against the Huskies before leaving with what appeared to be a leg injury. He is not listed on the depth chart for Saturday’s contest versus Central Michigan.

Reed served as a kickoff return specialist against Connecticut. Moye has earned a role as a defensive end in pass situations. Hall and Moore have seen action in the defensive backfield, while Word has just been on special teams. Wide receiver Cole Blackman and linebackers Rob Snyder and Matt Terrell have earned numbers but have not played in a game. That could change soon for Terrell, who is listed as Chris Peace’s backup on this week’s depth chart.

UVA Football Extends New Offers

Provided the info is accurate, UVA’s latest scholarship offer is an intriguing one.

Charles Snowden, senior wide receiver and defensive end at St. Albans (Washington, D.C.), claims to have received a scholarship offer from the Cavaliers. Snowden’s 6’7″, 200-pound frame and plus athletic ability could equate to outside linebacker or defensive end at UVA. Wide receiver is a possibility as well.

Virginia is the first school to offer him a football scholarship. St. Francis has come through with a basketball scholarship offer. Courtesy of Hudl.com, check out football and basketball highlights of the standout senior …

Offensive line prospect Cole Clemens claimed an offer from the Hoos last week. The 6’5″, 285-pound senior, a Utah native, also boasts scholarship offers from BYU and Utah, among others. Check out the Bingham High School standout’s junior season highlights below …

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