Spring lookahead: Virginia Cavaliers

Will redshirt junior quarterback Phillip Sims lead a bounce-back season in Charlottesville?

2012 record: 4-8 overall, 2-6 ACC
Spring practice opens: March 18
Spring game date: April 6

2012 in review: A 2-0 start and win over Penn State had Hoo-ville fired up, but then a 56-20 loss to Georgia Tech triggered a six-game losing skid. Virginia dropped eight of its last 10 games, and half the losses were blowouts. Coach Mike London never settled on a quarterback, rotating the more experienced Michael Rocco, whose ceiling was quite low, and Alabama transfer Phillip Sims, who has a very high ceiling. Now that Rocco has transferred, London should regret limiting Sims’ snaps. Virginia's defense had some really nice moments, but overall, the Cavaliers didn’t run the ball well enough and the lack of continuity at QB was a real problem. 

Biggest hole to fill: Linebacker Steve Greer was sensational last season, getting in on 103 tackles, including eight for a loss of yardage, two sacks among those. Greer also broke up six passes. But it’s not just Greer’s numbers that will be hard to replace, but his tenacious approach on the field and commitment off of it. He was a great leader by example, and filling his shoes in that respect will be quite a task. Henry Coley played a bit last season as a sophomore and will get a shot at the job, as will sophomore Kwontie Moore. Both players are talented and should help, but neither is Greer, at least for now.

Watch out for: How the linebackers change in their approach now that Jon Tenuta is coaching the group. Tenuta has built a career out of reshaping the position wherever he goes — his stops that include North Carolina, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and most recently North Carolina State — usually turning it up a few notches. He loves to blitz and infuse players with confidence. This group needs it, especially with Greer gone. The talent is there to play faster and more aggressively, so by midseason, it will be interesting to see just how much has changed.

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