The Virginia Cavaliers are in the midst of one of the worst losing streaks in recent history, which really says something. Not only are the Hoos spiraling with five straight losses, many these have come against completely winnable teams. Will this weekend's contest against Wake Forest put the brakes on this skid? We're joined by fellow SB Nation site Blogger So Dear who graciously answered some of our questions for us.
Streaking The Lawn: The big story with Wake over the past couple weeks was that six players, four of whom were starters, were suspended for the Maryland game, and two additional players were suspended last week indefinitely. Did the six turn out just to be a one-week suspension, or will Wake's personnel again be at a severe disadvantage this week? How big of an impact are these suspensions for the Virginia game?
Blogger So Dear: As far as I know the indefinite suspensions are still being evaluated by the team. It's possible that anywhere from zero to six of the suspended players may return to action against Virginia. The bottom line is that we really don't know yet. All I know for sure is that both Duran Lowe and Devin Bolling who were suspended this past week will be out for the Virginia game.
I really didn't think the suspensions had too much of an impact on us against Maryland. I thought that our defense played pretty well, as we only allowed 244 yards of total offense. If Deandre Martin is out, then it hurts that we don't have our goal line back, but Tommy Bohannon should be able to score if we give him the ball inside the 3. I think this game will have more to do with our offensive execution than lack of defensive personnel due to the suspensions (if the six are still suspended).
STL: Wake's scoring offense is worse than Virginia's!!! Sorry. But seriously, what's been plaguing the Deacon offense this season?
BSD: I do think it's worth noting that part of the reason our scoring numbers appear so bad is that we scored 0 points against Florida State. If you take the average from our other 5 games, then we score an average of 27.6 points per game. That being said the Florida State game still counts, and we only scored 14 points against Maryland in our most recent game. I believe the reason for our lack of offensive production had had to do with a number of things. The first is the injury to receiver Michael Campanaro. Prior to his injury, Campanaro was leading our team with 9 receptions per game, and our next closest receiver was averaging 1.8. You can think of him in the Wes Welker slot receiver mold. Without him, Tanner Price has been having to throw to secondary options who have literally been dropping the ball. We had 7 drops against Maryland, and several other critical drops against Duke (Campanaro was injured in the Duke game). Our only two touchdowns against Maryland came off a 75 yard pass to Terrence Davis where there was blown coverage, and on another drive where we started at Maryland's 25 yard line. Another reason for our lack of scoring has been our field goal kicking. Jimmy Newman is just 2-6 on the year and missed two make-able kicks against Maryland. He has since been replaced by Chad Hedlund.
STL: Speaking of Virginia's struggling offense, what do Phillip Sims and company have to do for Virginia to exploit Wake's defense?
BSD: I believe an area where you guys could really attack our defense is on short routes. So many times I watch our corners play 7 or 8 yards off the receiver, and it's just a simple pitch and catch for 5 yards every time. Another option is that teams have run on Wake in the past, specifically Florida State and Army. Florida State averaged 8.56 yards/carry against us, and Army averaged 5.57. Given that Kevin Parks averages 5.11 yards/carry, I would expect him to have a decent afternoon. It shouldn't be too hard for him to get to the perimeter given our linebacker core.
STL: What is your outlook on the remainder of the season? Will Wake Forest be bowl eligible this year?
BSD: My outlook is that Wake no longer has any room for error. Several weeks ago we were sitting at 3-1 with upcoming games against Duke, Maryland, and Virginia. At that point I thought we were in great shape to make a bowl, but after the Campanaro injury and losing to Duke and Maryland, this Virginia game becomes an absolute must win. In my opinion the only three winnable games remaining on our schedule are at Virginia, and at home against Boston College and Vanderbilt. I just don't see anyway we beat Clemson at home, or Notre Dame or N.C. State on the road. Wake is a team that perennially has little margin for error, so my best guess at a final record would be 5-7.
STL: I asked Testudo Times this question last week, and I kind of like it, so you get the same. Rank these four conference teams: Boston College, Maryland, Virginia, Wake Forest.
BSD: I like this question as well. I do power rankings every week for Blogger So Dear, and these are definitely four of the teams that I struggle to rank. In terms of how the terms are playing right now I would rank them Maryland, Wake, Virginia, and Boston College. I believe if star receiver Michael Campanaro was healthy then Wake would be the best of the four, but he is currently injured, so I have Maryland first.
STL: Finally, how does this game shake out?
BSD: For whatever reason I think that Wake is going to win this week. I promise I don't just pick Wake to win every weekend. I know Vegas has us as the underdogs, but I think we'll find a way to pull it out. After watching the Maryland-Virginia game I have the confidence that we can win this road game. I also think it's worth noting that Wake is coming off a bye and hopefully that additional time will allow our coaching staff to find additional Virginia weaknesses as well as design some trick plays that could generate large chunks of yardage and maybe even a score.