#75 Virginia Football 2015 Preview

Virginia Cavaliers

Overall Rank: #75
#11 ACC

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Coach Mike London enters yet another season on the hot seat. Improving from 2-10 in 2013 to 5-7 in 2014 was enough to keep him around for one more year. Normally 5-7 would seem pretty good for the Cavaliers, but the way it went down last season made it tough for fans to swallow. UVA started the year 4-2. They beat Louisville and Pitt and the losses were close losses to UCLA and BYU, both of whom were ranked at the time. And then Virginia could not get over the hump. Some of the games were close, but the Cavaliers managed just one win in their last six contests.

2014 Record: 5-7, 3-5
2014 Bowl: None
Coach: Mike London (23-38 at Virginia, 47-43 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Fairchild
Defensive Coordinator: Jon Tenuta

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Taquan Mizzell, RB, 280 yards
Passing: Matt Johns, QB, 1,109 yards
Receiving: Canaan Severin, WR, 578 yards
Tackles: Quin Blanding, S, 63
Sacks: Mike Moore, DE, 3.0
Interceptions: Quin Blanding, S, 3; Maurice Canady, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: DT David Dean, CB Demetrious Nicholson, K Ian Frye

Key Losses: QB Greyson Lambert, RB Kevin Parks, RB Khalek Shepherd, WR Darius Jennings, WR Miles Gooch, LB Max Valles, LB Henry Coley, DE Eli Harold, S Anthony Harris, LB Daquan Romero

The Virginia offense is not going to be exciting to watch since they prefer to dink and dunk, but they could be much more effective this season despite the loss of quarterback Greyson Lambert and running back Kevin Parks. Matt Johns is the clear #1 quarterback with Lambert transferring in May. The two split time last season with Johns throwing for 1,109 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He needs to be more accurate and step into a leadership role though. Taquan Mizzell will also have a much larger role as a junior. The speedy back with a ton of potential rushed for 280 yards as a sophomore. More importantly in this offense, Mizzell is a capable pass catcher out of the backfield and Johns will certainly dink and dunk Mizzell’s way and let him do his thing quite often this year. The power running game that Coach London wants to establish remains a question mark, but at least the offensive line is experienced.

The defense was pretty good against the run last year, but that could change quickly. Linebacker Max Valles and end Eli Harold left early for the NFL and were a big part of Virginia’s success up front. Also gone are linebackers Henry Coley and Daquan Romero, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the Cavalier defense. Freshmen like C.J. Stalker will have to play a big role in a rebuilding linebacker corps. The front four has much more experience and will look to build around end Mike Moore and tackle David Dean. Moore is not Eli Harold though and somebody needs to get consistent pressure in the backfield. The strength of the defense moves to the secondary where Quin Blanding returns following a superb freshman year. Also back are corners Maurice Canady and Demetrious Nicholson. However, those two were too often picked apart when the front seven was unable to get to the quarterback. Pressuring the quarterback should be much more difficult this time around and that spells trouble for the secondary.

The Bottom Line:
The next step is a bowl appearance, but it is hard to find six winnable games on this schedule. Non-conference foes include UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise State. Even those games Virginia managed to win last year against Louisville and Miami are now on the road and look much more daunting. This group probably will max out at five wins and that likely means Virginia will be looking for a new coach and a new direction after the 2015 season.

Projected Bowl: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 137.8 (97th in nation, 13th in conference)
Passing Offense: 236.4 (57, 6)
Total Offense: 374.2 (87, 11)
Scoring Offense: 25.8 (85, 11)
Rushing Defense: 120.7 (18, 4)
Pass Defense: 232.5 (72, 12)
Total Defense: 353.2 (28, 7)
Scoring Defense: 24.1 (32, 6)
Turnover Margin: 0.42 (36, 4)
Sacks: 2.83 (20, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.33 (19, 3)

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#141 Jahvoni Simmons


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