RB Wali Lundy (PHOTO CREDIT - Jim Copony)

2003 Statistics

Coach: Al Groh
22-17, 3 years
2003 Record: 8-5
at South Carolina LOST 7-31
at Western Michigan WON 59-16
at North Carolina WON 38-13
at Clemson LOST 27-30
at North Carolina State LOST 37-51
at Maryland LOST 17-27
Pittsburgh WON 23-16

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

Virginia was a very trendy pick to win the ACC in '03. That task becomes tougher with the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech, and that combining with last season's disappointments have lowered expectations somewhat in Charlottesville. Al Groh had a very young team with which to work, particularly on the offensive line and the defensive front seven. Virginia's success this season will be a good measure of his ability to develop talent since he unquestionably has lured many gifted players to Thomas Jefferson's old home turf. Given the way his team fell apart when Matt Schaub went down last year, there will be a lot of pressure on Hagans to step in and lead the offense.

The Cavaliers need to make some fundamental changes to how they approach the game. U of V has a running QB who they likely will reshape into the drop-back guy they want. Coaches need to play to some of Hagans' strengths to create both multiple dimensions that will put LBs and safeties on their heels as play-actions and draws keep opposing Ds guessing. As many pass-first squads do, they have established an identity as a finesse team than will back down if an opponent beats up on them. The key areas where these changes need to happen are on the lines. Virginia needs to develop the ability to pound opponents with their running game and to avoid the same thing happening to them when they defend. If that happens, they can avoid their third straight trip to the Continental Tire Bowl and play for higher stakes. If it does not, the Cavalier faithful who have anointed Groh as a savior (and are turning out for games in record numbers) will start grumbling, and with good reason.

Projected 2004 record: 8-3
QB - 2.5 DL - 3.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 4.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Anthony Martinez, 36-17-2, 136 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Wali Lundy, 227 att., 929 yds., 10 TD

Receiving: Heath Miller, 70 rec., 835 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: Connor Hughes, 23-25 FG, 40-40 PAT, 109 pts.

Punting: Tom Hagan, 63 punts, 34.8 avg.

Kicking: Connor Hughes, 23-25 FG, 40-40 PAT, 53 long

Tackles: Ahmad Brooks, 117 tot., 68 solo, 10 TFL

Sacks: Darryl Blackstock, 6 sacks

Interceptions: Tony Franklin, 2 for 45 yds. Jermaine Hardy, 2 for 14 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Tony Franklin, 13 ret., 25.8 avg.

Punt Returns: Marques Hagans, 28 ret., 9.6 avg.


DE Chris Canty (PHOTO CREDIT - Andrew Shurtleff)
OFFENSE: Ryan Sawyer-WR, Art Thomas-WR, Kevin Bailey-C, Matt Schaub-QB, Kase Luzar-FB, Ottowa Anderson-WR
DEFENSE: Raymond Mann-OLB, Almondo Curry-CB, Jamaine Winborne-S, Tom Hagan-P (baseball)

The Cavaliers will have a much different look at the quarterback position. With the departure of the classic pro-stylist Matt Schaub, Marques Hagans assumes the starting spot after filling a "Slash" role similar to former Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Kordell Stewart. Hagans will give up his receiving and kick return duties. He has thrown only one interception in 51 career pass attempts. Highly regarded sophomore Anthony Martinez will be the back up. Martinez is more in the Schaub mold, as well as being bigger and stronger than Hagans.

Running Back
Wali Lundy will again carry the load for the Cavaliers. Lundy, like many players head coach Al Groh has brought to Charlottesville, is another prototypical NFL-style player. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield in addition to being a strong runner. Lundy has good moves and hands, but lacks breakaway speed. His backup, Alvin Pearman, will again be the primary third-down back. He has more speed than Lundy and is also a good receiver, though smaller. Pearman set a school record and tied an ACC mark with 16 catches last season vs. Florida State. Fullback Brandon Isiah doesn't carry the ball much, but he is a solid blocker and receiver. Look for Hagans to give the Cavs a third rushing "option" that, if utilized cleverly, could make this offense unpredictable and therefore lethal.

Wide Receiver
Virginia is young at this position. Ottowa Anderson will be the Cavaliers' primary possession wideout. He has shown good speed on kick coverage. It is unclear if he will be a downfield receiving threat. Deyon Williams will crack the starting lineup and become the primary deep threat for Virginia. His speed allows him to get good separation from coverage. Fontel Mines, another inexperienced sophomore, will make him an inviting target (6'5") in the red zone on fade patterns. Talent is there, and how long the talent takes to develop and produce will dictate much in the ladder half of the campaign.

Tight End
Heath Miller is simply a stud. A likely candidate to become a high NFL draft pick next April, he excels at every aspect of playing the position. Miller set ACC records for catches and receiving yards by a tight end in 2003 and has caught a pass in 20 consecutive games. He is also an outstanding blocker. Unlike most prolific receiving tight ends, Miller enjoys the physical aspect of blocking, and he has the physical gifts to do so. Patrick Estes basically gives the Cavaliers another offensive lineman in two tight end packages. This position could do much within the passing-game's developments to marginally progress it that much quicker to the point of maturity.

Offensive Line
When Virginia needs to pound out a tough yard, they will run behind right guard Elton Brown. A mountain of a man who stands 6'6" and weighs 333 lbs., Brown also has enough speed to be an effective pulling guard. He was voted the best blocker in the ACC for 2003. After Brown, however, there is a big drop in talent. Left tackle D'Brickshaw Ferguson is the most experienced but, at only 265 pounds, uses technique more than strength to do his job. Center Zac Yarbough doesn't give the Cavaliers much push up the middle. The other starters, guard Ian-Yates Cunningham and tackle Brad Butler, are still very much works-in-progress. Cunningham is working on shedding baby fat, while Butler is still bulking up. Virginia allowed only 12 sacks in 2003, but that was as much a factor of Schaub's quick release as it was outstanding line play. With so many ground options, the team's average yards per run will increase (from 3.9), but that likely won't be due to any line superiority. This group just has to hold its own and let the talent positions do the talking.

Virginia has a pro-style offensive system, predicated on short drops and quick releases by their quarterback in the passing game. Running the ball is secondary, mostly used to set up the pass. All of the skill players are integral parts of the air attack, including the tight end and running backs. It remains to be seen if Mario Hagans can run this offense with the precision that Matt Schaub did for two years. If he struggles and defenses are able to load up on the running attack, weaknesses in Virginia's offensive line could be exposed and the running game would then grind to a halt.


TE Heath Miller (PHOTO CREDIT - Dan Grogan)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Marques Hagans-Jr (5-10, 207) Christian Olsen-So (6-4, 220)
Kevin McCabe-Fr (6-2, 203)
FB Jason Snelling-So (6-1, 228) Brandon Isaiah-Sr (6-0, 227)
RB Wali Lundy-Jr (6-1, 212) Alvin Pearman-Sr (5-10, 198)
Michael Johnson-So (5-9, 182)
WR Deyon Williams-So (6-3, 185) Emmanuel Byers-Fr (5-9, 191)
Ron Morton-So (6-1, 185)
WR Michael McGrew-Sr (6-2, 200) Fontel Mines-So (6-5, 205)
TE Heath Miller-Jr (6-5, 254) Patrick Estes-Sr (6-7, 262)
OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson-Jr (6-5, 265) Eddie Pinigis-Fr (6-7, 282)
OG Ian-Yates Cunningham-So (6-6, 309) Rob Darden-So (6-4, 309)
C Zac Yarbrough-Sr (6-4, 275) Gordie Sammis-So (6-4, 292)
OG Elton Brown-Sr (6-6, 333) Marshal Ausberry-Fr (6-6, 318)
OT Brad Butler-Jr (6-8, 274) Brian Barthelmes-Jr (6-7, 286)
K Connor Hughes-Jr (6-0, 178) Kurt Smith-Jr (6-1, 181)
Marques Hagans....mar-cus
Wali Lundy....wa-LEE
Deyon Williams....DAY-on
Alvin Pearman....PEER-man
Fontel Mines....fon-TELL
Patrick Estes....ESS-tis
Brian Barthelmes....barth-ull-mess



Defensive Line
Virginia's two best linemen, ends Chris Canty and Brennan Schmidt, piled up an unusually high number of tackles in 2003. This sounds like a good thing, but most of those tackles came after decent gains by opposing offenses (allowed 4.2 yards per ground try). Instead of penetrating and disrupting plays, Canty and Schmidt spent too much of their time chasing down ball carriers. Canty was named Virginia's outstanding defensive player for 2003, but he and Canty both need to make more negative yardage plays. Starting nose tackle Andrew Hoffman occupies blockers but seldom makes big plays.

The Cavaliers sport two of the finest young linebackers in the nation in Ahmad Brooks and Kai Parham. Coach Al Groh has compared Brooks to Chicago Bear superstar Brian Urlacher because of his combination of strength and speed. Groh refers to Parham as a "hammer." Brooks was a 2003 Freshman All-American and led Virginia in tackles. Parham, coming back from a back injury that forced him to sit out 2002, excels at getting to the ball quickly. Holding down the outside linebacker spots in the Cavaliers' 3-4 scheme is Darryl Blackstock and Dennis Haley. Blackstock's speed makes him a fearsome pass rusher off the edge, and Haley is a strong compliment in pass coverage. This group needs to improve their ability to stuff running plays, and the weak line may keep each from reaching any levels that promote group potential.

Defensive Back
Safety Jermaine Hardy anchors here. Hardy, who moved over from cornerback in 2003, is a big hitter. None of the other starters is very experienced. The other safety, Jay Dorsey, is versatile enough to play both the run and pass well. One corner, Marcus Hamilton, has promise - he showed he was a good cover man playing in nickel and dime packages. The other corner, Tony Franklin, just moved from tailback in 2003 and spent most of his time playing in passing situations. None of these players has shown a knack for making big plays.

Virginia did not give up a ton of points in 2003, but opponents did pile up the yards. The Cavaliers' defense is still vulnerable to the run with a defensive line that does not penetrate particularly, as well as a linebacker corps whose strength is playing the pass. With a much younger secondary, Virginia could be more vulnerable to giving up big plays.
The defensive line must play aggressively and disrupt opponents at the line of scrimmage. This will give their gifted group of linebackers the opportunity to shine. Brooks and Parham, in particular, could have spectacular seasons with a year of experience behind them if they aren't fighting off blockers all the time. The Cavaliers will need to blitz more, particularly early in the season, to protect their vulnerable secondary.


LB Ahmad Brooks (PHOTO CREDIT - Andrew Shurtleff)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Brennan Schmidt-Jr (6-3, 269) Kwakou Robinson-Jr (6-4, 327)
NT Andrew Hoffman-Sr (6-5, 285) Keenan Carter-Fr (6-3, 325)
DE Chris Canty-Sr (6-7, 280) Chris Johnson-Fr (6-6, 265)
OLB Dennis Haley-Sr (6-1, 241) Jermaine Dias-Fr (6-3, 223)
ILB Kai Parham-So (6-3, 238) Rich Bedesem-Sr (6-2, 232)
ILB Ahmad Brooks-So (6-4, 249) Bryan White-Sr (6-2, 227)
OLB Darryl Blackstock-Jr (6-4, 230) Vince Redd-Fr (6-6, 243)
CB Marcus Hamilton-So (6-0, 187) Shannon Lane-Fr (6-1, 185)
CB Tony Franklin-So (5-11, 186) Phillip Brown-Fr (5-11, 188)
S Jermaine Hardy-Sr (5-11, 208) Lance Evans-So (6-4, 200)
S Marquis Weeks-Sr (5-11, 210) Robbie Catterton-So (6-2, 185)
P Noah Greenbaum-So (6-0, 170) Kurt Korte-Jr (5-11, 185)
Kai Parham....keye (rhymes with eye)
Marquis Weeks....mar-cus
Kwakou Robinson....kway-koo
Jermaine Dias....DIE-ess




Coner Hughes is one of the most accurate field goal kickers in the nation, making 23-of-25 in 2003 including 3-of-4 from 50+ yards. For a team like the Cavaliers that plays in many close games, a reliable kicker like Hughes is worth his weight in gold. Kurt Smith handles kickoffs, with half of his kicks resulting in touchbacks

Tom Hagen punted to the worst net average in the ACC in '03, but did drop 18 kicks inside the 20-yard line. His kicks were short but had good hang time, enabling the coverage team to hold opponents to a 2.6 yard return average. Virginia will need more distance from Hagen so they can avoid last campaign's 110th I-A ranking.

Return Game
Tony Franklin and Marquis Weeks will share kickoff return duties this year. Both are fast and elusive and averaged more than 25 yards per return. Alvin Pearman is the only experience punt returner, and the Cavaliers will need to improve their mediocre return average. Talent and speed exists, and could have a positive impact sooner than later.


The offense this spring was simply dull. All the talk after the spring game was how awful the QBs looked. We feel that Marques Hagans (and his speed) are better suited at WR, leaving full-time QB duties to Chris Olsen. Questions still abound concerning who will start, that decision may not come until August practice determines a candidate. TB Michael Johnson was voted most improved offensive player. Taking a redshirt really helped him improve in every area of his game. The overall impression of the RBs was positive and will be looked at as the strength of this team... WRs Deyon Williams and Fontel Mines are working toward becoming starters. Don't forget about FB Jason Snelling in this offense. He may not always be in the lineup, but he is a valuable asset with his (especially) blocking and catching skills.

NT Andrew Hoffman was hard to handle all spring. He consistently won the battles in the trenches and often found his way into the opponent's backfield. He will be looked upon to carry that performance and strengthen it into the fall. If he wasn't considered one already, OLB Daryl Blackstock will be one of the top defenders in the ACC. His speed and strength have increased and will be nightmarish for opponents. Fellow-OLB Vince Redd, who also plays basketball for the Cavaliers, has been compared to the likes of Willie McGinest. CB Marcus Hamilton was voted most improved defensive player. He's playing with more confidence now and that has helped him become a better cover corner. Freshman Shannon Lane has responded well to the coaching staff's challenges. Former RB Marquis Weeks has moved to safety. Some Virginia folks feel it was about time as Weeks could become a possible All-Conference selection.

CB Shannon Lane (rsf)
OLB Vince Redd (rsf)
DE Chris Johnson (rsf)
OLB Jermaine Dias (rsf)