2010 Virginia Preview – Offense
Virginia QB Marc Verica
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Virginia Cavalier Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Over the last four years, no offense in America has been weaker than Virginia's, which has ranked 100th or lower in each season. In 2009, the Cavaliers slipped to 118th and averaged just 19 points a game. Mike London hired Bill Lazor away from the Seattle Seahawks in order to reverse the trend, though no one expects it to happen quickly. The attack will feature a power running game that mixes in high percentage passes and the occasional play-action shot downfield. It'll be a conservative approach that doesn't put too much pressure on the ‘Hoos average talent. Quarterback will continue to be a problem, as shaky veteran Marc Verica works to hold off a wave of freshmen. With proper support from the line, there is hope at the skill positions. Underclassmen, like backs Dominique Wallace and Perry Jones and receivers Tim Smith and Javaris Brown, are the kinds of talents capable of dragging Virginia out of its offensive coma.
Star of the offense: Junior PK Robert Randolph
Passing: Marc Verica
28-63, 156 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Torrey Mack
23 carries, 73 yds
Receiving: Kris Burd
31 catches, 413 yds, 1 TD
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Marc Verica
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Tim Smith
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Joe Torchia
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Torchia, 2) Smith, 3) Senior G B.J Cabbell
Strength of the offense: Receivers and tight ends, the guards, young playmakers
Weakness of the offense: The quarterbacks, passing game, running game, the offensive line, red zone scoring, third-down conversions
Projected Starter: Not since 2003, when Matt Schaub was under center, has Virginia any stability or consistency behind center. The likelihood of that changing in 2010 is not especially high. The favorite, 6-3, 215-pound senior Marc Verica, doesn't instill a lot of confidence in the staff or the fans. Yeah, he has the most experience in a sea of wide-eyed rookies, but he's been erratic throughout the last two seasons and failed to beat out Jameel Sewell in 2009. He's thrown more than twice as many career picks than touchdowns, and in six appearances last fall went 28-of-63 for 156 yards and an interception. Barring an overnight transformation, he'll have a tenuous hold on this spot.
Projected Top Reserves: Coming out spring, Verica's closest competition was coming from 6-2, 195-pound redshirt freshman Ross Metheny, who impressed on the scout team last fall. A polished, left-handed pocket passer, he trades a powerful arm for accuracy and a quick release. More poised than most second-year players, he'll benefit from a few extra pounds of muscle.
Closing quickly is 6-2, 205-pound rookie Michael Strauss, who graduated early from high school and took part in spring drills. He'll be in the hunt for playing time provided he has a complete grasp of the system and continues to mature prior to summer camp. Fundamentally sound, he has the poise and leadership skills to remain afloat if thrown into the deep end of the water.
Watch Out For .... Verica to start the season, but not finish it. In all likelihood, the Cavs will feel comfortable giving the ball to a veteran at the beginning of the year, but eventually want to get reps for the kids if the season starts to unravel. Unless Verica is rolling or has the ‘Hoos on the brink of the postseason, the staff will look ahead to 2011 by giving snaps to one of the handful of freshmen on scholarship.
Strength: An experienced senior at the top of the depth chart. There are plenty of knocks on Verica, but unlike his competition, at least he's taken snaps at this level. Having played in 17 games and attempted 417 passes, he's accustomed to the speed of the game and won't be unnerved in the huddle during a nailbiter.
Weakness: Passing efficiency. After finishing 113th nationally and last in the ACC, there's little hope for an about-face in passing efficiency. In general, the Cavaliers struggle to complete passes with much accuracy, threw just eight touchdown passes in 2009, and averaged a mealy 5.6 yards a passing attempt.
Outlook: Make no mistake about it—this season is all about setting the table for 2011 and beyond. Verica is merely a stop-gap until one of the young guys shows that he can handle the responsibility of leading the offense. Virginia will once again have problems through the air, making for an unstable situation behind center.
Projected Starters: In the heated competition at tailback, 5-8, 185-pound sophomore Perry Jones has risen to the top of the depth chart. Used infrequently in 11 games on offense and special teams last season, he impressed in the spring with his vision, toughness, and general shiftiness out in space. Despite his modest size, he still appears capable of taking a pounding and handling 20 touches a game.
The Cavs' biggest backfield blow is at fullback, where Rashawn Jackson has run out of eligibility. His replacement will be 6-1, 240-pound junior Terence Fells-Danzer, who will not be quite the blocker or physical presence. Mostly a special teams performer and backup linebacker, he has to get used to his new role on this side of the ball.
Projected Top Reserves: As a complement to Jones, the staff might turn to his backup, 6-3, 255-pound senior Keith Payne. He returns after not being a part of the team in 2009, looking to carve out a role as a battering ram and a short-yardage option. He doesn't have much wiggle, preferring instead to run over whatever is in his path.
Sophomore Torrey Mack is the Cavs' leading returning rusher, but that's not saying too much. He had just 23 carries for 73 yards last year, adding 11 receptions for 70 yards. At 6-0 and 195 pounds, he's a north-south runner who gets to the hole with little wasted movement. He also has some of the best hands among the back, making him a natural fit on third down.
Watch Out For .... redshirt freshman Dominique Wallace. The fact that he's not on the two-deep is related to foot surgery that'll keep him out until the summer. The old staff loved his potential, giving him 14 carries for 49 yards prior to the injury. At 6-0 and 215 pounds, he's a banger with enough speed to take his punishment deep into the secondary.
Strength: Diversity. The Cavaliers have a nice mix of options, who'll complement one another well. Jones has big-play potential. Payne is just plain big. Wallace and Mack are blends of both, showing a knack for running through or around defenders.
Weakness: A sure-fire every-down back. When your leading returning rusher went for just 73 yards last season, it's an indication that uncertainty is set to follow. Virginia has a number of different possible go-to runners, but not one that's proven it week-in and week-out over the course of a 12-game season.
Outlook: Keep a very close watch on Wallace. He's the one Cavalier who's capable of transforming an average unit into a dangerous one. After finishing 112th nationally on the ground and averaging only 2.9 yards a carry, Virginia needs both he and Jones to play beyond their brief experience at this level.
Projected Starters: The majority of last season's primary receivers are back in Charlottesville. The key for the Virginia quarterbacks is to make better use of them. Starting on one side is 5-11, 195-pound junior Kris Burd, who caught a team-high 31 passes for 413 yards and a touchdown. He's quick off the line of scrimmage and has shown a penchant for picking up yards after the catch and finding the soft spot in a defense.
The budding star on the opposite side is 6-0, 180-pound sophomore Tim Smith , one of the school's top recruits from the 2009 class. He got on the field as a rookie and instantly made a contribution, making 15 receptions for 204 yards and two touchdowns. A fluid all-around athlete, he shows tremendous burst off the line of scrimmage and already runs the tree like a veteran.
At tight end, the Cavs are set with 6-6, 250-pound senior Joe Torchia , a second-year starter. One of the league's better blockers at the position, he uses his big hands and long arms to control opposing linemen as if he's the third tackle. That's not to suggest he isn't a viable weapon in the passing game, though like all of the Virginia receivers, he's been underutilized. Showing soft hands when the opportunities were there, he caught 15 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Projected Top Reserves: Trailing Smith at one receiver spot is 6-2, 180-pound junior Jared Green , the son of former NFL Hall of Famer Darrell Green. While a valuable reserve, he had problems cracking the lineup and caught just 15 passes for 124 yards. He has good length and the speed to get behind the secondary. His objective will be to become sharper at the finer points of the position.
The veteran of the unit is 6-3, 190-pound senior Dontrelle Inman , who has played in 33 games throughout his career. However, he has caught only 27 passes for 283 yards, testament to his inconsistency and inability to make his own plays. Like Green, he has the physical gifts for success, but those alone haven't been enough to equal results.
Don't sleep on 5-11, 175-pound sophomore Javaris Brown even though he caught just seven balls for 136 yards and a score last season. The lack of production was due to an injury that limited him to just six games and two starts. Prior to the season he was being hailed as Virginia's best threat at wide receiver, flashing exciting playmaking skills and the ability to make people miss in the open field. If he can stay out of Mike London's doghouse, he has enough talent to turn 2010 into his coming-out party.
Watch Out For .... Smith to emerge as the most talented Cavalier receiver and one of the up-and-comers in the ACC. While he may not be imposing to the eye, he's one of those receivers who does a lot of little things well to give him an edge on defensive backs. Under the radar at this time, that's not likely to last through 2010.
Strength: Length. There are exceptions, such as Brown, but the Cavs are essentially a collection of very nice athletes, with the long frames and long arms to beat defensive backs on jump balls. Overall, the athleticism of the wide receivers is a product of good recruiting in the last few years of the Al Groh regime.
Weakness: Inconsistency. Still relatively young and unproven, this group needs work on the things that won't show up in a box score. Dropped balls and missed assignments are the types of little things that stunt production and make life a little tougher on the quarterbacks.
Outlook: There's undeniable talent within the Virginia wide receivers and tight ends. It's up to the inconsistent quarterbacks to mine it. Smith and Brown have tremendous potential as playmakers, and Torchia could be in the NFL at this time next year. Throw in the veteran presences of Burd and Inman, and the Cavs have the ingredients of an underrated corps of pass-catchers.
Projected Starters: Virginia will be looking to build a new fortress up front around three returning starters and six returning lettermen. It has a ton of work to do after struggling badly in run and pass blocking. The first priority will be to find a new center now that Jack Shields has graduated. Leading the charge is 6-4, 270-pound Anthony Mihota , who only appeared in two games a year ago. Versatile and athletic, he plays with a raised level of intensity, but must guard against being shoved around by stronger opponents.
In 6-7, 285-pound junior Landon Bradley, the program is hopeful it has its next in a long line of pro-caliber pass protectors. He started all 12 games last season, which wound up being, at times, a humbling learning experience. He returns this season a little stronger and a lot wiser, ready to use his long reach and nimble feet to do a better job of protecting the pocket.
Over at right tackle will be the team's youngest starter, 6-6, 310-pound sophomore Oday Aboushi. Naturally, he's light on experience, having played in just six games a year ago, but has an excellent skill set to build upon beginning in 2010. He's tough, smart, and tenacious, using his size and strength to move defenders off the line, especially on north-south running plays.
Both of the Cavaliers' guards are returning starters, the team's most promising news in the trenches. To the left of center, 6-7, 325-pound junior Austin Pasztor returns for his third season as a starter. A physically imposing blocker, he has the strong base and heavy hands to be particularly nasty plowing straight ahead on running downs.
The seasoned veteran on the right side is 6-6, 310-pound senior B.J. Cabbell, a starter in each of the last two seasons. One of Virginia's strongest linemen, he has the ability to maul the other guy in tight quarters, but needs to do a better job of getting upfield and finding someone to hit at the second level.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Isaac Cain is Virginia's closest thing to a backup on the second unit. A former walk-on, he's appeared sparingly over the last four years, starting one game last fall. The 6-4, 305-pounder will provide cover for the guards and guidance to the younger Cavs.
In the event that Aboushi struggles in his first season at right tackle, the staff might turn to 6-7, 310-pound Hunter Steward, one of a handful of redshirt freshmen pushing for more playing time. He has the right frame to handle this position, but needs the reps and experience to fine-tune his technique.
Watch Out For .... the arrival of 6-6, 336-pound Morgan Moses. While academics forced him to Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, he's expected to be available in the summer. One of the nation's top tackle prospects of 2009, he's a potentially transformative run blocker, who should rise up the depth chart in a hurry.
Strength: The guards. In Pasztor and Cabbell, the Cavaliers have a pair of solid pulling guards, who have the experience and the strength to excel as run blockers. At 6-6 and 310 pounds, Cabbell is the smaller of the two, an indication of their considerable girth.
Weakness: Pass blocking. Virginia should be a little better at running the ball this fall, but protecting the pocket remains an area of grave concern. Not only did the Cavaliers rank 115th nationally in sacks allowed, but their best tackle, Will Barker, is now trying to make an NFL squad.
Outlook: Virginia was expected to struggle on the offensive line last year, and failed to disappoint. The Cavaliers got beaten routinely, one of the underlying causes of the offense's breakdown. While they should move a step closer to respectability, a complete turnaround won't happen. The overall talent is average, and too many first-year players will be counted on to contribute as backups.
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2010 Virginia Defense |
Virginia Depth Chart
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