2005 ACC Football Preview/Prediction: Virginia, Coastal Division #3

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Previews Thus Far
Atlantic Division Coastal Division
TBD TBD
TBD TBD
Maryland Virginia
Boston
College
Georgia
Tech
Clemson UNC
Wake Forest Duke
Note:
For a breakdown of the ACC’s football
divisions, click here.

Virginia Preview

Bird’s
Eye View:
The Cavs have the second fewest returning starters and
the second most lettermen lost (23) from an eight win team, but I think they
will benefit from having an experienced, solid QB returning and an easier than
normal non-conference schedule. Things line up reasonably well for the Cavs to
start 5-0.

Areas of Strength (offense): Marques Hagans is a terrific leader and one
of the best quarterbacks in the conference. His strengths were not always
emphasized last year, but Virginia had all off season to make some offensive
tweaks to utilize his skill. Wali Lundy and (if healthy) Jason Snelling form the
best tailback-fullback combination in the ACC. Snelling’s absence last year
was a huge blow for the Hoos. The offensive line has the potential to be as good
as any in the ACC, as they return three starters, get a fourth back from a
redshirt year (Ian-Yates Cunningham), and add the nation’s top offensive line
prospect, Eugene Monroe. Monroe will eventually be an NFL first rounder at left
tackle, but expect him to slide inside to guard this fall and challenge for a
starting spot. The bookend tackles are the best in the league with Ferguson, a
future millionaire (he might have gone third overall in this year’s NFL draft
to Cleveland) and Brad Butler continuing to improve on the right side.



Areas of Concern (offense): The downfield passing game has been a nonfactor, and that needs to change so
people don’t load up in the box. The offensive play calling, Hagans’ height
and the receivers have all contributed to the problem, so it’ll have to be a
joint solution. Deyon Williams and Theirrien “Bud” Davis are the wide
receivers to watch. Depth is a significant concern at quarterback and tight end.

Areas of Strength (defense): On defense, Ahmad Brooks is as physically
gifted as any defender in the country, and he apparently is taking a more
diligent approach to game preparation. If his preparation allows him to utilize
his natural talent, he’ll be the best defender in the conference. Fellow ILB
Kai Parham is a good run stuffer who is a nice compliment to Brooks. It’s
premature to call the secondary a strength, but the starters should be improved
this fall as Marcus Hamilton, Tony Franklin, Lance Evans and Nate Lyles will
learn from mistakes last fall. Keenan Carter, if he stays healthy and in shape,
is the perfect 3-4 nose guard and will require double teams.

Areas of Concern (defense): There is a lot of young talent at defensive
end, particularly Chris Johnson and Chris Long, but they still are only
sophomores so they could have some growing pains. Projected starting OLB Clint
Sintim is going to be a player, but he will struggle trying to read and react in
the 3-4. Depth is in short supply at some key spots, and an injury to Carter,
Brooks or Parham would force some significant modifications to the defense. The
loss of Philip Brown to academics hurts the Cavs when they go to nickel and dime
coverages, and eliminates the possibility of Franklin moving inside to safety.
Incoming freshman corner Mike Brown will see significant time this fall.

Key Game: At Boston College. In a lot of key ways the Eagles will mirror
the Cavs (veteran QB, tough OL, good RBs, talented LBs), and this is a pick’em
game. A big road win, something conspicuously absent from Al Groh’s resume,
would help the Cavs a lot in terms of the ACC’s bowl pecking order.

Fearless Predictions: The Cavs will manage a big win at home, either
against FSU or (gasp) VT. Wali Lundy will have a terrific senior season and he
will lead the ACC in touchdowns again and rushing yards per game. The Cavs will
lose at least one game they shouldn’t (based on talent level) on the road,
either at Syracuse, at Maryland or at UNC. I see them as a four loss team this
fall.


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