Check back every Wednesday for the Cavaliers Report to get all the biggest Virginia headlines for each week, a recap of last week's game and a look ahead at next week's contest.
Virginia 1-4, (0-1) in the ACC
In the news
Mooney doubtful: Left tackle Michael Mooney was carted off the field in Saturday's game with a lower-body injury. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday and has been declared doubtful for Saturday's game. Virginia is already without Eric Tetlo, Ryan Doull and Jake Fieler on the line who are all out for the season.
Sophomore Jack English replaced Mooney against Pitt and is expected to start in his place this week.
Doing it for Mike London: Wide receiver Donovan Dowling made his season debut on Saturday. A torn ACL in his left knee and a torn meniscus in his right have kept him out this season up until Saturday's game. If he sat out the season, he likely could have applied for a medical redshirt. He still can if he suffers a setback, but Dowling is determined to play.
Dowling played in just a handful of snaps on Saturday and many are asking if it was really worth burning a possible medical redshirt if the team does not intend to feature him more prominently. For Dowling, there was no question.
“I felt if my coaches needed me, I put trust in them because without them, I wouldn’t be here," Dowling said.
Last week's game: 26-19 loss at Pittsburgh
Virginia put up a fight against Pittsburg, which is more than you can say for their loss to Boise State, but the result remained the same as they were handed their fourth loss of the season.
The Cavaliers had some bright moments in this game. The turnover drought finally ended as Virginia forced two fumbles. Mike Moore forced the ball loose from quarterback Nathan Peterman on a sack in the second quarter which Kwontie Moore returned for a touchdown.
Offensively, Virginia gained 348 yards against one of the best defenses in the nation. Pittsburgh only gives up an average of 84.8 yards per game on the ground and 179.8 yards through the air. Virginia managed 139 and 209 respectively. But Virginia struggled to get the ball to its playmakers because of questionable play calling.
Albert Reid's first carry of the game went for 71 yards. He only got three more carries for the rest of the game. Star wide recevier Canaan Severin had only three catches. There were times when Matt Johns missed open receivers in this game, but for the most part Severin did not seem to be prominently featured in the offensive game plan.
Virginia may not be a very good team this season, but they are made to look worse by missed opportunities from the players and poor decisions by the coaches. The Cavaliers just cannot get out of their own way.
This week: Syracuse at Virginia, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
Virginia faces a must-win on Saturday as they host Syracuse. With four losses already, it seems unlikely the Cavaliers are going to be able to rebound and win five of their seven remaining games to become bowl eligible. Having said that, Virginia must win this game in order to keep the season from completely unraveling.
Syracuse is the worst remaining team in the Cavaliers' schedule. If they lose this game at home, there's a significant chance Virginia could lose out and finish the season with only one win. After local rival Maryland let Randy Edsall go already, it's not crazy to think Mike London could be coaching for his job on Saturday.
Syracuse lost their starting quarterback Terrel Hunt for the season in their very first game, but true freshman Eric Dungey has played well in relief with seven touchdowns and only one interception. Before you think this presents an advantage for Virginia, consider how well the Hoos have fared against other true freshman quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Brett Rypien. Still, the Orange are averaging only 341.6 yards per game this season, good for 108th in the nation.
A week after USF gained 541 yards against Syracuse, there will be no excuse for Virginia not to have a big game this week. This team needs to get back to the basics. Johns has got to find his open receivers and the offense has to get Severin the ball. He has been rendered largely ineffective the last few weeks more so by his own offense than by opposing defenses. He's the Cavaliers' best playmaker, they need to use him.
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