WR Deyon Williams

2005 Statistics

Coach: Al Groh
37-26, 5 years
2005 Record: 7-5
at Syracuse WON 27-24
at Maryland LOST 33-45
at Boston College LOST 17-28
at North Carolina LOST 5-7
at Miami FL LOST 17-25
vs. Minnesota WON 34-31

2005 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2006 Outlook

Teams have to re-build all the time, but Virginia’s re-building process will be two-fold this season. Not only will the Cavs be filling holes vacated by departed players, but four assistant coaches are new as well. Three of head coach Al Groh’s assistants – Prince (Kansas State), Al Golden (Temple) and Danny Rocco (Liberty) - left for head coaching jobs, and the one that didn’t (Mark D’Onofrio) became Golden’s offensive coordinator in Philly. The quality of these four guys won’t seem to be easy to replace, but with the mediocre defensive showing (60th), the three new coaches on that side of the ball promise to bring the edge back to the Cavs’ stopping 11. New coordinator Mike London will count on talent and emotion to offset key personnel losses at inside linebacker, on the line and at safety. The front seven (3-4 scheme) and secondary have the talent to come together and really have halting impact.

Groh (37-26 overall, 21-19 ACC record in five years here) elevated his son Mike, a stellar former UVa QB, to offensive coordinator. UVa installs a completely different type of quarterback in Christian Olsen, and since the younger Groh excelled at the very same spot (and is also now the QB’s coach), a fresh start to the offense (without Hagans and Lundy) can appropriately be culled. The RBs look formidable – if Johnson can stay healthy, the dimensions of the running game will have size and speed to spare. Virginia has excellent receivers who can make plays. As long as Olsen has time to throw behind a patchwork offensive line (thanks to injuries and off-field incidents), the running game should also keep clicking. The line gelling is the key to both Grohs’ success, so how much time that takes will dictate how far the entire team goes.

The good news for a team breaking in so many dimensions is that UVa’s three toughest games - (at) Florida State, Miami, and (at) Virginia Tech - are the final three contests. The Cavs have only beat two of these teams since 1999 (a combined 2-14 during that span), so their work is cut out for where they aim to be by their November slate. An important swing game at Pittsburgh (the season opener) and a crucial Thursday-night test at Georgia Tech will be the only serious tests before this, but the payback they owe Maryland should again afford another worthy tilt between these two rivals that all should see. A league title looks out of reach, but the D says that they stay competitive regardless, which likely means Groh’s guys could reach a New Years Day bowl. Would Thomas Jefferson and the Charlottesville faithful expect anything less?

Projected 2006 record: 8-4
QB - 3 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 2.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 3
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Christian Olsen, 11-7-1, 71 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: Jason Snelling, 58 att., 325 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Deyon Williams, 58 rec., 767 yds., 7 TD

Scoring: Deyon Williams, 7 TD, 42 pts.

Punting: Chris Gould, 53 punts, 40.0 avg.

Kicking: Noah Greenbaum, 1-1 FG, 0-0 PAT, 3 pts.

Tackles: Marcus Hamilton, 62 tot., 43 solo

Sacks: Clint Sintim, 3 sacks

Interceptions: Marcus Hamilton, 6 for 28 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Cedric Peerman, 21 ret., 25.8 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Michael Johnson, 11 ret., 5.1 avg., 0 TD


DE Chris Long
OFFENSE: Marques Hagans-QB, Wali Lundy-TB, Ottowa Anderson-WR, D'Brickashaw Ferguson-OT, Brian Barthelmes-C, Brad Butler-OT, Connor Hughes-K
DEFENSE: Brennan Schmidt-DE, Kwakou Robinson-NT, Mark Miller-OLB, Bryan White-ILB, Kai Parham-ILB (NFL), Ahmad Brooks-ILB (dismissed), Tony Franklin-CB (dismissed)

The field of candidates for the QB job has attempted a grand total of 37 passes – not exactly a comforting thought. Expect senior Christian Olsen, who transferred from Notre Dame, to emerge from the pack and lead the Cavaliers onto the field opening day. Olsen is a traditional drop-back passer in the mold of Schaub. His arm is strong and mind is good (like Hagans, Olsen is the son of a football coach), but his inexperience in game situations and inability to scramble as Hagans did mean big changes for the offense. His upside will be huge once he gets rolling. Junior Kevin McCabe, also a pocket-passer, will struggle to hold off exciting redshirt freshman Jameel Sewell (a lefty) for the backup spot, and by November Sewell will be no lower than No. 2 on the depth chart.

Running Back
The good news is that Virginia returns a back who was the ACC’s leading rusher at his position (FB) in each of the past two seasons. Senior Jason Snelling will make the switch to tailback. Snelling is a player who isn’t great at any one thing, but is good at everything (blocking, running, and receiving). The Chester-native is faster than most his size (4.47 in the 40) but would still rather run over than around most who try to bring him down. Groh would like to employ a two-tailback rotation, meaning that this is the last chance for highly touted and oft-injured senior Michael Johnson – strong and squat - to live up to his full potential, though his 4.3 speed still makes him a true breakaway threat. Shoulder, ankle and sports-hernia injuries limited Johnson the past two seasons, and he’s in danger of falling behind sure-handed sophomore Cedric Peerman, one of the top freshman kick returners in the nation last season and a serviceable back himself. Svelte soph Mike Simpson should get a look due to his sub-4.4 speed if Johnson again goes down. Snelling’s move to tailback makes it a two-man competition at fullback between inexperienced juniors Kevin Bradley and Josh Zidenberg. Zidenberg needs to get the rock with his hybrid (TB/FB) abilities, whereas Bradley has the toughness more needed to plough. This RB unit has featured many backs with lots of carries for each, a good approach to keep these big men fresh and foes guessing.

Olsen’s transition to starter at QB will be eased by what has been called the best group of receivers ever at UVa. Tall, rangy deep threat Deyon Williams posted numbers worthy of note (58 catches), but was inexplicably left off any all-conference teams. That won’t happen this year. Williams, a 6-3 leaper with big-play ability, is a threat to run a crisp out route or burn opposing DBs deep. Fellow returning starter Fontel Mines is one inch taller but much stouter. Mines is a sure-handed possession receiver who can really out-muscle DBs to pull down balls in a crowd. Two other returning lettermen – juniors Emmanuel Byers and Thierren Davis – are reliable (albeit smaller) targets who will give ACC secondaries fits. Byers even tossed a 90-yard strike to Williams (which went for a touchdown against Miami last year), while Davis will be sent deep often from the slot. And this isn’t even counting speedy sophomore Andrew Pearman, who transferred from Hawaii and is too good not to work his way into the mix (perhaps as a WR/RB combo). Coaches need to send more of these guys deep to stretch the field for Olsen to find subsequent room underneath.

Tight End
Junior Tom Santi has effectively become a major target in the Cavalier tradition. The 6-5, 238-pounder (18.8 yards per catch) destroyed Minnesota in the Music City Bowl (receptions of 43 and 55 yards). Santi has great speed (4.5) for a tight end and is versatile/tough enough to play fullback (which he has). Fellow junior Jonathan Stupar had more receptions than Santi, so it’s no understatement when we say that the Cavs may have the top receiving TE-tandem in the country. Expect these two to be utilized even more as receivers in the scheme of new offensive coordinator Mike Groh. Four-star recruit Joe Torchia will find a way to see reps, but all of these guys are less than 250lbs, so bigger DLs may be able to push them back when they stay home.

Offensive Line
Losing 60 percent of your starters hurts, especially when you’re about to break in a new quarterback. Heralded sophomore Eugene Monroe suffered a left knee injury late in the spring and missed the latter part of workouts as a precaution – and one of the two returning starters, left guard Branden Albert, missed the spring due to academic problems. While Monroe should recover in time with optimal affect, and Groh anticipates Albert clearing up his in-class issues, the Cavs can’t afford such absences on this already-depleted unit. Additionally, sophomore Zak Stair and junior Eddie Pinigis (who worked following the Monroe injury at left and right tackle, respectively) face charges for their role in a frat-house fracas and could be affected by disciplinary action. The dwindling numbers should force whoever doesn’t get the starting center job (junior Ian-Yates Cunningham, a veteran of several positions with a mean streak, is the leader to snap the ball, with junior Jordy Lipsey close behind) into action somewhere else upfront. Junior Marshal Ausberry would be solid as one of the guards. How quickly this line comes together will be the main pivot for how well the entire offense does, and therefore how far the entire team will go.

There will be a new feel to how the keen offensive mind of Mike Groh runs things. The first step is to revamp the play-calling with the strong-armed Olsen under center. He doesn’t run as well as Hagans did, but this could steady the ship nicely via less inconsistency. UVa was up and down, but ended the season on a high note as Mike Groh (having taken over for Prince) mixed things up well in the bowl victory over Minnesota, a sign of how he will keep the Cavs dynamic under Olsen’s leadership. It’s always a scary proposition to rely heavily on a quarterback with as little experience as Olsen (even if he has been around for a while), but his pedigree tells us he just has to get the support of his strong RB unit to find his nitch. Knowing the WRs will spread opposing DBs all over so their stellar receiving TEs can be open deep (an UVa specialty), it will really all come down to how well the revamped line gels. Do not underestimate how well this offense will do – enough foes will do this so that they can exploit such until they are given the respect they deserve.


OG Branden Albert


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Christian Olsen-Sr (6-3, 216) Kevin McCabe-Jr (6-2, 213)
FB Josh Zidenburg-Jr (6-0, 212) Kevin Bradley-Jr (6-1, 230)
TB Jason Snelling-Sr (5-11, 233) Michael Johnson-Sr (5-9, 199)
Cedric Peerman-So (5-10, 198)
WR Fontel Mines-Sr (6-4, 217) Emmanuel Byers-Jr (5-9, 186)
Maurice Covington-So (6-4, 212)
WR Deyon Williams-Sr (6-3, 185) Theirrien Davis-Jr (5-11, 187)
Kevin Ogletree-So (6-2, 184)
TE Tom Santi-Jr (6-5, 238) Jonathan Stupar-Jr (6-3, 245)
John Phillips-So (6-6, 241)
OT Eugene Monroe-So (6-6, 318) Zak Stair-So (6-6, 294)
OG Branden Albert-So (6-7, 306) Gordie Sammis-Sr (6-4, 290)
C Jordy Lipsey-Jr (6-3, 268) Ian-Yates Cunningham-Jr (6-3, 291)
OG Marshal Ausberry-Jr (6-5, 309) David Fairbrothers-Jr (6-3, 294)
OT Will Barker-Fr (6-7, 265) Eddie Pinigis-Jr (6-7, 292)
K Chris Gould-Jr (6-1, 216) Noah Greenbaum-Sr (5-10, 184)



Defensive Line
From a numbers standpoint, the Cavaliers’ 3-4 defensive set seems to demand that the three down linemen hold their ground and provide the LBs with room to make plays, but returners on the D-line have combined for just 13 career starts, and 12 of those belong to right end Chris Long. The son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long is fast becoming the leader of the defense with his blend of speed-rushing ability and toughness. He even excels in coverage (tied for team lead in Passes-BrokenUp with seven). His presence is sure to open things up for nose tackle (converted end) Allen Billyk and 6-foot-7 left end Alex Field, an ex-TE. All three are well-schooled at the underrated art of deflecting passes (notably Field). Gap-plugging nose tackle Keenan Carter and rapidly-improving end Jeffrey Fitzgerald (who is in better shape than in 2005) will be fixtures in the DL rotation. This is a really athletic group which has to perform well, or there are a ton of recent recruits waiting for their chances to displace this quality starting three.

Groh’s background as a linebackers coach (a position he held for three different NFL teams) has helped the Hoos build significant depth at the position, and it will be on display sooner than expected with defensive backbone Ahmad Brooks now a former Cav. Big-hitting sophomore Clint Sintim (the team’s second-leading returning tackler and a freshman all-league selection) is toughest on opponent’s RBs while steady junior Jermaine Dias can cover as well as he plays when a down-lineman. Both are locked into the two outside slots, with one inside spot manned by DE/LB hybrid sophomore Antonio Appleby (who filled in nicely for the injured Brooks during much of last season, including a 10-tackle performance in the Music City Bowl). The other may go to sophomore walk-on Jon Copper, a prep wrestling and weightlifting standout who was a special-teams demon last season. New defensive coordinator Mike London has promised more aggressiveness from this unit. And in a system which relies so heavily upon skill from the LB position, the corps will become a force quickly with so many qualified recruits also pushing for reps.

Defensive Back
Virginia returns three starters in the secondary and looks to improve on 2005’s modest, but worthy, showing. Second-team All-ACC pick (and third-team NationalChamps.net preseason All-American) Marcus Hamilton has his side secured as a lockdown corner. His six interceptions led the league and tied for fifth nationally. Experienced junior Chris Gorham has the inside track on the other spot but will have to fend off uber-talented athlete Vic Hall (one of the top QBs in recent Virginia prep history, whose athleticism and big-play ability will bolster the secondary). Gorham is bigger and a step faster, but Hall brings ex-QB instincts that cannot be taught. At safety, Tony Franklin has suffered from off-the-field issues and has been dismissed from the team. Assuming he returns from a frightening neck injury suffered against Georgia Tech, hard-hitting safety Nate Lyles (who missed the spring) will anchor one safety position, and this Chicago-native is the fastest of the starters. The other may go to Byron Glaspy, who wasn’t even a recruited walk-on, but worked his way into the starting lineup and helped shut down heralded Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson in a UVa win last fall. Sophomore Chris Cook, who missed the spring while recovering from a broken leg, provides depth and is one of six secondary members with at least one career start, a list which also includes oft-used safety Jamaal Jackson.

Only one senior (Marcus Hamilton) is slated to start for UVa on this side of the ball, which says a lot about both the Hoos’ young talent and the relative lack of experience. The loss of Brooks (who only played six games in ’05, went 4-2 without him) in the middle will surprisingly not hurt this defense as much as many will predict, but Parham was a huge cog. Still, experienced replacements should continue to excel here. Long is a beast at defensive end and his infectious enthusiasm should spill over to the rest of the talented line. There’s plenty of promise, but several question marks (the health of Lyles and Cook, the possible rise of Hall) remain. Something has to be done about their terrible showing in third-down situations – again allowing foes to convert 44% of the time has to be approached. New coordinator London has promised more fire and aggressiveness. His last tenure here (2001-04) eventually produced the nation’s 18th-ranked total D (’04), so he knows the system already and how to get the most from his hungry crew. Secondary coach Steve Bernstein and LB’s coach Mike Diaco give the new-look staff a boost, and all will keep the Cavs from again finishing anywhere near 60th for total effort. The Cavs have both size and speed across the two-deep to assure this group produces against even the best opponents.


CB Marcus Hamilton


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Jerry Fitzgerald-Fr (6-3, 261) Alex Field-So (6-7, 261)
Jason Fuller-Fr (6-5, 230)
NT Keenan Carter-Jr (6-2, 307) Allen Billyk-Jr (6-4, 278)
DE Chris Long-Jr (6-4, 278) John Roberts-So (6-4, 252)
OLB Jermaine Dias-Jr (6-1, 235) Marvin Richardson-Jr (6-3, 236)
ILB Antonio Appleby-So (6-4, 244) Bernie McKeever-So (6-3, 219)
Darren Childs-Fr (6-1, 229)
ILB Rashawn Jackson-Fr (6-1, 243) Jon Copper-So (6-0, 226)
OLB Clint Sintim-So (6-3, 242) Aaron Clark-So (6-5, 234)
CB Marcus Hamilton-Sr (5-11, 187) Vic Hall-Fr (5-9, 175)
Chris Cook-So (6-2, 197)
CB Chris Gorham-Jr (6-0, 188) Mike Brown-So (5-9, 173)
S Byron Glaspy-So (5-11, 195) Ryan Best-Jr (5-11, 208)
S Nate Lyles-Jr (6-0, 197) Jamaal Jackson-Jr (6-3, 214)
Brandon Woods-Fr (6-2, 201)
P Chris Gould-Jr (6-1, 216) Ryan Weigand-Jr (6-2, 177)




Junior Chris Gould, the best punter the Hoos have had in recent years, has the inside track the replace Hughes. Gould should beat out senior Noah Greenbaum for the kicking duties, which could make Greenbaum primed as KO specialist. None on the roster will replace the sure-three the now-departed Hughes always afforded. Coverage will remain strong here.

Groh will turn to juco-transfer Ryan Weigand to handle punting duties if Gould gets the nod for PK. Either should give Groh the upper hand in field-position battles, but net results in ’05 weren’t as strong as they need to be. Defensive depth and a new special teams coach (Diaco) with a working knowledge of the defensive depth should make things better.

Return Game
A healthy Michael Johnson would really help here, but he has yet to live up to his potential as a PR guy. Byers stepped into the slot well when Johnson was out, but a possible Peerman-Pearman tandem could replace both if not solid. Peerman has speed to burn and is proven dangerous on kickoffs. We wonder if this is the place to try out Simpson.