WMSB Special: UVA Scouting Report

This could very well be Mike London's last year in Charlottesville if he does not deliver on a bowl soon. [Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports]
This could very well be Mike London’s last year in Charlottesville if he does not deliver a bowl game soon. [Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports]

The bye week is FINALLY OVER. And you know what that means? It’s time for William & Mary to take on its only FBS opponent of the season, who just so happens to double as W&M’s biggest in-state rival. Biggest sports rival? Okay, maybe we won’t go that far. Let’s call them our biggest “academic rival” in the state–that almost goes without saying. But anyways, as game day looms closer, we were able to get ahold of Paul Wiley, who writes for UVA’s wildly popular sports blog, Streaking the Lawn.

We at the W&M Sports Blog gave Streaking the Lawn a scouting report on William & Mary not too long ago, which you can find here–so it’s only fair that they give us a scouting report in return! Again, many thanks to Paul for taking the time to answer our questions for this awesome and insightful piece. Read up Tribe fans, study the Cavaliers, and get PUMPED for Charlottesville on Saturday!

Mike London seems to be entering a make or break year with the Cavaliers. How do you think London has performed as a coach over his career at UVA? Is it truly a make or break year for him?

Definitely going to be a put-up-or-shut-up campaign for London. A lot of the same issues that have plagued Virginia during his tenure–penalties, clock mismanagement, ineffective playcalling on offense–have reappeared early so far this year. Notre Dame saw some pleasant developments: a QB who looked comfortable running the offense; no hesitation from London when it was time to go for two after the late go-ahead score. But if the team can’t turn the positives into wins, UVa might well be in the market for a new head man come December.” 

UVA has had some changes around the quarterback position this offseason. Could you describe the changes, who will be the starter, and his outlook for the coming season?

“The big change is the departure of Greyson Lambert. Lambert left the Hoos after three disappointing seasons. Coming out of high school in Georgia, he was one of the top pro-style QB recruits in the country and chose U.Va. over offers from numerous SEC schools. Now he’s back home, and started the season as QB1 for UGA (although the shine is off afterSaturday’s Georgia-Vanderbilt game). The new guy at the helm for Virginia is Matt Johns. Suffice to say, he’s won plenty of doubters into his camp. His play against Notre Dame was incredible. He found roommate Canaan Severin time and again, hooking up 11 times for 150-plus yards. Lots of folks will be looking for offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild to turn Johns loose more, as we’re putting more faith in Johns’ arm than the rushing attack.”

Aside from quarterback, who are the Offensive players W&M should watch out for this coming week?

WR Canaan Severin looked like the man with a plan last week. But RB Smoke Mizzell has also been a good threat for the Hoos, both as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield. TE Evan Butts has been on the receiving end of two touchdowns so far this year, and his fellow TE Charlie Hopkins, a graduate transfer from Stanford, showed flashes of his big play ability against Notre Dame. Freshman RB Olamide Zaccheaus played well in relief of Mizzell, and could provide some explosive burst as the Hoos get deeper in the depth chart.”

UVA QB Matt Johns will look to build off of his strong performance a week ago vs. Notre Dame [Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports]
UVA QB Matt Johns will look to build off of his strong performance a week ago vs. Notre Dame [Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports]

In the same vein, who are some Defensive players that W&M will need to keep an eye on this week?

The big one is S Quin Blanding. Blanding has been quiet so far after garnering numerous preseason All-American awards and watch list nominations. I would expect he won’t stay quiet for long. CB Demetrious Nicholson has improved mightily in just two games, returning from season-ending injuries the last two years and getting back into his All-ACC form. LB Micah Kiser showed some flashes against Notre Dame, registering a few key sacks to lead the Cavalier pass rush. If he and five-star DT Andrew Brown can hold things down up front, the secondary should be free to roam and make big plays.”

How do you predict UVA will do this year? Any bold statements or win-loss predictions?

“The early-season schedule has been just as brutal as predicted, although not necessarily in the same fashion as expected. A win against W&M is absolutely vital to the Hoos’ postseason hopes. If Virginia can enter ACC play with 2 wins, one against the Tribe and one against Boise State next week, there might be four wins hidden in conference play. I am far more heartened after the close loss to Notre Dame than I was two or three weeks ago, and am even beginning to hold out hope I’ll see my Hoos playing come Christmas time.”

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