Friday’s Final Thoughts: Virginia At Connecticut

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Friday's Final Thoughts about the Virginia football team's trip to Connecticut.
Albert Reid and the Virginia football team are focused on the search for a win. ~ Kris Wright

Friday’s Final Thoughts returns with Virginia on the road for back-to-back non-conference games for the first time since 2003. The last time it happened, UVA lost 31-7 at South Carolina before rolling 59-16 at Western Michigan. The Cavaliers hope to whip up a similar turnaround from an 0-2 start to a win at Connecticut this week.

The Sabre panel picks are in and all five people, me included, have the Hoos winning against the Huskies . Average score: 28-21.6. I’m the most optimistic on offense at 34 points. Ahmad Hawkins is the most optimistic on defense at 17 points. Who do you think wins? Vote in the poll!

It is going to be odd to see Anthony Poindexter coaching the other team Saturday.

UVA’s coaching booth isn’t crowded with only QB coach Jason Beck, inside linebackers coach Shane Hunter, and graduate assistants Famika Anae and Vic So’oto listed as in the booth this week.

This is the first game of a home-and-home with UConn. The Huskies are headed to Charlottesville on Sept. 16, 2017, which would be only their second trip to Scott Stadium.

A lot of kicking game talk has happened after the first two games. Dylan Sims is listed as the top kicker, but he has yet to attempt a field goal and missed an extra point at Oregon. Of note, walk-on Alex Furbank – who had never played football before joining the team after transferring out of the Randolph-Macon DIII soccer program – is the kicker that attempted this kick in a practice video:

I was surprised to see that Andrew Brown only had one tackle at Oregon because he felt a lot more involved than that watching the video.

The “last time” list in the UVA game notes for special teams shows how little those groups have made game-shifting plays of late: last kickoff return for touchdown (2010), last blocked punt (2013), last blocked punt for a touchdown (2009), last blocked field goal (2014). The only recent return for a touchdown? Maurice Canady ran one back 74 yards last season.

A little hope for this week on special teams: UConn gave up a kick return for touchdown, a blocked punt, and a blocked field goal all in 2015.

Taquan Mizzell is closing in on Kris Burd for No. 2 all-time on UVA’s receptions list. He needs 14 more catches to take over the second spot (Burd has 162, Mizzell 149). Billy McMullen’s 210 receptions leads the pack as the only member of the 200-catch club.

One of my favorite storylines so far this year is the re-emergence of Keeon Johnson. The receiver has two touchdown catches with one in each of the first two games. Here’s what Kurt Benkert had to say about Johnson: ”He’s a big dude and he’s always in front of the defender. It seems like the ball is never in jeopardy really when you throw it to him. He’s where he needs to be at the right time. He’s consistent and he’s a big guy. The one against Richmond, I just threw it up to him and he made a great catch in the back of the end zone.”

Any fans attending the game at Rentschler Field may bring back one idea for the UVA Game Day experience. Connecticut reduced concession prices this season so hot dogs and bottles of water now cost $3 each instead of $5.

Virginia hasn’t won a road game since November 2012. A few things that happened that month:

  • Barack Obama re-elected.
  • The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, and others.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 released and grossed $500 million in 24 hours.
  • The cost of Hurricane Sandy to New York announced at $32 billion.
  • The Toronto Argonauts won the 100th Grey Cup.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey premiered in New Zealand.
  • The UN voted to approve Palestine’s status change from an observer to an observer state.
  • Gmail became the No. 1 email service.
  • Gangam Style became the most viewed YouTube video as it surpassed 808 million views. Yep, sorry not sorry for this:

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