As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Heather and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. We are almost done with our trip through the conference. Next up to open camp ...
Predicted finish at media days: Fourth, Coastal Division.
Biggest storyline: Can Virginia keep up the momentum from its 8-5 season? Coach Mike London has probably been asked that question 1,000 different ways since last season ended, but inquiring minds want to know. If Virginia won eight games last season, what does that mean for this season? London has maintained throughout the offseason that there is plenty to build off, and what his players learned most of all was how to win, after years of losing. But as many coaches will tell you, it is much harder to sustain success than it is to go from losing to winning. There are a variety of questions Virginia must answer this season, with only five starters returning to the defense and just one in the secondary. Losing a player like Chase Minnifield is huge. Offensively, Virginia has to replace leading receiver Kris Burd and now has a quarterback situation on its hands with the transfer of Phillip Sims. The schedule features games against eight bowl teams, including TCU, Penn State and Louisiana Tech. The challenge awaits.
Biggest position battle: Quarterback. Who would have thought when last season ended, we would be sitting here in the fall debating whether the Cavaliers have a bona fide quarterback competition on their hands? Michael Rocco emerged last season to become the unquestioned leader of the offense, throwing for 2,671 yards with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. But Sims has transferred in from Alabama and is immediately eligible, throwing a wrench into the quarterback situation. London has maintained Rocco is his starting quarterback, but also allows that Sims will provide a push in the way of accelerated competition.
Who needs to step up: The defensive backs. As mentioned above, Virginia has to replace three starters in the secondary in All-ACC selection Minnifield (50 tackles, eight pass breakups, 5.5 tackles for loss), safety Rodney McLeod (team-leading four interceptions), and safety Corey Mosley (49 tackles, four pass breakups, one interception). Watch for Drequan Hoskey at cornerback, while players like Anthony Harris and Brandon Phelps will be counted on at safety.