As Virginia spends its fourth consecutive week in the Associated Press Top 25, it's likely that the 23rd-ranked Cavaliers will be ranked again next week.
That’s because the Cavaliers (4-1, 2-0 ACC) have an open date this weekend before traveling to Miami for a night game next Friday. The Hurricanes (2-2, 0-1), who host Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon, will have an even shorter than usual week as a result.
Here are 10 observations heading into the back half of the Cavaliers’ schedule:
1. Visiting hours: The Miami game will be the second of four road games for Virginia in a five-game span. The Cavaliers are 5-13 in road games in Bronco Mendenhall’s tenure as head coach but are 1-0 on the ACC road this season, having won at Pittsburgh in the season opener.
2. Hang on: Turnovers were killers against Notre Dame. In the third quarter alone, the Irish pass rush forced two fumbles by UVa quarterback Bryce Perkins that resulted in TDs. The first was returned 48 yards to the UVa 7, and the second was a 23-yard strip and score.
3. In the game: Aside from the turnovers, the UVa-Notre Dame game was closer than it appeared. Virginia, a 35-20 loser, outgained the Irish 338-322 in total offense and both teams had 19 first downs.
4. How long can Perkins take the pounding? UVa yielded 31 sacks in 13 games last year. In five games this year, the Cavaliers have given up 15 sacks. Eight of those sacks came Saturday, when the Cavaliers were charged with 59 yards in losses.
5. Whatever happened to Mike Hollins? Hollins, a true freshman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, had 11 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns in UVa’s second game of the season, a 52-17 victory over William and Mary. Those are his only carries but he is listed as having played in every UVa game.
6. Were the O-line issues predictable? Many of the offensive-line problems were coming from Virginia’s right side, where Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara was a beast, finishing with three sacks and two forced fumbles. He was too much for 6-foot-10, 290-pound UVa redshirt sophomore Ryan Swoboda, a first-year starter.
7. Who’s missing? Gone from a unit that had a 3,000-yard passer (Perkins) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Jordan Ellis) in 2018 were fifth-year seniors Marcus Applefield at right tackle and Jake Fieler at right guard. Only Ryan Nelson is at the same spot, left tackle, where he started in the Belk Bowl.
8. Filling the void. One of the questions surrounding this year’s team was the receiving corps following the departure of career receptions leader Olamide Zaccheaus. Hasise Dubois hasn’t gotten much publicity over his time at UVa, but nine catches at Notre Dame put him over 100 for his career, and Joe Reed had multiple tough catches in a nine-reception performance against the Irish.
9. Pluses and minuses. The upcoming road schedule includes two of the ACC’s most surprising teams in Louisville and North Carolina, but the Cavaliers end the season with three straight home games — against Georgia Tech, Liberty (after an open date) and Virginia Tech. UVa has lost all three games it has played in Louisville.
10. Blossoming. Junior Joey Blount, son of one of Virginia’s all-time hardest hitters, late-1970s safety Tony Blount, had a team-high nine solo tackles at Notre Dame. Blount, who did not become a starter until the third game this year, is second on the team in tackles with 35. The leader is linebacker Zane Zandier with 37.