All they needed was just one more win, one win, but unlike their basketball team who is so clutch that they don’t even know what to do with themselves, the football team, a mere let down (Editors’s Note: This was in queue before last night, and I still agree with the sentiment so I left it as the lede). I guess I would not be surprised either if I just came off one of the worst seasons in over thirty years and only managed to improve enough to win a total of 5 games. Oh but who is counting how many bad seasons in a row Virginia has managed to have, without being bowl eligible? Since 2011 *cough, cough.*
Now I do not want to sound like I am completely trashing on the Cavs, so here we will do what I like to call “pro, con, pro.” So you start off with a pro, then say a con and then end on a high note and state another pro. Lets begin shall we:
– Pro: Despite losing 7 games overall, five of those games were lost by eight points or less. So this team does show some promise and maybe with a little more grooming they can turn those losses into victories. They expecting quite a return to their team this upcoming season on both offense and defense, but it really is anyones game when it comes to putting on that uniform. The returning players need to prove themselves and show they deserve their spots, while the new guys are coming in full of adrenaline and eager to get going.
– Con: Taking the winning they have in their minds and turning it into wins on the field. Hey, this is a game of athleticism, strength and how well you handle the pressure. If you can’t handle any of those things then get off the field… simple as that. It is good to have the mindset that you can win, but now it is time to take that and turn it into a reality.
– Pro: New coaching staff. If you are reading this normally it would not be such a good thing to bring in new coaches to a team who has had a constant struggle. But just like UNC (read my last article want to know where I am coming from), this is a breath of fresh air. You will have new eyes on the field, new perspectives and better yet a brand new attitude about the team and the season ahead. They welcome back for his fifth season, Mike London as the head coach; and new coaches Dave Borbely and Chris Beatty. Borbely will be working with the offensive line and Beatty will be coaching the running backs. I think these are solid additions and both bring a lot of experience and knowledge of the game to the table. They both have successful track records and knows what it takes to producce a high caliber team.
So lets talk recrutiment shall we? Out of 14 teams in the ACC, the Cavs are looking to finish 10th in pack when it comes to recrutiting. According to 247 Sports, Virginia is predicted to have the 46th best recruiting class come National Signing Day. Now that is not half bad, top 50, pretty darn good for a school that is trying to improve their game and expecting some major changes this season. I believe the key to their success come National Signing Day is pulling in those last minute recruits. Here are a few key players the Cavs have managed to snag:
Jahvoni Simmons, Inside Linebacker
- Four star
- 6’1, 230 pounds
- Virginia Beach, VA,Ocean Lakes High School
The most important recruit that has committed to UVA. At 225 pounds he is a physical linebacker that has great movement and athleticism on the field. He makes a lot of tackles, is very well muscled and has tremendous speed, which will make for a productive linebacker. Another key component to his game is his ability to slip past the front line and make some key tackles. He takes the blocks head on and does an excellent job at getting to the ball carriers and stopping the run.
Finally he has great field sense. Simmons makes good plays on the ball and has good coverage abilities. Coach London believes Simmons will be an excellent addition for a position of need for the Hoos. I am sure UVA cannot wait till he signs his name on the dotted line and officially become a member of this team.
— Wahoos247 (@Wahoos247) January 24, 2015
Eric Gallon, Outside Linebacker
- 6’3, 220 pounds
- Lakeland, FL, Lakeland Christian School
Gallon is filling a major hole for the Cavs, coming in as an outside linebacker. He addresses the need to fill this position now that Max Valles has decided to head to the NFL draft and two others have graduated.
What Gallon brings to this team is his explosiveness off the edge and tremendous speed. Gallon can cover guys very well, has a nice range of motion and has the quickness needed to cover the field. Gallon is the perfect size and height to play as an outside linebacker; and while watching some his football reels it is evident that he can get to the ball and make key tackles. At only 220 pounds he is a versatile player that London will get a lot of use of.
C.J. Stalker, Outside Linebacker
- 6’2, 223 pounds
- West Chester, Ohio, Lakota West High School
Like Simmons, Stalker is also a great addition to the Cavs team. He is already enrolled at UVA, hitting both the books and the practice field early. This gives him the best chance at possibly starting in a few games this season. Stalker is ranked 11th in the nation as a linebacker. He chose UVA over Cincinnati, Indiana, Kentucky and Louisville. Originally playing as outside linebacker, during high school he made the switch to inside and it has given off great results. While he may not be the fastest on the field, he most certainly has an eye for the ball and can effectively break the tackle to get to get to where he needs to be. Stalker’s recruitment is huge for the Wahoos because they will be losing their starting middle linebacker Henry Coley after this season, and with a little more coaching he will be a very good replacement when his time comes.
Naji Abdullah, Defensive End
- 6’5, 220 pounds
- Jacksonville, FL, Sandalwood High School
A late comer to the game, he is most certainly a prospect London and his staff were lucky to snag. Abdullah is the only player to date for the Cavs that has decommitted from one program to join another. Orginially commiting to Florida A &M, this defensive end realized that a better opportunity awaited him in Charlottesville. The only other player to come to the Cavs is T.J. Thorpe. Thorpe is a transfer from UNC.
He will be such an asset to the Hoos, after they failed to secure any weak side defensive ends in last years recruiting class. This was a position that needed to be filled, Abdullah saw his opportunity and took it.
— Virginia Football (@UVa_Football) January 29, 2015
The schedules are out which means it is time to prepare. Their schedule, while tough will be a nice glimpse at just how well they recruited but also how well they have been at practice. They luck out by not having to play top tiered teams such as Florida State or Clemson, but their preseason will definitely make up for those two games. Opening day against the UCLA Bruins will be our first peek at what the season could possibly look like. Now I am not saying that their entire season rides on that game, but it will be a pretty good indicator as to what things they will need to really hone their focus on and what things they do well and build on it.
I will say one thing, they have done an excellent job at filling in the gaps in their line up. They have added some much needed depth to the linebacker position, as well as recruited a quarterback, defensive ends, safety and tight ends. They have done a olid job at getting a well rounded class and making sure they cover all of there bases. However they are still on the hunt for a few potential prospects, such as Jordan Fox. Unfortunately there is not too much time left to verbally commit early but hopefully when it comes time to put his John Hancock on the dotted line it will be to UVA.
Finally I think I can speak for all Viriginia fans and say the only game they really care about is the one that happens every November, the Hoos versus the Hokies. It is a rivilary almost as good as the one that lives on Tobacco Road in North Carolina, but for the team that is two hours south of Charlottesville, it does not appear to be a rivalry, it appears to be more like “there is room for only one Viriginia team and that would be us [ Virginia Tech].” I mean the Hokies have been making the Hoos, “boo-hoo” for the last decade (Editor’s Note: Decade Plus;) and continue to seem very confident in their abilities to win. But who knows maybe the Cavs will finally get their team together and pull out a surprise victory on their own home field and regain control of the Commonwealth Cup.
Follow me @itsamerething for other insights and here on Inside the ACC. Good luck on National Signing Day!