UVA gets thinner up front, won’t have Fannin nor Peat for the season

September 3, 2018

Virginia won’t have redshirt freshman center/guard Tyler Fannin or junior college transfer defensive end Cassius Peat this season after all, more blows to the team’s already thin offensive and defensive fronts.

Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall on Monday announced that Fannin, who has been on crutches and in a walking boot since injuring himself this summer, will not play this year. Peat, a former Michigan State end who spent the last two years at junior colleges, has been dealing with a shoulder injury and has left the team, Mendenhall said.

Junior linebacker Dominic Sheppard, who Mendenhall had praised during fall camp, will also miss the season after undergoing knee surgery this weekend.

The good news for U.Va (1-0) is that Mendenhall said he was “hopeful” that sophomore guard R.J. Proctor will be available this week. Proctor missed the opener and, on a reshuffled offensive line, Virginia moved sophomore Chris Glaser to guard and started redshirt freshman Ryan Nelson at left tackle.

If the team is thin at offensive line, it’s emaciated on the defensive front.

The Cavaliers added Peat and Ohio State graduate transfer Dylan Thompson this offseason to bolster that defensive line. But Peat has been injured and Thompson arrived later than expected and didn’t play in the season-opening win over Richmond on Saturday. His status for this weekend’s game at Indiana (1-0) is unclear.

“I would love to play as many defensive lineman as are prepared to play,” Mendenhall said Monday. “That can be five; it might be six maximum. Run-front defense has a lot to do with fresh bodies, physical bodies and bodies that know what to do. The more that we can play to fit that criteria the better because it gives us a chance to play harder, longer.”

Against Richmond, U.Va. started junior Eli Hanback and sophomore Richard Burney, a converted tight end, at defensive end and played true freshman Jordan Redmond at nose tackle.

Virginia’s upcoming opponent has its own injury issues to deal with. Indiana announced Monday that Cole Gest, the Hoosiers’ second leading rusher last season, is out for the year with an ACL tear suffered Saturday.

That compounds an issue at running back for Indiana, which suspended last year’s leading rusher, Morgan Ellison, indefinitely.

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