#69 Virginia Football 2014 Preview

Virginia Cavaliers

Overall Rank: #69
#11 ACC

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Mike London’s tenure at Virginia started off well. After winning four games in the first year, that win total doubled to eight in his second season and Virginia received a bid to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Since then it has been a different story, as Virginia wins have been cut in half each season. In his fifth year at the school, London is in a make or break season. He has recruited very well during his tenure, but results are needed on the field and they’re needed now.

2013 Record: (2-10, 0-8)
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Mike London (18-31, 42-36)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Fairchild
Defensive Coordinator: Jon Tenuta

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kevin Parks, RB, 1,031 yards
Passing: David Watford, QB, 2,202 yards
Receiving: Darius Jennings, WR, 340 yards
Tackles: Henry Coley, LB, 91
Sacks: Eli Harold, DE, 8.5
Interceptions: Anthony Harris, S, 8

Other Key Returnees: P/K Alec Vozenilek, LB Daquan Romero, DT David Dean, CB Demetrius Nicholson, S Brandon Phelps, G Conner Davis, T Eric Smith, CB Maurice Canady

Key Losses: TE Jake McGee, WR Tim Smith, DE Jake Snyder, DT Brent Urban, C Luke Bowanko, T Morgan Moses

Virginia is going to be led by their defense this season. The Cavaliers return nine starters from last year’s team, led by a very deep secondary. Safety Anthony Harris is back after leading the nation in interceptions, 8, while ranking third on the team in tackles with 80. Harris is one of six players who are back with starting experience in the secondary. Demetrius Nicholson returns after missing all but five games last season with an injury. It will be Nicholson’s fourth year starting at corner for the Cavaliers. Safety Brandon Phelps, 10 starts and 44 tackles last year, and cornerbacks Maurice Canady, eight starts and 44 tackles, DreQuan Hoskey, 10 starts and 43 tackles, and Tim Harris, seven starts and 26 tackles, round out the experienced group. Henry Coley, 91 tackles last year, and DaQuan Romero, 89 tackles, return at linebacker, while Eli Harold, 51 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, and David Dean, 49 tackles and four sacks, will anchor the defensive line. Offensively, Virginia returns running back Kevin Parks, 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns, and three starters on the offensive line, but beyond that, it is an inexperienced group. Punter/Kicker Alec Vozenilek does provide a security blanket for the offense though, as he averaged 41.2 yards per punt and hit 12 of his 15 field goal attempts last year.

Virginia released their post spring depth chart and there was a major change behind center. Reigning starter David Watford was replaced at the quarterback position by sophomore Greyson Lambert, who was named a team captain this spring. Lambert was a four star recruit out of high school and he threw for 340 yards and a touchdown as a redshirt freshman last year. He is unproven and inexperienced at the college level, but he has the upside to be a great quarterback. Lambert will have a relatively inexperienced receiving corps at his disposal. The three starters listed on the depth chart, Keeon Johnson, 20 catches for 282 yards, Kyle Dockins, eight catches for 96 yards, and Miles Gooch, two catches for 25 yards, have just 11 career starts between them. Darius Jennings, the returning leader of the receivers is listed at second string on the depth chart, but he could emerge as the top threat once again.  

The Bottom Line:
What could be the difference for Virginia is their incoming recruiting class, which ESPN had as the 25th best in the country. In that class were two five star recruits who ranked as the top players at their position, defensive tackle Andrew Brown and safety Quin Blanding. Brown is already listed at the top of the depth chart at defensive tackle, while Blanding could see immediate time in the secondary. Virginia also brings in four other four star recruits, led by wide receiver Jamil Kamara and guard Steven Moss, who could see key roles. While those new players could be difference makers, Greyson Lambert will have a lot riding on his performances. To be successful, the Cavaliers need solid quarterback play, and if Lambert can provide it, Virginia could see their wins increase this season.

Projected Bowl: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 156.6 (76, 9)
Passing Offense: 211.8 (81, 10)
Total Offense: 368.4 (89, 10)
Scoring Offense: 19.8 (109, 13)
Rushing Defense: 170.7 (74, 10)
Pass Defense: 232.9 (67, 10)
Total Defense: 403.6 (65, 11)
Scoring Defense: 33.3 (98, 14)
Turnover Margin: -0.4 (94, 13)
Sacks: 2.33 (39, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (60, 7)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#102 Anthony Harris

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#7 Quin Blanding
#13 Andrew Brown
#170 Steven Moss
#180 Jamil Kamara


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