College Football: Week 14 Boston College at Pitt

Boston College Eagles (5-6) vs Pittsburgh Panthers (7-4)

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BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES | ATLANTIC COASTAL CONFERENCE

Coach: Steve Addazio

Boston College Players to watch

*Junior RB A.J. Dillon (6-0/250)

Dillion has 4,204 rushing yards in his three years at BC.

Dillon has thrived in the Eagles’ “12-personnel” double tight end power run game, and became the school’s all-time leading rusher at No. 2 Clemson on Oct. 26. Dillon holds school records for rushing yards (4,204) and rushing touchdowns (37) and is within striking distance of the ACC career rushing record (4,602) held by NC State’s Ted Brown.

“I think we are lucky to have him, I think it’s awesome,” said BC coach Steve Addazio. “I think he made a great decision to come here and to be able to be in a style of offense that would feature his talents and be at a university that would give him an elite degree.”

The PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced today the 10 semifinalists for the 2019 Doak Walker Award, including AJ Dillon of Boston College. It marked the second consecutive season that Dillon has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the nation’s top running back award.

*Junior LB Max Richardson (6-0/230)

One of the elite tacklers in the game, Richardson brings great speed, athleticism and instincts to the field. The former three star recruit had 13 offers, but only three from power five schools. Richardson has developed into another in the long line of great Boston College linebackers.

Richardson’s 95 tackles rank 18th in the country, the best that Notre Dame will face all season. His 63 solo tackles rank fourth in the country. He also leads the team in tackles for loss (14) and sacks (3.5.) He’s an underrated candidate for the All-American team that is likely a lock for the All-ACC team.

**Sophomore TE Hunter Long (6-5/250)

Boston College redshirt sophomore Hunter Long is a stretch-the-field tight end. That term is seldom applied to tight ends, which are typically oversized pass-eligible extensions to the offensive line. Long’s ability to execute deep routes down the middle of the field, combined with the power to pile up yards after the catch on screens, has made an exciting player to watch in the ACC.

Senior OT Benjamin Petrula (6-5/310)

The anchor on the Boston College offensive line is junior tackle Ben Petrula. The 6-5, 310-pound lineman was named to the Outland Trophy watchlist this past summer and also earned first team all-ACC honors. The Eagles’ offensive line was named to the Joe Moore Award midseason honor roll for their performance in the first half of the 2019 season.

Boston College is currently ranked 16th in the FBS in yards per rush attempt. As a team, the Eagles are averaging 5.3 yards per carry. That success in the run game can be partially attributed to the play of running back AJ Dillon, but the offensive line has also been playing well.

**Sophomore CB Brandon Sebastian (6-1/185)

The redshirt sophomore from West Haven, Conn., already has 87 career tackles, three intereceptions and 16 passes defended. “Huge plays,” Sebastian said earlier this year. “That’s what we talk about most. When we get in the red zone, we have to stop [them]. When we get stops in the red zone, we’re high-fiving each other. The more red zone stops, we take it as a win for the defense.”

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PITTSBURGH PANTHERS | ATLANTIC COASTAL CONFERENCE

Coach: Pat Narduzzi

Pittsburgh Players to watch:

**Sophomore NT Jaylen Twyman (6-2/290)

Twyman now has a team-high 10.0 sacks on the year, the most by a Pitt interior defensive lineman since Aaron Donald had 11 during his All-America senior season in 2013. Twyman ranks seventh nationally (second in the ACC) with an average of 0.95 sacks per game. The Panthers lead the nation with 48 total sacks (4.36 per game).

“The defense played another outstanding game. You win championships with defense. Another spectacular performance by them,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said after the Georgia Tech victory. “They were put in some tough positions in the first half with three turnovers and they just rise to the occasion. It’s an impressive group of guys out there.”

*Junior DE Patrick Jones (6-5/270)

Jones is on pace for over 10 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. Last season, Jones finished with seven sacks and just over five tackles for loss. He’s much improved as a player, thus he’s a legit NFL prospect. In fact, Jones made The Draft Network’s Joe Marino’s stock up for Week 9, praising his vision, ability to finish and slip offensive tackles. He’s a defensive end that does everything right. Jones is smooth with solid hands and sets the edge. Jones isn’t on many draft media big boards yet, but his name will start to appear as the season ends.

Senior WLB Kylan Johnson (6-2/232)

Kylan Johnson, a Florida grad transfer and Pitt’s starter at “Money” linebacker, has seven sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss. Over three active seasons at Florida (2016-18), Johnson played in 33 career games and made nine starts. He compiled career totals of 83 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-los and one sack. Johnson is a native of Dallas, Texas, and graduate of Skyline High School.
 
“Kylan is a really smart player with a great nose for the football,” Narduzzi said. “He can play either outside linebacker position and is a great fit for our scheme. Kylan’s experience and athleticism will be immediate assets for our linebacker group.”

Senior CB Dane Jackson (6-0/190)

Jackson’s 37 total tackles, seventh on the team, is a testament to his willingness to stick his nose in there and make a play. He is currently tied with Damarri Mathis for the team lead with 11 passes break ups, giving him a whopping 38 passes defended for his career, with at least one more game to go. He also has four career INTs.

*Junior QB Kenny Pickett (6-2/220)

Pickett was named ACC Player of the Week following the Nov. 14 victory over North Carolina. Pickett completed 25-of-41 passes with no interceptions. His 74-yard touchdown pass to Shocky Jacques-Louis equaled Pitt’s longest scoring play of the season. Pickett also rushed for 53 yards on 12 carries, giving him 412 of the Panthers’ season-high 498 yards.  Pickett has used some new techniques taught to him by offensive coordinator Mark Whipple (footwork, etc.) and looked confident in the pocket this year.

Unfortunately, Pickett went from his best performance of the year to the worst the following week vs Virginia Tech. Pickett went 10-of-26 for 103 yards; he had -12 yard on the ground; and a quarterback rating of 71.7. Pickett has a Td/Int ratio of 10-8 this year and has had problems getting the ball in the endzone.

**Sophomore WR Shocky Jacques-Louis (6-0/180)

Jacques-Louis has emerged from the shadows of senior wide out Maurice FFrench. The week after Ffrench got hurt, Jacques-Louis had a break-out performance with four catches for 104 yards. The native of Fort Myers, Fla., is using his speed to his advantage.

Ffrench is a “game-time decision” for Pitt’s game at No. 25 Virginia Tech, head coach Pat Narduzzi said Thursday afternoon. Narduzzi said in his postgame press conference last Thursday that his senior wide receiver and captain suffered a broken jaw Nov. 2 at Georgia Tech.

**Sophomore SS Paris Ford (6-0/195)

Ford leads the team in solo tackles (46) and total tackles (75). He also has nine passes defended, three interceptions, and three forced fumbles. The sophomore from Steel Valley said he’s more mature this season, and it has helped him make plays and gain confidence.

Unfortunately, the redshirt sophomore was ejected from the VT game last week for the second time this season after being flagged for targeting in the fourth quarter. It’s the fourth time this season a Pitt player has picked up a targeting foul. Ford will miss the first half of next week’s regular season finale vs. Boston College.

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Heinz Field Grass
Nov. 30 | Pittsburgh, PA

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*Be sure to check out the latest College Football Playoff Rankings.

College Football: Week 14 Clemson at South Carolina

#3 Clemson Tigers (11-0) vs South Carolina Gamecocks (4-7)

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Coming off a bye, Clemson will not overlook instate rival South Carolina on road to playoffs.

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CLEMSON TIGERS | ATLANTIC COASTAL CONFERENCE

Coach: Dabo Swinney

Clemson Players to watch

*Junior RB Travis Etienne (5-10/200)

Etienne has scored 55 touchdowns in three seasons at Clemson.

Earlier this month, Etienne broke C.J. Spiller’s record for career touchdowns (51). Currently, Etienne has 51 touchdowns on the ground and four receiving. With two more rushing touchdowns, Etienne would break (Pitt) James Conner’s ACC record for most career rushing touchdowns in conference history. Look for HC Dabo Swinney to get his playmaker the record.

Last week against Wake Forest, Etienne rushed 16 times for 121 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 37 yards. With his sixth straight 100-yard rushing performance, he took sole possession of the school record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games, surpassing five-game streaks by Kenny Flowers (1985) and Raymond Priester (1996-97). Following his performance, Etienne was named a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award.

Senior OG John Simpson (6-4/330)

Simpson was recently named one of six semifinalists for the 2019 Outland Trophy. The Outland Trophy is awarded annually to the nation’s best college interior lineman on offense or defense.

Simpson has been a regular in the ACC weekly honor roll with three Offensive Lineman of the Week awards, the latest coming Nov. 11 after grading at 90 percent with four knockdowns in a 55-10 win over N.C. State. Clemson’s offense is averaging 543.1 yards per game, third nationally. It has reached 50 points in a fourth straight game for the first time in program history.

As for pass protection, Simpson is part of a line that has allowed only 12 sacks in its last 19 games. He became the first Clemson offensive lineman to score a touchdown since 2011 with a one-yard plunge against N.C. State. His senior class at Clemson is 52-3 overall the past four seasons. The Tigers have never had an Outland winner but had two semifinalists last year (defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt).

In high school, Simpson led Fort Dorchester to its first football state championship in 2015. The following winter, Simpson won the Class AAAA wrestling state championship in the 285-pound weight class.

*Junior WR Tee Higgins (6-4/210)

Higgins is one of the many potential first round picks on the Clemson Tigers offense. Heading into the final game of the regular season, Higgins has recorded 40 receptions for 799 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games. The year before, he had 59 receptions for 936 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Higgins’ production at Clemson should come as no surprise. Physically, he is able to extend his catch radius like few others. He’s big, fast, and athletic. Averaging over 20 yards per catch, he has routinely scorched defenses with speed, acceleration, and great angles.

*Junior SLB Isaiah Simmons (6-2/230)

Simmons has been named one of five finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. The award goes to the best defensive player in college football as voted on by the FWAA All-American Committee.

One of the nation’s top linebackers and Clemson’s most prolific tacklers (74 on the season), Simmons leads the Tigers in sacks (6.0) and tackles for loss (12.0) with five pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble and one recovery. To date Simmons is one of only five FBS players credited with at least 65 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss and 6.0 sacks this season. He has had five games of eight tackles or more. No one has been on the field at Clemson more than Simmons; his 536 snaps played is 69 more (13 percent) than fellow linebacker James Skalski. Simmons is Clemson’s fourth finalist of the last five seasons and its sixth overall. Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2010.

**Sophomore QB Trevor Lawrence (6-6/215)

Lawrence has exceptional arm strength, surprising mobility, and could be the number one overall draft pick in next year. The Georgia native has thrown for at least three touchdowns in six consecutive games, becoming the first player in school history to accomplish that feat.

“He’s been playing well… If I had to guess and just give my analysis of it, he’s found out how to block out the noise like he did last year. He’s not worried about what people are saying. He’s not letting anybody get inside his head,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “He’s just going to work every single day and not trying to do too much, understanding that he’s got a ton of weapons around him. He’s got a lot of support, that he doesn’t have to do everything by himself. I think that’s just allowed him to go out and play with the cool and calmness that we’re used to.”

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SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS | SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE

Coach: Will Muschamp

South Carolina Players to watch:

Senior DT Javon Kinlaw (6-6/302)

“Play by play; that’s all I try to do. I just try to do my job and that’s about it. (The Georgia game) was a confidence boost. We knew we could play.”

Kinlaw, a 6-6, 310-pound senior, has filled up the stat line with 31 tackles including 6.0 sacks, tied for fourth in the SEC, three quarterback hurries, a pair of fumble recoveries and a blocked kick. Kinlaw, who some NFL experts have labeled a first-round NFL draft pick, was the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his performance at Georgia, and was a midseason All-American by both the AP (first team) and The Athletic (second team).

“We had a big offseason with our strength coach,” Kinlaw said. “(Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning) Coach (Mark) Campbell, he really tested us mentally. More mentally than physically. He would do things to try to get us uncomfortable. He really broke us down and rebuilt us and reshaped us, especially me.”

Senior RB Tavien Feaster (5-11/221)

Former Clemson running back Tavien Feaster will get a shot against his former team, assuming he is back from a groin injury that has sidelined him since early November. Feaster transferred to South Carolina during the summer in search of more playing time and has rushed for 625 yards while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Clemson players and coaches said at the time of Feaster’s decision and again leading up to this game that they understood why Feaster left and they have nothing but respect for him.

The South Carolina running back has been invited to the East-West Shrine bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida and has accepted the invitation. That game is set for January 18, 2020.

Senior MLB T.J. Brunson (6-1/235)

In 2018, Brunson was named as one of four permanent team captains. With his athleticism to play the run, cover receivers and running backs and also get after the quarterback, it is no surprise his teammates look up to him.

Brunson was recognized by his peers with four postseason defensive awards: he shared the Joe Morrison Award as the MVP with Javon Kinlaw; he was one of three Unselfish Teammate Award winners; he garnered the Leadership Award; and he shared the Most Productive Player Award with Jaycee Horn. Brunson also received the Nutrition Award from the coaches. On the field, he led the team with a career-high 106 tackles and tied for seventh in the SEC averaging 8.2 tackles per game.

“Being healthy makes a huge difference,” he said earlier this year. “And just understanding angles and everything. Just the preparation that we’ve put in for it, I think that will all come into play and it will all mold into one. I think that will be the biggest improvement from last year.”

*Junior DE Aaron Sterling (6-1/246)

Many would call Sterling undersized, yet he’s racked up six sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss on the season. “He’s slippery. That’s what he does. He’ll be finessing them guys out there,” South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw said of Sterling. “He’s doing his thing. People always try to knock him because of his size, but his heart, he got a heart of a giant.”

“I’m just trying to help my team win, and I know getting to the quarterback can win you games,” Sterling said. “If the quarterback can’t really throw the ball and he can be affected the whole game, it’s hard for him to throw accurately.”

Senior WR Bryan Edwards (6-3/215)

Muschamp said he expects most of his injured players back for the Clemson game. That might not include star receiver Bryan Edwards, who is doubtful after a knee scope, Muschamp said.  Edwards missed the Texas A&M game with swelling around a sprained meniscus.

Edwards leads the SEC with 7.1 receptions per game; and is fifth with 81.6 receiving yards per contest.

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Williams-Brice Stadium Grass
Nov. 30 | Columbia, South Carolina

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*Note: Rankings are based on the CFP (College Football Playoff Rankings).

College Football: Week 14 Missouri at Arkansas

Missouri Tigers (5-6) vs Arkansas Razorbacks (2-9)

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MISSOURI TIGERS | SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE

Coach: Barry Odom

Missouri Players to watch

*Junior TE Albert Okwuegbunam (6-5/255)

A native of Springfield, Il, Okwuegbunam was named second team All-SEC last season. A game-changing tight end who had a potentially award-winning season cut short by what proved to be a season-ending injury in game nine at Florida. Prior to the injury, had proved to be among the top pass-catching tight ends in the nation, and was even named a finalist for the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation’s top player at the position. Okwuegbunam ended the year with 43 catches for 466 yards (both career highs) and six touchdowns in his nine games.

Okwuegbunam is on every scouts radar, he can run a 4.4 forty and max squat 650 pounds. He needs to continue to improve his blocking, and his route running to create better separation, but there will be a team that will fall in love with his speed and build.

*Junior DT Jordan Elliott (6-4/315)

Elliott is one of the key players who makes the entire Missouri Tigers defense go. He is responsible for getting the push up front to clear the way for the big plays Cale Garrett and Nick Bolton are freed up to make. Elliott, a Texas transfer, has eight tackles-for-loss, two sacks, and two passed defended, so far this year. He has been one of the best defensive linemen in the SEC, and those guys rarely stay in college. Look for him to make the jump to the next level after the season is over.

**Sophomore LB Nick Bolton (6-0/235)

Defensive Coordinator Ryan Walters’ unit has played arguably its best football of the season during this on-going losing streak. Against ranked opponents Georgia and Florida, both of which have offenses in the top half of the SEC, Missouri allowed just four touchdowns.

Everything for the Missouri Tigers’ defense starts with a great push up front. But the guys on the back end of the front seven who take advantage of that are also crucial, and they make the most splash plays.

Nick Bolton fits that bill. The sophomore linebacker has had to step up his game even more in Cale Garrett’s absence, and he has done just that. For the season, he leads the team in tackles with 84, solo tackles with 61, and tackles for a loss with eight and a half. He has twice as many tackles as any other individual on Mizzou.

On top of that, though, Bolton is an elite playmaker in coverage. He has two interceptions on the year in addition to four pass deflections, and he has returned one of those interceptions back for a touchdown.

Senior PK/P Tucker McCann (6-2/215)

“That’s what you do as a kicker, you focus on the next kick,” McCann said. “The little things relate to the bigger things. It’s really just focusing on the little things, first of all, and then that’ll make the bigger things worth it.”

The O’Fallon, Illinois, native has dreams and expectations going forward, but he knows the circumstances under which he kicks the best. “One thing I’ve learned being here is just to stay in the moment,” McCann said. “Anytime I’ve thought about what’s next or the past or anything like that is when I haven’t performed as well.”

Senior LB Cale Garrett (6-3/230)

Missouri received crushing injury news midway through their season, that middle linebacker Cale Garrett is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the season. Garrett suffered a pectoral tendon injury during the team’s 42-10 win over Troy on October 5. He will underwent surgery on following Tuesday.

Garrett didn’t play during the second half of the win, but when he was on the field, he continued his All-American caliber senior season. He intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown, his third score in as many games. He is the first Missouri defensive player ever to find the end zone in three games in a row and just the second Tiger ever to score three defensive touchdowns in a season.

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ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS | SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE

Coach: Barry Lunney Jr.

Arkansas Players to watch:

Senior DT MeTelvin Agim (6-3/285)

Agim, from Texarkana, Texas, has started all 12 games this season for the Razorbacks, recording 36 tackles, 19 solo, the most by an Arkansas lineman this year. He has 8.5 tackles for loss, with five sacks, three quarterback hurries, a fumble forced and a fumble recovered.

He’s tallied at least 7.5 tackles for loss in each of the last three years, including 10 last year, making him the first Razorback with double-digit TFLs since Deatrich Wise Jr. in 2015. He has 31.5 tackles-for-loss over his collegiate career, putting him 1.5 away from 10th on the career TFL list at Arkansas, while sitting at 14.5 sacks, needing two more to crack the top 10 mark by a Razorback.

*Junior RB Rakeem Boyd (6-0/200)

Boyd, a Texas A&M transfer, sits near the top of the SEC rushing leader board. “I’ve paid attention to detail and really got in the playbook a little bit, and started watching a little film with my linemen,” he said.

”I kind of like them to critique me every time I run the ball or make a pass play, or scan the defense. I’ve got a little bit better at it. Last year I just came in and wasn’t ready to focus in. Now I’m just locked in.” Boyd is on pace for a 1,200 yard rushing season on a team that has played four different quarterbacks. What makes him special is his ability to stick his foot in the ground and make people miss.

***Freshman WR Treylon Burks (6-3/225)

Arkansas ranks 106th nationally in scoring (22.3 points per game) and total offense (353.5 yards per game), so there have been few bright spot beyond Boyd. Howver, redshirt freshman WR Treylon Burks has been a breath of fresh air this season. He leads the Razorbacks in yards receiving with 389 on 25 receptions. He also has rushed for 28 yards and is the primary punt returner, fielding 12 for an average of 10.8 yards.

Senior MLB De’Jon “Scoota” Harris (6-0/245)

Harris, from Harvey, Louisiana, leads the team in total tackles this season with 82, which ranks third in the SEC. He has 3.5 tackles for loss this season, two pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and one fumble forced.

He is 18 tackles away from his third consecutive 100-tackle season, which would make him the fourth Razorback ever to tally 100 or more tackles in three-straight seasons. He has four double-digit tackle games this season and 19 over his collegiate career.

Senior TE Cheyenne O’Grady (6-4/251)

On Nov. 4th then-HC Chad Morris announced that “C.J.” O’Grady would be suspended from team indefinitely.

A bumpy road for Arkansas tight end CJ O’Grady has come to an end after not playing in Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State (Nov 2).When asked about the O’Grady following the game, Chad Morris said O’Grady was suspended and did not mention reasoning. Morris announced at a press conference that the two agreed the O’Grady would “step away” from the football program. Saturday was the third time O’Grady has been suspended in his career as a Razorback. The first came from Bret Bielema, when O’Grady was arrested as a true freshman and charged with driving while intoxicated.

However, O’Grady will be NLF Draft eligible this year. So, I thought it worth mentioning a spectacular effort play he had earlier in the season: a highlight play definitely worth seeing.

O’Grady caught a 15-yard pass to the sideline and was immediately jumped on by a Colorado State defender. O’Grady, with said defender on his back, ran another 10 yards down the field. Two more Rams show up, they also fail to tackle him; then two more show up. Now he’s got five Rams on him, he’s got the ball covered up, when he slips out of the pack. His hand touches the ground to regain his balance. A wide receiver shows up to run interference, as O’Grady runs it 30 more yards into the endzone. A must see play.

O’Grady was a bright spot for the Hogs during a struggling season as the leading receiver with 33 catches for 373 yards and three touchdowns. The stellar performance comes after his breakout junior year – catching 30 passes for 400 yards and six touchdowns, despite playing in just seven games.

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Razorback Stadium SyntheticTurf
Nov. 30 | Fayetteville, Arkansas

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*Be sure to check out the latest College Football Playoff Rankings.

College Football: Week 14 Virginia Tech at Virginia

Virginia Tech Hokies (8-3) vs Virginia Cavaliers (8-3)

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The two schools first met in 1895 and have played annually since 1970. The game counts for 1 point in the Commonwealth Clash each year, and is part of the greater Virginia–Virginia Tech rivalry.

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VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES | ATLANTIC COASTAL CONFERENCE

Coach: Justin Fuente

Virginia Tech Players to watch

*Junior MLB Rayshard Ashby (5-10/230)

Ashby has been named ACC Linebacker of the Week five times in his career. He earned the weekly honor last season after racking up seven tackles, 2.0 tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble in the opener at Florida State (Sept. 2018) and again earlier this season following the Boston College game (Aug. 31, 2019), following the Miami game (Oct. 5) and once again following the North Carolina game (Oct. 19).

Ashby was a 2018 All-ACC Honorable Mention pick after racking up 105 tackles, 9.5 TFL and forcing two fumbles as a sophomore. Ashby prepped at L.C. Bird High School. He currently has 14.5 tackles-for-loss, along with 4.5 sacks, one pass defended and two forced fumbles. 

*Junior FS Divine Deablo (6-3/220)

On Nov. 2, Deablo scored his first career touchdown on a 98-yard fumble return after MLB Ashby jolted the football ball from a Notre Dame ball carrier near the goal line. The Winston-Salem, N.C. native has registered 64 tackles on the season, including 4.5 tackles for loss. He had two passes defended and forced a fumble at Miami (Oct. 5).

*Junior WR Damon Hazelton (6-2/222)

After sitting out all of 2017 (per NCAA rules), Ball State transfer Damon Hazelton led Tech with 51 catches for 802 yards in his first season as a Hokie. He earned second-team All-ACC honors after registering eight touchdown catches in 13 games.

The Baltimore native missed the first three games of the 2019 season, and only recorded one catch in each of his next two games (Duke and Miami, Fl.). Since then, he has caught 21 passes for 287 yards and six touchdowns.

**Sophomore WHIP Chamarri Conner (6-10/206)

Virginia Tech whip linebacker Chamarri Conner was called for a questionable late hit on the opening drive of the second half of last weeks’ game vs Pitt. The play gave Pitt. 15-yards, but what did it mean to his teammates? “Really big,” Ashby said of Conner’s second half play. “Just the dog mentality he has, the way he comes to work every day in practice, he gives it all he’s got for each person out there. He makes a lot of big hits and a lot of big plays, and we just appreciate him so much.”

Going into the Commonwealth Clash, Conner has 10.0 tackles-for-loss, 5.5 sacks, seven passes defended, and one forced fumble.

*Junior OLB Dax Hollifield (6-1/243)

“I say we’re more confident, but you’ve got to understand just because you win three games doesn’t mean anything,” linebacker Dax Hollifield said heading into the Nov 2 contest against Notre Dame. “You can’t change. The reason we’ve won these past three games is because of how we practiced and how we went about our business every day. When you start feeling good about yourself is about the time you get knocked down.”

Since their loss to Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Hollifield have admirably bounced back, and are currently on another three game winning streak. Hollifield is fourth on the team in total tackles.

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VIRGINIA CAVALIERS | ATLANTIC COASTAL CONFERENCE

Coach: Bronco Mendenhall

Virginia Players to watch:

Senior QB Bryce Perkins (6-3/210)

On Oct 26, Perkins scored three TD’s and threw for 275 yards with a broken pinky.

On Nov. 2, Bryce Perkins set a school record with 490 total yards of offense while also scoring five total touchdowns.  Perkins was 30-39 throwing the ball for 378 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns. “He had not been as good a thrower as he was a runner,” North Carolina HC Mack Brown said after the game, “so we felt like we had to make him throw the ball to win the game, and he did.”

Last year, Perkins as one of only two players in the nation with 2,600+ passing yards (2,680) and 900+ rushing yards (923), joining Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray (Oklahoma). Perkins finished No. 1 in the ACC with 206 points responsible for. His 3,603 yards of total offense shattered UVA’s single-season record for total offense.

All of this, comes from a kid who suffered a broken neck in high school, and even through Perkins understood the gravity of a broken neck and the potential for paralysis, he wasn’t ready to ditch football. His brother had just been drafted by the New York Giants, and their dad had played in the NFL. Perkins wanted to follow their leads.

“It was all part of God’s plan,” says Bruce Perkins, Bryce’s father and a former running back at Arizona State and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “U.Va. was the right place at the right time.”

**Junior MLB Zane Zandier (6-3/235)

“I learned from a young age what it meant to be able to grind through the pain of working out and being able to push myself to levels I didn’t think possible,” Zandier said.

“The thing with Zane is, he works,” Zandier’s high school coach Bill Cherpak said. “I mean, you can just look at him and tell how hard he works. Not only was he one of the best players, but he also worked the hardest. He was a leader. All those things go together, and that’s what he does so well. And it’s what he still does. He’s that guy who’s going to be the example for everyone.”

Zandier, Virginia’s leading tackler with 75 stops this season, has guided the Cavaliers to a 8-3 record overall and a 5-2 mark in ACC play. Virginia hosts Virginia Tech in the regular-season finale to effectively determine the Coastal’s fate. “Coastal, ACC championship, win a bowl game,” Zandier said. “That’s what we’re chasing.”

Senior ILB Jordan Mack (6-2/230)

On Wednesday, Virginia linebacker Jordan Mack was named one of 12 finalists for the 2019 William V. Campbell Trophy, which is given to the best football scholar-athlete in the country.

Mack, who stands 6-2, is a chiseled 230-pounder who may well be bound for the NFL. He came to Virginia as a safety, but changed positions during his first training camp and started nine games at outside linebacker as a true freshman. 
 
In 2017, he moved to inside linebacker in the Cavaliers’ 3-4 scheme. He’ll leave the program as a four-year starter who sets the standard for his teammates in the weight room and off the field. In 2019, Mack has 7.5 tackles-for-loss and 7.5 sacks.

**Sophomore RB Wayne Taulapapa (5-9/200)

At the end of September, when the Cavaliers were 4-1, but fresh off a loss to Notre Dame, head coach Bronco Mendenhall had this to say about Taulapapa, “He’s tough, and he’s physical and he’s elusive. But probably the best thing that he does is his vision. And then he’ll run down on a kickoff and he’s good on special teams. So he’s just a football player with a contribution-based mindset. It’s just that, ‘Coach what can I do, how can I help.'”

Taulapapa is second in rushing, behind Perkins, with 399 yards on 97 carries. He also has a team-high 11 touchdowns.

Senior KR/WR Joe Reed (6-1/215)

Joe Reed, who recorded four catches for 31 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s win over Liberty, will play in January’s East-West Shrine Bowl, announced Friday. The invite-only bowl game offers an opportunity for some of the best college football seniors across the country to showcase their talents in front of NFL scouts.

Through 11 games, Reed has 1,304 all-purpose yards with an outstanding 35.5 average on 21 kicks returned.

Senior CB Bryce Hall (6-20/200)

On Oct. 11, following the Cavaliers’ 17-9 loss Friday night at Miami, All-ACC cornerback Bryce Hall was lost for the season with a left-ankle injury. Since he had already played in five games in his fourth season, Hall is ineligible for a fifth year in 2020.

“He will not return this season and we’ll help him rehab for his next opportunity,” said Mendenhall, realizing that Hall would have attracted considerable NFL interest if he would have made himself available after the 2018 season.

***

Scott Stadium – Grass
Nov. 29 (Fri) | Charlottesville, Virginia