What you need to know ...
While there aren't any obvious stars, this should be a
better offense than it'll initially get credit for. It all
starts up front with a line that has the potential to be
tremendous if several problems like off-field skirmishes,
academic issues and injuries turn out to be not that big a deal.
Expect more of a pro-style attack with quarterback Christian
Olsen a pure passer compared to the starter for the last two
years, Marques Hagans. The running game needs the speedy backups
to play key roles behind Jason Snelling, while the talented
receiving corps needs Olsen to be steady.
Passing: Christian Olsen
7-11, 71 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jason Snelling
58 carries, 325 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Deyon Williams
58 catches, 767 yds, 7 TD
Star of the offense: Senior WR Deyon Williams
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior QB
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Branden Albert
Best pro prospect: Williams
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Williams, 2) TE Tom
Santi, 3) TE Jonathan Stupar
Strength of the offense: Tight end, receiving corps
Weakness of the offense:
Proven quarterback, running game
Marques Hagans might not have been the ideal quarterback
for Virginia because of his lack of height and style of
play, but he was a smart, tough leader who made things happen.
Now it's back to the pro-style passers with Christian Olsen and
Kevin McCabe likely to get the most work this year. Olsen is
more than ready to be the starter, but he appears to be a
stopgap between Hagans and whenever Jameel Sewell is ready.
Sewell is a bigger version of Hagans and will be the main man in
The key to the unit: With Olsen not a threat to run
like Hagans, the stress will be placed on passing efficiency and
Quarterback Rating: 6
- Christian Olsen, Sr. - 7-11, 64%, 71 yds, 1 INT
The former Notre Dame transfer fits more of the traditional
Virginia quarterback mold. He's 6-3 and 216 pounds with a nice
arm and good accuracy, but he's not going to bring the mobile
element to the game that Marques Hagans provided. He saw a
little bit of time in three games and didn't get too many
meaningful throws in, so he's still a bit of an unknown going
into the year. It might take a game or two of live action before
he becomes the true leader of the offense.
- Kevin McCabe, Jr. - 3-5, 60%, 31 yds
A big-time recruit a few years ago,
McCabe is a pure pro-style quarterback with good passing
skills. He hasn't been able to get out of the bottom of the
depth chart until this year when he'll be the number two man
early on, but he'll have to battle with the multi-talented
Jameel Sewell as the season goes on and for next year's starting
- Jameel Sewell, RFr.
Call Sewell the X factor in the quarterback mix. He's an
athletic left-handed passer with excellent quickness and enough
passing talent to grow into a possible starter. While he has far
more upside than Christian Olsen or Kevin McCabe, he appears to
be a year away from being a serious challenger for the starting
Leading rusher Wali Lundy is gone as is rushing
quarterback Marques Hagans, so the onus will be on this group to
produce at a higher level. Fullback Jason Snelling will start
out as the team's top tailback, but speedsters Michael Johnson
and Cedric Peerman needs to play a major role to add more dash.
The backs will have to do more in the passing game needing to
turn short passes into big gains.
The key to the unit: Johnson has to stay healthy.
Snelling is a nice back who'll move the chains and will always
go forward, but Johnson and Peerman have to shine to make the
offense potentially special.
Running Back Rating: 6.5
- Jason Snelling, Sr. - 58 carries, 325 yds, 5.6 ypc, 2
TD, 19 catches, 358 yds, 18.8 ypc, 2 TD
Part fullback, part tailback, the 233-pound senior is a
serviceable power runner who was the main man over the final
stretch of the regular season highlighted by a 126-yard, one
touchdown day against Temple. There's no wow factor with him
with little dash, but he's a steady producer with good hands in
the receiving corps and is a solid blocker.
- Fullback Josh Zidenberg, Jr.
One of the team's top special teams performers, Zidenberg will
expand his role and become more of a fullback this season
allowing Jason Snelling to play more tailback. While he's
physical, he's not all that big at 6-0 and 212 pounds.
- Michael Johnson, Sr. - 50 carries, 267 yds, 5.3 ypc, 2 TD, 9
catches, 87 yds, 9.7 ypc
There's no question the 5-9, 199-pound senior has talent and
there's no question that he could grow into a dangerous weapon,
but he hasn't been able to stay healthy having problems with a
sports hernia a few years ago and was limited by a foot problem
last season. If he's not the team's fastest player, he's second
with too much upside not to keep on the field. He showed off
a little of that speed with a 70-yard touchdown run against
Syracuse, and now he needs to make more big plays.
- Cedric Peerman, Soph. - 70 carries, 237 yds, 3.4
ypc, 3 TD, 3 catches, 14 yds, 4.7 ypc, 1 TD
Peerman had a nice first half of last season getting almost all
of his yards in the first five games, and then he was all but
out of the mix. He's quick enough to be used as a kickoff
returner and has speed and hands to become a dangerous receiver.
- Fullback Kevin Bradley, Jr. - 1 catch, 3 yds
Josh Zidenberg won the starting fullback job coming out of
spring ball, but he's not all that big. The 230-pound Bradley is
a much stronger, much more versatile option who'll see more than
his share of work. He's a physical player who can catch a little
This will turn into one of the ACC's better
receiving corps now that there will be more passing in the
pro-style offense. Deyon Williams is a next-level talent who
should have an all-star season with steady Fontel Mines and a
terrific tight end tandem of Tom Santi and Jonathan Stupar to
take the heat off. Kevin Ogletree is on the verge of stardom,
while Emmanuel Byers and Andrew Pearman are speedy reserves who
should play big roles.
The key to the unit: More touchdowns have to come
from someone other than Williams. The passes will be spread
around and everyone has to take advantage of the work.
Receiver Rating: 8
- Deyon Williams, Sr. - 58 catches, 767 yds, 13.2 ypc, 7 TD
The clear number one man, the 6-3, 185-pound senior has
tremendous speed and All-ACC talent. He earned honorable mention
honors last season after turning into a good scorer, and now he
should shine with more of a passing attack implemented for this
year. He was a steady target over the first two-and-a-half
seasons, and then he blew up against Georgia Tech catching ten
passes for 107 yards and a touchdown sparking a great end of the
- Fontel Mines, Sr. - 28 catches, 345 yds, 12.3 ypc, 2 TD
A pure possession receiver, the 6-4, 217-pound senior has enough
speed to stretch the field a bit and become more of a deep
threat, but his role will be to make the tough catches in
traffic and use his size to create matchup problems. Expect him
to be a solid number two man who takes the heat off Deyon
- Tight end Tom Santi, Jr. - 19 catches, 358 yds, 18.8
ypc, 2 TD
While he's not the second coming of Heath Miller, the 6-5,
238-pound junior is a tremendous route runner with good deep
speed. After a steady year, he finished with a tremendous
128-yard day in the bowl win over Minnesota. He's a good blocker
who can be used as a fullback if needed, but his receiving
skills make him too valuable to keep out of the passing mix.
- Emmanuel Byers, Jr. - 21 catches, 219 yds, 10.4 ypc
Byers grew into a strong backup who grew into more of a role
late in the year highlighted by a 90-yard touchdown pass to
Deyon Williams against Miami. He's a smaller, quicker option
than Fontel Mines at one of the receiver spots with the hands to
become one of the team's most dependable targets. He can be used
as a punt returner if needed.
- Kevin Ogletree, Soph. - 7 catches, 27 yds, 3.9 ypc
On the verge of breaking out, Ogletree has the measurables to
become a star. He's 6-2 and 184 pounds with fantastic speed,
toughness and athleticism. He saw a little bit of time last year
doing most of his work in the blowout over Temple.
- Andrew Pearman, Soph.
He's only 5-10 and 166 pounds, but he can flat-out fly. While he
might be a year away from growing into a full-time role, he has
too much speed to be kept off the field. He'll see a few carries
to get the ball in his hands.
- Tight end Jonathan Stupar, Jr. - 24 catches, 319 yds,
13.3 ypc, 1 TD
Stupar stayed healthy and had a huge year finishing third on the
team in receiving. While the 245-pound junior isn't quite the
overall talent that Tom Santi is, he'll see more than his share
of starting time and will see plenty of passes come his way.
There are a lot of ifs. If all is clear and fine for tackles
Eddie Pinigis and Zak Stair after some off-the-field issues, and if
projected starting tackle Eugene Monroe is fine after suffering a
dislocated knee, and if rising star guard Branden Albert gets everything
straight academically, this has the potential to be a very, very good
line despite losing three starters including D'Brickashaw Ferguson. The
concern will be the depth with inexperience and size a major issue. If
the front five can stay together all season long, watch for this to be a
The key to the unit: Without Marques Hagans to
scramble around and buy time, the line will have to be tighter in pass
protection after allowing 33 sacks last year.
Offensive Line Rating: 7
- OT Eugene Monroe, Soph.
Monroe will get the first shot at trying to replace D'Brickashaw
Ferguson on the left side, but he'll have to return healthy after having
problems with a dislocated kneecap this spring. While he's not close to
being Ferguson, he's bigger at 6-6 and 318 pounds and should grow into
being a decent all-around blocker over the next few years.
- OG Branden Albert, Soph.
Can he get into the classroom enough to be the main man last year on the
left side? The 6-7, 306-pound Albert had a great true freshman season
and has the size and athleticism to eventually become an All-ACC
performer and a first day draft pick, but he has to stay eligible and he
won't have D'Brickashaw Ferguson playing next to him.
- C Ian Yates-Cunningham, Jr.
Able to play guard or center, Cunningham wasn't quite able to be his
typical self after having problems recovering a back injury. The
291-pound junior saw most of last year at guard and will now get the
initial look at center with more size than the other option, the
268-pound Jordy Lipsey.
- OG Marshal Ausberry, Jr.
Back at right guard after doing a good job of replacing All-American
Elton Brown, the 6-5, 309-pound junior had the look this spring of a
blocker about to take another step up. He's one of the team's bigger
linemen and should be one of the most reliable run blockers.
- OT Eddie Pinigis, Jr.
Most of his news this off-season was made after getting into trouble
with the law after being connected to a fight in a frat house. The 6-7,
292-pound junior is expected to be cleared of the charges and still be
on the team as a much-needed big body at right tackle.
G Gordie Sammis, Sr.
The 6-4, 290-pound senior was the main man at left guard this spring
with Branden Albert dealing with his studies. He's not nearly the talent
that Albert is, but he has been around long enough to be a competent
fill in if needed.
- C Jordy Lipsey, Jr.
Can Lipsey get any bigger? He's a talented blocker with good
athleticism, but he's only 268 pounds and would have to be part of a
rotation if he can't add a little more bulk and strength.
- T Zak Stair, Soph.
Along with Eddie Pinigis, Stair was connected to an off-the-field
incident at a fraternity. Assuming all turns out to be fine, the
294-pound sophomore will be a key reserve on the left side with starter
Eugene Monroe having problems with a knee injury.