Virginia looks to remain undefeated against Indiana

Saturday’s home game will be second of three-game home stand for the Cavaliers

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Senior free safety Quin Blanding talked about the difficulty of watching a teammate go down with a season-ending injury.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

With a convincing 28-10 win over William & Mary this past Saturday, Virginia will look to build some momentum as they get set to take on Indiana this weekend for their second game of the season.

The Cavaliers (1-0) received some bad news following the Tribe (0-1) game, announcing earlier this week that their defense will be without senior cornerback Tim Harris, who sustained a wrist injury in this past Saturday’s win. Harris is expected to undergo surgery miss the remainder of the season.

“Yeah, Tim [Harris] is done for the year; he's had a significant injury to his wrist,” Coach Bronco Mendenhall said. 

Senior free safety Quin Blanding talked about the difficulty of watching a teammate go down with a season-ending injury.

“It’s very tough,” Blanding said. “I know [Harris is] a very close friend of mine and he’s truly a brother; I know [Harris] since going into high school and being at different camps with him, and you know it’s a brotherhood, and it’s a tough loss for us and you know, we’re right there behind him and you know, we’re going to keep him going and keep him strong, and he’s going to keep us strong.”

Blanding also added that with Harris out for the season, it will be imperative for someone to step up and contribute in helping the defense play at a high level.

“Right now it’s just someone has to step up and someone has to become the next person, and you know, I say that with all respect out for [Harris] because that’s my guy, but someone has to step up,” Blanding said.

One possible player that can fill in for Harris is his replacement this past Saturday, freshman cornerback Germane Crowell. Mendenhall said Crowell will have to compete this week to earn the starting nod Saturday.

Crowell isn’t a typical freshman, for he has been with Virginia since January and even participated in spring practice. Blanding believes that if Crowell’s number is called, he will be ready to rise up to the challenge.

“He’s ready,” Blanding said. “You know, he’s a young guy, but you know, when your name is called you got to be ready at any time and you know, his time just been called so he has to step up major and he has to be ready to swing.”

Another big challenge this weekend will be going up against an Indiana team that plays at an incredibly fast pace. Mendenhall touched on what Virginia will look to do this week as they prepare for an offense with such a fast tempo.

“In the first half versus Ohio State, Indiana ran more plays than we defended the entire game the other night, so you're looking at almost double the output in terms of energy expenditure and volume of plays,” Mendenhall said.

He added that although there is work to be done this week to prepare for this aspect of the Hoosiers’ (0-1) game, Virginia has some ideas and experience to work with.

“So, but you also have to have a healthy, fast and fresh team, and so we have some ideas and obviously having defended our own offense for a long time at Brigham Young and a year ago we had a small taste of it against Oregon, so we have ideas,” Mendenhall said. “But, again, each team, each roster, you have to manage it a little bit differently, so we're working on that now.”

Virginia’s defense will also have to go up against Indiana’s quarterback, senior Richard Lagow. Lagow had a solid outing against one of the top teams in the country, No. 2 Ohio State last week, throwing for 410 yards and three touchdowns. When asked about Indiana’s quarterback, Mendenhall offered high praise.

“You're not going to rattle him and he's going to throw it really, really well — doesn't get sacked. He is really poised in terms of maturity to get rid of the ball effectively,” Mendenhall said. “Yeah, he throws it really well in a system that's really clearly defined of where they want the ball to go. Lots of run-pass option ideas where he has a specific defender that's in conflict and he makes a decision right a lot of times.”

Although there will be an emphasis on finding a way to neutralize Indiana’s fast paced offense, Blanding pointed out that Virginia will also need to play a complete game in all phases of the ball in order to be successful Saturday.

“We just got to improve all our game,” Blanding said. “Last week William & Mary didn’t throw that much against us and we got to get ready for the throwing game and we also got to stop the run as well so that’s all aspects of the game we got to focus on, I mean, special teams, offense, we got to contribute as one.”

The game against the Hoosiers and the Cavaliers is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville. It will be the second game in a three-game home stand for Virginia to start the season.

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