In less than two weeks the Cavaliers open their season at home.
The Wahoos will welcome the Spiders from the University of Richmond to Scott Stadium when they open their season two Saturdays from now. This game is full of story lines. Let’s explore a few of them.
First there are the coaches. Virginia head coach Mike London spent the last two years in the same position at Richmond. He led the Spiders to the FCS national title in 2008. He’s obviously familiar with the opponent his team will face week 1. But he wasn’t the only coach to make the trip down Interstate 64. In fact, I-64 is becoming worn with coaches changing schools and teams traveling to play each other. Richmond head coach Latrell Scott was the wide receivers coach at UVA last year. He also brought Wayne Lineburg to be his offensive coordinator and Bob Trott to be his defensive coordinator, both of whom were coaches on UVA’s staff last year. London has two former NFL coaches at his coordinator spots.
This will be at least the third year in a row that Virginia has opened their season against a CAA opponent. I am very familiar with the CAA, as the school I attended, James Madison University, is a member of the CAA. Two years ago UVA opened at home against Richmond and last year they hosted William & Mary.
The ACC-CAA games are becoming quite a series. Last year there were four such games and the conferences split them, and really they were one JMU-holding-a-lead away from it being 3-1 CAA. This should not be happening. Theoretically the ACC schools should be rolling over the CAA. Last year Boston College smoked Northeastern. My beloved JMU Dukes blew a touchdown lead late in the fourth quarter and lost to Maryland in overtime, 38-35. Richmond beat Duke in a close game. And William & Mary beat Virginia. Virginia lost that game 26-14 and as I, an eyewitness to the disaster, can attest, W&M should have won that game 50-14. It wasn’t close.
Two years ago, when UVA opened against Richmond, the ‘Hoos won 16-0. It was totally uninspiring though. UVA had a 3-0 lead from the middle of the first quarter until the middle of the fourth when they finally got it together and put the game away.
Needless to say, UVA’s showings in their opening games against CAA opponents have been less than impressive.
But on to this year’s game. What can we expect? Well, Mike London figured he would have to prepare for quarterback Aaron Corp, he’ll just have to do it one week early. The Richmond quarterback transferred from Southern Cal, the ‘Hoos week 2 opponent. He is allowed to play immediately because he stepped down a level from FBS to FCS. The sixth-ranked (in FCS) Spiders have one of the best receiving corps in the CAA and now have a QB that can sling the ball to them. Ras-I Dowling and the rest of the Virginia defense might have their hands full with them, but should be able to handle them.
The Richmond defense actually has a chance to keep the UVA offense in check. The Spiders have three players, D-lineman Martin Parker, linebacker Eric McBride, and corner Justin Rogers, on the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year) watch list. That is talent on each level of the defense. The ‘Hoos have experience or depth at all of the skill positions on offense. This will be an interesting battle.
Hopefully the depth will make the difference. That is usually the difference in when the FBS plays the FCS. In general, the most talented players on and FCS team could play for an FBS team but FCS teams don’t have the talent up and down their rosters. Virginia should be able to exploit match-ups on offense by rotating their running backs and keeping fresh legs on the field and using multiple receivers to force Richmond into using their 3rd and 4th defensive backs. The Spiders might have one good corner, but I doubt they have four. The ‘Hoos need to do the same thing on defense. They need to rotate d-linemen and tire the Spiders’ o-line. The best unit on the team is the defensive backfield and they need to match-up with Richmond’s receivers and fatigue them.
If they do these things the ‘Hoos can wear Richmond down and force them to make mistakes, mistakes that they could turn into points.
About the Author
Written by Gabriel Rodriguez
Born in Germany, early childhood in NYC, raised in the D.C. area, currently reside in Charlottesville, VA. Big fan of the NY Giants and San Antonio Spurs.