University of Virginia football players had a pretty important season opener in their sights – a September 19 matchup against arch-rival Virginia Tech. And then they didn’t, as Virginia Tech cancelled one week before gameday because of coronavirus protocols.
The Duke game was quickly moved up to September 26, but losing the Tech game was deflating for a group that had put in so much effort for the opportunity to play in 2020 and was gearing up to defend the Commonwealth Cup. If the players’ comments this week are representative of the entire team, though, the Hoos are refocused and more than ready to kickoff 2020 against the Blue Devils.
“We’re super ready to hit another team and hit someone else other than our own teammates,” Cavalier senior defensive lineman Mandy Alonso said. “It’s definitely felt a little strange, and especially the day that they canceled the Tech game – that was kind of devastating for us all. Once we got into practice the next couple days, we got back into it and we were just ready to pick up where we left off and head into Duke or whoever we were playing. It’s definitely felt strange being here for so long, practicing for so long and not having a game. It’s just felt like we’ve been in a constant loop of practice. But the past week-and-a-half we’ve been locked in for Duke and it’s been feeling really good each and every day.”
Team captain and starting outside linebacker Charles Snowden acknowledged the difficulties of maintaining focus after months of following COVID-19 protocols and schedule adjustments, but the 6’7”, 240-pound senior is locked in for Saturday.