Monday, August 13, 2007

Virginia Preview

2007 Schedule

2006 Results: 5-7 overall, 4-4 ACC (3rd Coastal Division)

Offense: This will be a work in progress at best, and things could get messy considering some of the deadly defenses they'll face in the ACC this season. Soph. QB Jameel Sewell did the best he could with his surroundings last year, and the Virginia offense would look a lot steadier heading into the fall if he hadn't had offseason surgery on his left (throwing) wrist. Both the RB and WR positions are unsettled as the most experienced running back, Cedric Peerman, notched just 153 yards on 46 carries last year. 2006's top wideout, Kevin Olgetree, blew out his ACL in the spring and is gone for the season. It appears as if the two starters at receiver will be a redshirt frosh (Chris Dalton), and a junior (Maurice Covington) with just 11 career receptions. Look for the TEs (Tom Santi, Jonathan Stupar) to take the lead in receiving until the wideouts develop their game-legs.

Defense: This is the unit that could keep the Hoos afloat all year. Ten starters are back from one of last year's most underrated defenses (#17 nationally), headed up by son-of-Howie Chris Long at DE. The other two starters on the line return as well, and even better, all three starting LBs - led by Jon Cooper (81 tackes in '06) - are back, making this DE/LB corps the steadiest front seven in the nation. Three out of four starters are back in the secondary as well. There is a rare embarrassment of riches for the Cavaliers this year on this side of the ball, and it's a shame that the offensive unit could prevent it from getting the recognition it deserves.

Special teams: Steady kicker and sometimes punter Chris Gould returns, along with co-punter Ryan Weigand. Neither are spectacular, but both are serviceable. The return game features Mike Brown and Andrew Pearman fielding punts, with Cedric Peerman fielding kickoffs. Again, not spectacular, but steady and serviceable.

Coaching: Captain Sweatshirt enters his 7th season in Charlottesville, and hasn't come within the same hemisphere of fulfilling the national championship promises issued upon his hire. Yours truly has made it clear that I'm not a fan of the Chessmaster, but in an odd way I believe he turned in one of his best coaching jobs last year. The Cavs were absolutely gutted by coaching and personnel departures heading into the '06 campaign, and a 3-9 record wouldn't have surprised me. Getting to 4-4 in a weakened ACC was a decent accomplishment, and salved some of the wounds from the terrible start (which included three awful out-of-conference losses). That said, the offense is still a disaster and that falls directly on the shoulders of Groh and his OC offspring, Mike. Must we be reminded of how family dynamics can royally muck up a football program? That said, 2nd year DC Mike London has kicked things up a notch from the steady days of Al Golden and could be leading one of the best UVA defenses ever this season.

For What It's Worth: George Welsh in his final six seasons at UVA: 45-27 overall, 33-15 ACC; Al Groh's six seasons at UVA: 42-33 overall, 25-23 ACC....goose eggs aplenty- Virginia pitched two shutouts last season (@Duke and vs. UNC), but were shutout twice as well (@FSU and @Va Tech)....from 1955-1989, the Cavaliers went 0-29 against Clemson; from 1990-present, they've notched an 8-6-1 record against the Tigers....Virginia's highest ever poll finish was at #13 in the 1994 coaches' poll

Schedule Analysis: Extremely favorable. Five of the first seven opponents did not go to a bowl last year, and four of those first seven games are at home. A 6-1 start, however unlikely, is not out of the question. Even more fortunate for the Cavs, they skip Florida State, Clemson and Boston College from the Atlantic Division in this year's scheduling rotation. They also get a bye week before the season finale at home with the Hokies. This is by far the friendliest schedule for any ACC club this season.
Projected Wins- Duke, Pittsburgh, @Middle Tennessee, Connecticut
Projected Losses- Georgia Tech, @Maryland, @Miami, Virginia Tech
Toss-Ups- @Wyoming, @North Carolina, @NC State, Wake Forest

For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Cavalier Insight: The Good Ol' Blog

Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:

"Touchdown.....No!" (actually, I think it was, but whatever)

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