With the 2013 college football season rapidly approaching, fans are craving any and every taste of what is to come in what should be an invigorating year. As we inch closer to the action kicking off on August 29, I'll release schedule analysis for a new ACC school every other day. For now, let's take a look at the Virginia Cavaliers:
Aug. 31 - Brigham Young
Sept. 7 - Oregon
Sept. 14 - Open
Sept. 21 - VMI
Sept. 28 - at Pittsburgh
Oct. 5 - Ball State
Oct. 12 - at Maryland
Oct. 19 - Duke
Oct. 26 - Georgia Tech
Nov. 2 - Clemson
Nov. 9 - at North Carolina
Nov. 16 - Open
Nov. 23 - at Miami (FL)
Nov. 30 - Virginia Tech
Schedule obtained from the official website of Virginia athletics
A nightmarish season was the result of Virginia alternating first-team quarterbacks throughout 2012. Although it's the middle of August, it can be argued that the program has already made bigger strides in 2013 simply by naming David Watford the starting QB.
In some ways, the Cavaliers are approaching a favorable schedule this time around. They are the only team in the Coastal Division with eight home games, and one of those matchups is the annual showdown with rival Virginia Tech Hokies.
Unfortunately, playing in Scott Stadium didn't serve as much of an advantage last year for head coach Mike London's squad. Louisiana Tech, Maryland, Wake Forest and North Carolina all left Charlottesville with wins, and the slate will be even tougher this season.
The schedule starts off with a Brigham Young squad that's not far from being a Top 25 team. The Oregon Ducks come to town the following week with their high-octane offense, and Clemson and Georgia Tech will also be making visits down the stretch. Putting together a winning record isn't easy when facing a road like this, but crazier things have happened.
It turns out that offensive continuity is the greatest need for Virginia, and Watford's consistent presence as the starter helps keep his teammates in sync. Morgan Moses not only turns in another impressive season but replicates the type of year Oday Aboushi had in 2012 before graduating and moving on to the NFL.
With Watford serving as an upgrade under center, Darius Jennings breaks out as one of the top receivers in the ACC, and Tim Smith's big-play ability becomes even more apparent. The offense as a whole improves with former N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien joining the coaching staff, and discipline becomes more of a theme in 2013.
The defensive unit is even more impressive with the return of a handful of veterans and does a better job of handling opposing offenses in the division. With an experienced secondary, the Cavaliers are able to slow down the passing attacks of guys like Bryn Renner and Stephen Morris.
The Hoos make an early statement with a win over BYU. While finishing 3-1 outside of conference play, the team also claims road wins at Pittsburgh and Maryland, and the Cavaliers defeat Duke at home before capping off the regular season with an emotional win over the Hokies. Aside from some inevitable struggles against teams that simply have significantly more talent, Virginia shows marked improvement on the way to seven wins.
London finds another QB controversy on his hands when Watford is unable to get the job done. Greyson Lambert can't win the job either, and the outcome is another frustrating year on offense.
Because no one is able to succeed at quarterback, there are no consistent playmakers on the offense. To make matters worse, there is a lack of all-conference players on the defensive side of the ball, and divisional opponents continue to put up high point totals.
UVa gets off to an 0-2 start, and the losses pile up as the team faces a couple of its more evenly matched conference foes on the road. The number of games at Scott Stadium becomes irrelevant, as fans aren't even willing to show up to boo their team by the end of the year.
The Cavaliers don't even sniff a bowl bid, finishing 2-10.
This is about as difficult as a schedule featuring eight home games can get. It also doesn't help that Virginia is in the better of the two ACC divisions.
Quarterback play will be key to how far the Hoos go, and this year's team will need to be substantially better than last year's to find its way to a .500 record. The defense, which actually didn't give up a ton of yards last year, will need to force turnovers to help this offense as much as possible.
Becoming bowl-bound won't be impossible, but it's doubtful that Virginia will play any games beyond November.
Also check out:
Schedule analysis for Clemson
Schedule analysis for Florida State
Schedule analysis for Boston College
Schedule analysis for Wake Forest
Schedule analysis for NC State
Schedule analysis for Maryland
Schedule analysis for Syracuse
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