The Virginia Cavs football program is listed at odds of 30 to 1 to win the ACC in 2019 which would place them 3rd in the Coastal Division.
Things are working almost exactly to plan for Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall, who has taken the team from two wins in his first year to back-to-back bowl games the last two seasons, the first time in more than a decade.
That streak will likely continue with a better record possible after the Cavaliers finished 8-5 even with two late OT losses.
Offense On Track
The offense surprised most by how successful it was with a new quarterback, averaging 28.5 points per game. Bryce Perkins was the main reason for that, throwing for 25 touchdowns and nine picks on 7.7 yards per attempt to go with 923 rushing yards and nine more touchdowns. Perkins is back, but there are questions around him at almost every position.
The line is extremely young in the two-deep with only three of the 10 options upperclassmen. That could lead to some problems, especially without a hands-down option at running back. PK Kier (26 carries) is expected to be the lead back, but Wayne Taulapapa got the most work in the spring.
There are similar questions at receiver with the top guy gone, though Hasise Dubois (52 receptions, 5 TDs), Joe Reed (25 rec., 7 TDs) and Terrell Jana at least have experience.
To help surpass last year’s win total, the defense could take another step after allowing 337 yards and 21.8 points per contest. Those are impressive numbers given where this team was a couple years ago.
Veteran Defense for 2019
Seven starters return to the defense with little worry about the incoming players. The line will likely be the biggest issue again without a stud pass rusher, but nose tackle Eli Hanback should keep the unit in check.
The same goes for a deep linebacking corps led by Jordan Mack on the inside and Charles Snowden on the outside.
The secondary could be one of the best in the ACC with stud corner Bryce Hall joined by experienced safety duo Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson. This group has everything it needs to make another jump in the ACC.
Virginia Looking for 9 Wins or More in 2019
The Hoos are expecting more this year and that starts by winning their first road game against Pitt. If they can’t win there, a chance at the Coastal division title will be unlikely with a trip to Miami also on the schedule a month later.
Of course, anything can happen in the division, though the Hurricanes are expected to lead the way. The trip to Notre Dame is unfortunate at the end of September, but every ACC game is winnable and getting Virginia Tech at home could be huge in reversing the rivalry.
Perkins should keep the offense humming and with an experienced defense, this team will be looking to surpass eight wins in the regular season. That’s possible, but if Virginia lands on eight wins total again, it’ll likely be because of issues on the offensive line.
2019 Virginia Cavaliers Football Schedule
Aug. 31 at Pittsburgh (opened -2.5)
Sept. 6 vs. William & Mary
Sept. 14 vs. Florida State
Sept. 21 vs. Old Dominion
Sept. 28 at Notre Dame
Oct. 11 at Miami (opened +9.5)
Oct. 19 vs. Duke
Oct. 26 at Louisville
Nov. 2 at North Carolina
Nov. 9 vs. Georgia Tech
Nov. 23 vs. Liberty
Nov. 29 vs. Virginia Tech (opened -2.5)