First Look: University of Virginia Cavaliers

An in-depth look at the Cavaliers, who will face off with the Eagles on Saturday
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Boston College (6-4) plays in their season finale on Saturday against the University of Virginia (4-4) in Charlottesville. Bronco Mendenhall's squad will look to make it four in a row after winning against Louisville, UNC and Abilene Christian. 

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Statistical Leaders

Passing: Brennan Armstrong, 113-195 1571 yards 15 TD 8 interceptions

Rushing: Armstrong 399 yards, 4 TD,  RB Wayne Taulapapa 366 yards 4 TD, RB Shane Simpson 237 yards 2 TD

Receiving: RB Billy Kemp 52 rec 517 yards 1 TD, WR Terrell Jana 32 rec 392 yards 1 TD, WR Lavel Davis Jr. 14 rec 370 yards 4 TD, TE Tony Poljan 30 rec 300 yards 5 TD

Tackles: LB Nick Jackson 85 total, LB Zane Zandier 67 total, DB D'angelo Amos 46 total

Tackles for Loss: LB Charles Snowden 10, LB Noah Taylor 7, Zandier 7, Jackson 5

Sacks: Snowden 6, DL Jowon Briggs 3, Taylor 3,  LB Matt Gahm 3

Interceptions: DB Brenton Nelson 2, six other players have one. 

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Head Coach

Bronco Mendenhall is in his fifth season with the Cavaliers, compiling a 29-31 record. However, he has found recent success, winning the ACC Coastal in 2019 and before losing to Clemson and losing in the Orange Bowl. Before his time in Charlottesville, Mendenhall was a defensive back at Oregon State, the same school that gave him his start in coaching. He also spent time coaching DBs at New Mexico and Louisiana Tech before becoming the defensive coordinator at BYU. He took over the head coaching spot for the Cougars in 2005 where he remained until 2015, leaving with a 99-43 record. 

Offensive Overview

Robert Anae is the offensive coordinator for the Cavaliers, after joining Mendenhall after the pair left BYU. A name that was bantered about for numerous positions this offseason including the OC job at Miami and head coach job at Hawaii, Awae had his best season in 2019, as the Cavaliers finished 8th in the conference in total offense.

The biggest strength according to Anae? The offensive line.

“We have spent four years recruiting and developing our offensive line and going into this season, we’re at the best spot in that regard,” Anae said. “One with depth, so there’s going to be competition for the guys up front, and No. 2, for the most part they now have a couple years of experience of doing what they’re doing. I think with those two things the run game will have a bright prospect.”

Defensive Overview

Nick Howell is in his fourth season as defensive coordinator, and like Anae is connected to Mendenhall from their time at BYU. Like Jeff Hafley was last year Howell also coaches the defensive backs. Head coach Mendenhall talked about the defense before the season

“The expectation is for them to be better than last year’s defense from Game 1 all the way through Game 13 or Game 14 or however many — 12 — whatever the season calls for this year, as many as we can possibly play,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “Last year, we started very strong and through about Game 7 I think [the defense] really carried our team. Our offense caught up and then when the defense, especially the secondary, was depleted, our offense kind of took over and became the team’s identity down the stretch.”