Virginia: Countdown to Kickoff 2013



Redshirt sophomore QB David Watford is prepared to take the reins as the Cavaliers open their season against visiting BYU on Aug. 31 … Watford sat out all of the 2012 season … In 2011, as Michael Rocco's backup, Watford completed 30 of 74 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns, with four interceptions … He ran 21 times for 42 yards as well … The Cavaliers' starting offensive tackles are 6-6, 335-pound Morgan Moses and 6-6, 300-pound sophomore Jay Whitmire … Moses, who started at right tackle last season, switched to the left side in the spring, replacing Oday Aboushi, now a rookie with the NFL's Jets … After starting at right offensive guard in 2011, Luke Bowanko moved to center last season. The emergence of redshirt freshman Jackson Matteo at center during spring practice this year allowed the coaching staff to move Bowanko to left guard heading into this season … WR Tim Smith is the only senior in the Cavaliers' receiving corps … Smith enters the season with 71 career catches for 1,202 yards and nine TDs.

Numbers & Notes

2 - Virginia added a pair of familiar faces to its coaching staff in the off-season as Tom O’Brien, a former head coach at Boston College and NC State and a longtime UVa assistant to George Welsh, and Jon Tenuta, a well-respected defensive assistant  at Virginia, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and NC State and a former UVa football standout, joined head coach Mike London’s staff.

4th - Virginia senior offensive tackle Morgan Moses was named to Phil Steele’s All-America 4th team in his  preseason football magazine.

8.00 - In his five seasons as a head coach,  including two at Richmond and three at UVa, Virginia’s Mike London has averaged 8.0 wins per year with a 40-26 overall record (.606)

15 - Junior CB Demetrious Nicholson did not have a pass interception in 2012, but the speedy defender had 15 pass deflections, the second-highest total in the ACC. Nicholson averaged 1.25 pass defended per game, ranking 5th in the conference. Nicholson earned Honorable Mention all-ACC honors last fall by both ACSMA and the ACC Coaches.

79 - Virginia’s four returning starting offensive linemen--T Morgan Moses, Gs Sean Cascarano and Conner Davis and C Luke Bowanko (who moved to guard in the spring)--have combined for 79 career starts, fourth-most among ACC returnees for this year.

2012 In Review
Sometimes you have to take a small step back to take a step forward, and Virginia, after posting an 8-5 record and reaching the Chick-fil-A bowl in 2011,  just  Mike London’s second season, then suffered four losses by a combined total of 22 points (5.5 avg.) en route to a 4-8 record and 2-6 finish in the ACC’s Coastal Division in 2012... The Cavaliers were plagued by inconsistency on offense and  special teams and a deleterious turnover margin (110th nationally)...An unsettled quarterback situation did not help as well, as junior Michael Rocco started 8 games, opening the season and closing the year as the starter, with Alabama sophomore transfer Phillip Sims starting 4 games in the middle of the year... Those items hid an improving defensive unit which finished 28th nationally in total defense and  allowed just 305 yards per game over the final half of the season... T Oday Aboushi led an offensive line that improved as the season wore on and was named first-team All-ACC as was LB Steve Greer (Coaches)... CB Demetrious Nicholson and LB LaRoy Reynolds were named Honorable Mention All-ACC.

Who’s Gone
Virginia loses 21 lettermen including 9 starters. four each on offense and defense, as well as PK Drew Jarrett. Defensively, the Cavaliers lose big play LBs LaRoy Reynolds and Steve Greer, DE Ausar Walcott and DT Will Hill. On offense, UVa loses Aboushi, versatile TB Perry Jones, TE Paul Freedman and QBs Rocco, who decided to transfer to FCS member Richmond, and Sims, who will be ineligible this fall and will also transfer. Virginia also had a number of staff changes at season’s end including replacing defensive coordinator Jim Reid with Jon Tenuta and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who returned to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, with Steve Fairchild. Also, former longtime UVa assistant as well as BC and NC State head coach, Tom O’Brien returns to Charlottesville as Associate Head Coach for Offense, while Larry Lewis joins the staff to oversee special teams play.

2013 Preview
The prime spring priority, in addition to adapting to new schemes on offense and defense, was settling on a starting quarterback...That final decision will have to wait until this fall as sophomore David Watford and redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert ended spring in a close competition for the job...Lambert is more of a classic drop-back passer while Watford is a pass-run threat...Whomever emerges as the starter will have a bevy of veteran targets to throw to in WRs Darius Jennings, Tim Smith, Dominique Terrell and E.J. Scott and TE Jake McGee, who combined for 163 catches for 2,212 yards and 17 TDs...Junior TB Kevin Parks (734 yds) also returns as does backup Khalek Shepherd...The line also features experience led by a pair of potential all-star candidates in massive senior T Morgan Moses and LG Luke Bowanko. Senior Sean Cascarano moves to RT from G, with redshirt freshman Jackson Matteo starting at center and sophomore Jay Whitmire ending spring as the starter at RT...G Conner Davis, who missed spring practice due to injury, is a fourth returning starter who will figure in the fall...On defense, the Cavaliers will be transitioning to Tenuta’s more attacking scheme in hopes of improving the tackles for loss (77th nationally) and QB sacks (98th) from a year ago. ..Senior Jake Snider and sophomore Eli Harold are likely starters at DE, with seniors Brent Urban and sophomore David Dean at defensive tackle...Juniors Henry Coley (MLB) and Daquan Romero (WLB) ended spring as starters at linebacker along with sophomore Demeitre Brim (SLB) with junior D.J. Hill, sophmore Kwontie Moore and redshirt freshman Mark Hall in reserve...The secondary looks to be improved with five who started in 2012 returning led by Nicholson, Maurice Canady and Drequan Hoskey at CB, joined by SS Brandon Phelps and FS Anthony Harris..Junior P Alex Vozenilek (40.6) returns with sophomore Ian Frye the spring leader for the placekicking chores.