No introduction is needed as Virginia faces off with William and Mary
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Familiarity is the theme as Virginia welcomes William and Mary to the season opener for both teams on Saturday night in Charlottesville, Va.
Not only are the two teams full of returning starters and veteran players, the coaches of the Atlantic Coast Cavaliers Conference and the Colonial Athletic Association tribe also share multiple connections.
Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall is entering his sixth year at Virginia with a 30-32 record, including 5-5 last season. On offense, he returns eight players with 10 or more starts as well as the players who produced 82% of the total offense as of 2020. Six players on the defensive side have made at least 20 starts.
Mendenhall’s predecessor at UVA is Mike London, who is entering his third season at the helm of William & Mary. He’s 6-9 overall with the Tribe, including 1-2 last spring after the pandemic wiped out the fall slate. London, who was 27-46 in six seasons with the Cavaliers (2010-15), returns all of their starters on both sides of the ball.
The London coaching staff includes former Virginia assistant Vincent Brown and former Cavaliers players Gordon Sammis, Matt Johns, Ras-I Dowling, Keenan Carter and Darryl Blackstock.
“I think what Coach London did at William & Mary just made perfect sense to me,” Mendenhall said of having so many former Virginia players as coaches. “This is exactly the model I believe in and will continue to. I like to hire from the inside and build from the inside.”
Virginia, selected to finish fifth in the CCA Coastal Division in the preseason poll, is led by quarterback Brennan Armstrong, running back Wayne Taulapapa, wide receiver Billy Kemp IV and versatile Keytaon Thompson , who lined up in QB, RB and WR last year. .
Quarterback Hollis Mathis and running back Malachi Imoh lead W&M, selected to finish 11th in the 12-team CAA.
“I feel good about the talent of this team, the depth of this team, the seniority, the leadership,” said London. “There are a lot of positive things that come out from spring to summer and come in fall.”
Virginia is 30-6-1 in the all-time series and has won 10 of the last 11 games, including 52-17 in the last clash on September 6, 2019. William and Mary’s last victory in the rivalry in the State was in 2009.