With Virginia having dropped its second game in a row, both times as an underdog, here are some issues facing the Cavaliers heading into Saturday's 3:30 p.m. visit from Duke:

1. Is Bryce Hall definitely out for the season?

Hall, a first-team All-ACC cornerback in 2018, was helped onto a cart and driven to the locker room after sustaining an apparent ankle injury Friday in the second quarter at Miami. He was seen leaving the locker room on crutches after the game, with the left ankle wrapped lightly.

As of Sunday night, there had been no announcement from Virginia, with the likelihood that UVa coach Bronco Mendenhall will have something to say at his noon Monday news conference, if not earlier.

2. Who needs to step up in the secondary?

After Hall was injured, backup free safety and one-time quarterback recruit DeVante Cross took over at the boundary corner spot. Seldom-used junior Chris Moore also saw extended snaps at Miami.

The loss of Hall might have been mitigated if part-time 2018 starter Darrius Bratton had not incurred a torn ACL before the season. True freshman Fentrell Cypress II was listed as Hall's back-up Friday night and was likely to be redshirted before now.

3. What can be done for the running game?

Halfway through the regular season, Virginia has rushed for 612 yards, an average of 102 yards per game. The Cavaliers averaged 173.2 yards per game on the ground last year.

Sophomore Wayne Taulapapa has been UVa's primary ball-carrier but does not have a gain of more than 14 yards in 57 carries. Freshman Mike Hollins had the longest run of the season for the Cavaliers, a 37-yarder for one of his two touchdowns against William and Mary, but his lost fumble Friday night was critical.

4. What's the solution for reducing all the opposition's sacks?

UVa quarterback Bryce Perkins has been sacked 13 times in the past two games — eight against Notre Dame and five at Miami. The Cavaliers were sacked 31 times in 13 games last year, so this is nothing new.

Sophomore left tackle Ryan Swoboda has great size at 6-foot-10 and 290 pounds but was viewed as something of a project during his first two years, when his only start came as a tight end in a blocking situation.

The starting center, Olusegun Oluwatimi, has taken virtually snap at center after not seeing any action at Air Force Academy in 2017 or at UVa in 2018 as a transfer. Sophomore right tackle Bobby Haskins is another first-year starter.

5. How much has Duke improved since the start of the season?

Virginia has won all three of its games with Duke since Bronco Mendenhall's arrival as head coach, but the Blue Devils (4-2, 2-1) are the hotter team at the moment, coming off a 41-23 victory Saturday over visiting Georgia Tech.

Duke has won four of its last five games, including a 45-10 thumping of Virginia Tech, a longtime UVa nemesis.

Doug Doughty is in his 44th year at the Roanoke Times, having produced an estimated 10,000 by-lines, a majority of them on University of Virginia athletics.

Load comments