Fall camp is well under way for the Virginia Cavaliers, who have already given fans two open practice opportunities as a sneak preview of what promises to be one of the most exciting seasons for the Hoos in quite some time. Last year around this time, there was certainly a bit of buzz going on with the team, but most of that was surrounding the new head coach in and getting a feel for how Virginia Football would be shaped for the foreseeable future. Despite only putting together four wins, two of which were from FCS schools, and only one ACC victory, there's a lot expected out of this season. For many, it's a "Bowl or Bust" season.
That's kind of unfair to Coach London, don't you think? Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly of the camp that's expecting the Hoos to actually be playing in December this year, but is this really fair for a coach who's just getting his first batch of recruits this year after inheriting what can only be described as a mess of a program.
But more than one print media source has published something or another about how this is a year of huge implications for the second year head coach. If London can't get at least six wins this season, the whole program may very well be disbanded (exaggeration). Fans appear to have gotten behind this sentiment, as more and more Hoos are emerging from a decade-long period of hibernation to being a little preseason smack talk about those clowns from Blacksburg.
London has no one to blame but himself for the high expectations media and fans have this season. After all, he was the one who scheduled road shows around the state to rebuild interest. He's also the one who had to go out and get a consensus top-25 recruiting class, and has been following it up with a heck of a Class of 2012 effort, as the Hoos lead the Hokies in top-10 in-state recruits, three to two. Not too shabby in year one.
Look, there's plenty of reason to think that the Hoos have a shot at a pretty good season.
Forget, just for a minute, the fact that we have four quarterbacks, which is a fancy way of saying we have none. Also forget the fact that we get the distinct pleasure of playing Virginia Tech, Florida State and Miami this season.
Looking beyond those three teams, we actually have a pretty good schedule. Our out of conference schedule is, to put it lightly, weak. William & Mary (I know. Don't mention it. Ugh. You mentioned it. 2009.), Indiana, Southern Mississippi and Idaho are all games that, objectively speaking, the Cavaliers really should be able to handle.
Georgia Tech and North Carolina are both experiencing a little bit of NCAA turmoil and distraction. We catch the Tar Heels early - in week three - but the game is down in Chapel Hill. Of course, the Hoos are 10-3 over the Heels since 1998 (two of those losses coming in Chapel Hill). Georgia Tech comes to Charlottesville in mid-October, and while the Hoos have lost two straight to the Jackets, I think the streak stops this year. Losing your ACC title? That sucks. We'll call that, The Groh Effect. In any event, I think the Hoos can take at least one of these two games.
The Hoos will defeat Duke this year. Or else I'm hanging up my hat on this site. Not really. But Virginia will win this one. There's just no way they'll lose. Will they?
Now, of the remaining - NC State, Miami, Maryland, Florida State, Virginia Tech. Is it too difficult to say that the Hoos can win at least one, if not two of this bunch? If you're going to make me pick one, I'd say one of either NC State or Maryland (State is at home, Maryland is the weaker of the two). Miami and FSU are both on the road, and Virginia Tech, as much as it pains me to say this, is Virginia Tech. Not sure we'll be able to beat any of these three teams (though there's always that signature upset...).
So yes. The schedule, I do think, lends itself to at least a 6-win season. But in this preseason, as we continue cranking the hype machine, let's keep in mind that, while it's not unreasonable to expect a bowl game out of the team, it's important to keep in mind that this is only year two. There's a lot coming through the pipelines by way of recruiting, and the coaching staff is still working out a few kinks in terms of what kind of systems - and what variations of those systems - they want to be running.