2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 72 Virginia Cavaliers
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Virginia Cavaliers
No. 72: Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia Cavaliers Prespring Status
It was a rocky first year under Bronco Mendenhall, needing the program to undergo an overhaul and be more competitive in a suddenly-stronger ACC. But after showing life over the first half of the season, the Cavaliers lost their final seven games and weren’t even close in most of them. The problem? The offense couldn’t score – Virginia was 0-10 on the year when scoring fewer than 34 points – and the secondary couldn’t come up with enough stops.
The biggest problem? The Cavaliers needed to start over in several ways, but they tried to get through the season with a slew of seniors. Now, seven starters – more, depending on the alignment – are gone from the offense, but just three are done on defense, along with P Nicholas Conte.
Virginia Cavaliers Biggest Issue
The offensive line that had so many issues last year has to replace two of the team’s best players – C Jackson Matteo and OT Eric Smith – along with OG Michael Mooney, and the backfield needs new starters with QB Matt Johns and RBs Taquan Mizzell and Albert Reid done. Is there a quarterback option who can change things around? Marvin Zanders is coming in from Missouri, and Kurt Benkert has experience, but there’s still going to be a push to find another option.
Virginia Cavaliers Biggest Positive
The Cavaliers got two massive breaks this offseason when leading tackler Micah Kiser decided to return for his final year after coming up with 134 tackles, while star safety Quin Blanding shockingly chose to come back, too, after finishing with 120 stops and two picks. It’s not just that Virginia returns a slew of veterans now on defense; it gets back a whole lot of talent, too. 14 of the top 17 tacklers are back – a whole lot of underclassmen were thrown to the wolves. This should be a much stronger D.
Really, Why Are The Virginia Cavaliers Ranked Here?
Virginia will be better. It needs at least two dangerous offensive playmakers to make teams worry, and it needs a strong quarterback to work everything around. But the defense has the talent and potential to be much, much more productive. If the O can provide any sort of help, this could be one of the ACC’s rising teams – but that’s if the new guys can start scoring.