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ACC Season Preview: Virginia

By Matt Osborne
SouthernPigskin.com
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Virginia has finished last in the ACC Coastal Division two of the last three seasons.

Coach: Mike London (16-21, entering fourth season; 40-26 overall)

2012 record: 4-8 (2-6, last in ACC Coastal Division)

Looking back: The Cavaliers actually fared decently well in both total offense and total defense last fall, but were absolutely abysmal in turnover margin (-14). After Mike London earned ACC Coach of the Year honors following the 2011 season, last fall’s record was a surprising disappointment to the Cavalier fan base. A 2-6 conference record ensured that Virginia finished last in the Coastal Division for the second time in the last three seasons.

Offensive starters returning: 9

Defensive starters returning: 7

RELATED: Mike London is facing a sense of urgency

Key losses: Oday Aboushi, OT; Steve Greer, LB; Michael Rocco, QB

Top returnees: Morgan Moses, OT; Kevin Parks, RB; Demetrious Nicholson, CB

Strengths: Despite losing All-ACC tackle Oda Aboushi, the Cavaliers should be much more efficient running the football this fall. Four starters return along the offensive front, as does rising junior running back Kevin Parks, who led the team with 734 yards in 2012.

Led by Demetrious Nicholson, the entire starting secondary returns from last season. Virginia finished fourth in the conference in passing defense last fall.

Weaknesses: Starting quarterback Michael Rocco unexpectedly transferred out of Charlottesville following the end of the season, while this season’s projected starter, Phillip Sims, was kicked out of school during the offseason. David Watford is the new starter under center, but he has completed less than 41% of his career attempts.

Linebackers Steve Greer and LaRoy Reynolds combined for more than 200 tackles in 2012, and the Cavaliers will likely struggle to replace their production.

RELATED: Virginia is having tremendous success in recruiting

Outlook/Prediction: A difficult non-conference schedule and concerns at quarterback make it difficult to project much improvement from the Cavaliers in 2013. 16 returning starters should help Virginia win more than two conference games this fall, but reaching bowl eligibility may once again prove to be too tall of a task. Early losses to BYU and Oregon will keep the Cavaliers home for the holidays.

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 vs. BYU 3:30 p.m. ESPNU

Sept. 7 vs. Oregon 3:30 p.m. ABC or ESPN2

Sept. 21 vs. VMI

Sept. 28 at Pittsburgh

Oct. 5 vs. Ball State

Oct. 12 at Maryland

Oct. 19 vs. Duke

Oct. 26 vs. Georgia Tech

Nov. 2 vs. Clemson

Nov. 9 at North Carolina

Nov. 23 at Miami

Nov. 30 vs. Virginia Tech

Previous ACC Season Previews

Boston College

Clemson

Duke

Florida State

Georgia Tech

Maryland

Miami

North Carolina

NC State

Pittsburgh

Syracuse

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at matt@southernpigskin.com.