CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said he liked the maturity his team showed in a huge opening-day victory and the Cavaliers must display it again as they try to avoid a letdown against visiting FCS foe William & Mary on Friday night. Virginia's defense led the way and the offense scored 17 unanswered points in the second half on the way to a satisfying 30-14 ACC victory at Pittsburgh last Saturday.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ACC Network. LINE: No Line
"The tone we set as a defense is that we stop the run and we have the best secondary in the nation," Cavaliers junior safety Joey Blount told reporters after finishing with seven tackles, two sacks and an interception in the opener. "We went out (Saturday) and beat a team we haven't beaten before and we showed them in their home that we're a team to reckon with in the ACC in both divisions." Senior quarterback Bryce Perkins threw for 181 yards and a pair of touchdown passes Saturday while rushing for 44 yards as Virginia showed versatility on offense and the defense allowed just 2.6 yards per carry. The Cavaliers have improved from two wins in Mendenhall's first year at the helm to six in 2017 and eight last year when they defeated South Carolina 28-0 in the Belk Bowl. William & Mary rallied for a 30-17 victory over Lafayette in its season opener last week as freshman quarterback Hollis Mathis accounted for 193 yards rushing and passing to lead the Tribe in the debut of coach Mike London, who was the head man for Virginia from 2010-15 before resigning.
ABOUT WILLIAM & MARY (1-0)
Mathis passed for 66 yards and ran for another 127 along with a touchdown to be named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week and senior Kilton Anderson (4-of-8) threw for 100 yards. The Tribe finished with 418 total yards - the most since 2016 versus Maine - as sophomore Owen Wright added 63 yards and two scores on the ground while freshman Kane Everson had three catches for 40 yards and junior Zach Burdick gained another 60 on two receptions. Sophomore linebacker Trey Watkins led the way with 10 tackles for the defense, which had six sacks in the opener despite giving up 368 yards - 254 through the air.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (1-0)
The Cavaliers did not turn the ball over in the season opener, committed just three penalties and were 7-for-15 on third down to keep drives going. Sophomore Wayne Taulapapa led the ground attack with 66 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown while Hasise Dubois gained 45 yards on four catches with a TD and fellow senior receiver Joe Reed finished with a career-high seven receptions. Zane Zandier recorded a team-high nine tackles for the Cavaliers and fellow junior linebacker Matt Gahm recorded an interception, but senior linebacker Jordan Mack's status is uncertain after he left last week's game with a potential concussion.
1. Perkins has not thrown an interception in his last 132 attempts, the longest current streak in FBS.
2. Virginia senior WR Dejon Brissett, who had 299 yards on 16 catches with Richmond in 2018, could return after missing the opener with an undisclosed injury.
3. The Cavaliers lead the all-time series 29-6-1 with wins in nine of the last 10 meetings.
PREDICTION: Virginia 52, William & Mary 10