Virginia Preview 2006
Virginia WR Deyon Williams
Posted Jul 31, 2006

While it appears the window has closed on what was supposed to be a golden era of Virginia football, it hasn't been locked shut.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Virginia was supposed to grow into a possible ACC superpower after an unbelievable recruiting class a few years ago led by an NFL-ready linebacking corps. While it's hard to get upset with 32 wins and three bowl victories over the last four years, it wasn't exactly what the die-hard fans were hoping for considering 12 Cavaliers were drafted over the last two years with a 13th, linebacker Ahmad Brooks, to go in a supplemental draft.

As good as Brooks, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Heath Miller, Kai Parham and Darryl Blackstock were, the hope is for the coaching staff to be able to reload in a hurry now that it has a track record of cranking out pro prospects. If you fit what head coach Al Groh and his staff want to do and you have next-level potential, the scouts will take notice. However, the reload will likely have to wait until next year.

Head coach: Al Groh
6th year: 37-26
12th year overall: 63-66
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 16, Def. 13, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Cavalier Players
1. CB Marcus Hamilton, Sr.
2. DE Chris Long, Jr.
3. WR Deyon Williams, Sr.
4. OG Branden Albert, Soph.
5. LB Clint Stintim, Soph.
6. TE Tom Santi, Jr.
7. TE Jonathan Stupar, Jr.
8. QB Christian Olsen, Sr.
9. LB Jermaine Dias, Jr.
10. OT Eugene Monroe, Soph.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5

9/2 at Pitt
9/9 Wyoming
9/16 Western Michigan
9/21 at Georgia Tech
9/30 at Duke
10/7 at East Carolina
10/14 Maryland
10/19 North Carolina
10/28 NC State
11/4 at Florida State
11/11 Miami
11/25 at Virginia Tech

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 7-5

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Western Mich  W 31-19
9/17 at Syracuse W 27-24
9/24 Duke  W 38-7
10/1 at Maryland L 45-33
10/8 at Boston Coll L 28-17
10/15 Florida State  W 26-21
10/22 at North Carolina  L 7-5
11/5 Temple W 51-3
11/12 Georgia Tech  W 27-17
11/19 Virginia Tech L 52-14
11/26 at Miami L 25-17
12/30 Music City Bowl
Minnesota W 34-31

While 13 starters and 32 lettermen return, this might be a season where the program takes a step back to take a giant leap forward. This is a young team with one senior on the projected defensive two-deep and only one on the offensive line. The skill players are veterans who should be able to generate more production than last year, but the top talents are all young reserves waiting for a chance to shine.

The offense will go back to being more of a pro-style attack with mobile starting quarterback Marques Hagans being replaced by the pure passing Christian Olsen. There will be short to midrange passes to the backs and tight ends, and more work created for the running backs. The potential is there for a more consistent offensive season if the offensive line grows up in a hurry.

On defense, the early defections of Brooks and Parham along with defensive end Vince Redd and safety Tony Franklin, who were booted off the team, leaves a gaping hole when it comes to experience, but it might turn out to be a plus character-wise.  It's not like the Cavalier D set the world on fire last year with those four finishing tenth in the ACC in total defense, 11th in pass D, 10th in run D, and eight in scoring D. This will definitely be a stepping-stone season for first year defensive coordinator Mike London.

Remember, we're talking about expectations, and there aren't many this year. Once again, Virginia has hardly been bad over the last few seasons, it has just been slightly disappointing. Now we'll see what happens when the bar has been lowered.

The Schedule: The Cavs have a change for a tremendous start if they can beat Georgia Tech in Atlanta and get by Pitt in the opener. With dates against Wyoming, Western Michigan, at Duke and at East Carolina in the first six games, 6-0 isn't out of the realm of possibility. In fact, they only face one 2005-2006 bowl team (Georgia Tech) before the end of October. Of course, the penance must be paid at some point. NC State is no picnic, and the final three games have to be the toughest in America playing at Florida State, Miami and at Virginia Tech.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Deyon Williams. Williams grew into a dangerous target late last year and showed off the speed, skills, and talent to become a decent NFL prospect. With more of an emphasis on the passing game this year, the team's number one receiver should flourish.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Marcus Hamilton. While he's not the most talented corner in the ACC, he's among the most productive. From tackles to interceptions to broken up passes, Hamilton's 2005 stats can match anyone's. However, this year, no one is going throw his way choosing to test the other side.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Christian Olsen. If/when Virginia gets into the ACC title hunt under Groh, Olsen isn't going to be the starting quarterback. However, he can help the team make a big step this year by being a steady, consistent passer. While he's not going to have to do all the things former starter Marques Hagans had to, the pressure to produce will be on his shoulders.

The season will be a success if ... Virginia wins eight games. The 2005 Cavs won seven games highlighted by a victory over Florida State and a Music City Bowl win over Minnesota, but if this year's team can better last year's mark just by beating the teams it'll be favored against, the excitement will be through the roof for 2007.

Key game: Sept. 21 at Georgia Tech. Winning the ACC and Coastal Division opener on the road would do wonders for the young team. With the road trip to Duke to follow nine days later and the next three conference games at home against Maryland, North Carolina and NC State, a 5-0 ACC start is possible with an upset win in Atlanta.

2005 Fun Stats: 
Third down conversion: Opponents 78 of 178 (43.8%) - Virginia 76 of 176 (43.2%)
- Sacks: Opponents 33 for 176 yards - Virginia 19 for 115 yards
- Penalties: Opponents 82 for 736 yards - Virginia 66 for 567 yards

The Last Time Virginia…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Music City Bowl vs. Minnesota)
…missed a bowl game…2001
…pitched a shutout…2004 (Maryland)
…was shutout…2001 (NC State)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Temple)
…went undefeated…1908
…won a conference title…1995 (share, ACC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2004 (Alvin Pearman)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2001 (Billy McMullen)
…had a first-round draft choice…2006 (T D’Brickashaw Ferguson)

Related Stories
Virginia Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Jul 31, 2006
Virginia Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Jul 31, 2006
Virginia Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Jul 31, 2006

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