2011-2012 Football Previews – Atlantic Coast Conference – Virginia Cavaliers
The Cavaliers had some good years in the middle of the last decade, but they’ve had a bowl-less drought since 2007. Coach London is now in his second year in a bid to bring UVa back to respectability in the conference.
ACC 2011-12 Football Previews: Virginia Cavaliers
Coach: Mike London
2010 Record: 4-8
Virginia Gambling Odds from Sportsbook.com to win BCS: +5000
Virginia Team Page – Players Stats – Roster – 2011 Schedule –>
The Cavs are getting bigger, and faster, and may just be on their way back.
Virginia returns many starters in ’11 and had a successful recruiting push to smooth the reloading phase in the next couple seasons. There is open competition at QB, but other than that all remaining positions on the field are locked down with experience – in fact, the Cavs field the most returning starters in the ACC.
The team also lost a lot of man-games due to injury and had some heartbreaking losses in 2010. Factors all seem to point toward Virginia improving and making a leap forward.
The offensive line is in fine form with massive sophomore Morgan Moses (6”6, 350 lbs) and Canadian Austin Pasztor. Their effectiveness should assist diminutive RB Perry Jones, who had 650 yards rushing last year behind Keith Payne on the depth chart (Payne departs). Virginia’s receivers will be anchored by senior Kris Burd and junior TE Colter Phillips.
Every starter returns on the defense save for one – the brightest spots are at LB and in the secondary in the persons of juniors Steve Greer and LaRoy Reynolds and senior CB Chase Minnifield, who has six INTs in 2010.
Interestingly, senior P Jimmy Howell is built more like a tight end than a punter (6”6, 240 lbs), he’s also incredibly steady.
There is virtually no experience at quarterback, but all the starting candidates are London’s own recruits, which a coach always prefers. The slugfest probably comes down to sophomore Michael Rocco, redshirt frosh Michael Strauss or soph Ross Metheny. Jones should be a good starting tailback, but in replacing Payne, he must account for 14 TDs (Payne’s impressive 2010 total).
As mentioned, the defense has a couple of individual studs, but the overall speed must continue to improve, especially on the defensive line. Senior DE Cam Johnson had 6.5 sacks last year, but no one else was a presence. It would help if DT Matt Conrath or DE Jake Snyder had a big year.
2011-12 Virginia Football Prediction: 7-6
This is a team on the rise – with offensive personnel more fit and adjusted to London’s scheme, a defense settling into the 4-3 scheme after years of former head coach Al Groh’s 3-4, and a half dozen excellent recruits inked on Signing Day.
If one of the pivots emerges and becomes a productive leader, the offense gets instant credibility beyond Burd, Phillips and the O-line. If the defensive line performs to help out the back seven, the defense also instantly gets much better.
There’s no denying this program has been in the dumps for a few years now and the fix isn’t instantaneous, but Cavs fans should see tangible improvement in 2011.
The addition of a few wins to the ledger and perhaps a bowl appearance isn’t a stretch at all.
2011 Virginia Cavaliers Schedule
9/3/11 6:00 PM ET WILMA
9/10/11 7:00 PM ET @IND
9/17/11 3:30 PM ET @NCAR
9/24/11 12:00 PM ET SOMIS
10/1/11 12:00 PM ET IDAHO
10/15/11 12:00 PM ET GATCH
10/22/11 12:00 PM ET NCST
10/27/11 8:00 PM ET @MIAMI
11/5/11 12:00 PM ET @MD
11/12/11 12:00 PM ET DUKE
11/19/11 12:00 PM ET @FSU
11/26/11 12:00 PM ET VATCH