BREAKING: Virginia vs. Virginia Tech game postponed

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Virginia Tech’s Gobbler mascot may have survived Thanksgiving, but was confronted on Black Friday by UVA’s CavMan brandishing a plastic knife and fork (Photo by John Markon).

Virginia’s scheduled season-opening football game at Virginia Tech next Saturday has been postponed.

Tech officials contacted UVA director of athletics Carla Williams on Friday about moving the date of the game. Officials from both schools are discussing possibly moving the game to Dec. 12, a date the ACC left open in case any of its members were forced to postpone a game due to Covid-19 infections.

Virginia is also considering replacing a different opponent in a three-way move that would allow the Tech game to be played sooner than Dec. 12. The Cavaliers could move another opponent into its current bye week, which is Sept. 26, giving UVA an opportunity to play an actual game before Oct. 3 at Clemson.

While a release from Virginia didn’t mention Covid as the reason for the postponement, Virginia Tech head football coach Justin Fuente said this week that, “We might not have enough [players] to have a team for the first game.”

The Hokies will pause football activities for the next four days. According to Fuente, Tech not only received positive tests for Covid-19 but also placed certain players in quarantines due to contact-tracing.

Meanwhile, UVA released its latest round of Covid testing on Friday night, stating that there were zero Covid-positive players in its program.

“There have been no positive test results for the [Virginia] football program, which has tested 118 student-athletes, since the July 24 report,” the release stated.

“It’s them (Virginia Tech), not us,” one UVA source told JerryRatcliffe.com on Saturday morning.

In a statement released by UVA’s Williams, she said, “These are very challenging times. We understand and respect the decision by Virginia Tech. With so much uncertainty, flexibility in scheduling becomes incredibly important.

“I know both teams and both fan bases were looking forward to opening the season next weekend. We’ll work with the conference and Virginia Tech to reschedule.”

Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said, “While we share the disappointment of everyone who hoped to begin the football season against our in-state rival, we remain optimistic that a full ACC football schedule can be played thanks to the flexibility the present format permits.”

The UVA at Tech game was scheduled to be televised by ABC at 7:30 next Saturday. Virginia Tech was actually scheduled to open its season today against NC State, but that game had to be rescheduled to Sept. 26 because the Wolfpack had so many players test positive for Covid-19 that it asked the game be postponed.

Virginia’s opener has now been changed three times. Originally, the Cavaliers were supposed to have opened the season Labor Day evening (Sept. 7) against Georgia in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium before a national TV audience.

That game was canceled due to the initial reshuffling of schedules nationally due to the pandemic. VMI was supposed to be UVA’s opener yesterday, but the Keydets’ season was moved to spring.

The reaction of today’s postponement news caused a strong reaction from some of UVA’s coaches and players on social media.

UVA offensive line coach Garett Tujague tweeted: “It is really this simple … you either are committed to your team or you are not. There are those that can sacrifice for each other and then there are those that CAN NOT. The greatest thing is … you get to make that choice.”

Mark Atuaia, the Cavaliers’ running back coach, also tweeted: “I love my players because Ive witnessed them SINCE MARCH make GRAVE sacrifices to play football.  My heart goes out to them because no one is giving merit to the disciple my young brothers have displayed since the pandemic hit. My UVA young brothers are AMAZING!!!”

Wayne Taulapapa added: “Our commitment, sacrifices and desire to play show up in the numbers. UVA athletics set the standard and this family fought every day to uphold it. At the end of the day we’ll control what we can control. It’s On to the Next.”

Meanwhile, one of UVA’s team captains, senior linebacker Charles Snowden made a comment to Hokies’ receiver Tré Turner: “Nahhh ya’ll not. If that were the case we’d be seeing you in 7 days, so I’m not tryna hear that. Get your guys to start doing the right thing.”

Turner had replied to an earlier tweet from Snowden, saying, “I’m ready whenever, wherever bro,” prompting Snowden’s response.

Cavalier Martin Weisz tweeted a photo of the Cavaliers embracing the Commonwealth Cup trophy that goes to the winner of the UVA-Tech game, after last November’s Virginia victory, with the comment: “We’ll keep the cup safe in the meanwhile, don’t worry. Love this team. #ControlTheControllables.”

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