UVA Football hosts experienced Duke squad in season opener

UVA Football hosts experienced Duke squad in season opener
Virginia senior defensive lineman Mandy Alonso - courtesy: UVA Athletics (Source: UVA Athletics)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - There will be football at Scott Stadium this weekend, as Virginia is scheduled to host Duke on Saturday.

The game will be the first of the season for the Cavaliers, while the Blue Devils will be playing their third game.

It’s game experience versus the element of surprise.

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe says, “We know a lot about Virginia, but you’re still not looking at the 2020 version of Virginia.  Any changes that they made, exactly what they’re gonna be.”

UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall says, “We have more unknowns than Duke has unknowns, but that is just how it is.”

The Blue Devils' first three games have all come against teams playing their season opener.

“Three games you play where you have no film to study," says Cutcliffe. "Our players are a bit irritable with it, to be real honest with you.  It’s a unique setting.  It’s what we’ve been given, so we have to deal with it, and just move forward.”

Duke will be the first team to get a look at the Virginia offense with quarterback Brennan Armstrong.

Mendenhall says, “The tactical advantage comes to us simply because there isn’t much tape on Brennan Armstrong, and what our offense looks like with Brennan, rather than Bryce.”

“Their staff has been there," says Cutcliffe. "We have older tape, before Bryce.  We’re not sure, though, what they’re gonna do.”

The Cavaliers have a pretty good idea what to expect from the Blue Devils on both sides of the ball.

Junior wide receiver Billy Kemp IV says, “Watching film study, they like to play a lot of (man-to-man defense), so we’re constantly talking about just winning our 1-on-1 match-up’s across the board.”

Senior defensive end Mandy Alonso says, “The past two defenses that played them, they played them very well.  We just want to mimic what they did to stop their run, force them to pass, and basically, get after the quarterback.”

Duke has started the season with losses to Notre Dame and Boston College, but they do have the experience of everything that’s involved with playing football in 2020.

Senior defensive end Charles Snowden says, “They’ve already had two game-like situations.  They already know what playing in the era of COVID is like, whereas we don’t.”

There will be limited spectators at Scott Stadium, with only family of players and coaches allowed.

“It’s definitely going to be a strange feeling," says Alonso. "Hopefully they have some music playing, or something, so we can get hype to it.”

Virginia beat Pitt in its season opener last year, on its way to a Coastal Division championship.

Senior wide receiver Terrell Jana says, “Starting with an ACC opponent is always a great thing.  Last year, too.  No time to try things out, and try to find out who you are.  You got to perform right away, which I think we can do.”

Virginia and Duke kickoff off at four o’clock on Saturday at Scott Stadium.

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