There was plenty happening in U.Va. athletics in 2018. These were the five biggest stories.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Former Virginia linebacker Malcolm Cook wants to give football one more shot.
"It wasn’t about me. I’ve known for some time but I didn’t want to make it about me."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For Virginia senior running back Jordan Ellis, setting the tone at football practice is done more with his pads than his words.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Virginia junior cornerback Bryce Hall has made his decision on whether to return for his senior football season or turn pro. But with one more game to play this year – Saturday’s Belk Bowl against South Carolina – Hall isn’t ready to reveal his choice.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina stands as a 6-point favorite over Virginia in Saturday’s Belk Bowl. That’s where the Gamecocks belong, said junior tight end Kiel Pollard.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff had the bulk of the 20 recruits who signed on the first day of the early signing period locked down months in advance, but he couldn’t hide a grin Wednesday afternoon when he met with the media after the Cavaliers received a couple of pleasant surprises.
CHARLOTTESVILLE – The on-field success that Bronco Mendenhall has brought to Virginia football is paying dividends on the recruiting trail, it appears. Wednesday, Virginia expects to sign most of its 22 committed prospects, part of what recruiting experts think is Mendenhall’s best recruiting class since taking over the Cavaliers after the 2015 season.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Richmond recruiting drought for Virginia Tech appears to be over, while rival Virginia is starting to make progress with its state efforts, despite still not seeing much headway in the commonwealth’s capital city.
It’s the kind of question college football coaches get asked at bowl press conferences: What outside of the game are players looking forward to the most?
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Bryce Perkins transformed Virginia’s offense this season.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — For the first time in 13 years, the Virginia football team will appear in back-to-back bowl games. And for the first time in 15 years, the Cavaliers will play their postseason football in Charlotte, N.C.
Wake Forest receiver Greg Dortch (Highland Springs) and Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell Jr. (Benedictine) were named to the all-ACC first team on Monday.
BLACKSBURG — Trending upward and inching closer.
“This is definitely the best game, playing against these guys, in my career. Just blow after blow, they make a play, we make a play. Guys didn’t quit.”
Of all the Charlie Browns in the ACC, they're the Charlie Browniest. And they had the football pulled back once again on Friday afternoon.
CAVALIERS’ THREE KEYS TO VICTORY
BLACKSBURG – Our annual competition comes to an end this holiday weekend with a slate chock full of rivalry games.
VIRGINIA AT VIRGINIA TECH
BLACKSBURG — The outcome of the game had long been decided when a Miami defensive lineman laid a blindside shot on Virginia Tech’s Ryan Willis last weekend, sending the quarterback sprawling to the turf and drawing a penalty flag.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — In the summer before Tim Harris’ sophomore year of high school, his Varina coach received a phone call.
Rivalry week is here. Virginia is having its best season since 2011. The Hokies are mired in what could go down as their worst in 26 years. Is this the year U.Va. ends Tech’s 14-year run of owning this rivalry? Or will the Hokies find a way through on Friday, keeping not only that streak alive but giving itself a chance to extend its run of 25 straight bowl appearances?
BLACKSBURG — If the “bell cow” hasn’t rung up the same numbers he has in past years, it’s not for lack of effort.
BLACKSBURG — No player on the Virginia Tech roster has been around for more matchups with rival Virginia than Kyle Chung.
The perception of the Virginia football team is that the 2018 edition is significantly better than the 2017 model.
BLACKSBURG — Former Virginia Tech defensive tackle Luther Maddy was back home in Florida recently, working out with some college athletes. They asked him about his favorite bowl experiences.
ATLANTA — Georgia Tech kicker Wesley Wells followed a career-long 48-yard field goal with a 40-yard attempt that barely cleared the cross bar in the first overtime period on Saturday, but his kick was enough to lift the Yellow Jackets to a 30-27 win over Virginia.
VIRGINIA AT GEORGIA TECH
1. Start fast: Georgia Tech’s offense can be prolific piling up yards and points but it’s not built to come from behind. An early lead against the Yellow Jackets can go a long way. GT has outscored opponents 94-73 in the first quarter of games this year. It trailed at the half in three of its four losses. In the fourth loss, it was tied at the break. Virginia has been even better in the first quarter, outscoring opponents 93-54 in the first 15 minutes of games.
Virginia is playing to stay alive in the ACC Coastal Division title race. Virginia Tech is desperately trying to extend its bowl streak. And one of the biggest surprises in the league this season – Syracuse – gets its shot to prove its legit when it plays No. 3 Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium.
CHARLOTTESVILLE – A year ago, it was a win over Georgia Tech that clinched bowl eligibility for Bronco Mendenhall’s rejuvenated Virginia football program. This year, the Cavaliers head to Atlanta still alive in the ACC’s Coastal Division title race and – if they win out – have a chance to register their first 10-win season since 1989.
They’ve reached this point via dramatically different routes, but with two games remaining in the regular season, Virginia and Virginia Tech appear poised to accomplish a preseason goal of redshirting their talented freshman QBs.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Bronco Mendenhall has a passion for defending the triple option that dates to his days as a defensive coordinator in the late 1990s.
The Cavaliers honored 27 seniors before the game. It’s a group that Mendenhall said is responsible for what the 7-3 Wahoos are building.
Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall was in his sixth season as the head coach at BYU in 2011 when the program left the Mountain West Conference and began its tenure as one of the few independent college football teams in the country.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — If Jordan Mack was a touch off at times against Pittsburgh, his coaches don’t expect that to last. Having Mack back, they said, is a lift to their defense as they head down the stretch.
For all the things that haven’t gone well for Virginia Tech this football season – from the tumultuous offseason, the ODU loss and the injury to Josh Jackson – the Hokies visit first-place Pittsburgh with a chance to keep themselves right in the middle of the division title race. A win would create a three-way tie atop the Coastal Division standings between those teams and Virginia, which plays a non-conference game this weekend against Liberty.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Malcolm Cook, the former Armstrong High School standout who overcame the violence of his Richmond project, a heart ailment and a host of other injuries, has decided to retire from football because of his latest injury, a sports hernia.
CHARLOTTESVILLE – Still very much alive in the hunt for an ACC Coastal Division title, Virginia steps outside of league play to host Liberty this weekend for the final home game at Scott Stadium this year. It will be the first November non-conference game the Cavaliers have played since beating Temple in 2005.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — For the first time in seven years, Virginia finds itself playing meaningful games in November, still alive in the hunt for the ACC’s Coastal Division title. So, of course, the schedule throws a nonconference game into the mix.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — With a dad, uncle and brother who played running back in the NFL, it makes sense that Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins always has been comfortable carrying the football.
CHARLOTTESVILLE – Even though they had won three straight games and five of their past six, the idea that Virginia was going finish the season without another loss was farfetched.
Sep 2Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
Sep 9Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
Sep 16Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
Sep 22Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
Oct 7Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
Oct 14Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
Oct 21Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
Oct 28Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Nov 4Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
Nov 11Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY
Nov 18Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL
Nov 24Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA