By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Landon Bradley’s junior season at UVa is over.
A two-year starter at offensive tackle, Bradley has a “lower-leg injury,” Mike London said Thursday morning, that will require season-ending surgery.
“It’s a devastating blow to the young man,” London said. “He wanted to get back. He wanted to just kind of finish up strong, but his health and well-being is the main focus, and now Morgan [Moses] is a full-time right tackle.”
The 6-7, 280-pound Bradley started at left tackle in 2009 and for the first five games this season. He broke his right hand Oct. 9 against Georgia Tech, however, and missed the next three games after having surgery.
With Bradley out, Oday Aboushi moved from right tackle to the left side, and Morgan Moses took over at right tackle.
When Bradley returned to the starting lineup against Duke last weekend, he was slotted at right tackle, to better protect his hand. Moses started at right guard, but after Bradley got hurt early in the second quarter, the 6-6, 350-pound true freshman moved to right tackle, and senior B.J. Cabbell took over at right guard.
“It’s unfortunate,” London said of Bradley’s latest injury. “He had just gotten to the point where [the athletic trainers] were going to bandage his hands where his fingers could be exposed.”
Virginia has been without tight end Joe Torchia, wideout Tim Smith and cornerback Ras-I Dowling, three of its most talented players, for most of the season. Now comes this news as UVa (1-4, 4-5) prepares to host ACC rival Maryland (3-2, 6-3) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Scott Stadium.
“It’s another blow to us, but now Morgan has to stay at right tackle, and Oday will stay at left tackle,” London said.
On a teleconference with reporters Wednesday night, offensive line coach Ron Mattes was asked about Moses’ development.
“He’s an intelligent football player,” Mattes said. “The first day that he came in, I was drawing up plays, and I went through the scheme on one of our base plays, just to find out where he was football intelligence-wise. And he spit back verbatim what everybody on the line [had to do], who they had to block.
“So I knew the kid knew football. We put him through a lot, going from tackle to guard as a freshman. There’s a lot of calls to make, there’s a lot of different blocking schemes to look at, and he’s doing a remarkable job going back and forth from guard to tackle.”
With Bradley sidelined, UVa can keep Moses “at tackle here for the next couple weeks and let his development take one step up,” Mattes said, “just by letting him play and letting him learn that one position and letting him get the techniques and the calls down.”
Of the players in Mattes’ rotation, only Cabbell is a senior. Where everyone will line up in 2011 is still to be determined. Aboushi, a sophomore, could stick at left tackle.
“I don’t think anybody’s touched the quarterback from the left side the last few weeks,” Mattes said, “so he’s doing a remarkable job over there, and it’s something we’re going to have to look at for the rest of the season here, and going into spring ball we’ll re-evaluate what gets our best guys on the field.
“Right now we have to play the hand we’re dealt and put [Aboushi] where we need him the most, and right now it’s at left tackle. But in the spring we’ll re-evaluate what’s going on and see what helps out the team the most in the 2011 season.”