The 2017 Virginia football season kicks off TOMORROW against William and Mary at 3:30pm at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville (don’t forget to check out the revamped ‘THE COLUMN’). We asked our staff to weigh in on what they considered a “successful season” for the Hoos this year.
Hobes: Contrary to what some prognosticators say, I think this season really can be measured through wins on the field, rather than just performance. To that end, a success in my eyes is going 6-6, preferably with (finally) a win over Va Tech. I fully expect the team to start 3-1 with the one loss being to Boise State, and Bronco and his staff - not to mention the team, barring any injuries - are talented enough to parlay that into three conference wins. With a much more manageable schedule this go around and a greater focus on knowing how to hold blocks rather than how to run onto the field, I think the mission has to be going bowling and beating your primary rival.
Pierce: Five wins would be a success in my mind. While it will be frustrating to not make a bowl game yet again, if the team goes 5-7, UVa fans should be pleased with Bronco's second season as HC. Five wins would include at least a couple ACC wins (and more likely three) which would be a noticeable improvement - and most likely a couple of wins in games where the team wasn't favored. While I do expect this team to look a lot better than last year's, I don't think the team is ready to steal enough wins to get to six (mainly due to the glaring issues in depth along the DL and OL). I'd take a 3-9 and pulling a miracle over Va Tech as a success as well...but I have no expectation of win against the Hokies. Wins over W&M, UConn, BC, Duke, and (IU? GT?) would add up to a clear improvement, hope in the scheme/coaching, and potential for a bowl in 2018 (assuming there's a suitable QB on the roster...but we'll get to that later).
If they go 6-6 and beat Va Tech, I'll kick off the fundraising for Bronco's statue
Not that I don't admire your optimism, Eric.
Alex: I agree with Pierce, 5-7 would be good improvement from last year. I expect that UVA might lose some of their winnable games (W&M, IU, Duke) but also have some surprising wins along the way. Fans should expect the team to win games in the fourth quarter - a sign that the team and Bronco are on a positive uptrend. A win over Va Tech would automatically make the season a success, no doubt.
Also a success if memes don't come out of any of our losses.
Schwartz: If UVA can either 1) make a bowl game or 2) beat Va Tech, I think we'll surely look back upon the season favorably. I feel like it's probably a bit pathetic to allow a single win to qualify the year as successful...but heck, expectations are low and we all know it's been a while. Preferably we do both of those things, but beggars can't be choosers.
If the Hoos finish, say, 5-7, they may be beating fan and analyst expectations, but it's hard to get excited about that. Part of the reason that the team's recent lack of success has been so frustrating is that winning 6 games is just not that hard, especially in the ACC, and especially with this year's more reasonable OOC schedule (W&M, IU, and UConn should net 2-3 wins, right? RIGHT?)
Danny: While making a bowl game for only the second time in ten years would certainly make the season a success, I do not think it is a requirement. If UVA goes 5-7, but a couple of those wins are over ranked teams (like Va Tech, Miami, or Louisville) then I would see it as a success. Virginia could jump out to a 4-1 or 5-2 record, which would be great, but then could easily tailspin in the tougher back half of the schedule. UVA is 1-12 in their past 13 games against ranked opponents and 2-14 in November in the past four years. If the team avoids the “here we go again” November collapse against ranked teams, then the season will be a success.
Tiki: It's bowl game or bust. 5-7 with a win over Va Tech would probably leave everybody reasonably happy, but it doesn't really change anything. That bowl game, and the month of extra practice it affords, is really key. The schedule is not hard and sets up well for six wins. If the team has improved as much as everybody seems to think, then six wins should be a minimum.
Luke: As I mentioned in our last roundtable, the game I am most excited for is the bowl game. That being said, I don't believe a bowl appearance is necessary for this season to be a success.
I've been a UVA football fan for a mere 20 years but in those years I've become jaded enough to believe the smallest victories would make this season a success. What's the most important of these small victories? Establishing a solid identity, both offensively and defensively.
Unfortunately, recent history shows the Cavaliers have lacked in this area. With the Mendenhall regime switching the defense to a 3-4 and introducing the term Silverback Gorilla to the lexicon, signs are pointing in the right direction.
If Bronco and his staff can prove they are instilling a tough, winning culture with game plans that make the Cavaliers competitive in 2017, I will leave the Va Tech game more than satisfied.
Trogs: I agree with Schwartz completely. Not only is he smart as a whip, he's also good-looking and great with kids. Any of you female readers out there need a great guy to bring home to mom and dad? Schwartz is your guy.
Virginia football needs to stem the tide of fan apathy that has set in over the last 5 years. And only two things can accomplish that -- a bowl game or a win against Va Tech. I have faith that Bronco is taking the right steps to rebuild the program, though the continual player attrition gives me pause.
But I don't think anyone gets excited over a 4-5 win season. Mike London delivered plenty of those.
Leung: You guys, 5-7 is not a “successful season,” it is an “improved-upon season.” It’s a “trending in the right direction season” or a “OK this might not be so bad season,” but it’s not a successful one. Don’t let Danny trick you with his number vomit up there — a 5-7 season with a “couple” wins over ranked teams means that there were some bad losses in there too, which means that at the end of that season, we’re just going to look back and comment on how inconsistent this team was. If we want to call this a success, it’s got to end in a bowl game.
Pierce: What should the goal for this season be? I'd say "making a bowl game" is unfortunately an unrealistic one. Is it possible? Sure. Is it more likely to happen than not? No. Regardless - other goals for the season should be demonstrated improvement and looking like a team that can actually compete in football games, so if they go 5-7 but do those things they've succeeded in those more realistic goals. This season can be a successful one without achieving what we (and surely what the coaches) want to be the standard for "success" in the future.
Leung: But the standard for “success” in the future isn’t and shouldn’t just be a 6-6 or 6-7 team, right? It is reasonable for Virginia fans and coaches to expect an average of 8 wins to be the standard for success going forward.
Pierce: For sure - but expecting six or seven wins this season is unrealistic.
Danny: UVA can certainly go 5-7 with a win over Va Tech and no bad losses. FPI only has Virginia favored in three games (W&M, UConn, & BC) with two others close (Indiana & Duke). If the Hoos win the three favored ones, one of the tossups and pulls off an upset at Miami, at Louisville or home vs Va Tech, I will consider the season a success at 5-7, due to where the program has been recently.
Trogs: I agree with Brian (Leung) wholeheartedly. And not just because he's giving me a ride to the game on Saturday. Or because I think he's a kind, generous, gentleman who'd be a catch for any potential suitor. If Virginia goes 5-7, it's another losing season in a growing string of losing seasons. A win over Va Tech might stem the tide of fan apathy, but UVA needs to have a winning season at some point to start building real momentum.
Ryan: Look at Matt up here trying to play matchmaker. I agree with Brian, to me the measure of a successful season is not binary. They can go 5-7 with a win over Va Tech and we can call it good, but I won't define a success as anything short of bowling. Much like the basketball team last year, before the season the consensus was the Sweet Sixteen with potential for more would have been called a success. They fell short of that, but it was still a good season for those guys.
Caroline: I think we’re confusing “success” with a “successful season”. Is 5-7 the overall goal the program should be shooting for? Heck no. Would 5-7 this season be a “successful season” in my opinion? Yes. I think William and Mary, UConn, BC, and Duke fall in the should win column, Indiana, UNC, Pitt, and GT in the eh, maybe? column, and the rest in the lol ok sure column. That doesn’t mean an upset isn’t in the cards for the Hoos, but to expect wins over Miami, Louisville, Boise State, and Va Tech probably is a recipe for disappointment. I still stand by my podcast predictions, but think that season success should be gauged on improvement from where we were, not necessarily what we want the end goal to be.
That said, WE’RE GOING BOWLING.
What’s your take, Wahoo Nation? Let us know in the comments, and stay with us for all your gameday coverage!