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Virginia Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Virginia Cavaliers
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 31, 2006


Virginia Cavaliers Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Charlottesvillian existentialism –  When Al Groh came to Charlottesville after his stint as the New York Jets head coach, one of the major selling points to the UVA search committee was that Groh was thinking national championship.  It wasn’t good enough to be 6 and 5 and win a lower tier bowl game.  It wasn’t even enough to be an eight win a season program, playing in a bowl game in Boise each year.  This program had to be thinking national championship or bust.  Consequently, his program has shown signs that it ‘wants’ to be in that upper echelon (wins over FSU last year comes to mind), but for the most part, the Wahoo program has been, well, average.  Of all of the programs in the ACC, UVA is the one that is probably the most difficult to try to figure out.  If you’re a Wahoo fan/alum, how do you perceive your football program?  Where are you as a football team?  It would seem that with personnel losses like D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Ahmad Brooks, Kai Parham, Marques Hagans and nearly half the coaching staff, the Cavs might be on the downswing, but that’s not what Groh envisioned five years ago when he took over.  The momentum he generated through his recruiting of top blue chip prospects like Brooks and Parham has given way to questions about whether he’s living up to the expectations he set forth for himself and this program five years ago.  Suspensions and departures over the spring and summer raised red flags about Groh and the players he’s brought to Charlottesville, and it’s not like they’re coming off a 10 win BCS season.  This is a team that hasn’t won more than eight regular season games since Groh has been at UVA, all the while, their neighbors from Blacksburg won the 2004 ACC title and won the ACC Coastal division in 2005.  This is a key year for Groh and the Cavaliers because if Groh’s squad can’t get his team at least into contention for a Coastal division championship, they might be home for the holidays, an unfortunately fitting end for a team needing some better answers.

2nd and Seven – Finally, some receivers… – Since the days of Billy McMullen, the Cavaliers have struggled finding some perimeter receiving threats.  Tight end Heath Miller was the main weapon in 2003 and 2004, while it was difficult for the Cavs outside receivers to do much to scare opposing secondaries.  But, that was before Deyon Williams, Fontel Mines and Emmanuel Byers started showing signs of life, as they did in 2005.  Williams led the team with 58 receptions for 767 yards and seven touchdowns and has established himself as a true outside threat.  Mines was second on the team behind Williams and Byers is probably the fastest of the trio.  Former star RB Alvin Pearman’s brother Andrew electrified the coaching staff in the spring and should push for playing time alongside the returning WR trio.  UVA can feel extremely confident with this group catching the ball this season.  The QB throwing it to them?  Well, that could be another issue altogether.

3rd and Three – …and no QB? – When Matt Schaub graduated after the 2003 season, not too many UVA supporters were overly worried about Marques Hagans taking over the QB position.  Hagans had shown in spot duty that he was capable to take over the position and be a star.  However, now that Hagans is off to the NFL, there might be a few more people a little worried about how Christian Olsen will do as the heir apparent in Charlottesville.  Olsen, a fifth-year senior who was once one of the top recruits in the nation, has waited for this opportunity for what must have seemed like a decade.  But, whether he’s got enough to shake off the rust and be a productive signal caller in his one and final year as a starter could be the biggest question for this offense in 2006.  Olsen has prototypical size at 6’2” and 216, but can he be the all-encompassing offensive weapon that Hagans was?  Perhaps not, but a consistent 65% completion, 2 to 1 interception ratio QB will do.  Is that possible?  A trip to Pitt is coming up very soon and we’ll find out then.

4th and One – Marcus, darling – UVA CB Marcus Hamilton would’ve been a first team All-ACC corner if not for the great talent in this conference in 2005.  The young man had six interceptions last year in a stellar season and should be the shut-down cover corner in the Cavalier secondary.  The 5’11”, 190 pound senior is solid in press man coverage or playing off in man or zone coverage.  With the aforementioned six picks last year, don’t expect too many teams to challenge his side of the field as some questions exist as to who mans the spot opposite Hamilton.  The defensive line must generate a pass rush to keep the pressure off of Hamilton and his mates, but if Hamilton is left on the island alone, he should be just fine.

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