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2014 Virginia Recruiting Class Analysis

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 6, 2014


Virginia Cavaliers 2014 ... Head Coach: Mike London


Virginia Cavaliers

2013 Record: 2-9
8/31 BYU W 19-16
9/7 Oregon L 59-10
9/14 OPEN DATE
9/21 VMI W 49-0
9/28 at Pitt L 14-3
10/5 Ball State L 48-27
10/12 at Maryland L 27-26
10/19 Duke L 35-22
10/26 Georgia Tech L 35-25
11/2 Clemson L 59-10
11/9 at North Carolina L 45-14
11/16 OPEN DATE
11/23 at Miami L 45-26
11/30 Virginia Tech


- The 2014 Recruiting Class

Team Concerns For 2014: Everything, except the secondary. The Cavs should be solid in pass defense, but every other area of the program is eligible for an extreme makeover. Virginia was 13th in the league in scoring and last in scoring defense, a recipe for plenty of blowouts. If the program is going to save head coach Mike London’s job and even flirt with bowl-eligibility, it’ll have to get more from QB David Watford or whoever else winds up competing for the job during the offseason.

The 2014 Class Is Heavy On ... A few key parts. It’s a feast-or-famine class. Andrew Brown is the best defensive tackle prospect in the country, and Quin Blanding is one of the nation’s top safety prospects. Guard Steven Moss is a special prospect, and receiver Jamil Kamara is a big target. However, the rest of the class is filled with just guys – there aren’t many sure-thing starters down the road. Running back Jordan Ellis is promising, and tight end Evan Butts has talent, but some producers have to emerge from out of nowhere.

2013 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 41. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterback. Mike London has done an amazing job of updating the talent level with a few top 30 recruiting classes, and this one has the potential to be almost as good as last year's haul. The offensive tackle prospects are excellent, safety Tim Harris is going to be a player, and running back Taquan Mizzell will be a factor, but the focus will be on the quarterbacks with Cowin Cutler and Brandan Marshall two big passers who look the part. They won't be needed for a while, but they'll be in a great fight for a starting job in a few years.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 22. That Class Was Heavy On ... The last few classes have revolved around the offense, and the defensive front seven is getting the strongest talent this year, but the Cavaliers are looking to keep bringing in good targets. Last year, head coach Mike London came up with a strength-in-numbers class of receivers, and he’s doing it again with at least five prospects coming in. While the passing game needs more attention, London likes the running game and he’s getting a good one in Kye Morgan. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 26. That Class Was Heavy On ... Wide receivers. Head coach Mike London brought in a really, really nice overall class highlighted by a terrific get in corner Demetrious Nicholson and a big-time Signing Day coup in corner Dominique Terrell. The defensive line got plenty of bodies with seven linemen brought in, and three nice offensive tackles will help the line. The key to the class was the haul of receivers with six prospects brought in including Brandon Phelps, Darius Jennings, and Clifton Richardson, three fast, talented targets who might get a long look for instant playing time.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 68. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. Virginia is still a factory for top-shelf offensive linemen with Morgan Moses a massive tackle who signed last year but sat out a year, and Conner Davis an interesting prospect, but new head coach Mike London was more in needs of upgrading the offense. Four quarterbacks were signed led by Mike Rocco and Michael Strauss, but there weren't any wide receiver prospects brought in.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 49. That Class Was Heavy On ... offensive tackles. After losing Branden Albert and Eugene Monroe to the NFL in successive seasons, the Cavaliers have bolstered their offensive line with a whopping six tackles standing 6-5 or taller. Like the last three great Virginia linemen, including D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the school traveled north to get Oday Aboushi, a 305-pounder with considerable upside and nasty demeanor. Landing four-star mountain Morgan Moses was the upset of this group.

at Miami 45, Virginia 26
Basically … Miami set the tone on the first play with Tracy Howard returning an interception for a 19-yard score, and the D came up big in the fourth on a 72-yard fumble return for a touchdown from David Gilbert. Stephen Morris threw two touchdown passes including a 62-yarder to Stacy Coley, and Dallas Crawford ran for two scores. Virginia pulled within one in the second on the second Alec Vozenilek field goal of the first half, but it was all Miami with 17 straight points to put it away.
- Miami QB Stephen Morris completed 13-of-26 passes for 214 yards and two scores with a pick.
- The two teams combined for 17 penalties and six turnovers with Virginia committed ten penalties and four turnovers.
- Virginia RB Kevin Parks ran 26 times for 130 yards and a score.
- Virginia held the ball for 37:49 and outgained Miami 483 yards to 304.

at North Carolina 45, Virginia 14
Basically … North Carolina was fine without quarterback Bryn Renner as Marquise Williams threw a touchdown pass to Quinshad Davis, and then Quinshad Davis threw a touchdown pass to Marquise Williams to get up 14-0 in the first quarter. Williams ran for a three-yard score, Ryan Switzer returned a punt for an 85-yard touchdown, and Dominique Green returned an interception on the way to a 42-7 Tar Heel lead. Virginia got an eight-yard Kevin Parks touchdown run and a 23-yard Keeon Johnson scoring grab.
- North Carolina QB Marquise Williams completed 15-of-28 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, he ran 16 times for 46 yards and a score and caught a 29-yard touchdown pass.
- Virginia RB Kevin Parks ran 24 times for 100 yards and a score.
- North Carolina committed 13 penalties for 102 yards. Virginia came up with five for 45 yards.
- Virginia quarterbacks David Watford and Greyson Lambert combined to complete 22-of-43 passes for 204 yards and a score with two picks.

Clemson 59 at Virginia 10, Nov. 2
Basically … Virginia knotted the game at 7-7 on a six-yard David Watford scamper with five minutes left in the first quarter. It was all Clemson from that point forward. The Tigers scored the game’s final seven touchdowns, including Sammy Watkins’ second touchdown reception, a 96-yarder from Tajh Boyd. A 35-7 halftime lead allowed head coach Dabo Swinney to empty his bench and get reps for the backups in the second half.
- Clemson outgained Virginia 610-277.
- Virginia completed only 19-of-46 passing attempts for 163 yards, no touchdowns and two picks.
- Three different Tiger quarterbacks, Boyd and backups Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly, combined to go 34-of-45 for 435 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
- The Cavaliers punted 12 times and were 6-of-22 on third-down tries.

Georgia Tech 35, at Virginia 25
Basically … Georgia Tech got its running game going early with Davis Sims tearing off a 36-yard scoring run in the first quarter, and putting the game away with a 29-yard touchdown dash in the final minutes. In between, the Yellow Jackets overcame five turnovers with timely defense and more scoring runs, getting two short touchdowns from Zach Laskey and a 65-yarder from Robert Godhigh. Virginia hung around as the two teams traded scores all game long. David Watford threw two touchdown passes to Darius Jennings in the fourth quarter, and Kevin Parks ran for a six-yard touchdown.
- It wasn’t a perfect performance by any stretch - the five turnovers could’ve been a problem, but weren’t – thanks to another great week from the ground game. Three Yellow Jackets – Zach Laskey, Robert Godhigh and David Sims – ran for over 100 yards with a touchdown. Again, though, this could’ve been a blowout without the turnovers.
- The Yellow Jackets might not be in the hunt for the title with the key losses to Virginia Tech and Miami, but they can close out strong and make some noise. With the way the running game is rolling, beating Clemson on the road isn’t out of the question and closing out with a win over Georgia is possible. With Pitt and Alabama A&M still to play, the Yellow Jackets will be bowling. Now it’s time to fight for a good one.
- Virginia had its chances. The defense and the linebackers whiffed way too much against the run, but it forced five takeaways. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities, failing to score off the gifts. David Watford completed 43-of-61 passes for 376 yards and two touchdowns as the offense kept up, but the defense couldn’t hold late.
- Now on a five-game losing streak, Virginia has to win out to get to a bowl game. With Clemson, at North Carolina, at Miami and Virginia Tech to close things out, 2-10 and an utter disaster is more than possible.

Duke 35, at Virginia 22
Basically … Down 22-0 in the first half, Duke scored 35 unanswered points as the game made a complete and total turn starting with a six-yard Jamison Crowder touchdown catch with 46 seconds left in the half. Brandon Connette ran for a six-yard score, and Braxton Deaver caught fourth quarter touchdown passes from 47 and 24 yards out to put the game away. Virginia got three touchdowns from Kevin Parks to start the game, but the offense sputtered and failed time and again, and Duke took advantage.
- It was an odd an uneven game, but Duke’s offense worked after a rocky start. Anthony Boone completed 21-of-39 passes for 245 yards and two scores with a pick, but it was the receiving corps that took over with Jamison Crowder catching nine passes for 113 yards and a score, and Braxton Deaver catching three balls for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
- Virginia had its chances to come back in the second half, but penalties killed key moments to turn the game back around. The off was able to get a few breaks, and the special teams helped, but there were too many mistakes. Kevin Parks tried to carry the offense with two rushing touchdowns and six catches for 88 yards and a score, but there were too many misfires after a great start.
- With four losses in a row and no margin for error, it’s over. The Cavaliers aren’t consistent enough offensively to get by Clemson, Miami or Virginia Tech, and the running game just isn’t controlling enough to help out the defense. Duke doesn’t have a brick wall of a defensive front, but Virginia managed just 2.6 yards per carry.
- All of a sudden, Duke has won three games in a row and now has a shot at a decent bowl game at 5-2. Beating Virginia is one thing, but if the offense can find the same spark at Virginia Tech next week, then it will be time to really get excited. However, after two tremendous defensive performances, the front line has to continue to hold up.

at Maryland 27, Virginia 26
Basically … Maryland’s Dave Stinebaugh caught a 12-yard touchdown pass with just over five minutes to play, but it took a 42-yard missed field goal from Virginia’s Alec Vozenilek in the final moments to survive. The Terps got two short touchdown runs from Brandon Ross in the first half, but could only managed two Brad Craddock field goals in the third before Virginia rallied with a six-yard Kevin Parks scoring run and a 26-yard Vozenilek field goal for a 26-20 lead before Maryland came up with its final scoring drive.
- Maryland came up with 468 yards, but it couldn’t seem to find any rhythm with three turnovers and too many third down misfires. With C.J. Brown out, Caleb Rowe did his part with 332 passing yards and a score, but he wasn’t accurate. Virginia loaded up to stop the run, and Rowe couldn’t always come up with the right pass when needed.
- Kevin Parks carried the Cavaliers. While he didn’t really break free on his 28 carries for 112 yards with a score, he set up the offense for manageable second and third down situations. The Cavaliers held on to the ball for almost 38 minutes, but deep drives finished off with field goals instead of touchdowns.
- It wasn’t pretty, but the Terps came back from the Florida State blasting and got a win to get to 5-1. Now it’s time to really focus and get by a dangerous road game against a rested Wake Forest before facing Clemson with a shot at making a big splash. They failed against the Seminoles, but playing well against the Tigers could make amends.
- The Cavaliers have been all over the map. They played, far, far better than they did against Ball State, and the offense worked better than it did against Pitt, but they couldn’t pull out a win despite 505 yards of offense and a balanced attack that kept things moving. With three straight home games coming up, and with Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech still to deal with, either they beat Duke next week, or the season is over.

Ball State 48, at Virginia 27
Basically … Down 17-7 after Virginia got touchdown runs from Kevin Parks and David Watford, Ball State caught fire, taking advantage of mistake after mistake to 17 straight points and a 41-10 run to close things out. Jahwan Edwards ran for three scores for the Cardinals and Keith Wenning connected on scoring passes from 11 yards to Willie Snead and 72 yards to Jordan Williams. Virginia couldn’t get out of its own way, and stumbled late after pulling within seen with just under 11 minutes to play on a 38-yard Alec Vozenilek field goal. The Cardinals scored the final 14 points.
- Errors, errors, errors. Virginia turned it over four times, Ball State didn’t give the ball up. Virginia committed 13 penalties, Ball State was flagged once. The Cardinals outplayed the Cavaliers, but the mistakes turned out to be the big difference.
- Keith Wenning was poised and smart with the football. He had the proper mix of risk taking and check downs, throwing for 346 yards and two scores on the way to being Ball State’s all-time leading passer.
- Virginia tried to push the ball down the field a bit more. David Watford completed 21-of-36 passes for 209 yards with a pick, and while there weren’t many big connections, at least the offense tried to open things up a bit.
- This was a very, very big win for a Ball State program that’s quickly growing into a MAC power under Pete Lembo. The North Texas loss is still puzzling, but if the Cardinals play up to their potential, they should be 9-1 with ease going into Northern Illinois. With Miami to finish up, at worst, 10-2 has to be expected.

at Pitt 14, Virginia 3
Basically … Virginia turned the ball over early, and Pitt took advantage with a six-yard James Conner touchdown run and a 15-yard Devin Street scoring grab. That was about it for the Panther offense, while Virginia didn’t do much better managing just 188 yards with a 32-yard Ian Frye field goal in the third.
- Pitt showed it could win really, really ugly, which it will probably have to do to get by Virginia Tech up next. Tom Savage completed just 13-of-31 passes for 191 yards with a touchdown with two picks, and there wasn’t much of a running game to help him out. Give Virginia credit for coming up with a solid pass rush.
- The Cavaliers destroyed the Pitt offensive line, generating seven sacks and 13 tackles for loss, led by a huge day from defensive tackle Brent Urban, who came up with seven tackles with four tackles for loss.
- After the Duke game, Pitt has now been through the ringer with several different types of performances. However, it would be nice to generate more than eight net yards rushing. That’s not going to happen against Virginia Tech.
- Virginia just kept messing up. It kept putting the ball on the ground, and while there were only two lost fumbles and just five penalties, it was an uneven effort from an offense that couldn’t find anything that worked right.

at Virginia 49, VMI 0
Basically … Daniel Hamm and Kevin Parks combined for 271 rushing yards and four scores, highlighted by a 61-yard Parks scoring dash in the second quarter. David Watford ran for a one-yard touchdown and threw two touchdown passes hitting Tim Smith for a 38-yard score in the second and Jake McGee for a four-yard touchdown in the third.
- It wasn’t the tightest of performances, but it was an easy tune-up before dealing with the ACC. Two David Watford interceptions helped it from being an even uglier blowout, but VMI had no firepower whatsoever.
- The Cavalier defense destroyed everything Keydets tried. VMI needs a running game to win, and Virginia didn’t let that happen allowing just 41 rushing yards and four first downs. VMI converted just one of 16 third down chances.

Oregon 59, at BYU 10, Sept. 7
Basically … Oregon never let it become a game. Marcus Mariota tore off a 71-yard touchdown in the opening two minutes, and De’Anthony Thomas followed it up with two scoring runs for a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Virginia managed ten first half points highlighted by a 45-yard Khalek Shepherd touchdown run, but Oregon owned the second half scoring 31 unanswered points. Thomas ran for a third touchdown in the third quarter and Thomas Tyner scored twice in the fourth quarter.
- It has almost become routine and expected. Oregon shows up, rips off 557 yards of total offense and almost 60 points, and leaves. De’Anthony Thomas was breathtaking, running for 124 yards and three scores on just 11 carries, while Marcus Mariota did whatever he wanted. He only completed half of his passes, but they went for 199 yards and two scores to go along with his 122 rushing yards and a score on four carries.
- Virginia was on its heels all game long, which is sort of the point of the Oregon offense. There weren’t any sacks and just three tackles for loss; there wasn’t any pressure on Mariota.
- Don’t forget about the Duck defense. It kept Virginia’s offense completely under wraps, allowing just 124 rushing yards and coming up with three picks. Derrick Malone was a one-man wrecking crew against the run with 12 stops, but the entire D was a half-step faster.
- With a blocked extra point and 11 penalties, not everything worked perfectly for the Ducks, but it was close. Virginia had to chase and play catch-up all game long, and the offense isn’t equipped to come up with big shots down the field.

at Virginia 19, BYU 16, Aug. 31
Basically … Set up by an Anthony Harris interception, Kevin Parks ran for a 13-yard touchdown with just over two minutes to play to give Virginia the lead in a tough game. BYU got a touchdown pass and scoring run from Taysom Hill, but Virginia was able to keep it close with timely defense and an 11-yard Darius Jennings touchdown catch.
- The game never had any flow. It was delayed in the first half after a thunderstorm put everyone in the locker room.
- Anthony Harris had a huge day for the Cavaliers, making 11 tackles with the key pick and a blocked punt. DE Eli Harold was terrific getting into the backfield finishing with 11 tackles with two sacks, a forced fumble and 3.5 sacks. He was expected to come into this season with a little more oomph, and he showed it.
- BYU QB Taysom Hill took too many sacks, couldn’t get loose for the running game, and threw a pick, but there’s still something exciting about him. BYU, though, won’t go anywhere if he’s completing 13-of-40 passes for 175 yards.
- Lost in the late problems for the Cougars was a fantastic day from Jamaal Williams, who ran 33 times for 144 yards. He picked up the slack for a rocky day from Hill.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … after slumping a year ago, the ‘Hoos got a much-needed infusion of talent on the coaching staff. New offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild and tight ends coach Tom O’Brien are both former head coaches, with a similar vision on offense. Jon Tenuta has a proven track record for attacking opposing offenses, and for transforming the talent in his stable.

Why To Be Grouchy … where are the stars? Virginia is painfully light on playmakers on either side of the ball. Of the five Cavs that earned at least honorable mention All-ACC in 2012, only two, TE Jake McGee and CB Demetrious Nicholson remain in C’Ville. The offense lacks field-stretchers for QB Phillip Sims, who’ll try to hold off David Watford during the offseason.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … coaching up the O-line. Four starters may return, but the unit’s premier blocker, LT Oday Aboushi, is primping for a career in the NFL. And last year’s front wall was an underlying reason why the attack struggled so mightily. The Cavs failed to create enough space for the nation’s 96th-ranked ground game, and were 71st in sacks allowed.

Team Concerns For 2013: The Cavaliers have to generate more of a ground game. The season went into the tank partly because the team was dead last in the ACC in turnover margin, but the offense didn't help the cause with a spotty season and not enough points, scoring 20 or fewer eight times. Losing left tackle Oday Aboushi is a problem for a line that struggled in pass protection, but the front five's biggest job will be to improve the ground game. More from Khalek Shepherd and the punt return game would be nice.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Quarterback. Mike London has done an amazing job of updating the talent level with a few top 30 recruiting classes, and this one has the potential to be almost as good as last year's haul. The offensive tackle prospects are excellent, safety Tim Harris is going to be a player, and running back Taquan Mizzell will be a factor, but the focus will be on the quarterbacks with Cowin Cutler and Brandan Marshall two big passers who look the part. They won't be needed for a while, but they'll be in a great fight for a starting job in a few years.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 22. That Class Was Heavy On ... The last few classes have revolved around the offense, and the defensive front seven is getting the strongest talent this year, but the Cavaliers are looking to keep bringing in good targets. Last year, head coach Mike London came up with a strength-in-numbers class of receivers, and he’s doing it again with at least five prospects coming in. While the passing game needs more attention, London likes the running game and he’s getting a good one in Kye Morgan. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 26. That Class Was Heavy On ... Wide receivers. Head coach Mike London brought in a really, really nice overall class highlighted by a terrific get in corner Demetrious Nicholson and a big-time Signing Day coup in corner Dominique Terrell. The defensive line got plenty of bodies with seven linemen brought in, and three nice offensive tackles will help the line. The key to the class was the haul of receivers with six prospects brought in including Brandon Phelps, Darius Jennings, and Clifton Richardson, three fast, talented targets who might get a long look for instant playing time.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 68. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. Virginia is still a factory for top-shelf offensive linemen with Morgan Moses a massive tackle who signed last year but sat out a year, and Conner Davis an interesting prospect, but new head coach Mike London was more in needs of upgrading the offense. Four quarterbacks were signed led by Mike Rocco and Michael Strauss, but there weren't any wide receiver prospects brought in.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 49. That Class Was Heavy On ... offensive tackles. After losing Branden Albert and Eugene Monroe to the NFL in successive seasons, the Cavaliers have bolstered their offensive line with a whopping six tackles standing 6-5 or taller. Like the last three great Virginia linemen, including D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the school traveled north to get Oday Aboushi, a 305-pounder with considerable upside and nasty demeanor. Landing four-star mountain Morgan Moses was the upset of this group.


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