Virginia has hit a level very rarely seen over the last decade — or two — in Charlottesville.
Thanks in very large part to Kurt Benkert‘s three touchdown passes, UVa. scored in every quarter en route to a tight 28-21 home win over Duke. The victory was aided once again by the play of Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones, who has now thrown seven interceptions in his last two games against the Cavaliers — five last year, two more in this game.
With the win, the Cavaliers improved to 4-1 for the first time since the 2007 team started that season 7-1. In fact, the Hoos have started 4-1 or better only two other times in the last two decades — 1998, 2004 being the others.
Neither team did much offensively, with the Blue Devils (4-2) averaging 3.4 yards per play, the Cavaliers 3.8.
While Benkert tossed a trio of touchdowns, he completed just over half of his 43 of his 42 passes and threw a pick-six that tied the score at 7-all in the first quarter. His counterpart, Jones, completed just 14-of-42 passes (33.3 percent) for a meager 131 yards.
Boise State got their starting quarterback back. Whether he’ll be back to starting remains to be seen.
Bryan Harsin confirmed Wednesday that Brett Rypien has been cleared to play in Friday’s game against Virginia. Rypien sustained a head injury in the first quarter of the Washington State loss in Week 2 and didn’t return, then was sidelined for the Week 3 win over New Mexico as well.
While there has been no confirmation from the school, it has been reported that Rypien sustained a concussion.
“Brett has been practicing, he’s been cleared,” the Broncos head coach said according to the Idaho Press Tribune. “He’s good. He’s been back in the mix and there’s no issue there.”
Left unsaid is whether he or Kansas transfer Montell Cozart will get the start against the Cavaliers. In his first start for the Broncos, Cozart directed an offense that finished with its lowest yardage output (264) in five years. Individually, Cozart produced solid stats in the win as he completed 15 of his 19 passes for 137 yards while adding 71 on the ground. He also accounted for three touchdowns — two passing, one rushing.
Regardless of who starts, Harsin acknowledged that both Cozart and Rypien will play in the non-conference game.
The ACC was gearing up for a week that was to star Florida State and Miami in a primetime battle in the sunshine state. However, Hurricane Irma’s path through the state of Florida is causing some more disruption to the college football schedule a week after wiping a handful of games off the calendar. With Florida State and Miami being moved back to October 7, the ACC will now get to take advantage of a prime time vacancy by showcasing the game that should have been there in the first place.
Clemson’s road game at Louisville will now take over the primetime slot for the ACC this week on ABC. The ACC Atlantic Division battle between the reigning national champions and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner (Lamar Jackson) was originally scheduled for 3:30 p.m. This will be just the fourth time in college football history the defending national champs will face the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and it will be just the third time it has happened in the regular season.
Clemson won last year’s meeting with the Cardinals in Death Valley, and both teams are off to 2-0 starts this season. The matchup will now go head-to-head in the main prime time slot against USC vs. Texas on FOX.
The ACC also shuffled a few other games to adjust their Week 3 schedule as well. Boston College’s home game against Notre Dame will move from a noon kickoff to 3:30 p.m. on ESPN. Pittsburgh’s home game against Oklahoma State will remain at noon but will be bumped to ESPN. Virginia’s home game against UConn will now air on ESPN2, also kicking off at noon.
“I appreciate the cooperation and flexibility by our institutional leadership and television partners in making these changes possible,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford in a released statement.
The pain from the tragedy in Charlottesville continues to heal weeks after a demonstration of white supremacists turned violent and deadly. The Virginia football team, along with other sports programs at the university, will reportedly pay respect to the civil unrest in the home town of the University of Virginia this season by wearing a special patch on their uniforms.
An image of those patches has not surfaced as of yet, although we should catch a glimpse soon enough. Virginia is set to open the 2017 season at home this weekend in Charlottesville against William & Mary. Virginia’s first three games will be played at home this season. Virgina and William & Mary are scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. kick this Saturday.
Robert E. Lee was a Confederate general whose statue in Charlottesville, and the decision to take it down, served as the flashpoint for violence earlier this month as white supremacists clashed with counter-protesters.
Robert Lee (not pictured) is an up-and-coming ESPN broadcaster who was scheduled to do play-by-play on the William & Mary-Virginia opener a week from Saturday in Charlottesville. The key word there is “was” as, as first noted by Outkick the Coverage, the network decided to move Lee off that game because of the site of the game and similarities in name to the leader of the Confederate forces 150 years ago. Specifically, Dan Wolken of USA Today wrote, “ESPN asked Lee if he would be more comfortable calling another game but gave him the option to stay. Lee chose to switch assignments, and ESPN accommodated him.”
Lee, the broadcaster, will now open with the Youngstown-Pittsburgh game.
The outing of the decision by Clay Travis, though, subsequently created a firestorm of criticism that the network never would’ve faced if they had just left Lee on the game, and forced them to issue a statement defending the move.
We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue.
On his show Wednesday morning, Dan Patrick broached the topic, saying that his former network may have had good intentions in pulling Lee but they didn’t necessarily need to make the change.