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SBNation’s Bill Connelly Previews UVa Football

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He keeps the UMBC mentions to an almost-minimum

NCAA Football: Virginia at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Connelly’s 130-Team Preview on the SBNation.com mothership reached UVa this morning and Connelly provides an extensive breakdown of the team and its potential strengths and weaknesses headed into the 2018 campaign.

As Connelly notes, the fact that the 2017 squad even made it to a bowl game was a victory in itself and was accomplished with an explosion in offensive production through the first six games of the season - which ultimately didn’t sustain during the Hoos’ final seven games.

Looking towards 2018, Connelly reviews what the Hoos will need to replace on both sides of the ball and the players that will need to emerge in order to replicate some of the early 2017 success.

A lot, of course, rides on the arm and legs of the new quarterback, Bryce Perkins. Connelly notes:

Perkins’ mobility could make this more like the offense Anae crafted for Taysom Hill at BYU. The Hoos can only hope Perkins is as proficient as (the healthy version of) Hill, who combined 2,938 passing yards with 1,344 rushing yards in 2013.

That’s the dream...and certainly a retooled offensive line and a productive Jordan Ellis can contribute to that dream.

On the defensive front, Connelly reviews UVa’s improvement from 78th to 43rd in Def S&P+ last season, but discusses how the personnel looks following the losses of Kiser, Blanding, and Brown. He also discusses something called “havoc rate” which is apparently a thing.

UVa fans might be forgetting about the return of a healthy Tim Harris - as Connelly notes:

Cornerback Tim Harris was a star recruit for London and combined three TFLs and seven passes defensed back in 2015. He was dealt a season-ending shoulder injury in mid-September 2016, then suffered a season-ending wrist injury one week into 2017. If he can stay in the lineup, and if Myles Robinson’s return sticks (he left the team last year but has come back), then UVA will have one of the better sets of CBs in the ACC. Senior Juan Thornhill (4.5 TFLs, 16 passes defensed) could thrive at either safety or corner, and junior Bryce Hall (three TFLs, 10 PDs) is a keeper, as well.

Check out the article for the complete analysis as well as projections for the schedule. The win probabilities might not be as optimistic as Wahoo fans are thinking...but we can always point to last year’s periodic over-achievement!