With less than a week left before his team begins game-week preparation for the Aug. 31 season-opener against Brigham Young, Virginia coach Mike London has a handle on who his starters will be at just about every position.
It's a few of the guys that will play behind those first teamers that still has London scratching his head. Here's a look at what London and his coaching staff are studying in this week's practices and scrimmages when it comes to filling out the two-deep depth chart.
It's one of a couple of unsettled starting jobs, but it might not be that way for long. Sophomore Ross Burbank has taken the lead on walk-on redshirt freshman Jackson Matteo, who has struggled this preseason with an upper body injury.
Both Burbank and Matteo participated in a scrimmage this past Saturday. Burbank has the edge in part because Matteo has missed so much practice time.
"It's unfortunate that sometimes injury or being held back kind of impedes the development of a player," London said.
"What you have is two guys playing in a game, or in kind of a facsimile of a game, and having Ross by the time it was over having graded better. … He's probably in front right now."
Though fullback will be a position utilized for only about 15-to-20 offensive plays per game in offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild's pro-style attack, there's still plenty of competition for the starting role.
London said it's a position currently being manned "by committee," but senior Billy Skrobacz, freshman Connor Wingo-Reeves and sophomore Vincent Croce have all played well in the preseason. Wingo-Reeves also could play a lot on special teams. Croce has been working at time in an H-back role.
The first three guys are solid, with starters Demetrious Nicholson and Drequan Hoskey and backup Maurice Canady all in line for significant playing time. Finding the No. 4 guy at cornerback hasn't been as easy.
Redshirt freshman Wilfred Wahee was making a strong push for the No. 4 spot, but he recently suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the season. Right now, freshman Tim Harris is competing with redshirt freshman Divante Walker for the No. 4 cornerback role, but Harris needs to get healthy.
Harris has looked good in practice when he's been healthy, but he's had to deal with groin and leg injuries that have hampered his growth at the position. London said Harris sat out Saturday's scrimmage. He was planning to practice Monday. If he's not back to 100 percent for the BYU game, London said there's a chance he could be redshirted.
Like the cornerback position, U.Va. also is seeking a fourth player to solidify the safety spots. Free safety Brandon Phelps and strong safety Anthony Harris are entrenched as starters, while Bethel High graduate Rijo Walker is slotted as the No. 3 safety.
Redshirt freshman Kelvin Rainey, sophomore Mason Thomas and freshman Malcolm Cook are competing for the fourth safety role. London said Cook likely will redshirt. London added he's looking for a player that can also play a versatile role in special teams to take over the final safety spot on the two-deep.
"You probably need that one extra safety just in case anything happens, but (a player who's) a four-phase special teams guy," London said. "That's kind of up in the air."
While those four positions will attract a lot of attention from coaches this week, a Wednesday scrimmage for younger players and backups also will help determine if some guys are ready to be included in plans for the BYU game.
One spot London will keep his eye this week will be backup defensive tackle, where he could envision 6-foot-4, 275-pound sophomore Mike Moore sliding in if necessary. Moore has worked primarily as a backup defensive end, but London would clearly like to get him on the field.
"Whether (freshman) Tyrell Chavis raises himself up to the level of being able to play tackle in college football, or whether we have to do something with a Mike Moore or whatever it may be, we've got to find that," London said. "I like our ends. I like who we have out there, but Mike Moore is a guy who's done a pretty good job. You get him on the field as an end or at an inside position, that's something we definitely can do."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun