Mack’s back for Vir­ginia, but Alonso done for year

De­fen­sive line for Cava­liers thin be­cause of in­juries

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - BY MIKE BAR­BER mbar­ber@times­dis­patch.com @RTD_MikeBar­ber

CHAR­LOTTESVILLE — If Jor­dan Mack was a touch off at times against Pitts­burgh, his coaches don’t ex­pect that to last. Hav­ing Mack back, they said, is a lift to their de­fense as they head down the stretch.

Mack, a ju­nior linebacker, had been out since in­jur­ing his shoul­der in the win over Louisville. He re­turned to ac­tion for Fri­day night’s loss to the Pan­thers.

“Nat­u­rally, there’s a lit­tle rust,” said Mack, who missed four games with the in­jury. “But when it comes down to it, when I’m out there, I’m just hav­ing to play my game. It ex­posed ar­eas where I can im­prove.”

Mack made six tack­les in the 23-13 loss to the Pan­thers.

“Jor­dan did some re­ally good things, and he strug­gled with some things,” U.Va. co-de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Kelly Pop­pinga said. “I think it’s just not play­ing for a long time, the speed and the phys­i­cal­ity of the game. He was off on some run fits but then he made some plays as well. I think it’s just get­ting back in the swing of things.”

Head coach Bronco Men­den­hall had a sim­i­lar as­sess­ment of Mack, who has 26 tack­les, in­clud­ing three for losses this sea­son go­ing into Satur­day’s home fi­nale against Lib­erty (4-4), a rare Novem­ber non­con­fer­ence game.

“I saw ef­fort and de­sire, but did I not see pre­ci­sion and con­sis­tency,” Men­den­hall said. “So looked like his first game back is what it looked like.”

Wed­nes­day, Men­den­hall an­nounced that Rich­mond na­tive Mal­colm Cook, a se­nior in­side linebacker, had de­cided to re­tire from foot­ball. He suf­fered a sports her­nia in­jury against In­di­ana that LIB­ERTY AT VIR­GINIA 3 p.m. Linebacker

missed four games with a shoul­der in­jury. will re­quire surgery, end­ing his ca­reer at Vir­ginia (6-3).

Sopho­mores Zane Zandier and Rob Sny­der have been play­ing — and play­ing well — in place of Cook and Mack.

Vir­ginia also won’t have sopho­more de­fen­sive end Mandy Alonso for the rest of the sea­son. A school spokesman con­firmed that Alonso suf­fered a sea­so­nend­ing in­jury in Fri­day night’s loss to Pitts­burgh.

Tues­day, Alonso had his left knee in a brace and Pop­pinga said the team was await­ing test re­sults to de­ter­mine the ex­tent of his in­jury.

Alonso’s ab­sence comes at the Cava­liers’ thinnest po­si­tion. Vir­ginia has played ju­nior Eli Han­back (Pa­trick Henry) at both nose tackle and de­fen­sive end. It has true fresh­man Aaron Fa­mui at end and true fresh­man Jor­dan Red­mond as a nose tackle.

With Alonso out, it’s likely Red­mond will get the work at nose, al­low­ing Han­back to slide back out to end. Fri­day, Vir­ginia even played Ohio State grad­u­ate trans­fer Dy­lan Thomp­son af­ter Alonso’s in­jury. Thomp­son has yet to earn a jersey num­ber but the Cava­liers needed some­one in the game against the Pan­thers.

“Up to this point it’s more of ne­ces­sity,” Pop­pinga said of Thomp­son’s play­ing time. “He did go in the game on Fri­day night and do some good things but he still has a long way to go.”

Vir­ginia also has red­shirt fresh­men Tommy Christ and Isaac Buell, who could see time at end against Lib­erty.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

U.Va. de­fen­sive end Mandy Alonso, shown sack­ing Mi­ami’s Ma­lik Rosier in the first half of the Cava­liers’ 16-13 win Oct. 13, will miss the rest of the sea­son with a knee in­jury.

Satur­day: Jor­dan Mack

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