Louisville vs. Virginia: Game on, unless ….

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Louisville quarterback Micale Cunningham is chased by NC State defenders (Photo: gocards.com).

Louisville at Virginia is on for Saturday afternoon, Bronco Mendenhall said during his weekly presser on Monday. There had been rumors swirling earlier in the day that Louisville might still be impacted by the Covid virus, causing perhaps another postponement, but neither Mendenhall or Cardinals coach Scott Satterfield felt like that was the case.

“The game at this point is on, as if it was just a regular ACC game,” Mendenhall said. “The reality is [Louisville] had additional staff test positive, but their testing over the weekend allows them to move forward as if it’s like any of the rest of us that are getting ready to play a game.”

Louisville practiced Sunday night, its first practice since it shut down the program when 10 players and several other staffers (a total of 22) either tested positive or were in quarantine last week.

“It omes down to ‘Do you have enough players at a certain position?” Satterfield said Monday. “I’ve heard this from several schools throughout the country whenever games have been canceled. If you don’t have enough players at a certain position, you can’t play … particularly O-line and D-line.

“You just can’t go manufacture big guys to put in there. Either you have them or you don’t. So we looked at the numbers defensive line-wise to say, ‘Can we play?’ and we had enough. We had five. And we said we’ll go out and play. You just cross your fingers that nobody gets dinged out there during the game, and we’re able to finish the game with all those guys because then it becomes player safety.”

Satterfield said the coaches waited until results were returned from Louisville’s latest round of testing before they met with the team.

Virginia reported no new cases after its latest round of tests and was scheduled to go through the regular testing Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Louisville was reportedly have four tests this week.

“There is nothing now in the way of us playing that would have been in place, so both teams are anticipating playing now,” Mendenhall said.

UVA athletic director Carla Williams, UVA head trainer Kelly Pugh and UVA team physician Dr. John MacKnight, who is also a member of the ACC’s medical panel, all have been in direct communication with Louisville.

With an unexpected “bye week,” Virginia enjoyed a modified bye, which gave the team some abbreviated time off away from football, which Mendenhall said was healthy in that players could break the routine and experience some freshness for the final stretch.

Players who were injured also had some additional recovery time, but that may not have helped the Cavaliers’ banged up secondary. The two most experienced defensive backs, Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson, may remain sidelines after missing most of the last three games with injuries.

“Yeah, I don’t think it’s gonna be enough time,” Mendenhall bemoaned. “Again, we haven’t practiced yet, so it will help some, but it won’t help completely. But that’s OK. We’ve kind of accounted for that, and again, I don’t know exactly when we’ll return to full strength back there, nor can it be our primary focus.”

The coach said the defensive staff has been working to develop backups into those starting roles, much the same as last season when the secondary was missing starters down the stretch.

“Whenever other players come back, that just becomes a bonus,” Mendenhall said.

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