Virginia Beat: Let the Fun Begin

We’re already one-third of the way through the college football season (an annual annoyance, as it feels like we just started) and things have played out more or less as predicted for UVA.  Nobody really expected the Hoos to sweep through the first four games unscathed, and their 2-2 mark is just as expected.  Nevertheless, a two-game losing streak never puts folks in a good mood, so a little cheerleading session is in order for Virginia fans.

Using nothing but the truth, however.  We don’t deal in phony feel-good platitudes; the truth is that the Cavaliers are poised to take a major step forward.  The schedule leans heavily in their favor for the next month or more.  Three of the next four games (and five of the next seven) are at home, and against weak competition.  UVA is no powerhouse itself, but the games ahead, particularly the next four, are against teams with major flaws that give the Hoos an excellent chance at a win.

This Saturday, UVA will face Louisiana Tech in a “throwback” game that will feature retro uniforms.  The Bulldogs are regarded as dangerous, having not yet failed to score 50 points in a game this season and coming off a dominating blowout of Illinois.  But their defense is suspect, having given up 37 points to Rice and 49 to an anemic Houston offense.  If UVA’s offense can take advantage, it should be enough to get the Hoos back into the win column.

The ACC schedule then begins in earnest, and UVA draws three of the ACC’s worst in Duke, Maryland, and Wake Forest.  All are enigmatic to some degree, but more bad than good.  Duke has shown the ability to be explosive on offense, but only against some of the worst competition that Division I football has to offer.  Maryland has been much more competitive than expected and has righted the ship somewhat after an ugly 7-6 win over William & Mary to open the season, but features a true freshman quarterback and the worst running game in the ACC.  Wake is a puzzle.  A lame three-point win over Liberty was followed up by a win over the talented Tar Heels of UNC – and then a complete thrashing at the hands of Florida State.

This is a stretch from which the Cavaliers can emerge bowl eligible and sporting a shiny 6-2 record.  There’s no doubt that would put a smile on the faces of a lot of fans; many consider 6-6 to be the goal for the season, so anything after that would be gravy in their eyes.  Even if the Hoos stumble once and are only 5-3 going into the final third of the season, there is ample opportunity to find the sixth win with home games against Miami and UNC, and a visit to NC State.  Those teams are better than the four that are up next, but as September has already shown, none of them are invincible.  Far from it.  At any rate, the outlook for the season remains optimistic.

Of course, this is a prediction, not a guarantee.  Louisiana Tech is, in fact, favored by Vegas against UVA.  The Hoos must try to win in Durham, where they haven’t won since 2006.  Maryland is a major rival and is always up for this game.  Wake Forest might bring the frightening Mr. Hyde to Charlottesville instead of the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll.  There are all sorts of ways the season might go south.  In that event, UVA fans will still be enjoying themselves; instead of realizing their hopes for 2012, they’ll be able to get a glimpse of 2013 and beyond as talented sophomore quarterback Phillip Sims would likely be handed the reins to the offense.  Win or lose, the rest of the season holds exciting possibilities.

Brendan’s bio: I’m just this guy … this ordinary Virginia graduate and fan who woke up one day realizing his opinions on everything UVA could no longer be contained in one space. Thus was born From Old Virginia, a labor of love where you can find obsessive opinionating on Virginia football, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, and whatever else when the mood strikes. And if that’s still not enough for you, go to the Twitster and follow @MaizeNBlueWahoo for the dumb stuff that pops into my head when I’m watching the Hoos.

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