2017 Football Preview – ACC – Cavaliers
Looking for 2017 Virginia Cavaliers predictions? The Cavaliers had only Step One in a razed-Earth rebuild in 2016, and it went worse than predicted with new head coach Bronco Mendenhall, previously of longtime Brigham Young success. There wasn’t as much talent as he hoped, so as a result the Cavs struggled to just two wins last season.
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- 2017-18 College Football Preview – Virginia Cavaliers
- Head Coach: Bronco Mendenhall
- 2016 Record: 2-10
- Virginia Cavaliers Odds to win the 2017 FBS Championship: +50000
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Virginia could best only Central Michigan and lowly Duke a year ago.
Deign to be considered just a school for basketball, baseball, soccer and the like, the athletic director is putting a lot of faith in Old Bronco to turn things around in Charlottesville; but it’s fair to say that if it happens, it won’t be in a New York minute.
Some steady but tangible progress would surely suffice for the powers that be at UVa in 2017.
Virginia has often had the ability at times to pull big time recruits (offensive lineman Euguene Monroe and Austin Pasztor and DB Ras-I Dowling come to mind in recent history) and Mendenhall will definitely need to foster more of that to move up in the Coastal division.
If the Cavs have to go the graduate transfer route for a while in the interim, that’s better than nothing.
That might be exactly what the coaching staff has done with OL Colin McGovern, a grad transfer from Notre Dame that started eight games for Irish in 2016. He should bring some credibility to a line that strugged in the run game previously.
2017 Virginia Cavaliers Predictions: Team Strengths
Possible Playmakers: If McGovern and fellow grad transfer Brandon Pertile (Oklahoma State) can stabilize the offensive line, Virginia has some skill position talent that could move the scoring production along.
Senior quarterback Kurt Benkert can light up the scoreboard; he had Matt Schaub style production last year as he was the fastest in Cavs history to reach 2,000 yards passing.
Benkert, an ECU transfer a couple seasons ago, is the healthiest he’s been in a long time and should build on a strong spring – provided he can be unharrassed in the pocket.
Elsewhere, the RB tandem of Jordan Ellis and Daniel Hamm shows promise. The duo were understudies last year, but they are ready to handle the lion’s share of the carries.
At wide receiver, you can expect Olamide Zaccheaus and Joe Reed to produce the big plays. Zaccheus, especially, looked awesome as a freshman two years ago, before he was gimped up with hamstring issues in ’16.
Superb Tacklers in the Back Seven: The Cavaliers feature the conference’s top tackling tandem with LB Micah Kiser and safety Quin Blanding.
Indeed, the pair have led the ACC in tackles for the past two seasons, so UVa knows it has a couple of excellent veterans to lead the line for rest of the unit.
A tertiary threat might be big sophomore Jordan Mack, who can play off of Kiser’s explosiveness.
2017 Virginia Cavaliers Predictions: Team Weaknesses
Lack of Depth: Following the aforementioned defenders, the defense still needs work. A year ago, Virginia’s ‘D’ allowed almost 34 points per game, which is the most from a Cavs’ defense since 1975.
Kiser and Blanding can’t be everywhere on the field at once. Head coach Mendenhall is a co defensive co-ordinator with Nick Howell; they are relying on others like DE Andrew Brown to build on a six-sack campaign last year.
They also need OLBs Chris Peace and Malcolm Cook to be far more dynamic.
There has been something of a trend in moving former starting corners over to safety; is this because they are looking for more ball-hawking to play beside Blanding, or are the CBs getting burned in man to man coverage on the regular?
One example is junior Juan Thornhill, who will start at safety. Myles Robinson has followed the same path.
Special teams is another concern for the 2017 Cavaliers. Virginia is breaking in a new placekicker and punter this season with freshman Brian Delaney and junior Lester Coleman, respectively.
There is hope in Delaney, who was an Under Armor All-American in high school at punter.
Virginia Cavaliers Prediction: 4-8
The lack of depth will be probably Virginia’s undoing, at least until Mendenhall can build up the recruiting in the Tidewater region once again.
It often takes a while for a new coach, especially one from a different part of America not from a major conference, to build up a fruitful recruiting base.
There wasn’t as much talent in the cupboard as Mendenhall thought, and the Cavs will suffer the expected turbulence in the ACC until this is remedied.
In addition to a tricky ACC slate, a non-conference match at Boise State on the ‘Smurf Turf’ doesn’t help.
2017 Virginia Cavaliers Football Schedule
- 9/2/17 TBD WM & MAR
- 9/9/17 TBD IND
- 9/16/17 TBD UCONN
- 9/22/17 TBD at B. ST.
- 10/7/17 TBD DUKE
- 10/14/17 TBD at UNC
- 10/21/17 TBD BC
- 10/28/17 TBD at PITT
- 11/4/17 TBD GT
- 11/11/17 TBD at LOU
- 11/18/17 TBD at MIA (Fl)
- 11/24/17 TBD VT
What do you think about our 2017 Virginia Cavaliers predictions? Please leave us a comment below telling us how you think they’ll do in 2017!
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