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Top 25 Countdown: No. 10 Virginia - TSN - Doug Doherty


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Top 25 Countdown: No. 10 Virginia

July 21, 2003 Print it

Doug Doughty

For Sporting News

Top 25 Countdown

This is only a glimpse of the analysis provided by Sporting News' 2003 College Football Preview. To read the full article, purchase a copy from your local newsstand or order online.

Offensive philosophy

The Cavaliers featured the West Coast offense in the two seasons Bill Musgrave was their offensive coordinator. After Musgrave was introduced in January as the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Virginia coach Al Groh deliberated for a month before promoting Ron Prince, the Cavaliers' offensive line coach the last two years. Prince will retain responsibility for the offensive line, with receivers coach Mike Groh adding quarterbacks to his responsibilities.

Al Groh hasn't indicated who will call plays -- he might do it himself -- but there haven't been major changes in the playbook. If the Cavaliers run the ball more, some will attribute that to the change in coordinators, but chances are the Cavaliers would have become more run-oriented under Musgrave. For the first time in Groh's tenure, Virginia has size and experience on the offensive line.

Virginia schedule

Aug. 30 -- Duke

Sept. 6 -- at South Carolina

Sept. 13 -- at W. Michigan

Sept. 27 -- Wake Forest

Oct. 4 -- at North Carolina

Oct. 11 -- at Clemson

Oct. 18 -- Florida State

Oct. 25 -- Troy State

Nov. 1 -- at NC State

Nov. 13 -- at Maryland

Nov. 22 -- Georgia Tech

Nov. 29 -- Virginia Tech

Strength of schedule

Conference: 5

Nation: 55

Defensive philosophy

When Groh arrived at Virginia, his 3-4 defense was the exception at the college level. An increasing number of teams have gone to the 3-4, several in the ACC, and it particularly suits a Cavaliers team that should continue to be strong at linebacker.

Al Golden, a former Penn State recruiting coordinator who was wooed to Virginia by increased on-field responsibility, is in the third year of coordinating the defense. Early on, he was implementing a scheme that had been successful for Groh and his longtime NFL colleague Bill Belichick. If Al Groh calls the plays on offense, Golden is likely to have more autonomy with a defensive staff that has not changed since its arrival.

Game of the year

The Cavaliers play four of their last six games at home, starting with a Florida State team that floundered late in 2002 but has won 11 of 12 games vs. the Cavs. After trips to South Carolina, North Carolina and Clemson in the first half of the season, UVa could use a victory over FSU to build momentum for the home stretch.

Bottom line

Groh isn't blind to the statistics that show the Cavaliers were 80th in total offense and 100th in total defense in Division I-A last season. Those numbers are more consistent with a team that finishes eighth in its league than a team that has attracted top 25 consideration for the 2003 season.

Penn State has come off Virginia's schedule, and Western Michigan and Troy State have been added, but the Cavaliers will have six road games and must visit NC State and Maryland, two teams that were playing as well as Virginia at the end of last season. Virginia also must travel to North Carolina, where it rarely wins, and Clemson.

Clearly, this is the most talented team in Groh's three years at his alma mater, and it will not have any glaring weaknesses if it develops a go-to receiver.

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