Virginia Coach Mike London spent the Cavaliers’ bye week self-scouting, and indicated Monday that after six straight losses his team might be best served by infusing more of its inexperienced players into the mix. But part of any youth movement this week will also be the result of disciplinary action.
London announced that linebacker Henry Coley, tight end Jeremiah Mathis and fullback LoVonte Battle will not play Saturday at North Carolina State after violating team rules. Coley, a redshirt sophomore, is Virginia’s starting strong-side linebacker and fourth-leading tackler this season.
London would not disclose the reason for the suspensions, but did say the players’ status going forward would be determined next week. He did note, however, that Coley’s misstep could wind up costing him his starting job. Coley had started every game this season, totaling 40 tackles through eight games.
In Coley’s place, London said sophomore Daquan Romero would likely start Saturday and freshman Demetrie Brim could also see extensive time after proving himself on special teams this year. London praised Brim’s physicality and hustle Monday.
Romero “has done a nice job of when he’s been in the game of performing, and now here’s an opportunity for him to step up and either solidify that spot by performance or … it’s open for competition by Demetrie Brim still battling for that spot,” London said.
“We’ll see what happens with Henry when Henry comes back, but the signal is that a position that’s open now due to the circumstances that have occurred is wide open in terms of the competition. The best man up, the best man to step up and make it happen.”
Losing Mathis and Battle should have a minimal impact. Mathis was part of a four-tight end rotation and has five catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. Battle had just one carry and one catch so far this season.
London said there could be additional changes to the lineup coming this week, and officially announced that freshman defensive end Eli Harold would receive his first career start against the Wolfpack.