Make-or-break position battle: Virginia

Eric Smith has started 20 straight games, but he was No. 2 on the depth chart heading into camp. AP Photo/Steve Helber

We’re breaking down the biggest fall camp position battles in the ACC for each team. Here’s a look at Virginia.

Position battle: Offensive tackle

The candidates: Eric Smith controlled the right side of the offensive line all of last season and has started 20 games in a row over the last two seasons. This spring, however, a redshirt freshman, Jake Fieler, beat Smith out and was listed as the starter at right tackle on the post-spring depth chart.

The impact: The offense at Virginia as a whole has struggled the past few seasons, and for the Cavaliers to turn it around they will need a solid season from new quarterback Matt Johns. He won’t stand much of a chance if he’s being hit repeatedly and cannot set his feet. The left side of the line has experience with Michael Mooney and Ryan Doull, but the right side needs to be solidified, preferably before the season starts.

Prediction: It’s not a good sign when a junior with 20 career starts loses out to a redshirt freshman. Nothing is settled with the season still a few weeks away, but coach Mike London might opt to start the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Fieler to see what type of talent he possesses.