Cavaliers Report: UVa faces must-win against Syracuse


Cavaliers Report: UVa faces must-win against Syracuse

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.

RELATED: Navy's 3 turnovers costly in 41-24 loss to No. 15 Notre Dame

Last week's game: 26-19 loss at Pittsburgh

Read the recap of this game here

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.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: How offense will change (and stay same) under Mike Locksley

Virginia star cornerback Bryce Hall out for the season after ankle surgery

USA Today Sports Images

Virginia star cornerback Bryce Hall out for the season after ankle surgery

Virginia’s hopes for a Coastal Division title took a blow on Friday in a loss to Miami. Those hopes took another significant blow on Monday.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall told reporters on Monday that star cornerback Bryce Hall is expected to miss the remainder of the season after undergoing ankle surgery.

The injury happened while he was blocking on a punt in Friday’s game. The injury appeared significant at the time as Hall had to be carted off the field with his ankle in an air cast.

“We expect a good recovery, he sustained a left ankle injury and had surgery Monday,” Mendenhall said. “We do not expect him back this season.”

Hall is the star of Virginia’s defense which ranks 11th in the nation in total defense and second in the conference behind only Clemson. Hall has 20 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and four passes broken up.

This news is particularly devastating for Hall considering he is a first-round NFL talent and elected to forgo the NFL draft for a year to play his senior season. This injury now ends Hall’s college career.

Virginia ranks 11th in the nation in total defense and 23rd in pass defense allowing just 183.7 yards through the air per game. Without Hall, that number is going to take a hit.

The Cavaliers still have five ACC games left on the schedule, including four within the division.


The 6 craziest things that happened in Week 7 of the college football season


The 6 craziest things that happened in Week 7 of the college football season

Four teams dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten, Louisville's coaching staff is way too intense, everyone from the state of Michigan is an embarrassment and yeah, Oklahoma and Texas still don't like each other.

Here are the six craziest things that happened in Week 6.

Unbeatens beware

Four undefeated teams suffered their first losses of the season this week as the College Football Playoff Grim Reaper began to rear his ugly head.

The most significant loss was that of Georgia at home to division rival South Carolina and it became evident at the end of the game that neither team wanted to win. I mean, why else would Will Muschamp call for a 57-yard field goal attempt in a tie game with 40 seconds left on the clock and with Georgia having all their timeous left? Why else would Georgia take itself out of field goal range with an illegal shift right before the end of regulation? The Gamecocks had a chance to win after recovering a fumble on the first overtime, but a botched field goal kept the game alive. South Carolina would kick a field goal in the second overtime and a missed field goal by Georgia would give the Gamecocks the win.

Florida also dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten, but that game was going to knock someone off as both the Gators and LSU were undefeated heading into Death Valley on Saturday.

Temple handed Memphis its first loss of the season in an afternoon tilt on Saturday and Wake Forest was also upset at the hands of Louisville who marched into the Demon Deacons’ home field and put up 62 points.

On a related note, the Orange Bowl has to be rooting so hard for Clemson to not make the playoff this year, or the ACC is going to send a mediocre team into one of the best bowl games in the country.

Only 12 undefeated teams remain at the FBS level after this week's action.

Louisville’s defensive line coach needs to chill

Mark Ivey is the defensive line coach at Louisville. To say he is intense would be putting it mildly.

The commentators laugh at how “fired up” the coaches are, but there are several moments in there where it is hard to tell if they are just super pumped or if people players are trying break up a legitimate fight.

Maybe trying to relive the glory days of your playing career during warmups is a bad idea.

Every player from both Oklahoma and Texas was given an unsportsmanlike penalty during the pregame

Oklahoma and Texas is one of the most storied rivalries in college football, even if we have no idea what it’s supposed to be called anymore. The Red River Shootout? The Red River Rivalry? The Red River Hootenanny? The Red River Hullabaloo?

Tensions were high for this game which led to a scuffle during pregame.

More than one.

Realizing that they were losing control of the game before it even started, the referees assessed every player on both teams an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Fun fact, in college football a player is ejected after their second unsportsmanlike penalty in a game so every player was one flag away from getting the boot.

In the end, only one player was ejected and that was for targeting. No one else received a second unsportsmanlike penalty and Oklahoma went on to beat Texas 34-27.

This season could not get any more embarrassing for Michigan

Jim Harbaugh: “Hold my beer.”

The Wolverines won on the road at Illinois on Saturday by a comfortable-looking margin of 42-25. That score, however, does not reflect the nearly epic collapse Michigan faced in the second half.

Jim Harbaugh and Co. jumped out to a 28-0 lead on the Illini before Illinois could even get on the board. Illinois, led by a backup quarterback, managed to score the next 25 points, trimming the lead down to just three early in the fourth quarter. From there, seeing their season was about to collapse in such an epic way woke Michigan back up. The Wolverines went on to add two extra touchdowns to their score while Illinois was shutout the remainder of the game.

Michigan’s quest to prove why they do not deserve to be a ranked team continues next week at Happy Valley where the Wolverines will take on Penn State.

Mark Dantonio answers a “dumbass” question with a dumbass answer

Speaking of disappointing football teams in the state of Michigan, let’s now move on to Michigan State. The Spartans stink on offense as was evident in their 38-0 loss to Wisconsin. In three losses this season, Michigan State has a combined 17 points. That’s bad. What’s worse is the fact that they were bad on offense last year as well, but virtually nothing was done to improve the offense as head coach Mark Dantonio returned the entire offensive coaching staff, but with changed titles and duties.

So now after a humiliating blowout loss in which the offense was made to look as inept as ever, it is fair to wonder if perhaps not making any changes on offense was a mistake. At least most people would think it was fair.

When head coach Mark Dantonio was asked whether his decision on the offensive staff in the offseason was a mistake, here was his response:

Dantonio is absolutely right. That is a “dumbass” question because we all know the answer is yes, it was a mistake, it is going to cost Michigant State its season and not doing anything about it makes him look bad. But go ahead, keep turning your frustrations on the media. That ought to help the offense.

Tennessee becomes the last Power 5 team to earn an FBS win

If you had to guess who the last Power 5 team to earn an FBS win this season was, who would you guess? Kansas? Oregon State? Illinois? One of the other perennial cellar-dwellers?

Nope, you’re all wrong. The answer is Tennessee.

The Volunteers actually won a game against a team with a pulse on Saturday, earning the ugly 20-10 win over Mississippi State. It still counts though proving that there really is no such thing as an ugly win, just an ugly season.

Tennesse improved its record to an impressive 2-4, a fact that right now is prompting every football fan in the south to stand up and spontaneously chant “S-E-C! S-E-C!”

Prior to Saturday, Tennessee’s only win of the season was against FCS Chattanooga. Yes, the Volunteers have losses to Florida and Georgia, both impressive teams. They also have losses against Georgia State and BYU so no, Tennessee is not simply a victim of the brutal SEC schedule.