The Virginia Cavaliers have not really had big time success since the George Welsh days. in recent years, the Cavaliers are an interesting enigma. They consistently produce N.F.L. talent, but haven't been able to have A.C.C. success. Enter Bronco Mendenhall. Mendenhall leaves a B.Y.U. program with an overall record of 99-43. He won a lot of games at B.Y.U., and turned them into a bowl game regular. He relieves Mike London, who couldn't find the answer in Charlottesville. I had a healthy respect for Mike London. There were shimmers of greatness from the Cavaliers. Last year, they had Notre Dame on the brink only to find a way to lose. There were ugly moments as well. The low light last season came courtesy of a 56-14 beatdown by Boise State at Scott Stadium. That may have been the beginning of the end for London. Mendenhall is a defensive coach, so expect the 'Hoos to be physically tougher in 2016.
The quarterback situation in Charlottesville is dicey, to say the least. They have a returning senior quarterback in Matt Johns. The problem is, Johns threw an A.C.C. leading 17 picks in 2015. He will have to do a much better job protecting the football. The rest of the backfield is back for the Cavs. Senior Taquan Mizzell was the 'Hoos leading rusher in 2015 with 723 yards. This should help the Wahoos and Johns. A struggling QB's best friend is a strong running game,and Mizzell with Olamide Zaccheaus should be the remedy. Zaccheaus averaged an eye-dropping 7.9 YPC for Virginia, and will need to help shoulder the load this season.
The receivers are led by juniors Andre Levrone and Doni Dowling. They present interesting size matchups on the outside. Both wide outs are listed over 6'0", and have the ability to bust big plays. The Wahoos lost 2015 TD machine Canaan Severin, who led all Virginia receivers with 8 TD grabs.
On defense, the Wahoos should be much improved under Mendenhall. They plan on switching to a 3-4, and that should be interesting. Andrew Brown needs to be more productive from his DE spot. Quin Blanding is a force at safety. Blanding had 115 tackles last season. I'm not sure, however, you want your free safety to be second on the team in that category.
The schedule for the Wahoos is manageable. The do face a tough task traveling to Oregon in week 2. The also play a cross-divisional game against Louisville. I have Virginia at 4-8. They will beat: Richmond, UConn, Central Michigan, and Wake Forest.