2006 ACC Preview & Prediction: Virginia

Now that several stars have left, it's time for some new blood to shine in Charlottesville. The question is, though, who will it be? Quarterback is one of the biggest areas of concern. The two competing for the starting position now that Marques Hagens is gone are Christian Olsen and Kevin McCabe.

2005 RECORD: 7-5 overall, 3-5 ACC (5th in Coastal).

HEAD COACH: Al Groh, 63-66 overall in 11 seasons; 37-26 in five seasons at Virginia.

KEY ADDITIONS: TE Sean Gottschalk, QB O.C. Wardlow, TE Joe Torchia, S Rico Bell, DE John-Kevin Dolce, LB Keith Payne.

KEY LOSSES: LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, C Brian Barthelmes, RT Brad Butler, QB Marques Hagans, RB Wali Lundy, DE Brennan Schmidt, LB Kai Parham, LB Ahmad Brooks, DB Tony Franklin, PK Connor Hughes.

OFFENSE: Now that several stars have left, it's time for some new blood to shine in Charlottesville. The question is, though, who will it be? Quarterback is one of the biggest areas of concern. The two competing for the starting position now that Marques Hagens is gone are Christian Olsen and Kevin McCabe. Both are at least 6-foot-2 and weigh 215 pounds. They are the prototypical drop-back passer as opposed to the running type that Hagans was. Olsen, a senior, has the early lead as starter, but Groh and his son, Mike Groh, the team's new offensive coordinator, won't hesitate to play McCabe should Olsen struggle.

Senior Michael Johnson and sophomore Cedric Peerman will handle the duties at tailback and both are very capable of doing so. Helping the quarterback situation is the return of both starting receivers, Deyon Williams and Fontel Mines, who combined for 1,112 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

The offensive line could be a problem spot as it sports only two returning starters. Expect the offense to mimic the days of when Matt Schuab, now of the Atlanta Falcons, ran the show.

DEFENSE: The defense appears to be in better shape than the offense. The secondary is the strength of the defense, which has four returning starters, including senior Marcus Hamilton, who led the ACC with six interceptions last season.

Junior Chris Long is the lone returning starter on the line and just one of two lettermen at that position. Those competing for the remainder of the starting spots are babes with no or very little experience. This is the worst area on defense and the Cavaliers have to have somebody lead the way here or it could be a very long season. Backing up the line are two returning starters at linebacker, which should be able to help the line if it struggles.

The defense won't be anywhere near as solid as it was the last two years, but there are still enough athletes on the field where it shouldn't be bad.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – Number of interceptions Marcus Hamilton had last year to lead the ACC.

WHAT TO WATCH: The middle third of the season. This is where all of Virginia's "tweener" games are. Their season will be made or broken in those five consecutive games, starting at East Carolina on Oct. 7.

PREDICTION: 6-6 overall, 3-5 ACC (4th in Coastal).


Head coach Al Groh



WR Fontel Mines



DB Marcus Hamilton


CUTigers.com's ACC Previews:
Coastal Division
Duke (6th place)
North Carolina (5th place)


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