Virginia hasn’t played Clemson since 2009. After Saturday, the Cavaliers won’t see the Tigers on the football field again until 2020.
Some ACC rivalry.
Because of the conference’s unbalanced scheduling, Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. clash in Scott Stadium will have to serve as a lasting memory.
UVa, a 17-point underdog, would like to somehow make it a good one.
The Wahoos (2-6, 0-4 ACC) are on a five-game losing streak. They just lost a game to Georgia Tech in which they created five turnovers and their quarterback threw for over 375 yards.
The No. 9 Tigers (7-1, 5-1) have been inside the AP Top 25 for the last 39 releases of the poll. Their quarterback (Tajh Boyd) leads the ACC in total offensive yards. Their top receiver (Sammy Watkins) just set a school record for catches in a game.
“They come in as a highly rated football team, one of the top teams in the ACC and a tremendous challenge for us,” said Virginia head coach Mike London, “but one of the challenges that we embrace because we're at home and we get a chance to have a really good team come in here and play.”
Facing Clemson means the Cavs will host a pair of top-10 teams in the same season for the first time since 2005. On Sept. 7, UVa was clobbered by No. 2 Oregon, 59-10.
“I think the big thing is don’t let the game get too big,” said junior tight end Zach Swanson. “Oregon was No. 2 when we played them. Clemson’s top 10. It’s not about that. It’s not about the game or the scenario. It’s about doing your job. I harp on it all the time. I tell everybody on the sideline before the game, ‘You don’t have to do anything special. Just do your job and good things will happen and you’ll make plays.’
“I think that’s the big thing that I learned from Oregon. It’s not about me playing Oregon. It’s about playing and doing my job and applying that to each of my teammates.”
The highly debated end-of-first-half strategy against Georgia Tech took another twist Sunday evening when London said his call for timeout wasn’t immediately granted.
Trailing 14-10, UVa’s Kevin Parks ran for a yard on first-and-goal to the Georgia Tech 1. The play started with 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter and appeared to be blown dead with around 11 seconds remaining.
London said he called for timeout at that time. It wasn’t granted, however, for another five seconds.
“I’ll tell you that I called timeout with about 11 seconds left on the clock to my sideline official,” London told reporters during a teleconference. “How and why the clock was allowed to go down to six seconds, I’m still waiting on an explanation. That’s all I’m able to tell you right now. And when I get the explanation, I can tell you better. But that’s all I’ll say about that.
“Like I said, there were a lot of opportunities in the game for us to be successful. I just wanted to preference what I just told you. You can look at that last series and look at the things that occurred, but I’ll just leave it at that.”
Out of the timeout, Virginia opted to go for it rather than try a field goal. Parks was stuffed for no gain as time expired.
The Cavs would eventually lose, 35-25.
“I called timeout with 11 seconds left to the official that I’m responsible to call it to,” London said. “I’m waiting to hear an explanation as to the mechanics and things like that that go into stopping the clock.”
Monday, London confirmed that he’s talked with Doug Rhoads, ACC’s coordinator of football officiating, about the situation.
“I’ll leave it at that,” London said.
Had the timeout been granted with 11 seconds left, what would Virginia have done differently in play-calling?
“It gives you several options,” London said. “It gives you options, maybe two passes or a run and a pass, whatever it may be. The more time on the clock that you have in that situation gives you opportunities to score.
“The ball was on the 1-yard line, and as I said, that was a part of the game that ended the half with no points. But as I said in the first half, we had four turnovers and didn't capitalize on that and some other opportunities throughout the game.”
It’s been a month since receivers Darius Jennings and Tim Smith started together.
According to Monday’s depth chart release, the duo is set to return to its first-team role on Saturday.
Jennings (13 catches, 119 yards) and Smith (10, 151) each shined against Georgia Tech, becoming the first 10-catch twosome in program history.
Defensively, the first-team middle linebacker is listed as Henry Coley “or” Daquan Romero. The first-team weak-side linebacker is listed as Romero “or” Zach Bradshaw.
London said that change is related to how the Cavaliers will potentially line up against Clemson’s explosive offense. It’s not connected to performance.
London said the return of three defensive starters for Saturday is still to be determined.
Cornerbacks Demetrious Nicholson (lower extremity injury) and Maurice Canady (medical), as well as defensive tackle Brent Urban (sprained ankle), missed the Georgia Tech game.
Nicholson has missed the last three games. Urban has missed the last two.
UNC game time announced
Virginia’s Nov. 9 game at North Carolina will kick-off at 12:30 p.m., the ACC announced Monday. In Charlottesville, the contest will air on NBC 29.