The independent news organization of Duke University

2021 Virginia football season preview

2020 season: 5-5, 4-5 in the ACC (9th in the ACC)

Head coach: Bronco Mendenhall (6th season)

In 2020, Virginia experienced a harsh regression from 2019, when they reached the Orange Bowl. Fortunately for the Hoos, Brennan Armstrong returns for his second season as the starting quarterback, providing continuity and leadership at the position. The junior will look to build upon the 2,117 yards and 7.9 yards per attempt he put up last year in his first full-length season behind center.

In the offensive backfield, the Cavaliers will continue to feed senior Wayne Taulapapa, who gave Duke some trouble last year. Against the Blue Devils in Virginia's season opener, Taulapapa rushed for 95 yards on only 16 attempts in a 38-20 win. With that kind of efficiency on the ground, expect the Cavaliers to hammer the run against Duke once again.

On the defensive side of the ball, Mendenhall's squad struggled as a whole in 2020, yielding over 440 yards per game to opponents with 138.5 of those coming through the ground game. If Virginia wants to limit its opponents’ scoring this year, it must improve its ability to stop the run.

Mendenhall’s tenure trended upward prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now he has the opportunity in a less chaotic season to prove that his team’s performance last season was merely an aberration.

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