Virginia takes another step toward a return to normalcy Saturday afternoon when the Cavaliers host James Madison in their home opener in Charlottesville.
Their last game at Scott Stadium was a 37-7 loss to Pitt on Nov. 12, 2022. The following day, three members of the Virginia football team were killed in a campus shooting. The Cavaliers canceled the remainder of the season.
Virginia (0-1) returned to action for the first time in nearly 300 days last Saturday with a 49-13 loss to then-No. 12 Tennessee in Nashville. The Cavaliers also lost starting quarterback Tony Muskett to a left shoulder injury early in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously, we've got a lot of work to do," second-year UVA coach Tony Elliott said. "I know ultimately we'll be judged by what the scoreboard says, but internally as a program, I couldn't be more proud of a group of young men and an administration and the staff that fought.
"What we had to endure is unprecedented, and it's hard to quantify and put into words and just really wrap your head around it."
True freshman Anthony Colandrea will get the start if Muskett is unavailable.
James Madison (1-0) began the season with a 38-3 romp against Bucknell on Saturday night in Harrisonburg, Va. The Dukes outgained the Bison by a 436-208 margin, including 261-62 on the ground as Kaelon Black rushed for 125 yards on 12 carries.
JMU also has a developing situation at quarterback. Alonza Barnett III started the opener but was ineffective (3-of-11 passing for 15 yards and an interception) and benched in the third quarter for Jordan McCloud (7 of 11 for 144 yards and two touchdowns).
Asked afterward who would start at Virginia, JMU coach Curt Cignetti turned the question around. "What would you do?" he asked reporters.
"It's kinda obvious, wasn't it?" Cignetti added.
The Dukes are competing in just their second season at the FBS level. They went 8-3 in 2022 and briefly appeared in the Associated Press Top 25.
Virginia and James Madison are separated by about 60 miles but are meeting for the first time in 40 years. The Cavaliers have a 2-1 lead in the all-time series, winning 21-14 in the most recent contest in 1983.
—Field Level Media