For the first time this season, the world gets to see the Virginia football team in action. After numerous scheduling conflicts, the Cavaliers’ first game of the season will be against the Duke Blue Devils, who find themselves looking to bounce back from their 0-2 start. Let’s take a look at one player from each side that could swing the game in their team’s favor.
Duke: Defensive End Chris Rumph II
After being named to ESPN’s All-American team, Chris Rumph II was expected to dominate in the pass rush for Duke. While he has played well and already recorded a sack this season, it’s tough not to expect more from Rumph considering his talent. In order to slow down Virginia’s offense, Rumph and the rest of the defensive line will need to step their game up.
In the first half of last season, Virginia’s offensive line was the weakest unit in their attack. Notre Dame picked on them for eight sacks the last time they played. This season, many of their players are returning, hoping to build on the positive swing they saw toward the end of 2019. The Blue Devils, led by Rumph, will need to attack them hard. Being that this is their first game of the season, look to see a bit of rust on the Cavaliers' line. If Duke can bring pressure, they may be able to force new quarterback Brennan Armstrong into mistakes and turn the tide in their favor.
Virginia: Wide Receiver Ra’Shaun Henry
In 2019, receiver Ra’Shaun Henry had a breakout season at Saint Francis University. After just eight receptions in 2018, he raised that number to 90, along with 1,118 yards and nine touchdowns and will look to bring those numbers to Virginia this year. These numbers are huge for the Cavaliers, especially with the inexperienced Brennan Armstrong taking the reins from 2019’s star, Bryce Perkins. Henry’s experience should translate into leadership for a group with a few newcomers.
Duke’s pass defense just gave up 300 passing yards to Boston College, including 162 yards to the ACC’s Receiver of the Week Zay Flowers. Henry will be the main target to pick on Duke’s struggling secondary. If Armstrong is able to feed him the ball, expect to see Henry at the forefront of a Virginia offense looking to build off the positives of 2019.