When you look at The Virginia Cavaliers the contrasts between the upcoming season and last season couldn't be more stark. With so much attention on UVA last season and with all the player departures, expected and unexpected, affecting this season its really hard to get a firm grasp on this team. Head Coach Al Groh is superb recruiter though this past class was not up to is normal efforts.
He continues to be a positive force for the Hoos so I have no doubt that he will get UVA back on track but it is going to take some time. We did a brief Q&A with the great UVA blog The Sabre. Their answers to our questions are below. Our answers to their questions can be found here.
1-Tell us about OT Eugene Monroe, Pete Carroll said he is "the most physical specimen we've seen coming out of high school." Is he of the same caliber of a D'Brickashaw Ferguson or is he better?
Eugene (or Hugene, as we call him) is certainly a very talented player, and could be a first-rounder next year. But comparing anyone to one of Virginia's best linemen ever is certainly a tough call. Injuries have slowed Monroe down in his overall career development, but I think this is the year where he'll solidify himself in the D'Brick echelon. He definitely has the talent to be better, if things work out for him this season. And given that most of the O-line is new, he's got a lot of weight on his shoulders this year both in pass defense and run blocking.
2-We have a fairly new offensive line and you lost you whole defensive line where do see the toughest match-ups?
This is toss-up. While your OL is new, they appear to be dripping with talent. On the flip side, we've got some experienced (and skilled) linebackers that should be blitzing in an effort to overwhelm your inexperienced linemen and quarterback while making up for our inexperienced DL. In the 3-4 Groh runs, the LBs are key for some pass disruption anyway (well, when Chris Long isn't on the team). But I'd say that they're even more important this season.
Having said all that, this also makes whether your passing game can take advantage of our pass defense whenever our 'backers go on the attack an important follow-on factor. If USC's line holds its own, Virginia might get burned with the short passing game turning into some long gains. In fact, I expect some serious YAC coming out of Southern Cal's backfield.
3-Virginia has some of their own QB controversies who do want to start, who gives you the best chance to win.
I actually covered in a post earlier this week my thinking on what I think Groh is going to do. However, my preference would be to start and stick with Lalich since he has more talent, more upside, and a few more years in the system. I think this game isn't going to be won or lost on the arm of Virginia's QB, so might as well give Lalich some more time at the helm. Heck, I have grave doubts about whether Virginia can win this game at all, so why not take the guy with the most eligibility out for a spin and let him learn as much as possible?
4-The Stanford game showed everyone that you can never take a team too lightly, so to me anything can happen, what does Virginia need to do to win this game?
I think the key is Virginia's running backs. The quarterback will be inexperienced regardless of who starts, and the line may be a bit too green to handle complex blitzing schemes. However, Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson are dangerous rushers/receivers who need to get on track to relieve the pressure on the rest of the offense and to chew up some clock. If they can do that, the quarterback may have a shot at utilizing the tight end a bit and even opening up the field to the wideouts now and then. But without Ced and Mikell consistently getting chunks of yards either on the ground or through short passes, it's going to be a long day for the UVa offense.
Good luck to you guys, though I don't think you need any.