QB Marques Hagans (PHOTO CREDIT - Andrew Shurtleff)

2004 Statistics

Coach: Al Groh
30-21, 4 years
2004 Record: 8-4
at Temple WON 44-14
at Florida State LOST 3-36
at Duke WON 37-16
at Georgia Tech WON 30-10
at Virginia Tech LOST 10-24
vs. Fresno State LOST 34-37

2004 Final Rankings
AP-23, Coaches-23, BCS-18

2005 Outlook

Virginia lived up to most expectations last season compiling an 8-4 record. The Cavaliers win all the games they are supposed to win, but need to knock off one of the ACC's elite before they are considered a legitimate contender. Coach Al Groh has proven his ability to develop talent - his skills will once again be put to the test as Virginia loses nine starters. There is plenty of talent in Charlottesville, and the team is also guided by several vocal seniors on both sides of the ball. But is it enough to get to the next level?

The offense has a lethal one-two punch at quarterback and running back, but after losing key receivers (leading snarler (TE) Heath Miller), many unproven players (will amply) fill the voids. While offensive coordinator Ron Prince is determined to (re)model quarterback Marques Hagans into a drop back passer, the Cavaliers play better when the offense allows Hagans to discern a play's flow so he can then create on the run. The line allows for this, seeing Hagan's choices and then pulling/shifting (very well) as necessary. Punishing rusher Wali Lundy does everything to dispel prior notions of Virginia being a finesse team. Lundy lined up in the slot means trouble for opponents. UVA controls the clock (+2:48 differential in '04), so expect consistency and TOs to be the key variables Hagans has to control to win.

The defense could land many ways, but we predict they will do so on their feet, so to speak. The Cavs will be strong at stopping people. To do so, the team must receive solid production from all four LBs, the strength of this unit. The defensive line has great size and will once again be able to physically disrupt and speed rush. There are still question marks throughout the secondary, but Golden has produced more with less in the past.

Al Groh (30-14 in four years) has overwhelming support percolating through his players and staff, and fields a team with the talent to compete for the new ACC title. Still, Groh must consistently find a way to win the big games unless the Cavaliers want to again finish 5-3 (at best) in conference play. The Cavaliers will likely open the season with four wins, but come October 15 when Virginia welcomes Florida State, character will be tested. Tech and (at) Miami close out, and one of the three will surely fall to the Cavs. This is the year Groh's boys get over the psychological roadblocks to which past squads have bowed.

Projected 2005 record: 8-3
QB - 3.5 DL - 3
RB - 4.5 LB - 4.5
WR - 2.5 DB - 2
OL - 4.5 ..

Passing: Marques Hagans, 261-164-5, 2024 yds., 9 TD

Rushing: Wali Lundy, 175 att., 864 yds., 17 TD

Receiving: Heath Miller, 70 rec., 835 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: Deyon Williams, 19 rec., 261 yds., 1 TD

Punting: Sean Johnson, 32 punts, 35.3 avg.

Kicking: Connor Hughes, 17-24 FG, 42-45 PAT, 93 pts.

Tackles: Ahmad Brooks, 90 tot., 44 solo

Sacks: Ahmad Brooks, 6.5 sacks

Interceptions: Marcus Hamilton, 4 for -2 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Michael Johnson, 23.6 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: None


LB Kai Parham (PHOTO CREDIT - Pete Emerson)
OFFENSE: Alvin Pearman-TB, Michael McGrew-WR, Patrick Estes-TE, Zac Yarbrough-C, Elton Brown-OG, Heath Miller-TE (NFL)
DEFENSE: Andrew Hoffman-NT, Chris Canty-DE, Dennis Haley-OLB, Marquis Weeks-S, Jermaine Hardy-S, Darryl Blackstock-OLB (NFL)

Second-year starter Marques Hagans, a mobile senior with excellent scrambling skills and a powerful arm, Hagans is the key to the Cavaliers' offense. Last season, Hagans' 62.8% completion rate showed us he is the mistake-free QB (5 TDs) the Cavs need to get to the next level. A converted wide receiver and return specialist, Hagans was the team's third-leading rusher, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He is an experienced senior who has seen action in every game the past three years. Though he is undersized at 5-foot-10, his versatility and elusiveness make him a threat any time he is on the field. Backing up Hagans is Notre Dame-transfer Christian Olsen. A strong-armed junior, Olsen gives the Cavaliers a true pocket passer (though he is a former prep triple jumper, so he can go when needed, too). He has seen limited action, but is a capable backup with solid core talents. Opponents need to realize that this offense will work under either guy, so an injury to Hagans could mean trouble if they're not ready for Olsen.

Running Back
For the third straight season the Cavaliers will count on Wali Lundy to carry the ball out of the backfield. A bruising back with deceptive speed, Lundy is a very consistent runner with a nose for the end zone (17 TDs led ACC). He is entering his third season as a starter and has added both size and strength. Lundy is a talented all-around rusher with a punishing style of play, and can pound through the line in short yardage situations. But Lundy needs to get back to his 50+ reception form of 2002 (a mere 12 catches in '04). TB Michael Johnson is a good scat-back who changes the pace with a quick first-step. Fullback Tom Santi will be used more at tight end, opening up playing time for Kevin Bradley, who won't see many carries, but has solid blocking skills.

Despite losing the team's top two receivers from a year ago, Virginia will be in good shape with junior Deyon Williams stepping up as the team's downfield playmaker. With his blazing speed and tall frame, Williams is the team's top deep threat and possess great playmaking ability. An added year of experience greatly helped junior Fontel Mines adjust to the offense, despite missing five games with a broken collarbone. The biggest target in the receiving corps, Mines has solid ability to break opposing coverage. Mines will particularly be used in fade patterns or as a decoy to open space for Williams. Senior (former walk-on) Imhotep Durham's leadership and underneath skills reflect his junior professional chops (prep). Though the Cavaliers' offense doesn't score much through the air, the unit is talented enough to pick up chunks of yardage and move the ball competently.

Tight End
Sophomore Tom Santi is the heir apparent to the starting job (outgoing Heath Miller led team in catches) and will have a bright future ahead of him. Offensive coordinator Ron Prince loves to use the tight end position in his pro-style offense and the young Santi has a proto-type body and proven numbers. Santi started two games at fullback last season as a true freshman and has the ability to block in the rushing game or run the post and catch the ball down field. This position won't skip a beat.

Offensive Line
The Virginia offensive line is a battle-tested unit anchored by three seniors. This seasoned group of veterans paved the way well (9th-ranked running attack, 5.3 yds per carry, 34 ground TDs). In allowing just 16 sacks, they also show they work well (pull well with their mobility) with the elusiveness of Hagans. Seniors D'Brickashaw Ferguson (third-team NC.net all-American) and Brian Barthelmes hold down the left side of the line, while Brad Butler returns to his role at right tackle. The team replaces a veteran at center, but is optimistic about sophomore Jordy Lipsey (rated as nation's top lineman coming in [Max Emfinger, BorderWars.com]). Frosh Eugene Monroe, regarded as this class' top tackle (Rivals.com), will cut his teeth at right guard. Monroe is the only guy over 300, so expect this svelte group to again fit well with what this offense needs - big guys who can regularly get a hat on those quick DEs and LBs (especially on roll outs) while pushing the DTs backwards as the run game dictates.

In his fifth year as offensive coordinator Ron Prince has developed a system (ranked first in ACC, 24th in nation for total offense) that beats teams the old fashioned way - they predictably run the ball (66%), but do it so well they then can succeed with the few passes they try (91st in net passing offense, yet 36th in pass efficiency). With a veteran cast of players leading the way, the Cavaliers again have one of the ACC's most productive offenses. Prince will play to the team's strengths, keeping the ball in the hands of Hagans and workhorse Wali Lundy. Plan to see much of the same in 2005 as Lundy will catch more passes out of the backfield. The receivers are unproven but have the size and talent to make big plays.


OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson (PHOTO CREDIT - Pete Emerson)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Marques Hagans-Sr (5-10,k 211) Christian Olsen-Jr (6-3, 226)
Kevin McCabe-So (6-2, 203)
FB Jason Snelling-Jr (5-11, 245) Kevin Bradley-So (6-1, 220)
TB Wali Lundy-Sr (5-10, 214) Michael Johnson-Jr (5-9, 192)
WR Deyon Williams-Jr (6-3, 188) Theirrien Davis-So (5-11, 182)
Ottawa Anderson-Sr (6-0, 186)
WR Fontel Mines-Jr (6-4, 222) Ron Morton-Jr (6-1, 185)
Imhotep Durham-Sr (5-11, 168)
TE Jonathan Stuper-So (6-3, 250) Tom Santi-So (6-5, 225)
OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson-Sr (6-5, 295) Zak Stair-Fr (6-6, 280)
OG Brian Barthelmes-Sr (6-6, 288) D.J. Bell-Jr (6-3, 297)
C Ian-Yates Cunningham-So (6-3, 296) Jordy Lipsey-So (6-3, 266)
OG Marshal Ausberry-So (6-5, 324) Gordie Sammis-Jr (6-4, 296)
OT Brad Butler-Sr (6-8, 296) Eddie Pinigis-So (6-7, 290)
K Connor Hughes-Sr (5-10, 172) ..



Defensive Line
Senior Brennan Schmidt is a fourth year starter and hasn't missed a game since arriving in Charlottesville. He isn't a stat-monger, but he's a consistent end who puts solid pressure on opposing QBs and doesn't miss tackles. In the defensive middle, oft-penetrating NT Keenan Carter will start after 10 games as a freshman show he is worthy. In their 3-4 base, Carter is being counted on to contribute early and be the run-stopper his team needs in the middle. The Cavalier coaches expect improvement from returning starter Chris Johnson. He thrives in the defense's nickel package but has had a drop off in other schemes. Son of football great Howie Long, end Chris Long has added muscle and will play extended stints. Part-time starter Kwakou Robinson (327lbs. and a DE who can play the middle also) will add depth with highly-touted incoming rush end Olu Hall. Like their offensive side, Virginia's DL is quick and lateral-moving, getting into foes' backfields as well as they shut off the outside. Again ranking as high as 24th may be a stretch, but they will be effective as promised.

The good news for the defense is that juniors Ahmad Brooks and Kai Parham will once again occupy the inside linebacker positions in the team's 3-4 scheme. The duo combines as one of the finest inside tandems in all I-A ball (top two tacklers for the Cavs). Brooks (NC.net first-team all-American) is a dynamic pass rusher who is seemingly in on all tackles. Bringing the speed off the edge is sophomore Jermaine Dias, who's role increases greatly, but should be amply up to the task. After seeing action in every game as a freshman, 6'6" Vince Redd, too, is ready for an extended role at the outside (covers TEs and backs well). Helping out this emerging front three is already built into how the 3-4 functions, so expect this group to concentrate on dropping back to aid the decimated secondary (see below).

Defensive Back
The Virginia secondary is young, boasting only one full-time returning starter. The good news is junior cornerback Tony Franklin will have a breakout season. A second-year starter, he can cover one-on-one, as well as tackle with authority. The bad news for the Cavaliers is the team will allow more yards through the air and won't be nearly as effective in dime packages. At the other corner, Phillip Brown played in 10 games as a true freshman, but still needs time to develop (nickel package and special teams). His upside of team impact will be tremendous once sharp. Junior Marcus Hamilton was a part-time starter until losing his job to Brown. Hamilton gambles too often (though his four INTs led Cavs), and needs to keep play in front of his raw skills instead of going for INTs. Newbie Mike Brown will help to ground foes in nickel/dime sets. As for the safeties, these positions are the team's biggest question marks. Much of the defense's success will hinge on a number of inexperienced candidates. Like many opposing receivers will be, the starting jobs are wide open. Names to watch are huge-hitting, 6'6" Lance Evans and multi-dimensional (strong at CB, too) sophomore Nate Lyles. The talent is here, and we expect it to live up to its potential by mid-season, at the latest.

Virginia was consistent in holding opponents to just 17.7 points last season, but the defense still yielded an average of over 300 yards per game. The defense has both size and speed, especially up front and that is where the team must take control. The Cavaliers have, and will, respond better in nickel packages - with an inexperienced secondary, the Cavaliers will still find a way to take away the run with these solid-tackling DBs. Defensive coordinator Al Golden has constructed the ACC's third best scoring defense by using an aggressive style of blitzing and coverage focused on not giving up the big play - keeping the ball/play in front of them. The defense will allow the mid-range yardage, but has been consistent in limiting the long ball. There won't be too many changes to the defense. However, expect this unit to gel quickly and be amongst the nation's best (14th last campaign) for total yardage again.


LB Ahmad Brooks (PHOTO CREDIT - Pete Emerson)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Brennan Schmidt-Sr (6-3, 269) Chris Long-So (6-4, 265)
NT Keenan Carter-So (6-1, 324) Melvin Massey-Sr (6-1, 267)
DE Chris Johnson-So (6-3, 275) Kwakou Robinson-Sr (6-4, 327)
OLB Jermaine Dias-So (6-1, 231) Devonta Brown-Fr (6-2, 225)
ILB Ahmad Brooks-Jr (6-4, 249) Mark Miller-Sr (6-0, 222)
ILB Kai Parham-Jr (6-3, 247) Bryan White-Sr (6-1, 241)
OLB Clint Sintim-Fr (6-3, 250) Vince Redd-So (6-6, 265)
CB Marcus Hamilton-Jr (5-11, 191) Philip Brown-So (5-11, 188)
CB Tony Franklin-Jr (5-10, 185) Chris Gorman-So (6-0, 175)
S Lance Evans-Jr (6-4, 198) Jamaal Jackson-So (6-3, 204)
S Nate Lyles-So (6-0, 195) ..
P Chris Gould-So (6-1, 190) Sean Johnson-Jr (6-1, 190)




In his third year starting, Connor Hughes is one of the leading kickers in Virginia history. His 45 career field goals are second all-time, but going 3-of-8 from 40+ in 2004 means his (lack of) leg will likely cost the Cavs at some time. Handling the kickoffs is reliable senior Kurt Smith.

The punting chores are sophomore Chris Gould's to lose. Gould started the final three games of the season and averaged 40.5 yards on 14 tries, though junior Sean Johnson started the season, so there is proven depth. But the coverage (finished 116th out of 117 I-A teams in net results) is where the defensive depth will give UVA better field-position security.

Return Game
With Virginia losing its kickoff and punt returner, speedster Michael Johnson has a full plate this season. Kick runbacks will be his forte again, and keep your eyes peeled for which speedy newcomer gets the nod on punts. Johnson could see action here too if the youth doesn't give that much-needed spark these returns need. Field position is vital to a team that runs like the Cavs do, so expect the teams win total to suffer if these areas (and kicking) aren't shorn up.