2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia's 2012 Season Was About as Tumultuous as They Come; But Is There Hope on the Horizon?

Virginia’s 2012 Season Was About as Tumultuous as They Come; But Is There Hope on the Horizon?

Team: Virginia Cavaliers

W-L: 4-8 (2-6)

Postseason: None

Top Offensive Performer: Oday Aboushi, OT

Top Defensive Performer: Steve Greer, LB

Coming off a breakout 2011 season, and another big recruiting class, Mike London’s Virginia team was poised to take the leap in 2012; or so many thought. Rather than progression, what the Hoos saw this past fall was a severe regression. Not only was the team’s win total cut in half when compared to the year before, but a squad that appeared built on continuity was suddenly in a tumultuous state. The Cavaliers’ secondary — as young as expected, took nearly two months to truly get their acts together. The running game, a formidable two-back system, was suddenly as unproductive as they come. And most glaring was the quarterback issue which would shape every narrative for Virginia, from August, all the way through the final, excruciating loss.

One would assume the thought process when bringing in Alabama QB transfer Phillip Sims was that he’d sit this season before taking the reigns in 2013. With returning starter Michael Rocco at the helm, that route seemed to make the most sense — until Sims was granted a waiver allowing him to suit up this season. With a quarterback controversy brewing, Rocco held onto the job, but never quite stopped looking over his shoulder, and the results were mostly hazardous. Thought the UVA passing game would finish a very respectable 37th in the FBS (in terms of yardage), it sorely lacked for efficiency or success. Rocco and Sims combined for 15 interceptions on the season (93rd in the country) and both passers’ accuracy turned out a staggered curve of inconsistency. For each game Rocco would have like the 41-40 upset of Miami (in which he threw for four scores), he’d have another like the 27-7 loss to TCU (126 passing yards, 2 INTs). And with so much riding on quarterback play, the ground game suffered as well. Regularly faced with dire straits, or simply two quarterbacks splitting snaps for the same job, their strong run game was suddenly pass-first. UVA was 98th in the country in both overall carries (417) and yards per game (128.5), and this with two highly skilled backs in Kevin Parks and Perry Jones. While no one would call them a high-flying group in 2011 (23.8 points per game), 2012 was absolutely dreadful from a scoring standpoint (22.8 points per game) — especially without a strong defense to bail them out.

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ACC Football Power Rankings: Week Nine

Florida State Defeats Miami, Referee Issues and Remains Atop the Power Rankings

Yet another crazy weekend of ACC football, and we still find ourselves no closer to figuring out who’ll be playing in Charlotte for the league championship. The one thing we may be getting a handle on, though? Who is NOT playing in that game. And if eventually that list allows us to fill out the who IS list, then so be it (pray this isn’t what actually happens). Jimbo Fisher’s team deserves to be on top of these rankings, but I’m scared he’d have me suspended if that weren’t the case…

1. Florida State Seminoles (7-1) (4-1) (LW: 1): Never a good thing to hear your best running back is out for the season (again). But when you’re Florida State, you’ve got two more great options ready to go. Referees aside, the ‘Noles looked sloppy for a good portion of their Saturday night matchup with Miami — something that should concern them since the ‘Canes have no defense to speak of. It’s fine if EJ Manuel‘s taking more risks, but he must also keep the rest of the offense focused. Those fumbles were unforgivable, and could cause some real damage against a better team.

2. Clemson Tigers (6-1) (3-1) (LW: 2): The story of the game somehow ended up being the Tigers’ defense, which forced four turnovers and scored a touchdown of its own against Virginia Tech. So was this the turning point Brent Venables seemed to promise when he took over as defensive coordinator? Perhaps, though let’s give it a few more games. The Hokies’ offense has been putrid all season, and Clemson’s had their number these past two seasons. Still, it’s something they can potentially build off of.

3. NC State Wolfpack (5-2) (2-1) (LW: 4): State got very lucky at the end of this weekend’s game, due to a missed field goal — so don’t mistake their one-spot promotion as a ringing endorsement. But nonetheless, this is a Woflpack team that seems to know how to get the job done in crunch time. After their respective rocky starts, both Mike Glennon and David Amerson may have finally turned things around. The biggest issue now is how they’ll get by over the course of the season if they can’t run the ball.

4. Duke Blue Devils (6-2) (3-1) (LW: 7): Make no mistake about it, this Duke team is a legitimate threat to win the down-and-out Coastal division after their big comeback the other night. While there are certainly some kinks still to work out, this is a group that came into its own on that final 87-yard touchdown drive, and now look prepared for anything. That theory will be put to the test immediately against FSU this coming weekend. All eyes will be on Sean Renfree and how he reacts to the constant pressure the ‘Noles bring on D.

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ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 8: North Carolina Tar Heels Defense

Following an Upset Loss to Duke, North Carolina’s Defense is the ACC Goat of the Week for Week 8

No one enjoys piling on when things go wrong. But nonetheless, we’ve got to call out the ACC players who were counter-productive in helping their teams grab a victory this weekend. On the bright side for them, they can always get off this list next week. And for their sake, let’s hope they do.

ACC Goat of the Week, Week 8: North Carolina Tar Heels Defense

Up to this point, North Carolina’s defensive numbers have been deceptive; the result of two poor opponents getting shut out as a means to lower their points-per-game allowed. On Saturday, though, the Heels were exposed. Duke, whose run game ranks among the worst in the nation, posted 234 yards on the ground. Coupled with the Blue Devils’ typically strong passing attack, UNC’s D was lit up for 510 yards in total. They were beat the entire game, and if not for Carolina’s offense mounting a strong comeback in the fourth, the difference in this one would become much more obvious. Though in a nutshell, the game comes down to that very last drive by Duke. Getting the ball at their own 13, they drove 87 yards in 14 plays over two minutes and 59 seconds. The final play, a converted fourth-and-two, showed Blue Devils’ QB Sean Renfree a wide-open Jamsion Crowder in the end zone for the go-ahead score. During the drive, Renfree had no trouble finding receivers at all, going 8-for-11, for 79 yards passing — an utter failure on UNC’s part.

Honorable Mention:

Logan Thomas, QB/Virginia Tech (306 total yards, 53.6-percent passing, 2 TD, 2 INT)

Kevin Parks/Perry Jones, RBs/Virginia (32 combined rushing yards, 2 lost fumbles)

Boston College run defense (391 rushing yards, 4 rushing TD allowed)

Andre Williams, RB/Boston College (51 rushing yards, 2 fumbles, 1 lost)

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ACC Football 2012 Midseason Recap: Coastal Division

After a Big Comeback Win This Weekend, Has Virginia Tech Righted the Ship?

At the midway point in the 2012 season, little is decided in the ACC. Neither division has a clear frontrunner, no team is assured a trip to the postseason and no team has clinched a bowl spot either. Nonetheless, it’s been an entertaining season within the conference — something we’ll try to highlight here. Along with evaluations for each team, we’ll be providing brief predictions for the second half as well.

Below is the Coastal division midseason evaluation. Also be sure to check out the Atlantic division recap too, which appeared earlier.

Duke Blue Devils (5-2) (2-1): The Blue Devils have been one of the nation’s biggest and best surprise stories thus far, getting themselves within one victory of their first bowl appearance since 1994. Though they’ve had a strong passing game in past seasons behind Sean Renfree and Conner Vernon, what’s set this group apart is that its paired with a staunch defense. Or at least it was, up until this past weekend. For as much as everyone has happily jumped aboard the Duke bandwagon, we all seemed to sweep their poor strength of schedule under the rug. It’s come back to bite them against both Stanford and Virginia Tech, which leads us to the more difficult second half of the season. With no sure wins left on the slate, they’ll have to catch lightning in a bottle just one more time to get themselves to the six-victory plateau. If they fail to, this will be biggest failure of all, in Duke’s two decades of ineptitude.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-4) (1-3): We transition from the shock of Duke’s success, to the surprise of Georgia Tech’s failure. With 2012 championed as “the year” this particular group of Yellow Jackets turned the corner and took the Coastal division as their own, it’s been nothing short of dumbfounding to see them fall so flat. And we can’t even sit here and blame Paul Johnson’s triple-option (though make no mistake, it’s a factor here too) for their futility. Rather, it’s been all about the defense, which has allowed over 30 points per game (about 36 per, if you only count FBS opponents). Since he’s fired Al Groh, Johnson’s remaining excuse is gone, however. If they fail to deliver against a manageable final six games, we could see the end of an era at Tech.

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ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 2: Mike Glennon, NC State

After Another Poor Outing — This Time Against UConn — NC State QB Mike Glennon is This Week’s Goat

No one enjoys piling on when things go wrong. But nonetheless, we’ve got to call out the ACC players who were counter-productive in helping their teams grab a victory this weekend. On the bright side for them, they can always get off this list next week. And for their sake, let’s hope they do.

ACC Goat of the Week, Week 2: Mike Glennon, QB/NC State

A member of the Woflpack occupies this spot for a second straight week. And while the team did manage to pull off a win against Connecticut on Saturday, it was accomplished without any credit due to its offense. For the second straight week, they struggled to get things going in the rushing or passing game, with the onus falling squarely on their senior leader and QB, Glennon. His meager 15-for-30 performance, which netted just 204 yards and a touchdown, were among the worst numbers he’s put up since taking over as the starter last season. No, he’s not the only reason NC State has underperformed through two games. But if they hope to get themselves out of whatever slide they’re in, it’ll have to be with Glennon guiding the way and putting up points.

Honorable Mention:

Miami Hurricanes defensive line (allowed 288 yards rushing, en route to 52 points against)

Duke offensive line (allowed two sacks, but team rushed for just 27 yards, QBs under pressure all night)

Kevin Parks/Perry Jones, RB/Virginia (17 attempts, 40 yards total, 0 TD)

Josh Harris, RB/Wake Forest (21 attempts, 40 yards, 1 TD)

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ACC Football Preview 2012: Preseason Offensive Unit Rankings

Even Without Sammy Watkins for Two Games, Clemson Should Have the ACC’s Top Offense

We’re literally one day (and some hours) away from the start of the 2012 season, so obviously, we’re rolling out tons of arbitrarily ranked lists to peruse before kickoff. The focus of this list? Every ACC offense. Along with the ranked list, we’ll provide some background to legitimize said arbitrary ranking. Don’t agree with us? Voice your opinion in the comment section.

Want more lists? Be sure to check out the defensive and coaching rankings set to be posted later on today!

ACC Offensive Unit Rankings (Preseason)

1. Clemson Tigers: Clemson has lost very little on offense, after putting up nearly 34 points per game last year. If they manage to pick up the pace even further this year, and survive the first two games without Sammy Watkins, it should be a wild ride.

2. North Carolina Tar Heels: Installing the spread for an already-potent attack, new head coach Larry Fedora is excited about the possibilities. QB Bryn Renner should excel, and it will be interesting to watch how star halfback Giovani Bernard defines his role in the new formation, too.

3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: The ‘Wreck will once again sport their lethal triple-option, with more capable backs than I can ever recall. A-back Orwin Smith should shoulder a good deal of the load, along with QB Tevin Washington, en route to another season averaging over 300 yards per game on the ground.

4. Florida State Seminoles: Beyond QB EJ Manuel, it’s still uncertain who the primary weapons will be for the ‘Noles, but collectively, there’s just too much talent available for them to fail. With an easier schedule, they should be able to surpass last year’s average of 30 points per game with little difficulty.

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ACC 2012 Season Preview: Virginia Cavaliers

Does Michael Rocco Have What It Takes to Lead Virginia, or Will He Lose the QB Battle to Phillip Sims?

Team: Virginia Cavaliers

2011 W-L: 8-5 (5-3)

Head Coach: Mike London (12-13; third season)

Returning Starters: 12 (7 Offense, 5 Defense)

Mike London’s Virginia team surprised the conference last year, winning eight games on the backs of a veteran defense that ranked in the top five (in the ACC) against both the run and pass. Now, the question begs how they’re going to top that. So far this offseason, it appears they’re well on their way. Landing Alabama QB transfer Phillip Sims was huge, and getting him eligibility for this season was enormous (despite the ensuing/ongoing drama as a result). The biggest coup, however, may be what Mike London’s done in the recruiting game. As of last night, the Hoos are in uncharted waters — pulling down a top-20 class — and continuing to make waves. But will that momentum reflect at all on the field this year? That’s still up for debate.

For all the good will surrounding the program coming off last year’s over-achievement, there are still tons of question marks to be addressed. And of course, they start at quarterback. Last year, starter Michael Rocco was efficient enough, throwing for 2,600 yards and 13 touchdowns. Without Sims, he’s firmly entrenched as a team leader and returning starter. But with him, there’s a lingering doubt that he’ll be able to get things done. If you look at his game-by-game progression from last year, you see a quarterback that grew into his role and delivered consistent — though average — numbers, with upward spikes for a few impressive performances. What’s alarming, though, is his performance against quicker, more blitz-heavy defenses. In those games (I count five), the team went 1-4, with Rocco four TDs to six interceptions. At the collegiate level, Sims may not be a proven commodity, but in high school, the quarterback made a living under pressure and while not a “running QB,” he does know how to move his feet. Sims may not know the offense yet, but once he does, there may be a greater conversation to be had here, all dependent on Rocco’s results.

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