OT Eugene Monroe (PHOTO CREDIT: Pete Emerson)

2007 Statistics

Coach: Al Groh
51-37, 7 years
2007 Record: 9-4
at Wyoming LOST 3-23
DUKE WON 24-13
at North Carolina WON 22-20
at Middle Tennessee WON 23-21
at Maryland WON 18-17
at North Carolina State LOST 24-29
at Miami FL WON 48-0
Texas Tech LOST 28-31

2007 Final Rankings
AP-26, Coaches-27, BCS-20

2008 Outlook

Momentum can be a tough thing to keep going. By earning just his second nine-win season in seven campaigns, head man Al Groh again sets the bar high for Wahoo fans heading into this season. Two eight-win years followed their last nine-win effort (in 2002), but that seems like a tall order for the 2008 squad, a squad that is missing its proven QB and recently lost the one guy (Jeff Fitzgerald) who could replace all-world end Chris Long. The Cav’s “next man up” philosophy - of not skipping a beat when a player goes down (or leaves, in these cases) - will be seriously put to the test.

What has the past few groups of underclassmen still geared for continued success will remain predicated on defense. Only five teams have gone over the 30-point barrier in the last two years. Luckily, the entire set of starting LBs comes back to tie together the elements in front of and behind them. The entire starting front four vacating, along with Fitzgerald, is much more of a concern than the few new faces in the secondary. The DBs are stacked and ready, while the linemen are capable, and lack only starting experience. This side of the ball should be humming by the end of September, if not sooner.

In breaking down how Groh and his son, offensive coordinator Mike, will play the hand they’ve been dealt, the Chinese approach of viewing crisis as opportunity must be understood. In losing Sewell – a dual-threat game manager who likely has reached his collegiate apex – pro-style hurler Pete Lalich has a chance to jump-start Cav production more so than any QB since the younger Groh was under center. This (West) Springfield product stands tall and benches more than any QB besides Tim Tebow (325lbs compared to TT’s 425), a testimonial to how hard he will be to bring down. Lalich can motor when needed, but he will be asked to stretch the field after Sewell could only manage one pass (over all of 2007) over 40 yards. Peerman and Simpson will join Ogletree and Covington as open-field threats, with the RBs also keeping foes (more than) honest as between-the-tackle purveyors of pain. One thing Groh’s offenses guarantee, a balanced result.

Like last year, both the regular season opener and closer seems like losses. Obviously, a warmed-up Hoos’ squad will fare better against in-state rival Tech than they will when they are still not gelled for the opener against powerful USC. Many of the other games on the slate look gray, the varying shade of which will change weekly depending on everything from injuries to the weather. Clemson and Miami are at home, while upstart UConn and unpredictable Georgia Tech are road tests. This Virginia squad is therefore no more grounded than any of Groh’s other teams, and that leaves a wide range of results within which UVA can land.

This set up can easily lead to another surprise year. Most won’t see Virginia coming, especially after the almost guaranteed loss to the Trojans. Overall, the second half of the year looks more consistently challenging than the first half, so a one- or two-loss Cav team could again make national noise if achieved. Modest expectations will keep the fan-base (and local media) from over-pressuring their guys, the needed formula for the most success. We hope Groh can make us look bad for our pessimistic view of his team.

Projected 2008 record: 5-7
QB - 2 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 4
WR - 3.5 DB - 3
OL - 2.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Peter Lalich, 35-61-1, 321 yds., 2 TD

Rushing: Cedric Peerman, 113 att., 585 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Mikell Simpson, 43 rec., 402 yds., 2 TD

Scoring: Mikell Simpson, 10 TD, 60 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: None

Tackles: Jon Copper, 109 tot., 56 solo

Sacks: Clint Sintim, 9 sacks

Interceptions: Ras-I Dowling, 2 for 17 yds.; Jon Copper, 2 for 7 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Andrew Pearman, 29 ret., 21.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Vic Hall, 23 ret., 10.0 avg., 0 TD


CB Vic Hall (PHOTO CREDIT: Jim Daves)
OFFENSE: Chris Gorham-WR, Jonathan Stupar-TE, Tom Santi-TE, Jordy Lipsey-C, Ian-Yates Cunningham-OG, Chris Gould-K/P, Branden Albert-OG (NFL), Jameel Sewell-QB (academics)
DEFENSE: Allen Billyk-NT, Chris Long-DE, Jermaine Dias-OLB, Nate Lyles-S, Jamaal Jackson-S, Ryan Weigand-P, Jeffrey Fitzgerald-DE (left school), Chris Cook-CB (academics)

Last year had little to do with offensive prowess for why the win-total increased, regardless of the modest progress seen from 2006’s 113th ranking (total offense). Taking one step back so they can take many more steps forward soon, Virginia revamps its offense for 2008. After reshaping the approach, it may take a little time in real game scenarios to get the offense into full gear.

Academic issues have Jameel Sewell’s dual-threat abilities on hold, so there is no choice but to shape the play calling around the talents of Peter Lalich (pronounced ‘la-LICK’). The coaches Groh – Al and his son Mike, the only Cav QB to ever win nine games and that season’s bowl game two consecutive years – are confident that this (West) Springfield product can provide the passing impact not seen since Marques Hagans left nearly three years ago. Whereas Sewell had likely reached his apex of talent, Elite 11 participant Lalich has a huge upside that UVA could ride back into the top 25. Lalich under center, with the potential of a strong running game to keep foes from cuing on stopping him solely, should allow the sophomore to progress quickly. As a prep senior, he completed more than two out of three attempts, so look for Groh(s) to have him up to speed quickly (with shorter routes), and then unfold the playbook from there. The eight games he was in last year mean some kinks are already worked out. Scott Deke has never played, but he has a nice set of wheels for that change of pace. He and Verica seem like a step back, so Lalich’s health is key for the Cavs to go their farthest. Could Riko Small sneak into the QB picture with his 4.4-speed when he arrives this summer? Like Deke, Small could shake up defenses if inserted poignantly, but the running game should be fine in the hands of a senior and two juniors.

Cedric Peerman hadn’t done much (though he was a Freshman All-American) until he broke out last year to lead the team in rushing. Mikell Simpson stepped in last year when Peerman and Andrew Pearman were hurt and produced storybook results. After switching to WR early on in ’07 to get face time, Simpon jumped back to running back and ran for 119 yards and caught 13 passes for another 152 yards against Maryland. He become only the sixth player in ACC history to both run and catch for 100 yards each in the same game. The winning drive featured Simpson touching the ball on 14 consecutive plays; he leapt into the endzone on a one-yard dive to cap the win with 0:16 seconds left. His 4.38-speed means he will keep seeing the ball, but Simpson won’t start…for now. Payne is a change of pace, as is fullback Jackson, yet neither was in this spring, and Pearman is off the roster. The running game looks solid unless injuries become abundant, a notion that holds for the backs and the line.

The tight ends have potential, and Torchia might supplant Phillips (especially since Groh likes to use so many multiple-TE sets and the speedy sophomore will surely impress.) The increase in passing means the receiving corps needs role players. The main weapon looks like Kevin Ogletree, who missed 2007 after he went down in spring (ACL). The most utilized Cav target of ’06, a healthy Ogletree will equal at least one All-ACC snarler. Biggie Mo Covington has strength for going over the middle, and that will be a popular area for the new QBs when they check off. Staton Jobe walked on and proved through his excessive speed that he deserved to start (12 games in ’07). Jobe will now be a deadly third receiver (works well over the middle). Factor in Simpson’s team leading 43 catches to see how this underdog corps will produce beyond expectations. The longest pass of 2007 was 45 yards (and was the only pass over 40), a number sure to be surpassed by the second week.

The starters up front will be fine, even with the new blood at guard. It’s “go time” for Eugene Monroe since Lalich and the other QBs are now all right-handed (Sewell is a lefty). This 6’6 monster is a former national No.1 tackle prospect and a surefire NFL pick. Will Barker has started every game over the past two years, and his footwork and speed may be better than Monroe’s. Senior tackle Zak Stair moves inside; Stair bumped in front of Monroe in 2006 for seven games at LT, so he’s a good fit anywhere. Cabell is another example of how the Virginia linemen are big yet mobile. Jack Shields is only a two-star prospect, and his flashes of brilliance have also included signs that he is a work-in-progress. Bradley and Milstead, like the guys in front of them, are the best linemen at their respective level of the depth chart.


TB Mikell Simpson (PHOTO CREDIT: David Petkofsky)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Peter Lalich-So (6-5, 225) Marc Verica-So (6-3, 206)
Scott Deke-Sr (6-3, 215)
FB Rashawn Jackson-Jr (6-1, 253) Curt Orshoski-Fr (6-2, 232)
TB Cedric Peerman-Sr (5-10, 208) Mikell Simpson-Jr (6-1, 200)
Keith Payne-So (6-3, 236)
WR Kevin Ogletree-Jr (6-2, 189) Staton Jobe-So (6-0, 182)
Dontrelle Inman-So (6-3, 191)
WR Maurice Covington-Sr (6-4, 225) Cary Koch-Sr (6-0, 198)
TE John Phillips-Sr (6-6, 250) Joe Torchia-So (6-5, 255)
OT Eugene Monroe-Sr (6-6, 315) Landon Bradley-Fr (6-7, 275)
OG Zak Stair-Sr (6-6, 300) Patrick Slebonik-Jr (6-5, 298)
C Jack Shields-So (6-5, 289) Anthony Mihota-Fr (6-4, 285)
OG B.J. Cabbell-So (6-6, 304) Billy Cuffee-Fr (6-5, 310)
OT Will Barker-Jr (6-7, 315) Lamar Milstead-So (6-5, 290)
K Chris Hinkebein-Fr (6-1, 190) ..




Out is coordinator Mike London and his consistently strong results; in is legend Bob Pruett and the successes that follow wherever he goes (Marshall coach during their jump to I-A; went 94-23 while head coach there). Pruett and Groh worked together at Wake Forest in the mid-‘80s, so chemistry that’s already been developed will help bring things along that much faster on many levels.

Line coach Levern Belin loses all of the names that started every game together in the 3-4. More directly, the big question goes to Chris Long’s departure and how they’ll replace his 14 sacks, 23 QB hurries and two forced fumbles. The real worry is actually the sudden departure of Long’s heir apparent, Jeffrey Fitzgerald, and what can be done to find pressure/results. Alex Field is an ex-TE who has bulked up nicely without losing a step; his TFL rate is (approx) 20% of his total tackles, but that result has been as a reserve, so his new starting status and leadership role become a primary development for bolstering what was the No.13 rushing D and No.6 sack producing group. Four-star Richmond product Sean Gottchalk looks like he may need an adjustment period for the increased face time he’s about to get. Not bad as a frosh, Gottchalk should fulfill his destiny as a major contributor after his strong spring. The least amount of worry surrounds the inside: NT Nate Collins earned a safety and a QB sack in the first quarter of the Texas Tech (bowl) loss, which highlights his responsible approach. Collins has an all-around knowledge of the game due to his prep experiences (played end, fullback, tailback, tight end, wide receiver, tackle, linebacker and quarterback), and it pays off seeing how he had more sacks and TFLs in 2007 than his predecessor who started in front of him. The reserves are three redshirted freshmen, each of whom has the pedigree to succeed at the FBS level.

No matter how the DL comes together, an all-senior linebacking corps has their back(s). Jon Copper has started every game for the past two years after walking on as a freshman. Not the flashiest player, the local product is found anywhere the ball goes. Ex-DE Clint Sintum is brought up in a two-point stance as a hybrid variable. His nine sacks may decrease unless another distraction (like Long) is established. Appleby also has the ability to play up closer. The best LB in coverage is probably going to be Denzel Burrell, and he is also the most experienced of the backups. The biggest impact by a new face might also go to RS frosh Terrence Fells-Danzer and his four-star abilities. Clark is a perennial second teamer who is the biggest risk, and is another large backer likely to be found near the line. The run stopping may take a bit of a hit, but it should rebound quickly.

The strength of this D is its ability to provide consistent, cohesive coverage. The last three years have shown pass efficiency results worthy of fans garnering optimistic attitudes toward this year’s DB group. Vic Hall, the only corner to start every game, is the solid outside player who tackles with authority. Ras-I Dowling was tested amply in opponent’s response to Halls solid play; throwing away from Hall proved as dangerous since Dowling stepped up, and Dowling’s two starts make him a broken-in commodity. Same goes for CB Mikey Parker and his three starts, especially since he is sized like a safety (as is Dom Joseph, who only lacks real game reps). Former walk-on Byron Glaspy is the starting strong safety, but he is just as strong in coverage as he is when near the box. Glaspy gets to break in ex-WR Woods, who was primarily a special teams guy until this year. Bell runs a sub-10.5-second 100 meters, while local product Mosley has much to prove. There is little drop-off in the secondary’s quality, so expect foes to again earn every yard they may get out of the Cav’s bend-but-don’t-break approach in back. With the struggles expected up front and due to a new QB, the back seven holding its own is important if UVA wants to again finish over .500.


LB Jon Copper (PHOTO CREDIT: Jim Daves)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Alex Field-Sr (6-7, 270) Zane Parr-Fr (6-6, 267)
NT Nate Collins-Jr (6-2, 280) Nick Jenkins-Fr (6-3, 285)
DE Sean Gottschalk-So (6-4, 275) Matt Conrath-Fr (6-7, 269)
OLB Aaron Clark-Sr (6-5, 250) Denzel Burrell-So (6-4, 230)
ILB Antonio Appleby-Sr (6-4, 250) Terrence Fells-Danzer-Fr (6-4, 242)
ILB Jon Copper-Sr (6-0, 230) John Bivens-So (6-2, 233)
OLB Clint Sintim-Sr (6-3, 254) Jared Detrick-So (6-1, 235)
CB Vic Hall-Jr (5-9, 190) Dom Joseph-Fr (6-1, 195)
CB Ras-I Dowling-So (6-2, 200) Mike Parker-So (6-2, 200)
SS Byron Glaspy-Sr (5-11, 206) Rico Bell-So (5-10, 190)
FS Brandon Woods-Jr (6-2, 211) Corey Mosley-Fr (5-10, 197)
P Jimmy Howell-Fr (6-6, 240) ..




The two new feet that will control opponent’s field position(s) have much to prove. Chris Hinkerbein was a top 15 placekicking prospect, but to replace last year’s 5-for-5 performance from outside of 40 yards will put this frosh to the test. 6’6 Jimmy Howell is an ex-QB, so during punting downs, expect the unexpected. Howell is this year’s No.6 punting prospect. Hall is solid at PR, and with Peerman taking over for Pearman (say it 10 times quickly), the kick runbacks will also stay strong.