After unprecedented season, UVA and Virginia Tech ready for familiar rivalry

After unprecedented season, UVA and Virginia Tech ready for familiar rivalry
UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall (Source: wvir)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - It was far from a traditional college football season, and often times veered far from the intended path, but the ‘Hoos and Hokies will reach the finish line this weekend, as Virginia and Virginia Tech square off in the Commonwealth Clash.

The game is in its traditional spot at the end of the regular season, but when the ACC initially released its pandemic-adjusted schedule, the in-state rivals were playing in the season opener.

However, COVID-19 issues at Tech forced the game to be postponed, and was the first of many adjustments this year.

Hokies’ head coach Justin Fuente says, “When I called Bronco, and we canceled, or moved back the first game, we just shared a moment of, ‘Can you imagine making it until mid-December, doing this?’  It seemed like it was years away.”

UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall says, “I didn’t ever question that we’d make it to the end.  I think what I underestimated is the constant state of uncertainty, and adaptability to get to this point.  You’re coaching a different roster each week, and coaching against a different roster each week.”

Virginia Tech has lost four games in a row, though three of them came against ranked opponents.

The Hokies have a dangerous ground attack.

Senior Khalil Herbert has run for a career-high 1,020 yards, which is the fifth-most in the nation.

Quarterback Hendon Hooker has accounted for over six-hundred yards, and Tech has the sixth-most rushing yards in college football this season (2,389).

“Virginia Tech is hard-nosed,” says Mendenhall. “They’re run-first.  They’re physical.  They’re tough.  They play aggressively.  The scheme builds on each other.  There’s great screens, and play-action, and RPO’s, and just good personnel.”

UVA sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong has the Hokies’ attention.

Fuente says, “I’ve heard the comparisons to Steve Young, and I think that’s partially cause he’s left-handed.  But the guys that I see is Taysom Hill.”

Virginia Tech senior defensive lineman Justus Reed says, “Just got to stay in our gaps, have rush integrity, same as every time we have a quarterback who gets out of the pocket and runs a lot.”

Armstong has accounted for more than 400-yards of total offense in each of his last two games, and the quarterback leads the Cavaliers in rushing this season.

“He’s a big, strong kid, and runs physically,” says Fuente. “He’s a tough, hard-nosed player back there.”

UVA senior receiver Ra’Shaun Henry says, “Personally, I want him to slide, but that’s the confidence that he has, and the strength of him, and that’s what he does.  That’s what he likes to do.”

Virginia ended a fifteen-year losing streak against Virginia Tech last season.

They’ll be looking to end another long streak this weekend, as UVA hasn’t won in Blacksburg since 1998.

Senior safety Joey Blount says, “Coming through this season, it’s been up and down, a lot.  To finish it out with a potential win in Blacksburg would just add to the story.”

The teams will write the next chapter in the rivalry on Saturday night at eight o’clock in Blacksburg.

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