2010 record: 4-8 (1-7 in ACC)
Series: Virginia leads 1-0
TV: 7:30 , Big Ten Network
Blogs: Streaking the Lawn
Kevin Wilson will make his Memorial Stadium debut as the Hoosiers' coach when IU hosts Virginia on September 10 in a game that will be played in prime time and televised on the Big Ten Network. After years of staying a step ahead of the posse, Cavaliers' coach Al Groh was fired after the 2009 season. IU fans will all too clearly recall one of the Cavaliers' few bright moments in 2009, the 47-7 beatdown that UVa administered to the Hoosiers. That punchless Virginia team broke the 21-point barrier only twice all season, but absolutely dominated IU that day. The Hoosiers had a bit of a flu outbreak on the team that week, but that's far from a full explanation of the degree of the loss. In last week's preview of the Ball State game, I mentioned that the seniors who lost to BSU in 2008 should be revenge-minded. The same should go for the upperclassmen who played a part in the debacle in Charlottesville, which was one of the most disheartening of the many losses of the Lynch era.
Mike London is beginning his second season as Virginia's coach. London, who came to UVa after two excellent seasons as head coach at FBS Richmond (Richmond won the NCAA title in 2008, London's first year as head coach), went 4-8 in his first season in Charlottesville. Despite the underwhelming record, Virginia made significant strides offensively. As I mentioned above, even considering the 47-point explosion against IU, the 2009 Cavaliers were one of the worst offensive teams in the country. Last year, UVa improved to #37 in FBS in total offense and averaged over 400 yards per game. On the other hand, the Cavaliers' defense seemed to decline as the season transpired. On October 30, UVa improved to 4-4 with an upset of Miami, but the season ended on a four game losing streak which began with a 55-48 loss to Duke (3-9).
Virginia, like IU, will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2011. Marc Verica is gone, and ESPN reports a four-way battle among Ross Metheny, Michael Rocco, Michael Strauss and David Watford. Metheny and Rocco have a combined total of 42 career pass attempts; neither Strauss nor Watford has played a down. This sounds much like IU's situation. The running game also will be rebuilding a bit, as Keith Payne, who ran for 730 yards and 14 touchdowns is gone. Perry Jones (who ran for 612 yards and a touchdown) and redshirt freshman Kevin Parks are expected to lead the Cavaliers' rushing attack. Dontrell Inman, who led UVa in receiving yards, is gone, but Kris Burd, who had 799 yards and 5 TDs, is back, as are Matt Snyder and tight end Colter Phillips, who caught only 18 passes but three for touchdowns. On defense, as this SB Nation article notes, the Cavaliers return 12 of their top 17 tacklers from a defense that was not particularly good.
This will be an interesting and important game for the Hoosiers. Virginia is IU's only major conference opponent in non-conference games, and a win would put the Hoosiers in excellent position to begin 4-0 (if IU enters the game 1-0, of course). Also, it would be IU's first non-conference win over a team from one of the six major conference since IU beat Kentucky in 2005 (of course, thanks to some soft scheduling, the losing streak is only two games long: UConn in 2006 and Virginia in 2009). Virginia is a year ahead of IU in its coaching transition, and has a better recent history than IU on the field and in recruiting. Still, this game presents one of IU's best opportunities for a win over a major program, and hopefully, unlike in 2009, the Hoosiers will give it their best shot.