Belk Bowl Football

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall holds up the trophy after the Cavaliers defeated South Carolina 28-0 in the Belk Bowl on Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.

For the first time since the Atlantic Coast Conference went to two divisions in 2005, the Virginia football team is the favorite to win the Coastal Division.

The Cavaliers were picked to win the division by a panel of 173 media members at last week’s ACC Media Days in Charlotte, North Carolina. Virginia amassed 82 first-place votes, followed by Miami, which finished with 55. Virginia Tech finished third with 20.

“Everybody is bought in and everybody is working hard for each other and for the team,” Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall said. “We have a common goal, and it’s all we’re focused on.”

Virginia is coming off an 8-5 campaign, which it ended with a 28-0 victory over South Carolina in the Belk Bowl. The Cavaliers finished last season tied for third in the conference with Miami and Virginia Tech, both of which had identical 4-4 conference records. Pitt won the conference with a 6-2 record and subsequently lost to Clemson in the ACC title game.

All seven Coastal teams received at least one first-place vote this preseason. The Panthers picked up eight and were pegged to finish fourth.

Over the past six years, there have been six different Coastal Division champions. Virginia is the only team that hasn’t worn the crown.

“We know what we have on our team. We definitely have the talent and we definitely have the mindset, too,” Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins said.

Defending national champion Clemson is the overwhelming favorite to repeat as Atlantic Division and ACC champion. The Tigers received 171 of a possible 173 first-place votes, followed by Syracuse with two.

Snowden makes Butkus watch list

Last season, outside linebacker Charles Snowden burst onto the scene at Virginia. Already this fall, he’s been mentioned with some of the best linebackers in the country.

The Butkus Award watch list was released on Monday, and the 6-foot-7 225-pound junior was on it.

Last fall, Snowden started all 13 games and finished in the top six on the team in tackles with 62 and second with 7.5 tackles for a loss. He also added 2.5 sacks and two interceptions and broke up nine passes.

He earned ACC linebacker of the week honors last season after posted eight tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception in a win over Louisville. He also blocked a field goal in the Wahoos’ loss at Indiana.

Hall named to Thorpe watch list

On Monday, Hall was announced as a member of the Jim Thorpe Award watch list. He’s already on the Bednarik and Lott IMPACT Trophy watch lists.

The Thorpe award is given annually to the top defensive back in college football. Hall is joined on the list by three other ACC defenders: Miami’s Trajan Bandy, Wake Forest’s Essang Bassey and Syracuse sophomore Andre Cisco.

Last season, Hall led the nation with 22 pass breakups and tied for the nation’s lead with 24 passes defended. He likely would have been picked on the first day of the 2019 NFL Draft but decided to return to school for his senior season.  

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Ron Counts covers University of Virginia athletics for The Daily Progress.​ Contact him at rcounts@dailyprogress.com, (434) 978-7245, or on Twitter @Ron_CDPsports.

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