The recurring theme with the Virginia Cavaliers is their size. Marcus Mariota called them “big guys,” and “physical dudes.” While being big and physical is typically a given for college football players, Oregon players and coaches stress the sheer size and athletic ability of Virginia.
“I think on both sides of the ball [their strength] is up front,” said head coach Mark Helfrich following practice Wednesday. “Their defensive line is outstanding. They’re big and athletic.” Offensive coordinator Scott Frost confirmed the Cavaliers’ size, saying it’s “size we didn’t see last week.”
“They’re a big team… I think they have pretty good athleticism for their size,” Frost said. Virginia’s defensive standout is sophomore defensive end Eli Harold, who checks in at six feet four inches and 230 pounds.
“They’ve got one guy on the edge that’s an unbelievable pass rusher,” said Helfrich of Harold. “He reminds me of Dion [Jordan] off the edge. He gets in kind of a track stance and is an unbelievable pass rusher.”
Harold, who “can go” according to Helfrich, recorded 11 total tackles (3.5 for loss, 2 sacks) and forced a fumble in Virginia’s week one win over BYU.
“He’s a tall rangy guy that can run,” said Frost of Harold. “He gets down in a stance [and] just looks like he’s ready to come after the quarterback. We’re looking forward to playing against him, he’s a good player.”
Another factor Oregon will have to deal with come Saturday is the humidity of Charlottesville, Va. The Ducks are used to some humidity, but it may be much more noticeable at Scott Stadium.
“We wanted to train in some heat Monday [and] Tuesday and get back to hydration and normalcy these last few days to rest, recover fully and kind of get back on our normal deal,” said Helfrich regarding the heat in Virginia. “I think it’s whatever you make of it. We control the circumstances, we don’t let the circumstances control us. It’s gonna be hot and humid for them and hot and humid for us. This is the ideal place in the world to train and then you go compete wherever, and our guys love to compete wherever they go.”
The forecast for Saturday afternoon is 81 degrees with a 10 percent chance of rain.