football Edit

Tar Heel Countdown: Virginia Cavaliers

There are a few coaches that are coming into the season on the hot seat, but there might not be a coach on a hotter seat than Mike London and the Virginia Cavaliers. That is where Tar Heel Countdown continues this week with the Cavaliers, as they are coming off a 2-10 record - the program's lowest win total since 1982 - including a winless season in ACC play. UVa is seeking its first winning season since 2010.
London has an overall record of 42-36 in his six year career, but has an 18-31 record with the Cavaliers, thus the scorching seat.
The Cavaliers have a tough non-conference schedule with UCLA and BYU, while also having to finish the season playing four of six games on the road.
However, they get the Tar Heels in Charlottesville, looking to seek revenge from a 45-14 loss last year in Chapel Hill, which was their fourth consecutive loss to the Tar Heels.
The Cavaliers were maybe average offensively last fall and much might not change coming into this season. There are some intriguing talents on hand, notably senior running backs Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd, in addition to sophomore Taquan Mizzell, a former 5-star recruit.
Parks surpassed the 1,000-yard mark and scored 11 touchdowns last season, and Mizzell has break-out potential coming into his sophomore year.
At quarterback, David Watford returns but this position might again be the most unstable in the program.
Even though Watford is back again, his numbers were so inconsistent from a year ago (eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions) that London is looking all his options.
Greyson Lambert might have won the starting job during the offseason and spring game, but that battle likely will continue unless London surprises the base by settling on one signal caller and sticking with him.
At wide receiver, London is mixing size and experience on the outside, with sophomore Keeon Johnson (6'3, 215 pounds) and senior Darius Jennings getting the start (has 106 catches the past three seasons), as they look to replace leading receiver Jake McGee, a talented wide receiver/ tight end who transferred.
Two starters along the offensive line must be replaced, but this group has talent. Eric Smith was a promising freshman last season, while Connor Davis and Jay Whitmire will be two upperclassmen depended on to lead next season.
UVa's third-down conversation rate (37.9 percent) must improve and stretching the field more (only had 34 plays of 20 or more yards last season), a reason the Wahoos averaged only 4.4 yards per offensive snap.
The defensive front has experience with five juniors in the rotation, but it's also a group that surrendered 170 yards a game on the ground. Eli Harold and David Dean must be the anchors. An x-factor here may be 5-star defensive tackle Andrew Brown, a freshman who will be hard to keep off the field.
The Hoos have some nice parts at linebacker in seniors Henry Coley and Daquan Romero. The pair totaled 180 tackles last season, but if the front line doesn't improve, they may have to compromise too much thus affecting their effectiveness.
Lastly, the defensive back unit will be led by one of the most talented athletes at the position, as senior safety Anthony Harris returns, who had eight interceptions last season.
Harris and company must reduce the number of big plays it allowed a year ago, a reason the Cavs allowed 232 yards through the air and several big plays to their opponents.
Perhaps freshman Quin Blanding, the number one ranked high school safety in 2014, can provide immediate assistance.
Red zone efficiency (89.13 percent success rate by opponents), minimizing the big play (allowed 5.7 yards per snap), and flipping the field (just 10 interceptions) are all obvious keys.
2013 Season Stats
Scoring: 19.8 points per game
Rushing: 156.6 yards per game
Passing: 211.8 yards per game
Total: 368.4 yards per game
Scoring: 33.3 points per game
Rushing: 170.7 yards per game
Passing: 232.9 yards per game
Total: 403.9 yards per game
Top Virginia Newcomers
1. Quin Blanding - DB - 6'2/ 206 pounds - Virginia Beach, VA - 5 star
2. Andrew Brown - DT - 6'3/ 298 pounds - Chesapeake, VA - 5 star
3. Steven Moss - OL - 6'5/ 273 pounds - Fredericksburg, VA - 4 star
4. Jamil Kamara - WR - 6'1/ 202 pounds - Virginia Beach, VA - 4 star
5. Jordan Ellis - RB - 5'10/ 216 pounds - Suwanee, GA - 3 star
6. Evan Butts - TE - 6'4/ 225 pounds - Newton Square, PA - 3 star
7. Jacob Fielder - OL - 6'5/ 295 pounds - Fork Union, VA - 3 star
8. J.J. Jackson - DE - 6'4/ 220 pounds - Purcellville, VA - 3 star
9. Corwin Cutler - QB - 6'4/ 200 pounds - Fork Union, VA - 3 star
10. Darious Latimore - DB - 6'0/ 161 pounds - Lawrenceville, GA - 3 star