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Game Preview: Virginia vs. William & Mary

Everything you need to know about Virginia’s season-opener against William & Mary on Saturday night

Game Details

Who: William & Mary Tribe (0-0, 0-0 CAA) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

When: Saturday, September 4th, at 7:30pm

Where: Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia

How to watch: ACC Regional Sports Networks, ESPN3

All-time series: Virginia leads the series 30-6-1 and has won four-straight games against the Tribe.

Last meeting: Virginia defeated William & Mary 52-17 on September 6, 2019 at Scott Stadium. UVA scored 35 points in the first half. Bryce Perkins had 260 total yards and three total touchdowns. Nick Grant returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown and Joe Reed returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

William & Mary

Familiar faces: William & Mary head coach Mike London returns to Scott Stadium for the second time since his tenure as UVA head coach ended in 2015. There are five former Cavaliers on London’s coaching staff: quarterbacks coach Matt Johns, defensive coordinator Keenan Carter, defensive backs coach Ras-I Dowling, offensive line coach Gordon Sammis, and outside linebackers coach Darryl Blackstock.

Last season: William & Mary played just three games during its spring football season and turned in a record of 1-2.

This season: William & Mary was picked to finish second to last in the CAA preseason poll. They return several key starters on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Hollis Mathis led the CAA in total offense per game last season with an average 232 yards per contest. Mathis is joined by running back Malachi Imoh, tight end Anthony Mague, and wide receiver Cole Blackman, who began his collegiate career at Virginia before transferring to Illinois State and then William & Mary. Linebackers Brayden Staib and Alex Washington lead the defensive unit and are supplemented by cornerback Tate Haynes, who transferred from Boston College this year.

Three keys to the game for Virginia

1. Start strong

Upsets are born from slow starts by the favored team. The longer the underdog is allowed to stay in the game, the more confident that team will feel in its ability to pull the upset. UVA is currently favored by 33.5 points. If Virginia can put together a few scoring drives and keep the Tribe at bay early in the game, the Hoos ought to be able to be in a position to rest their starters for most of the second half.

2. Limit mistakes

In the first game of the season, some sloppy play and mental errors are going to be inevitable. UVA ought to have some margin for error, but the main objective should be to play a clean game and execute at a high level of efficiency in all three phases of the game. 

3. Utilize home field advantage

UVA welcomes fans into Scott Stadium at maximum capacity for the first time since Virginia’s win over Virginia Tech in the Commonwealth Clash in November of 2019. Saturday night’s game will be an orange out and the Wahoo faithful should be out in full force. Virginia is 77-21-7 all-time in home season openers and 17-2 overall at home since 2018. The “4th side” at Scott Stadium has proven to be a huge advantage for UVA in recent history and Saturday should be no different. Look for the Cavaliers to feed off of the energy of the crowd as they take the field for the first time in 2021.