Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Virginia Cavaliers season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Virginia Cavaliers
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Virginia Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Go ahead and dismiss and blow off Virginia again.
And then watch as head coach Bronco Mendenhall pulls off another stunner.
It has been a rough run for Cavalier football with six straight losing seasons and in nine of the last ten, but there were signs last year that things might be able to turn around.
The finishing kick might have been a disaster – losing six of the last seven games and failing to show up for the horrendous loss to Navy in the Military Bowl – but it was still a bowl season when absolutely no one thought the team was going to do anything significant.
There was a blowout win on the road against a Boise State team that went on to win the Mountain West title and dominate Oregon in a bowl win. There was a win over a Duke team that went on to a seven-win season, and the victory over Georgia Tech turned out to be an elimination game for bowl eligibility.
It’s a start.
And now it’s going to happen all over again.
Because of the way the season ended – to be fair, find a football and basketball combination that ended their respective seasons worse than Virginia of last year – and with the perceived improvement of Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Pitt in the Coastal, it’ll be too easy to put Virginia at or near the bottom in the preseason prognostications.
Of course the Cavaliers are going to lose to Louisville. And at NC State. And on the road against Duke, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, and at home to Miami.
Of course Virginia will go back to being a free-space win for the better teams on the way to a plucky-but-losing season.
Of course you’re going to ignore the Cavaliers again as a possible player in the ACC race.
But Mendenhall was able to improve the program by four wins in his first season, never had a losing campaign in 11 seasons at BYU, he knows how to get the most out of what he has. And what he has now is an improved team that loses the top-line stars, but gets back a whole boatload of veterans.
Quarterback Kurt Benkert is gone, but Arizona State transfer Bryce Perkins is more like what the offense needs, with the running ability to go along with all of the passing skills. Virginia won’t be last in the ACC in total offense and scoring again.
All-time great tacklers Quin Blanding and Micah Kiser are finally done, but the rest of the defense is loaded with hitters and rising stars who appear to be ready to pick up the slack.
One of the nation’s worst running games can’t and won’t sink any lower – especially with Perkins under center – and under Mendenhall, the special teams issues – three blocked kicks, miserable punt return game – will be fixed.
It’s Year Three under a good coaching staff and with a veteran team that should be well motivated.
Go ahead and pick against Virginia this year.