UVA player status updates: Woods, Duenkel, Atariwa, Cross, KT, Hayes

jelani woods
Jelani Woods. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Virginia really missed tight end Jelani Woods last week in Miami. The offense had a season-low 449 yards of total offense, and Brennan Armstrong threw for a season-low 268 yards, in the 30-28 win.

The status of Woods (Pro Football Focus season grade: 79.0), a favorite target of Armstrong, for Saturday’s game at Louisville is … not known.

Ditto, according to UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall, for placekicker Justin Duenkel and defensive lineman Adeeb Atariwa.

“Regarding injuries, I don’t have an update at this point. I probably won’t until Thursday. That seems to be when I have the clearest idea as to when, if and how guys might play,” Mendenhall said Monday.

Safety De’Vante Cross also missed last week’s game down in South Florida. Mendenhall said Cross, a super senior, “was battling personal issues and family issues that are private” and is back with the team this week.

“There was nothing disciplinary-wise or violations or anything like that. It was just a personal matter with his family that he was working through, as so many of us have, and needs attention sometimes,” Mendenhall said.

Keytaon Thompson has been playing through a broken left hand suffered in the Week 3 loss at North Carolina. After getting just three targets in the Week 4 loss to Wake Forest, KT was a bigger part of the offense in the win at Miami, gaining 44 yards on four catches (nine targets) through the air and 47 yards on three rushing attempts.

“Keytaon, he can do anything. He knows he can do anything in a humble way. He’s so optimistic and so positive and so passionate. Man, am I lucky that he’s at UVA and I’m so lucky to be his coach,” Mendenhall said. “He’s just someone that I can’t wait to see every day. There’s always a smile, there’s always something we can do, always just a word of encouragement for anyone in the program. He backs it up with how he plays. I’m learning a lot by watching just a remarkable young person.”

North Dakota State transfer cornerback Josh Hayes got 10 snaps at cornerback in the Week 5 win. Didn’t grade out well – just a 36.1 PFF grade, allowing a 36-yard reception in his only target on three pass coverage snaps.

Hayes saw his first action of the season in the loss to Wake, getting 16 snaps, with no targets on two plays that had him in pass coverage.

“We want him to play as much as we can get him to play through his preparation,” Mendenhall said. “That was the plan against Miami. He played well while he was in. He gave up one 50/50 ball, if you remember, kind of down the sideline, really in good position. He’s battling to start every week.

“Practice really matters for us,” Mendenhall said. “He’s going head-to-head with Fentrell Cypress. Each week’s practice determines who goes out to start the game. That’s where he is.”

Story by Chris Graham

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