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2007 Virginia Preview
Posted Jul 10, 2007

Preview 2007 Virginia Cavaliers Preview

Virginia Cavaliers

Preview 2007

By Michael Bradley & Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Virginia Offense Preview | 2007 Virginia Defense Preview
2007 Virginia Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Virginia Preview 

One look at the 2006 depth chart said it all. Freshmen here. Sophomores there. Plenty of them. The final ledger was an accurate representation of that: 5-7 and a lot of questions for coach Al Groh. Some thought he wouldn’t make it through the off-season with his position intact. But here he is, ready to reap the benefits of a season playing lots of underclassmen (11 freshman and sophomore starters in ’06), and hopeful that he can bring his alma mater back to the post-season and into ACC contention.

Head coach: Al Groh
7th year: 42-33
13h year overall: 68-73
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 16, Def. 17, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best Cavalier Players
1. DE Chris Long, Sr.
2. QB Jameel Sewell, Soph.
3. OT Eugene Monroe, Jr.
4. OG Brenden Albert, Jr.
5. TE Tom Santi, Jr.
6. DE Jeffrey Fitzgerald, Soph.
7. LB Jon Copper, Jr.
8. RB/KR Cedric Peerman, Jr.
9. CB Chris Cook, Jr.
10. LB Clint Sintim, Jr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6

Sept. 1

at Wyoming

Sept. 8


Sept. 15

at North Carolina

Sept. 22

Georgia Tech

Sept. 29


Oct. 6

at Middle Tenn

Oct. 13


Oct. 20

at Maryland

Oct. 27

at NC State

Nov. 3

Wake Forest

Nov. 10

at Miami

Nov. 24

Virginia Tech

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5

2006 Record: 5-7

Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 at Pitt L 31-13
9/9 Wyoming W 13-12
9/16 Western Mich L 17-10
9/21 at Georgia Tech L 24-7
9/30 at Duke W 37-0
10/7 at East Carolina L 31-21
10/14 Maryland L 28-26
10/19 North Carolina W 23-0
10/28 NC State W 14-7
11/4 at Florida State L 33-0
11/11 Miami W 17-7
11/25 at Virginia Tech L 17-0

It’s not going to be easy. Even if the Cavaliers lost only four starters, they must find a way to ramp up a ground game that was anemic (99.9 ypg) in ’06 and lost its top rusher, tailback Jason Snelling. They need quarterback Jameel Sewell, who tossed just five touchdown passes in 247 attempts, to become more productive and to get the ball downfield. Of course, that means the receiving corps, which boasted just one man who averaged more than ten yards a catch must get better, too, despite losing top receiver Kevin Ogletree to an off-season knee injury.

Get the idea? Virginia’s offense was awful last year. That’s what happens with a green offensive line, a redshirt freshman QB and a ground game that lacked a back with breakaway potential (Snelling’s longest run was 29 yards). UVA averaged a paltry 15.7 ppg last year and a measly 257.2 ypg. In fact, the Cavaliers were ranked 100th or higher nationally in all four major offensive categories. It’s borderline remarkable they won five games, and a testament to Groh’s talent as a defensive coach.

The Cavs will be great again defensively, thanks to the return of all but two members of its two-deep chart. What they must do is find a way to score some points, to take some pressure off the defense. That job falls to second-year coordinator Mike Groh, a former standout Virginia QB and the head coach’s son. He’ll need to find someone (Sophomore Mikell Simpson? junior Cedric Peerman? Redshirt frosh Keith Payne? Likely Peerman.) to step in for Snelling and exceed the departed starter’s production. He needs to get Sewell more capable of throwing the ball downfield, or decide to go to touted freshman Peter Lalich. And he needs to find a way to make the receiving corps more dangerous from a big-play perspective. Nothing major, mind you; just a significant across-the-board upgrade.

And though the early returns have the Cavs starting just seven or eight seniors next year, Groh can’t afford to have a similar struggle, not with the ACC getting better every day. Last year was about the kids. This season needs to be about a bowl game.

What to look for on offense:
The Cavs will try to be balanced, with an attack that uses a power running game and a passing scheme that combines Sewell’s strong arm and his ability to get to the edge on rollouts and bootlegs. The playbook will be opened up a bit more, as long as Sewell can prove he can handle the workload.

What to look for on defense:
With great linebackers in Groh’s signature 3-4 and an agile front capable of occupying blockers and creating problems with multiple looks, teams will have considerable trouble doing anything against the Cavs. The sole concern is replacing corner Marcus Hamilton and his five picks.

This team will be much better if…
it improves in the passing game. How are these numbers? Virginia was 102nd in passing offense, 99th in passing efficiency and 104th in sacks allowed. If the Cavs pick things up in this area, it could mean at least two more wins. Expect things to be better as long as Sewell progresses as expected.

The Schedule: A hot start is a must, playing at Wyoming, Duke, and at North Carolina before dealing with Georgia Tech. Six of the first seven games are must-wins if the Cavaliers want to prove they're the real deal, but things get far tougher at the end, with three road games in four weeks and the one home game coming against Wake Forest. Closing out against Virginia Tech isn't a plus, but at least it's at home.

Best Offensive Player: Junior OL Branden Albert.  The best offensive player going into the season, tackle Eugene Monroe and quarterback Jameel Sewell will be the best players at the end. Lightly recruited out of high school, Albert has emerged in two years as a rock on the left side of the Cavalier line and the team’s most menacing blocker.  One of just two Virginia freshman since 1972 to start on the offensive line, he displays tremendous feet and balance for a 6-7, 310-pound guard.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Chris Long.  Polished, passionate and fundamentally impeccable, Long is the unquestioned leading man of the Cavalier defense.  Since becoming a starter in 2005, he’s lived in opposing backfields, using an explosive first step and a nonstop motor to become an all-ACC performer, while stepping out of father Howie’s enormous shadow.   

Key player to a successful season: Junior WRs Maurice Covington and Cary Koch. With Ogletree out for the year, someone, anyone, has to step up and shine in the passing game. Koch, a former transfer from Tulane, was an immediate help to the offense catching 23 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns, while the 6-4 Covington has only made 11 catches in his first two season, but has the size and ability to become a dangerous target.

The season will be a success if ... the Cavaliers win nine games. With the returning experience and the hoped-for improvement of the offense, they need to do a better job of beating the teams they’re supposed to. The schedule is just light enough to demand nothing less than a winning season and a bowl game, so if there are a few nice home upsets over teams like Georgia Tech, Pitt, and or Wake Forest, a nine-win season is very possible.

Key game: Sept. 22 vs. Georgia Tech. To have any hope of winning the Coastal Division title, considering Virginia Tech and Miami are still down the road, the Cavilers have to come up with a win over the loaded Yellow Jackets. A win would likely mean a 4-0 start, and with home games against Pitt and Connecticut, along with a layup against Middle Tennessee, a win could mean a 7-0 start before going to Maryland.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Third quarter scoring: Opponents 53; Virginia 20
- Fumbles: Opponents 19 (lost 7); Virginia 10 (lost 4)
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 10 of 13 (77%); Virginia 3 of 9 (33%)


Related Stories
2007 Virginia Preview - Offense
 -by  Jul 10, 2007
2007 Virginia Preview - Defense
 -by  Jul 10, 2007
2007 Virginia Preivew - Depth Chart
 -by  Jul 10, 2007

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