Virginia looks for first back-to-back wins vs. Florida State
The last four Virginia head coaches each recorded one win against Florida State.
Bronco Mendenhall has an opportunity to do what predecessors George Welsh, Al Groh and Mike London never did as his Cavaliers (4-4, 3-4 ACC) look for their second straight win against the Seminoles (2-6, 1-6) on Saturday night in Tallahassee, Fla.
Virginia, which won last year’s meeting 31-24 in Charlottesville, is back to .500 thanks to a three-game winning streak against North Carolina, Louisville and last Saturday against FCS opponent Abilene Christian.
Florida State is stuck in a three-game losing streak that likely would have reached four if last Saturday’s game against Clemson had not been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. FSU’s last win was on Oct. 17.
Still, the Seminoles are 15-4 all-time against the Cavaliers. Virginia’s other wins in the series happened in 1995, 2005 and 2011, with only the last happening at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The matchup to watch Saturday is UVA’s ferocious pass rush against Florida State’s leaky pass protection.
The Cavaliers are tied for seventh in the country with 28 sacks, including 18 in their last four games. The Seminoles have surrendered 28 sacks, third most in the conference.
Virginia won’t have sacks leader Charles Snowden, the 6-foot-7 senior linebacker who is out for the season after breaking his ankle in the first quarter of Saturday’s 55-15 win. The team captain’s streak of 34 consecutive starts comes to an end as he finishes 2020 with 8 1/2 tackles for loss and five sacks.
“Charles’ influence on our program has been breathtaking in terms of maturity and growth,” Mendenhall said. “… It’s hard to separate Charles Snowden and UVA football.”
Also injured in the game were defensive end Nusi Malani and safety D’Angelo Amos, and the Cavaliers were already missing starting safeties Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson.
“You wish injury upon nobody, especially someone who’s a leader on our team and has such a bright future and just got invited to the Senior Bowl,” said Virginia cornerback Nick Grant. “It’s devastating, but obviously the season goes on, and next man up.”
Matt Gahm is the next man in this case, and the Cavaliers are counting on the senior linebacker to help contain Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis.
Travis, who hasn’t played since Nov. 7 due to injuries, has passed for 864 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 469 yards and six scores this season. He takes over for Chubba Purdy, who is out for the season following collarbone surgery last week.
“Jordan’s looking good. … Excited about where he’s at,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said after watching Travis practice Tuesday. “He’s moving well, throwing the ball all around, had some big plays down the field. It was a good workday for him.”
Travis passed for 191 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 107 yards and two TDs in the 31-28 win against then-No. 5 North Carolina on Oct. 17.
Florida State will also look for success on the ground against a Virginia team that is 1-4 when allowing 100 or more rushing yards this season. The Seminoles have hit the century mark in all eight games this season.
–Field Level Media