Bold prediction: UVA football will be a bowl-bound in 2015

UVaHelmet_1The writers have UVA football pegged to finish last in the ACC Coastal Division. The Cavs won’t be that bad, and in fact, they should be a bowl team.

There’s just too much talent on the two-deep. Bottom line.

I ran the numbers from the Rivals recruiting database from the four most recent recruiting classes – 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

It’s not a perfect science. There are still some players from the class of 2011 in the mix (UVA has Ross Burbank and Tre Nicholson among its contributors from 2011), and teams including the ‘Hoos have lost some guys from its recent classes to transfer and the NFL.

That said, it’s probably fair to assume that the losses to transfer and the NFL and the gains from redshirting cancel each other out.

Here’s how the ACC breaks down based on that analysis:

  • Florida State 9701 points
  • Clemson 8630 points
  • Miami 7733 points
  • Virginia Tech 6788 points
  • North Carolina 5768 points
  • Virginia 5610 points
  • Louisville 5230 points
  • NC State 5209 points
  • Pitt 4893 points
  • Georgia Tech 4292 points
  • Wake Forest 4144 points
  • Boston College 4099 points
  • Duke 4074 points
  • Syracuse 3935 points

There are a couple of clear lines of demarcation among the teams. Florida State and Clemson are far and above the most talented teams in the league, from the recruiting numbers, and that has been borne out by their recent successes on the field.

Miami is a surprising third in the recruiting numbers, which is where the Hurricanes were last year, and when you look at the accumulation of talent in South Florida, it’s no wonder why Al Golden is on the hot seat.

Georgia Tech is the trendy pick to win the Coastal this season, after taking the division last year, but the Yellow Jackets are a distant 10th in the aggregate four-year recruiting numbers. Paul Johnson does more with what appears to be less.

Which brings us to Virginia. I did a similar rendering of the ACC this time last year, and the Cavs had the fifth-best accumulation of talent by this measure. Also picked last year to finish dead last in the Coastal, I made the bold prediction that UVA would instead go 8-4.

As we all know, the ‘Hoos basically split the difference, finishing 5-7, leaving at least two games on the table (late losses to North Carolina and Virginia Tech), and being in the fourth quarter of every game but the 35-10 loss at Georgia Tech.

The aggregate recruiting numbers would again suggest an 8-4 or at worst a 7-5 finish for Virginia, as an above-average ACC team.

The difficult schedule – OK, the nation’s most difficult non-conference schedule, plus a run through the rugged ACC Coastal – can dial those expectations back a bit. But, hey, Notre Dame, Boise State, Duke, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech have to travel to Charlottesville.

UCLA, the opener, on the road, has to break in a new starting quarterback, and the Bruins never did figure out what UVA was doing defensively last year with Heisman candidate Brett Hundley running the show.

It’s doable. It’s a challenge. Mike London has to learn how to manage in-game situations better. Fans have to hope that the new starting quarterback, Matt Johns, does better than his most recent predecessors. The defense has to overcome some key losses to graduation and the NFL against a tough early-season schedule.

The talent is there. That’s a good place to start.

– Column by Chris Graham


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