Virginia’s Running Backs
UVA senior running backs Taquan Mizzell and Albert Reid were terrific against Central Michigan.
Mizzell totaled 168 yards of offense and two touchdowns, including a 4-yard run and a 53-yard reception. The latter score put Virginia up by 21 points in the fourth.
Smoke also had an important play that set up Virginia’s second touchdown of the game. It was 3rd and 9 and offensive coordinator Robert Anae called a draw to Mizzell, who ran 44 yards to the Central Michigan 4. The very next play, Reid ran it in for the score.
Reid, who finished with 47 yards rushing and 10 yards receiving, added a 5-yard touchdown reception that put the Hoos up 42-28.
Generally speaking, Virginia’s run game has been good since a terrible performance against Richmond. Including 152 yards against Central Michigan, UVA’s rushing attack is averaging 162 yards per game since the season opener. Senior center Jackson Matteo offered his reasoning behind the turnaround.
“I think the key has been our deliberate practice,” Matteo said. “I say deliberate because that’s a word Coach Mendenhall uses a lot. Practicing and deliberate practice are two different things. Practicing is going out, putting on the pads, going through the motions, big play here big play there, but the effort’s halfway there because you’re trying to get to Saturday. Deliberate practice is when you put yourself in game situations. You bust it and put your heart into every single play every practice. That’s the only way you transfer from practice to Saturday. We had our best practice this past week and I think it showed today.”
Jack Powers Stands Tall Against CMU
Transfer Jack Powers knocked down three of Cooper Rush’s passes and chipped in with two assisted tackles. Getting the hands up is something the Cavalier coaches preached to the defensive linemen this week.
“Coach Vic and Coach Ruff all week told us … first off, [Rush is] a great quarterback. He gets the ball out quick and a lot of times we can’t get there [to him],” Power said. “The first one I probably should have intercepted. I wish I could’ve gotten that one back.”
The 6’5”, 280-pound Powers played on the offensive line at Arizona State. When he decided to transfer, he wanted an opportunity to play defensive end. He ultimately landed in Charlottesville and has impressed his new head coach so far.
“His role keeps expanding because he works his guts out in practice,” Mendenhall said of Powers following the Central Michigan win. “It’s so nice to coach someone who is so appreciative to be here.”
– Juan Thornhill did not play after getting injured on the first play of the game, leaving redshirt freshmen Myles Robinson and Kareem Gibson as the primary corners. There were some rough moments for both players — Robinson surrendered an 85-yard touchdown pass and Gibson was in coverage on Corey Willis’ 14-yard game tying touchdown –- but the two players had good moments, too. Robinson was credited with three solo tackles and a pass breakup. Gibson, making his first college start, had six tackles (five solo, one assisted) and recorded the first interception of his college career.
– True freshman defensive end Juwan Moye deflected Cooper Rush’s pass attempt on third down with Virginia up 35-28, forcing a CMU punt. He and fellow true freshman Matt Terrell combined to sack Rush later on in the game. Terrell, listed as Chris Peace’s backup at outside linebacker, made his college debut on Saturday.
– Yet another true freshman, Joe Reed, also made a few nice plays for the Cavaliers. The 6’1” wide receiver had one catch for 18 yards (in heavy traffic, no less) and returned three kickoffs for 88 yards. Reed’s 47-yard kickoff return on the heels of Central Michigan’s game tying score gave Virginia great field position, but the Hoos couldn’t capitalize.
– Jackson Matteo praised the play of two young Virginia offensive linemen.
“(Sophomore) Jake Fieler, (redshirt freshman) RJ Proctor stepping in at the guards was big,” Matteo said. “Coach Tujague wanted to see Jake Fieler at center. He came in for me and did a great job. I think we have a lot of young guys who are going to be talented in the future.”