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2018

Virginia

College Football

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Coming off a two-win season, most people didn't expect Virginia to reach a bowl game in only Bronco Mendenhall’s second year in charge. But that’s what he did, going 5-1 to start the campaign and even though the Cavaliers got run off the field by Navy in the bowl, it was at least a postseason appearance. They’ll try and repeat that in 2018, but it won’t be easy with a decent amount of turnover on both sides of the ball. The bookmakers didn’t give them much hope in the spring with odds to finish at the bottom of the ACC Coastal division (as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook).

Quarterback Kurt Benkert is gone, but there is a lot of hype surrounding new starter Bryce Perkins. The dual-threat quarterback was recruited by Arizona State, but fell out of favor due to injury so transferred to Arizona Western last year, leading his team to the NJCAA title game. His mobility should be important with a rotating line in front of him that lost three starters. That said, every other position should be set for the Cavs on offense with running back Jordan Ellis (799 yards, 6 TDs) and do-it-all receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (833 yards, 5 TDs) entering their final seasons. Other receivers like Joe Reed (21 receptions) will have to step up in order to help Perkins in the passing game. This offense wasn’t entirely explosive last year with only 23.5 points per game, but it did enough against weaker opponents, scoring 40 points on teams like Boise State and Georgia Tech. As long as Perkins comes through, they shouldn’t take a step back.

Even better for Virginia is that the defense is in equally good shape with seven starters back to go with a decent amount of depth from a group that allowed 26.7 points per game. The line may have the biggest questions after losing more guys in the offseason, but Mandy Alonso is expected to play a big part at end. The same goes for linebacker Jordan Mack, who moves into the starting lineup to replace an All-ACC performer in Micah Kiser. The secondary lost some big names, but there is plenty of experience and talent to go around with Bryce Hall and Tim Harris set for roles at cornerback. 

Getting to another bowl game will require Virginia not to fall off on either side of the ball and that may not be a problem. Another favorable opening to the schedule should help, although the trip to Indiana isn’t as easy at it appears. The Cavaliers should still grab three non-conference wins with only three more in ACC play needed for a bowl. Home games against Duke and UNC are the best spots for wins, but the other win could be hard to find and will probably have to come on the road unless they upset Louisville early. As long as Perkins isn’t a bust at quarterback, Virginia has the tools to reach five wins with an upset needed to reach another bowl. That’s not completely out of the question after upsetting numerous teams last season.

 

2018 Virginia Cavaliers Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Richmond

Sept. 8 at Indiana

Sept. 15 vs. Ohio 

Sept. 22 vs. Louisville

Sept. 29 at NC State

Oct. 13 vs. Miami

Oct. 20 at Duke

Oct. 27 vs. North Carolina

Nov. 2 vs. Pittsburgh

Nov. 10 vs. Liberty

Nov. 17 at Georgia Tech

Nov. 23 at Virginia Tech

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