The Road to Charlotte: Game 5- Virginia

With the season a few short weeks away NoleDigest continues to preview the season as the Seminoles attempt to make a run at the ACC Championship. In this installment we look at the Virginia Cavaliers.

It's been a few years since Florida State and Virginia have faced each other in ACC play. After 9 years under Al Groh the Cavs are under new direction in new head coach Mike London. After leading Richmond to notoriety London is attempting to resurrect a struggling program that has gone 8-16 the past two seasons.

Coach London will be installing new schemes on both sides of the ball, so this team will more than likely go through some growing pains in 2010. At quarterback Marc Verica is the only player on the team with any experience under center. He'll need to do better than the 8 touchdowns and 17 interceptions he's thrown over the past 2 seasons if the offense is to be successful.

Running back is another spot on the roster where there are some question marks. Coach London likes to rush the ball with a power attack, thus 6'3" 255 pound Keith Payne is someone to keep an eye on. Payne has the ability but he's battled academic issues throughout his career at UVA. Dominique Wallace, Torrey Mack and Perry Jones are backs that will compete for carries this season.

The common theme on offense is finding out what the team has in terms of playmakers. Tim Smith will be leaned on to bring the big plays at wide receiver. He is more of a down-field threat. Kris Burd returns after hauling in 31 passes in 2010, and Jared Green also has playing experience. Quintin Hunter is a former quarterback that brings athleticism to the position.

Defensively Virginia is moving from the 3-4 to the 4-3 base defense. Up front there is experience but there isn't a lot of depth. Former linebacker Cam Johnson is a speed rusher that will be depended on to attack the passer. Nick Jenkins and Matt Conrath will pair up inside. The other defensive end spot is up for grabs, and there isn't a lot of talent behind the starting 4.

Steve Greer headlines Virginia's linebacking corps. He was named second team freshman All-American last year as he led the Cavs in tackles. Coach London and the defensive coaches have said leading up to the season they'll be looking for more speed from this segment. LaRoy Reynolds, Jared Detrick and Ausar Walcott are players to keep an eye on.

Virginia's best player is Ras-I Dowling. Dowling is one of college football's best defensive backs as he brings a great blend of size and speed. This is a strong unit overall. Corey Mosley and Rodney McLeod return at the safety positions.

What FSU must do to win: Much like the Wake Forest game, FSU should be the prohibitive favorite in this ACC match-up. FSU should have the edge in every facet of the game here, therefore as long as they protect the ball on offense they should be able to move the ball and put points on the board.

On defense FSU has the athletes to shut down Virginia, but teams that have a power running game have given FSU fits over the past few years. It's still early to tell what we'll see up front for FSU, but they'll have to contain and clog the middle for the "D" to have success.

NoleDigest early prediction: This should be another easy ACC win for the Seminoles. Virginia is implementing a new scheme on both sides of the ball, and there is not a lot of depth for Coach London yet. Virginia may have some success running the ball as FSU too has some questions on defense.

FSU's skill set on offense, along with the offensive line, should allow the offense to have a huge day. Virginia's secondary is good enough to compete with FSU outside, so look for this game to be a big day for FSU's running backs.

FSU 40 Virginia 14

2010 predicted record 4-1, 2-0 in ACC


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