Going into the weekend, one of the more interesting football matchups between Virginia and North Carolina in Charlottesville was going to pit the Cavaliers against one of their teammates for the past four seasons, Carolina outside linebacker Noah Taylor.
But it turns out that Taylor suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of UNC’s game last Saturday night against Pittsburgh and has been lost for the season.
Taylor, a 6-foot-5-inch senior from Silver Spring, Maryland, is tied for seventh on the Carolina squad in tackles with 28 — 14 solo and 14 assisted. He also has a team-leading 7-1/2 sacks. Taylor decided to transfer after former UVa head coach Bronco Mendenhall elected not to return.
“When Bronco decided to step away from coaching, I just saw [transferring] as an opportunity to see another way that somebody else runs a program, learn a new defense and experience something new,” Taylor was quoted on a UNC website.
“I was in Charlottesville for four years. I love that place but it was getting kind of boring and old.”
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Olesegun Oluwatimi, a three-year starter at center for Virginia after beginning his career at Air Force, where he also was a starter, is the starting center at Michigan. He has been nominated for the Rimington Trophy, which goes to college football’s top center.
Hanging in there
Few UVa football players have had a professional career as lengthy as that of offensive lineman Morgan Moses, now starting at offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.
Moses, chosen by Washington in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, has missed one game during an eight-year career that included a stint with the New York Jets in 2021. He subsequently signed a three-year deal with the Ravens worth $15 million.
He previously had started 16 games in seven straight seasons.
Virginia linebacker James Jackson from Pulaski County, by way of North Cross School in Roanoke, ranks fourth on the UVa team in tackles with 44 in eight games. Senior Nick Jackson has a team-leading 84 tackles, and nobody else has more than 56.
Nick Howell, a defensive coordinator at Virginia leading up to Mendenhall’s resignation, is the defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt, which has had consecutive losses of 55-3 to Alabama, 52-28 to Mississippi and 55-0 to Georgia.
That’s hardly Howell’s fault.
At Virginia, Howell shared duties with Kelly Poppinga, currently the co-special teams coach at Boise State, which is 6-2. Poppinga also coaches the EDGE position for the Broncos.
Mendenhall most recently has been heard on podcasts, and it’s possible that he could return to coaching at some point, which is more than has been heard from his former rival, ex-Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, who agreed with Tech officials that he would resign with two games remaining in the 2021 season.
Bored with football?
Monday begins the women’s basketball season for Virginia Tech, which plays host to Delaware State at 5 p.m., while Amaka Agugua-Hamilton makes her debut as UVa women’s head coach against George Washington.
The Tech men tip off at 7 p.m. with Delaware while the UVa men face North Carolina Central at 9 p.m. In the men’s rankings that Jeff Sagarin calculates for USA Today, Virginia is 23rd, Virginia Tech is 43rd, Delaware is 163rd and North Carolina Central is 305th.
Some of the other schools in the Cardinal News readership are Liberty at No. 112, VMI at No. 260, Radford at No. 268 and James Madison at 180. At No. 203, Longwood is definitely a sleeper. Southern Virginia, a preseason choice for second in the USA South Conference poll, does not appear in the Sagarin rankings, nor does its conference.