Georgia Tech ran right through Virginia’s defense last weekend, but the Cavaliers received some good news concerning the ground game of their next opponent, No. 17 TCU.
The Horned Frogs announced Wednesday that leading rusher Waymon James will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in TCU’s win over Kansas last week. James, who was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list this preseason as one of the nation’s top returning running backs, had 168 yards and a touchdown through two games this year. He was averaging 9.9 yards per carry.
In his place, TCU will likely lean on senior Matthew Tucker, who joined James on the Doak Walker Award watch list after both gained more than 700 yards in 2011. For that reason, Virginia Coach Mike London said Thursday he doesn’t envision the Horned Frogs’ game plan changing much to account for James’s absence.
“They have a system and they get players to plug into the system and do what they do,” London said. “I don’t envision the strategy of how they’ll play us will change.”
As for the situation regarding Virginia running back Clifton Richardson’s injured hamstring, it remains muddled. Though London said the sophomore has “done some things in practice” this week after aggravating the injury Saturday at Georgia Tech, no decision has been made in regards to a medical redshirt.
Richardson has been slowed by a hamstring injury since training camp began, and Saturday’s game was his first action of the year. As a freshman, he gained 366 yards as part of Virginia’s three-headed backfield.
“We talked about some things with our doctors, our medical personnel and when they’re ready to give a final conclusion about Clifton, then we’ll talk about it,” said London, who added a “definitive” plan would likely be announced heading into Virginia’s next ACC game at Duke on Oct. 6. “Right now, we’re just addressing different scenarios.”
The status of defensive end Bill Schautz (lower leg), wide receiver Tim Smith (lower extremity) and offensive guard Cody Wallace (ankle) remains a mystery because Virginia does not release an injury report before nonconference games. But for the first time this year, tackle Kelby Johnson (DeMatha) will travel with the team.
Johnson was suspended for the first two games of the season after violating team rules, but “he’s done the things I’ve asked him to do,” London said. Johnson is not listed on Virginia’s two-deep chart, which now includes freshman Sean Karl as the backup right guard behind junior Sean Cascarano.
The Cavaliers are looking for some depth on the interior of their offensive line with Wallace out and Cascarano and sophomore Conner Davis struggling at guard at times this year. Some have mentioned moving right tackle Morgan Moses back inside to guard, a position he played previously.
Moses said Wednesday he’d be willing to switch, but the coaches have not asked him to do so yet. London said Thursday Moses would remain at tackle this week to help combat TCU defensive end Stansley Maponga, a first team all-Mountain West performer last year.
Either way, Moses realizes the Cavaliers’ offensive line must start paving the way for a running game that is increasingly having to battle eight-man fronts.
“It just tells you they respect our run game and it’s probably why it hasn’t been going as well as it did last year,” Moses said. “It’s gonna break some time.”