In 2019, the Cavaliers managed to not only end a 15 -game losing streak to rival Virginia Tech, but also found themselves winning their first-ever ACC Coastal Division title.
Sadly though, that fairy tale story has ended and we are in 2020, so back to reality and back to the not so winning Cavaliers football.
With the Cavaliers not even taking the practice field before the COVID-19 shutdown, the Cavaliers have a lot of work to do to prepare themselves for their season opener against Georgia.
Virginia Cavaliers 2020 schedule (projected 7-5, 4-4 ACC) – *BOLD is projected wins
Sept. 7 vs. Georgia (In Atlanta)
Sept. 12 VMI
Sept. 19 Connecticut
Sept. 26 at Clemson
Oct. 3 North Carolina
Oct. 17 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 24 at Old Dominion
Oct. 31 Miami
Nov. 7 Louisville
Nov. 13 at Duke
Nov. 21 Pittsburgh
Nov. 28 Virginia Tech
The Cavaliers are going to go from an explosive Bryce Perkins who completed 319 of 495 passes, for 3,530 yards, 22 TDs and 12 INTs in 2019 (17-10 career record for Virginia, 6,218 passing yards, 1,692 rushing yards and 67 total TDs) to an unproven Brennan Armstrong. Armstrong was 15 of 20 for 196 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs in 2019.
The Cavaliers are giving up an explosive dual-threat quarterback and shifting to a more traditional quarterback. With seven players returning that started on the line last year and the return of their top running back, things aren’t as bad as they could have been.
RB Wayne Taulapapa is expected to have more of a work load with Perkins no longer at quarterback, running the ball. Taulapapa had 114 rushes for 473 yards (4.1 ypc) and 12 TDs. Taulapapa should expect to touch the ball at least 50 more times this year and the Cavaliers expect to see him around the 1,000 yard club.
The Cavaliers are returning 15 players from last season that got to see playing time. Five of the defenses top seven pass rushers return. From a defense that shattered school records for sacks with 46, along with 99 tackles for loss.
The strength of this defense is their linebackers. Senior OLB Charles Snowden (five sacks, 11 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hurries) will lead this defense this year. Senior ILB Zane Zandier will cause havoc with his inside pass rush (five sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss). Then to cap it all off, Junior OLB Noah Taylor (seven sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss) will bring his domination and sacking presence back for another season, giving the cavaliers one of the deadliest linebacker groups in the ACC, possibly the entire FBS.
A secondary full of injuries in 2019, is now more ready than ever in 2020. Understudies for themselves in starting roles during the second half of the season, giving them the experience they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise and the experience they needed to step into 2020 ready to play.
K Brian Delaney is expected to be the best kicker out of the ACC. Delaney was 83% accurate last year, hitting 4 of 5 from 40 to 49 yards. P Nash Griffin (41.9-yard-average) is expected to return for another season.
The Cavaliers are feeling good about themselves after what they accomplished last season, they should. With the departure of QB Bryce Perkins and key WRs, this Cavalier team will have an upward battle all season long. With a lot of returning pieces to this defense, it keeps them above .500 and the games close, but not enough to take the ACC two seasons in a row.