- 2008 CFN Virginia Preview | 2008 Virginia Offense
- 2008 Virginia Defense | 2008 Virginia Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Virginia Preview | 2006 CFN Virginia Preview
Head coach: Al Groh
8th year: 51-37
14th year overall: 77-77
Off. 14, Def. 16, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 22
Best Cavalier Players
1. LT Eugene Monroe, Sr.
2. LB Clint Sintim, Sr.
3. LB Jon Copper, Sr.
4. LB Antonio Appleby, Sr.
5. WR Kevin Ogletree, Jr.
6. RB Cedric Peerman, Sr.
7. RB Mikell Simpson, Jr.
8. S Byron Glaspy, Sr.
9. TE John Phillips, Sr.
10. RT Will Barker, Jr.
The Cavaliers and
their fans enjoyed a special run last year, squeezing into the Top 25
and playing on New Year’s Day, but the good times came to a screeching
halt with the collapse against Texas Tech in the 31-28 Gator Bowl loss,
and the hits are going to keep on coming.
While just about everything went right for head coach Al Groh, it’s not as if Virginia was destroying opponents en route to an unexpected 9-4 mark. So, when the program that won The conventional wisdom is that the Cavs overachieved last year with a few great players, a solid kicking game, and an average overall supporting cast. With DE Chris Long and G Branden Albert headed to the NFL, the lines lose two special players. Making matters worse, this was supposed to be QB Jameel Sewell’s breakout year, but he and a few other starters have been declared academically ineligible.
With a schedule that begins with USC and ends with Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers will be hard-pressed to win seven games. With so many underclassmen filling important spots in the two-deep, this season will be about laying a foundation for much better results in 2009.
But is it really all gloom and doom? Raise your hands if you thought the Cavs would win nine last year. No, this won’t be a world-beater, but the ACC isn’t the SEC this season and Groh has done more with less. The program has cranked out five winning seasons in the last six and has seemingly always been able to surprise. That’ll have to be the case again.
What to look for on offense: Things open up a little bit. Virginia won’t be channeling Texas Tech any time soon, but some of the program’s coaches did spend time in Lubbock in the offseason trying to pick the complex brain of Red Raider head coach Mike Leach. While the attack will still strive for balance, new quarterback Peter Lalich gives the offense a young hurler with the live arm needed to distribute the ball to an improving receiving corps.
What to look for on defense: The secondary will struggle against quality passing teams. Yes, there’s talent in the defensive backfield, but most of it is young and prone to making mistakes in coverage. The Cavs were helped immensely last year by the pressure generated by Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald, but both are gone meaning opposing quarterbacks will get an extra second or two. That’s troubling news for a defensive backfield breaking in three new starters.
This team will be much better if… the offensive line adjusts on the fly to having three new starters on the inside. If the Cavaliers are stout up front, it’ll mean Lalich can grow at a reasonable pace and the offense can control the tempo of games with the running of Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson.
The Schedule: The tone could be set for the season in the opener against USC, but no one will be expecting a win. A non-conference road trip to Connecticut will also be tough, and East Carolina isn't going to be a layup. In ACC play the Cavaliers have to deal with Wake Forest and Clemson from the Atlantic, while road trips Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will likely decide whether or not they're really Coastal Division contenders.
Best Offensive Player: Senior LT Eugene Monroe. Monroe is on target to make it three straight years that a Cavalier offensive lineman gets selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, following in the footsteps of D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Branden Albert. A nimble 6-6 and 315-pound blocker, he continues to improve his overall game, sealing off all pass rushers he faced in 2007. The sky’s the limit this fall, with national honors within reach now that he’s finally the team’s signature blocker.
Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Clint Sintim. Sintim is exactly what Al Groh and Virginia need in a 3-4 linebacker, someone who’s tough in run defense and a beast as a pass rusher. At 6-3 and 254 pounds, he sheds blockers effortlessly, racking up 77 tackles, 17 quarterback hurries, and nine sacks last season. NFL scouts have already labeled him a slam dunk draft choice next April.
Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman PK Chris Hinkebein. Considering how many nail-biters Virginia participated in last year, Chris Gould wound up being instrumental in the program’s nine-win season. He’s gone, so it’ll be up to Hinkebein to send the ‘Hoo fans home happy when the school gets embroiled in more close games this fall.
The season will be a success if ... Virginia bowls. If Groh and his staff can milk seven wins out of a transitioning team that has an inexperienced starting quarterback and uncertainty on both lines, it’ll qualify as a head of steam for the following year. There’s enough talent to get it done, especially if the Cavs show as much grit and resiliency in tight games as they did a year ago.
Key game: Oct. 4 vs. Maryland. The Cavs will be kicking off an important three-game home stand against a similarly ranked ACC opponent. This will be a huge game for both schools in the race to reach bowl eligibility. Virginia has owned Maryland of late in Charlottesville, with the trend needing to continue in order to remain in the black in the race for the postseason.
2007 Fun Stats:
- First quarter scoring: Virginia 125 – Opponents 62
- Third quarter scoring: Opponents 57 – Virginia 19
- Sacks: Virginia 43 for 291 yards – Opponents 33 for 212 yards