College Football News Preview 2020: Virginia Cavaliers Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Virginia Cavaliers Offense
Get the running game going on a consistent basis. There were a whole lot of reasons the Cavaliers lost to teams as good as Clemson, Florida and Notre Dame, and it started with not being able to do anything on the ground.
A bad Old Dominion team held Virginia to just 69 rushing yards, and it kept it close in a 28-17 fight. Against the Tigers, Gators, and Fighting Irish – along with Miami and Louisville – Virginia managed fewer than 110 rushing yards in each of the five losses on the year.
Since Bronco Mendenhall took over, the Cavaliers are 4-21 when failing to get to 110 yards, and it’s 7-0 when it runs for 200 yards or more. Part of that has to do with committing a bit more to the running game at times, part of it is about being more effective, and part of it has to do with a line that has to be better at keeping defenses out of the backfield.
Biggest Key To The Virginia Cavaliers Defense
The secondary has to reverse the trend of giving up a whole lot of passing yards. Even when the Cavaliers were able to lock down the pass defense a bit early on, and they were able to win a few games when the got torched, but there were big issues as soon as November kicked in.
Virginia didn’t allow a 300-yard passing day in the first eight games, and only two teams were able to get to 230 yards. Over the last six outings – partly due to the loss of star defensive back Bryce Hall – the defense allowed 300 yards or more five times. The one outlier in the group came against Georgia Tech, and it was even able to get close to 230 passing yards.
Having to deal with Florida had something to do with it, and facing Trevor Lawrence was a factor, but going forward there’s way too much talent and experience to not fix the glitch.
Key Virginia Cavaliers Player To A Successful Season
WR Terrell Jana, Sr.
The Virginia receiving corps needs a whole slew of new parts to rise up – the second-best returning receiver caught just 14 passes last year, and the No. 3 caught three passes – and Jana will be the focus of every secondary early on.
The quarterback situation will work itself out. Brennan Armstrong should be fine if he gets time to work, and new option Keytaon Thompson is good enough to step in and be dangerous if needed. But they need someone to throw to.
Three of the top four receivers in yards are gone, and 16 of the top 23 touchdowns have to be replaced. The 6-0, 190-pound Jana busted out last season with 74 catches for 886 yards and three scores – with three 100-yard games including a 126-yard day against Florida in the Orange Bowl – and now he has to do even more.
Key Game To The Virginia Cavaliers Season
at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19
As if starting out the ACC season with the arch-rival isn’t massive enough, who do the Cavaliers get right after playing Virginia Tech? Clemson – on the road.
To make this even worse, four of the first five ACC games are away from Charlottesville. Things aren’t totally dire – Virginia is good enough to win a few of the games over the first half of the season – but assume 0-2 in conference action if it doesn’t come out of the chute strong.
It took one of the best games of 2019, and a few epic performances, to finally break Virginia Tech’s hex on the rivalry. Virginia had lost 15 straight to Tech before getting the win to go off to the ACC Championship, and this time it’s in Blacksburg.
– Virginia Cavaliers Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Virginia Fun Stats
– Time of Possession: Virginia 33:03 – Opponents 26:57
– Onside Kicks: Virginia 2-of-3 – Opponents 1-of-1
– Penalties: Opponents 83 for 659 yards – Virginia 66 for 612 yards