2008 Virginia Cavaliers Football Preview
2007 Virginia Record: (9-4, 6-2 ACC)
2007 Bowl: Gator Bowl vs. Texas Tech (L 28-31)
Virginia Head Coach: Al Groh (51-37 at Virginia, 77-77 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Groh
Defensive Coordinator: Bob Pruett
Returning Leaders for the Cavs:
Other Key Returnees: LB Antonio Appleby, OT Will Barker, S Byron Glaspy, CB Vic Hall, OT Eugene Monroe, TE John Phillips
Key Losses: G Branden Albert, CB Chris Cook, LB Jermaine Dias, DE Jeffrey Fitzgerald, DE Chris Long, S Nate Lyles, TE Tom Santi, QB Jameel Sewell, TE Jonathan Stupar
The 2007 season did not end well for Virginia and it has not gotten any better. The Cavaliers lost to rival Virginia Tech with a trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game on the line and then blew a lead to Texas Tech in the Gator Bowl. Then offensive guard Branden Albert opted to go pro and academic issues sidelined a handful of players, including starting quarterback Jameel Sewell and cornerback Chris Cook.
There might not be enough talent to really build off of last year’s success, but Virginia has enough weapons to consider another trip to a bowl game. Running back Cedric Peerman nearly eclipsed the 100 yard per game mark last year and should be a consistent runner as long as he can stay healthy. The Cavaliers did not look to their wide receivers too often last year and Peerman’s, as well as fellow back Mikell Simpson’s, ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is important. At 6-6 and 250 pounds, tight end John Phillips is the next in line of pass catching ends. With receiver Kevin Ogletree back after last year’s season ending injury, the quarterback will have a multitude of weapons to work with. The team has a few problems on defense, but the linebacker spot should not be one of them. Antonio Appleby, Jon Cooper and Clint Sintim are all returning starters and all seniors.
The big weakness on defense is the line. Chris Long, of course, is in the NFL and fellow end Jeffrey Fitzgerald left the program. Those two combined for 21 sacks last year and that pressure made the defense, and the team, successful. That will put a lot of strain on Sean Gottschalk to quickly put pressure on the opposition. The line on the other side of the ball is not much better. Eugene Monroe and Will Barker return to the tackle spots, but the middle of the line is a mess, especially without Albert. Just who Coach Al Groh expects to man the middle of the line is a mystery, but they will certainly be inexperienced.
The Bottom Line for the Cavaliers:
With questions on the offensive line, life will be difficult for Sewell’s replacement. Peter Lalich is the likely choice. He is nowhere near as mobile as Sewell, but Lalich, a sophomore, has a nice arm and had a decent spring. UVA will have to let Lalich drop back and air it out more than they did last season. With so many quality targets to throw to, the offense could be better this year as long as the line can hold their own.
2007 Virginia Cavaliers Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 135.62 (79th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 194.77 (90, 10)
Total Offense: 330.38 (101, 9)
Scoring Offense: 24.38 (81, 6)
Rushing Defense: 106.92 (13, 3)
Pass Defense: 225.54 (54, 8)
Total Defense: 332.46 (23, 5)
Scoring Defense: 19.69 (16, 3)
Turnover Margin: .15 (41, 7)
Sacks: 3.31 (6, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.46 (83, 7)
By Joel Welser
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