Bronco Mendenhall’s first season at Virginia did not go exactly as planned. The Cavalier’s finished with a 2-10 record. When rebuilding a program some times you take your lumps. The biggest problem I would have if I was a Cavalier fan was that they did not go 2-10 with young players, they pulled that off with Juniors and Seniors.
The Cavaliers will replace their 2 leading rushers, four of top 7 recieving targets, and 3 starters on the offensive line. They are one of the rare teams in the ACC that will return their quarterback though. Kurt Benkert threw for 2,552 yards last season and 21 touchdowns. He will see a lot of new faces around his huddle this season.
Virginia’s strength will be their front 7 led by Linebacker Micah Kiser, who has popped up on a lot of preseason All-ACC teams. Safety Quin Blanding is another that is getting first team All-ACC consideration for the third straight year. A lot of people, including myself, were really surprised he decided to come back. It’s not usually ideal for your safety to have 120 tackles in a season but Blanding is a special talent.
The Match up
Miami won the matchup last season 34-14 but if you remember correctly we were all heavily drinking and throwing stuff at the TV at halftime when the score was 17-14 before Miami went on a 17-0 run in the second half. Ahmmon Richards had one of his four 100 yard receiving games in his first time visiting their stadium. Mark Walton also passed the 100 yard mark.
I expect Miami to dominate on defense and really exploit the lack of experience and talent that Virginia is bringing back. Virginia having to replace 3 starters on their offensive line is not ideal when facing the strength of Miami’s defense, their front 7. Miami will be able to create a game plan to take Blanding and Kiser out and should move the ball and put up points. Virginia will not have an answer for Miami’s playmakers regardless of the QB play, which is still TBD for us. The Cavaliers are still a few years away from competing in the Coastal. I expect them to finish last. I would say Arkansas State will be a tougher game for Miami and not only because it is on the road.
Miami will be at home coming off what will probably be 2 emotional games with Virginia Tech and Notre Dame so it may be close early. I expect Miami to win by 3 touchdowns and the game to never to be in question. Mark me down for 31-10.