Virginia ended the second week of fall camp Saturday with an intrasquad scrimmage at Scott Stadium. With a healthy amount of practice under their belt, the Cavaliers are beginning to get in shape for the season and the coaching staff is beginning to get a feel for the depth distribution across the various position groups.
As we have done after the first week of training, we will do our best to make meaningful observations based on what we have seen and heard from the team so far. A lot of what we’re going to take away this time is based on what we saw during the open portion of practice on Saturday, where we saw the team’s first drive of scrimmage.
From Saturday 22
Saturday’s scrimmage gave us our first look at the players currently getting first-team reps. With practice remaining between now and the inaugural kickoff on September 3, the starting lineup is likely to undergo significant changes. But Saturday was our first opportunity to see which players are capable of starting roles at this point. Some will come as no surprise, like Brennan Armstrong and the Reception Corps, while units like the Offensive and Defense Lines are made up of almost entirely new faces.
Here are the players who started on offense and defense in the first series of Saturday’s scrimmage:
Offensive line: LT charlie patterson, LG John Paul Flores, C set up ty, rt Jesus Johnson III, RG Jonathan Leech
Running backs: Perris Jones and Mike Hollins
Quarterback: Brennan Armstrong
Recipients: Dontayvion Wicks, Lavel Davis Jr., Keytaon Thompson, Billy Kemp IV
Tight end: Grant Misch
line of defense: EN kam butler, DT Jahmeer Carter, DT aaron faumui, EN Chico Bennett Jr.
Linebackers: Nick Jackson, Josh Ahern, Darrius Bratton (5th DB)
Defensive backs: cb anthony johnson, S langston long, S Aidan Ryan, cb Fentrell cypress II
READ MORE: UVA Footballers Recap First Fall Camp Scrimmage
There could be some key differences between the offensive line that started the first drive of scrimmage on Saturday and the five-man orienteering that faces Richmond in three weeks. Without naming specific players, Tony Elliott said the offensive line was “battered,” leaving Garett Tujague’s unit unable to field the same five guys on the line throughout fall camp.
Ronnie Walker Jr., fifth-year running back, is showing solid progress as he recovers from an injury he sustained in the spring. He has not yet been cleared for contact, but he did take part in some drills in a green jersey ahead of Saturday’s scrimmage.
Elliott reported that senior defenseman Coen King was unable to complete the scrimmage due to an elbow injury. He was still unsure of the severity of the injury when he met with the media after the scrimmage.
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Special teams take shape
Junior Brendan Farrell is likely to be listed on the depth chart as both a kicker and punter due to his ability to execute punts, kickoffs, and field goals. However, Tony Elliott and special teams coordinator Keith Gaither want to avoid the situation where Farrell takes on all three of those duties if possible. Farrell took over as starting kicker in UVA’s fourth game last season after Justin Duenkel went down with an injury. He made 11 of 13 field goals and had a perfect 34 of 34 in extra points. Farrell also placed 37 of his 45 kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks.
True freshman Will Bettridge, from Miami, Fla., is one of the highest-ranking kickers in the 2022 recruit class. He caused quite a stir at fall camp, with Tony Elliott even noting that the team nicknamed him “Walk-Off Will” after he drilled a 48-yard field goal to end practice and save the team from sprints. Both Bettridge and Farrell attempted field goals and kickoffs in practice Saturday, with Farrell taking the actual kickoff that was returned to start scrimmage.
Speaking of returners, UVA appears to be looking at four different players in the punt/kickoff return game: Billy Kemp, Devin Chandler, Demick Starling, and Ethan Davies. Of course, Kemp will be the front runner, reprising his role as a starting point returnee for the Cavaliers as he has done for the past few seasons. Wisconsin transfer Devin Chandler has some experience with kicks and Tony Elliott raved about Demick Starling’s speed on Saturday.
Minnesota transfer Daniel Sparks should end up getting the starting post, but Farrell is also an option for that position.
READ MORE: After a successful baseball season, Jay Woolfolk is reaclimated at football camp
While nothing is finalized, a few specific Cavaliers have been mentioned by the UVA coaching staff as players who have worked their way to the top of the line in their respective position groups. Cameron Butlera 6’3″, a 265-pound transfer from Miami, Ohio, had a strong camp and found himself on the field to start Saturday’s scrimmage as an edge rusher.
Tony Elliott likes what he’s seeing from the Virginia running back room from a competitive perspective, but he noted that if he had to pick a starter now, it would be senior Perry Jones. The former walk-on has been the most consistent running back at camp so far and could be set for a breakout season as UVA starts running back if he continues to be solid.
Sophomore defender Aidan Ryan of Fredericksburg, Virginia, has impressed the UVA defensive back coaching staff this fall – so much so that he started on the guard positions alongside fellow Virginia native Langston Long on Saturday.
Check out some clips from Saturday’s UVA football scrimmage in the video below:
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