The Virginia Cavaliers got their 2019 season off to a great start as the Cavaliers won their first game against a conference opponent no less.
Virginia went on the road and defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers 30-14 behind two touchdowns and 181 passing yards from quarterback Bryce Perkins. The Cavaliers defense was also able to shut out the Panthers offense in the second half.
Virginia will have their home opener at Scott Stadium Friday night against William & Mary, a fellow Commonwealth program from the FCS ranks. The Tribe will have a familiar face on their sideline in head coach Mike London. In his first season at William & Mary, London was the Cavaliers' head coach from 2010-15. He went 27-46 (14-34 in ACC play) in those six seasons before he was fired and replaced by current head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Virginia owns a 29-6-1 edge in the all-time series with William & Mary. The Cavaliers have won nine of the last 10 meetings, the most recent being a 28-10 victory in 2017.
William & Mary at Virginia
Kickoff: Friday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
When William & Mary Has the Ball
William & Mary has installed what they call a "go-go" offense, which is designed to be high-powered and give them as many possessions in a game as possible.
In the third quarter against Layafette last week, William & Mary was able to score three touchdowns to come away with the 30-17 victory. The Tribe's total yards (418) and rushing yards (255) were its most since the 2016 season.
For a team that averaged 13.6 points a game last season, it was an excellent start to the year. True freshman quarterback Hollis Mathis had 193 total yards, including 127 and a touchdown on the ground, in the win.
The Cavaliers will have to watch out for the Tribe's rushing attack if they are going to be successful on Friday night.
When Virginia Has the Ball
Against Pittsburgh, Virginia's offense got off to a good start before stalling and the Cavaliers entered halftime trailing 14,13. After the break, UVA outscored the Panthers 16-0 to cruise to victory. This week against William & Mary, Virginia should receive a much-needed boost to their offense.
The Cavaliers expect to have running backs Tavares Kelly and Billy Kemp back after both set out the opener due to a violation of team rules. Wide receiver Dejon Brissett also is expected to be back after he missed the game against Pitt.
Expect the Cavaliers to run the ball with quarterback Bryce Perkins and Wayne Taulapapa getting a lot of carries. Taulapapa was effective with this touches, picking up 66 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries last week. An effective ground game should open up things through the air, including potential big plays for Joe Reed. Against Pitt, Reed had just 34 yards on a team-high seven catches.
Mike London is probably the right man to lead William & Mary moving forward after having prior success at Richmond and Howard University. But with questions at the quarterback position and the lack of overall depth and talent, this is a game Virginia should be able to run away with early.
The Cavaliers have one of the better defenses in the country, and they should be able to limit the Tribe's rushing attack. That will force William & Mary to pass more, and that is something this team definitely does not want.
On a short week, this will be a good preparation game for the Cavaliers as they will host the Florida State Seminoles next Saturday.
Prediction: Virginia 49, William & Mary 6
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.