The Virginia Cavaliers finished in last place in the Coastal division last year. Unfortunately for Cavaliers fans, they are also the odds-on favorite to remain in last place in 2014.
However, the ACC Coastal division is famously unpredictable. As balanced as the division is, a team with three conference losses could end up playing in the ACC Championship. That would still require a major leap forward for Virginia but, at this time of the year, hope springs eternal.
Why Virginia could win the Coastal division
Under head coach Mike London, Virginia’s recruiting has been much better than its performance on the field. If a few of the elite prospects London was able to lure to Virginia start performing as well as they were expected to, Virginia could see a major turnaround.
The Cavaliers are also playing for their coach. London is likely done if he doesn’t turn things around this season. The players know that. A decent record with an upset or two might be enough to keep him around. And if the division continues to be a mess, it could mean a division championship as well. It’s unlikely that they can win the division outright, but a multi-way tie for first is not completely out of the question.
Why Virginia could end up in last place
The ACC didn’t do London any favors this year. In their cross-divisional games, the Cavaliers get the Louisville Cardinals and the Florida State Seminoles. Virginia already had an uphill battle ahead of it to escape the Coastal division basement without having to take on two of the Atlantic division’s best as well.
Virginia also has a number of problems to fix. The defense was among the worst in the conference last year, and will need to improve significantly. The Cavaliers’ passing game also looks like it could continue to be a mess in 2014.
The incumbent quarterback, David Watford, was officially benched this spring in favor of sophomore Greyson Lambert. Lambert will be throwing to a group of receivers who did not put up strong numbers last season, and things got significantly worse when their leading receiver, tight end Jake McGee, decided to transfer. They don’t need to resolve all of the issues that plagued them last year, but getting the passing game going will be a must.
The Cavaliers will most likely end up finishing last in the division again, and London will be sent packing. As well as he has recruited at Virginia, they don’t have the talent to stand up to Florida State and Louisville in their cross-division games, and they remain a step behind the rest of the pack in the balanced Coastal division.