[This is the first in a series of looks at ACC opponents that Maryland will be facing in 2012]
On paper the Wahoo’s are coming off of a successful 8-5 season. But in College Football one strong year doesn’t necessarily beget another. With Graduation, Coaches leaving, it’s hard to keep momentum going. It’s the ability to win on a consistent bases that makes a college program a success.
This will be a year that defines where UVA is under head coach Mike London, the Cavaliers have done a decent job recruiting under the new regime, but until those results translate to the field, it’s just potential.
The key for Virginia is going to be the Defense. The Wahoo’s lost over half of their starters on that side of the ball. In fact the secondary will be particularly green as they will be replacing 3 starters. Which is what makes this crucial spot for UVA. If the younglings step it up and fill those voids, then look for smooth sailing in Charlottesville, but if they can’t take advantage of their newly found playing time, UVA will have an Achilles heel that could be bothering them all season long.
On the offense, the outlook is much better. Michael Rocco is now a Junior and is looking to lead the offense with a bit more confidence. And he is going to need it, as UVA was unable to find the end zone all that much despite having the 4th most yards gained in the Conference. Perry Jones will also spark the offense, he will be returning after putting up 915 yards at a 4.97 average as well as catching 48 passes for 500 more yards.
On the defensive side, UVA will be lead by LT Oday Aboushi, and Linebackers Steve Greer, and LaRoy Reynolds. Greer led the team in tackles last year and is one of the best run stoppers in the division, if not league.
The one thing I do not like about UVA this year is their schedule early on. They get two home games to open up. First against Richmond, who the Wahoo’s should handle, but won’t be push overs. Then they host Penn State. God only knows what kind of shape that program is going to be in after one of college football’s worst off seasons ever. Then UVA heads to GT, then TCU. I could see UVA as either 1-3 or 3-1 after that stretch (bold predictions like that is what makes this website such a must read!).
So how September plays out will be huge for Virginia. A great start gets them into hosting Louisiana Tech, then traveling to Duke, then hosting Maryland. No reason to think UVA can’t take those 3 (as sad as that is to type for us Maryland fans).
After that things toughen up again as they travel to Raleigh, then play Miami, and UNC in Charlottesville before ending the year against their perennial thorn in the side; Virginia Tech.
So for the Cavaliers, I am going with this prediction, the Cav’s do build on a successful 2011 season and finish the year 8-4. It makes me a bit nervous putting those 8 wins on paper (well virtual paper) but in the end, I do feel Coach London is making progress on the other side of the Potomac. Which isn’t good news for us Terps!
Other Key UVA Players not listed above: RT Morgan Moses, CB Demetrious Nicholson, WR Tim Smith Jr., RB Kevin Parks, and DT Will Hill.