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2012 ACC Previews: Virginia with Streaking The Lawn

We’re previewing the upcoming season with help from SBNation.com. Today, Brian from Streaking The Lawn talks Virginia.

The Cavaliers must overcome some difficult road tests in 2012 if they want to contend for the ACC title, including trips to Georgia Tech (Sept. 15), NC State (Nov. 3) and Virginia Tech (Nov. 24) and a non-conference matchup with Big 12 newcomer TCU in Fort Worth (Sept. 22).

2011 Record: 8-5

2011 Bowl: Chick-Fil-A Bowl vs. Auburn, 24-43

2012 Bowl Projections:

History in Orlando

1990 Florida Citrus Bowl vs. Illinois, 21-31

Q&A with Brian Leung from Streaking The Lawn

Describe the 2011 season in two words.

Exceeded expectations.

Last year’s four-win improvement was a big leap forward under Mike London. Would anything less than eight wins be considered a disappointment in 2012?

I think that’s a little harsh to say that anything fewer than eight would be deemed a disappointment. Last year’s two notable players on defense, Cam Johnson and Chase Minnifield, have both graduated and left some gaping holes in Virginia’s defense that, at least through fall camp, have yet to be completely answered. And while it’s nice that the Hoos have two or three feasible quarterback options in Michael Rocco, Phillip Sims and David Watford, the old adage says that if you have two quarterbacks, it means you have none. Bottom line is that there are still a number of question marks that won’t allow Virginia fans to expect eight wins as the floor. Considering the somewhat lighter schedule Virginia has this year, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect at least seven wins, which is to say, Virginia fans should be expecting more than just a bowl game this year.

On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?

It’s almost a tossup between TCU and Virginia Tech, the two most highly ranked teams in the preseason. TCU is playing with the big boys in the Big 12 this year, and have a grueling schedule, so it’s entirely possible that Virginia gets looked over. They can attack from anywhere on the field, and more importantly, their quarterback Casey Pachall has a whopping 66.5% pass completion percentage.

Virginia’s secondaries are going to have a tough time in this game, and risk getting beat all day. Virginia Tech has, embarrassingly, dominated the series over the past decade. Last year was the first in a while that the game between the rivals have meant something, with a trip to the ACC Championship Game on the line. The Cavaliers laid a goose egg and UVA fans have had to suffer through a long offseason being reminded of “38-0.” Virginia has a couple extra days to prepare for this game, though, with the previous week being a Thursday night game against UNC in Charlottesville.

Does Philip Sims offer an instant upgrade at quarterback or will we still see Michael Rocco at the start of the season?

No doubt about it – Michael Rocco will start the season. Rocco has proven himself to know the playbook and to be able to run the scheme when it counts. The coaches have been saying that Rocco and Sims (and even to some degree, Watford) are pretty even in camp, and that neither has truly separated himself for the starting position. If that’s the case, then battle-tested Rocco will get the start. Who starts the final game against Virginia Tech, however, is another question altogether.

Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.

Best case scenario is that the Hoos win all of the games they probably “should” win (Richmond, Penn State, Louisiana Tech, Duke, Maryland, Wake Forest), grab the remaining home games (Miami and North Carolina, both of whom Virginia has found great success against in recent years), and steal one or two more (Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, both on the road). The road steals can be any of them, including TCU or NC State, but it would be sweetest to defeat Virginia’s rivals and former head coach. That would give the Hoos a trip to the ACC Championship Game.

Worst case scenario is a five-win season, coming from Duke, Maryland, Richmond, Wake Forest, and one other. This will undoubtedly be considered a huge setback from Mike London and company, who have been tearing through the recruiting trail, and will need at least one more solid performance season to seal the deal with recruits.

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