#39 Virginia Football 2019 Preview

Virginia Cavaliers
Overall Rank: #39
#6 ACC
 Virginia Logo
Virginia took a critical step forward in 2018 as they won eight games, including a 28-0 win over South Carolina in the Belk Bowl. Coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff have elevated the Cavaliers out of the basement of the ACC and into a tough out on a weekly basis. The next step forward for Virginia is to win the wide open Coastal Division and put an end to the long losing streak against Virginia Tech.
2018 Record: 8-5, 4-4
2018 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. South Carolina (28-0 W)
Coach: Bronco Mendenhall (16-22 at Virginia, 115-65 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Robert Anae
Defensive Coordinator: Nick Howell and Kelly Poppinga
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Bryce Perkins, QB, 923 yards
Passing: Bryce Perkins, QB, 2,680 yards
Receiving: Hasise Dubois, WR, 578 yards
Tackles: Jordan Mack, ILB, 66
Sacks: Charles Snowden, OLB, 7.5
Interceptions: Bryce Hall, CB, 2, Joey Blount, S, 2, Charles Snowden, OLB, 2
Other Key Returnees:  OL Dillon Reinkensmeyer, OL Chris Glaser, OL Ryan Nelson, WR Joe Reed, NT Eli Hanback, LB Robert Snyder, LB Zane Zandier, S Brenton Nelson, K Brian Delaney
Key Losses: S Juan Thornhill, RB Jordan Ellis, WR Olamide Zaccheaus, OL Marcus Applefield, LB Chris Peace, P Lester Coleman
Bryce Perkins is back at quarterback and should be the second-best quarterback in the ACC behind Trevor Lawrence of Clemson. Perkins is a dual threat quarterback that causes plenty of headaches for opposing defenses every week. Perkins threw for 2,680 yards and accounted for 34 touchdowns last season. Hasise Dubois and Joe Reed will need to pick up the slack for the graduation for Olamide Zaccheaus out at wide receiver. Dubois caught 52 passes for 578 yards and five touchdowns. Reed is a big play threat as he averaged 18.6 yards per catch in 2018. Finding a running back in fall camp to replace Jordan Ellis, who rushed for 1,026 yards and ten touchdowns and more importantly was a workhorse type of back, will be important. The offensive line returns three starters and staying healthy is going to be key as they still don’t quite have enough competitive depth to sustain a rash of injuries with that unit.
This should be the strength of the team in 2019 as Virginia brings back plenty of talent in the back seven. Charles Snowden should be able to pick up some of the lost sack production from Chris Peace as Snowden had 7.5 sacks last season. Bryce Hall’s return will be huge for the Cavaliers. He will anchor a secondary that is relentless is going after the ball to create turnovers. Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson will anchor the secondary at safety as both Blount and Nelson picked off two passes and will need to ramp up their production even more in 2019.  Jordan Mack is back at inside linebacker and has a nose for the football after tallying 66 tackles in 2018 and that is with missing four games due to an ankle injury. If Mack can stay healthy all year long, he should rack up a 100 plus tackle season and free up guys to go after the quarterback.
The Bottom Line:
A trip to Pittsburgh will kick off the 2019 season as Virginia was pushed around at the line of scrimmage last year in Charlottesville in a 23-13 loss to the Panthers. The rest of the first half of the season has a mix of winnable games and interesting challenges against Florida State, Notre Dame, and Miami. It will be critical for the Cavaliers to get to 2-1 in their first three conference games in order for them to win the Coastal Division this season. After the trip to play the Hurricanes on October 11th, the rest of the schedule opens up a bit and should set Virginia up to go on a nice winning streak until the Virginia Tech game. Speaking of the game against the Hokies, this should be the year for the Cavaliers to put an end to the losing streak against Virginia Tech. Look for about nine wins and another bowl appearance for Coach Mendenhall and Virginia this season.
Projected Bowl:  Pinstripe Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 173.2 (60th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 211.6 (87, 10)
Total Offense: 384.8 (82, 10)
Scoring Offense: 28.5 (68, 10)
Rushing Defense: 147.5 (47, 4)
Pass Defense: 183.0 (16, 2)
Total Defense: 330.5 (20, 3)
Scoring Defense: 20.1 (21, 3)
Turnover Margin: +0.15 (54, 6)
Sacks: 2.00 (73, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 2.46 (85, 10)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#6 Bryce Hall
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#63 Jowon Briggs