Virginia will have a new starter at quarterback Saturday at Duke, but redshirt sophomore Phillip Sims will likely be without one of his top weapons.
Wide receiver Tim Smith was listed as doubtful on the Cavaliers’ injury report with a lower-extremity injury. The junior missed Virginia’s game at Georgia Tech last month with a similar ailment, but had played the past two games. Last week against Louisiana Tech, he caught a 36-yard touchdown on a halfback pass from senior Perry Jones.
Virginia will also be missing defensive end Bill Schautz for a second straight game. He has already been ruled out of Saturday’s game due to his own lower-extremity injury. Senior Ausar Walcott, who has 19 tackles this year, will likely take Schautz’s spot in the starting lineup.
If Smith can’t play, the Cavaliers would lean more heavily on sophomores Darius Jennings, Dominique Terrell and junior E.J. Scott. Jennings is the team’s leading receiver and finished with six catches and a career-high 136 yards last week.
Coach Mike London felt his skill players turned a corner against Louisiana Tech. Jennings had a 50-yard reception and Scott reeled in a 43-yard catch, while running back Khalek Shepherd had a 73-yard touchdown through the air and Jones finished with seven catches for 100 yards.
The coach believes they hold the key to the offense’s success against Duke.
“I think the receiver group is a … play-making group for us, but we have to utilize their abilities and skills,” London said this week.
“That’s what this week is probably more about. Understanding we have a lot of respect for our opponent in Duke, but it’s probably more about us and getting the ball those individuals that can make plays happen for us. It was good to see some explosive plays occur for a lot of those guys.”
Tackle Oday Aboushi (upper extremity), defensive lineman Will Hill (medical) and safety Brandon Phelps (upper extremity) were also listed as probable on Virginia’s injury report
Duke’s injury report listed quarterback Sean Renfree as questionable for Saturday’s game. If he can’t play, the Blue Devils will turn to sophomore Anthony Boone. Duke safety Brandon Braxton, the team's third-leading tackler, has been ruled out already with an upper body injury.