Brown adds new dynamic to Virginia backfield
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- For Virginia fans who did not know about freshman running back Xavier Brown before last Saturday, they know him now, but nothing about the performance surprised the UVA coaching staff.
"Nothing stood out, it's just what the kid has been doing in practice, so it's really exciting to see him do that in the game," UVA offensive coordinator Des Kitchings said, "And we told him get back in there a couple more times and see if you can do it again and hopefully he builds on that confidence that he has."
Brown rushed for 88 yards on nine carries, including a 38 yard rush in the first half which set up the Cavaliers only touchdown on the day. On the season Brown currently ranks third on the team with 122 yards on 17 carries averaging 7.2 yards per carry, which would rank fifth in the ACC if he was eligible.
"He's come on the scene and just shown how tough he is," UVA head coach Tony Elliott said, "We knew he was a really good football player, but you never know how physical and tough a guy is until you get him in your system and you put him under the fire, but this young man, he's 190 pounds, but he don't care. He's running north and south. He believes that it's going to take more than one guy to tackle him."
The emergence of Brown adds to a revamped run game for the Cavaliers, which currently ranks in the top-half of the ACC (176.7 yards per game), higher than any other season since 2011. Former walk-on Perris Jones currently leads the team with 186 yards, while junior Mike Hollins leads the team with two rushing touchdowns.
"Extremely versatile, we like to say we can do it all, catch, block, run, anything and [Xavier] adds to that," Jones said, "He can do whatever we need him to do and that's a bonus on the offense because it makes us more versatile."
Kitchings has maintained since the preseason the Cavaliers would ride the "hot hand" in the backfield. While Jones will still take the lead on Friday night against Syracuse, Kitchings says Brown has earned a larger workload in the committee.
"I think that the running back room is coming together as a group. I think that's really, really important, because that's eventually going to bring the best out of each one of them," Elliott said, "We've got to take care of the football, and I think the young guy kind of puts the old guys on notice. As I've said in the past and I always say, game recognizes game."