College Football Preview: The 2015 Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia Cavaliers Preview
2014 Record: 5-7 (86th of 128)
Odds to Win National Championship: +100000 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The Virginia Cavaliers have not reached a bowl game in three straight seasons and head coach Mike London once again begins a year on the hot seat. Virginia has underachieved for the amount of talent it’s brought in and just seven combined wins in the last two seasons isn’t going to cut it. Let’s just say this is a do-or-die season for the Cavs coaching staff.
Offense: Virginia’s offense ranked 11th in the ACC last season, numbers that must improve if the bowl drought will be snapped. The good news is there’s no QB battle this time, as Matt Johns will be the full-time starter after completing 54.9 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and five interceptions. The Cavs offensive line also remains intact and is healthy for once. Running back Taquan Mizzell will finally get to prove he was worth the hype coming out of high school and Daniel Hamm should see a bigger workload after playing well in very limited spots as a freshman. Canaan Severin remains the No. 1 target at wide receiver and former Tar Heel T.J. Thorpe will add a spark as well. Virginia has nice pieces for its offense to prove, it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.
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Defense: Virginia has a ton of production to replace if it hopes to be a top-30 defense in the country like it was last season. The rest of the ACC will be happy that Max Valles and Henry Coley are no longer around. Now, the good news is that Quin Blanding is one of the top young safeties in the country and will be even better with a year under his belt. David Dean and Mike Moore are a defensive linemen duo that combined for 16 tackles for loss last season, and Andrew Brown should finally be healthy. The biggest hole on this Virginia defense comes with the losses of several linebackers who produced and brought leadership to the unit. Zach Bradshaw and Micah Kiser will be two players who must step up in order for this defense to remain solid. Either way, Virginia’s defense is the question mark entering the season.
Special Teams: Ian Frye will return at kicker after making 81.5 percent of his field goals on 27 attempts. Nicholas Conte will likely replace Alec Vozenilek at punter.
Overall: Virginia once again has sneaky talent and is capable of putting something together if it starts tapping into its potential. Hopefully for London’s sake, Virginia strings together at least six wins and has a successful season. But with the way things have gone the past couple of years, I’m not sure anyone knows what to expect.