The race is on for Tony Elliott and his staff to prepare the Virginia Cavaliers for the 2022 college football season, which begins in exactly one month. With UVA starting fall camp this week, the Cavaliers have countless questions to answer as they head into the season opener against Richmond on September 3.
Today we’re going to focus on our top five burning questions the Virginia football team will have to answer during fall camp:
1. What will be the condition of the offensive line?
This one is a no-brainer. And we covered the topic in depth last week when we broke down what UVA offensive line coach Garett Tujague had to say about his unit ahead of fall camp. This is undoubtedly the biggest question mark for the Cavaliers this season. How far can Tujague take this group to the start of the season? Who will end up being the starting five and what is the depth? A working offensive line could be all that stands between Brennan Armstrong and the UVA offensive with another record-breaking season.
2. What will the quarterback depth chart look like?
Speaking of quarterbacks, obviously the return of Brennan Armstrong makes quarterback the position that UVA has the most faith in this season. The bigger question mark is what the depth map behind him will look like. Jay Woolfolk won the backup job last season and ended up starting in a big game against Notre Dame when Armstrong went down with a rib injury.
But that was last season.
Since then, UVA has changed coaching staff and Jay Woolfolk spent most of the spring with the Virginia baseball team. Woolfolk made a valuable contribution for the Hoos on the Diamond and served as a reliable, hard-throwing arm from the bullpen, but what did it cost him to earn back the reserve quarterback berth? Of course, Tony Elliott, offensive coordinator Des Kitchings and quarterbacks coach Taylor Lamb will not be placing positions on the depth chart based on last season or the assessments of Mendenhall’s coaching staff. There are now nine quarterbacks on the UVA roster, including junior Jared Rayman and January enrolled freshman Davis Lane Jr., both of whom had chances to train with the team this spring. Any chance someone else could beat Woolfolk for the backup spot?
READ MORE: Virginia Football players poised for breakout seasons in 2022
3. What will the UVA defense system look like under John Rudzinski?
The state of Virginia’s defense is also a big question mark, probably second only to the offensive line. UVA brings some starters and other solid contributors back to this side of the ball, but the Cavaliers also fielded a defense that ranked 121st (out of 130 Division I teams) in total defense – yards per game allowed – for the 2021 season. occupied.
New defense coordinator John Rudzinksi, who joined UVA after spending the last 14 years in the Air Force, has kept his plans for Virginia’s defense pretty tight to the west so far. We haven’t heard much about the Cavaliers being “multiple” on defense, meaning they will have a few different looks/schemes that they can implement depending on the opponent or the game situation. Rudzinski and the UVA defensive coaches have not shied away from the team’s glaring weaknesses from last season, firmly acknowledging that missed tackles and big games were the Cavaliers’ Achilles’ heel in 2021. How much Virginia improves in these areas will determine the success of this program in Year 1 of the Tony Elliott era.
4. How are Virginia’s injured players doing?
Tony Elliott filed an injury report ahead of fall camp and informed the media that four players — second wide receiver Malachi Fields, fifth-year returning Ronnie Walker Jr., junior kicker Justin Duenkel, and freshman wide receiver Dakota Twitty — will miss fall camp due to injury. While those losses aren’t insignificant, it’s certainly a boon to have the rest of the roster nearly 100% healthy as the Hoos prepare for the start of the season. Assistant head coach Marques Hagans noted that fall camp is the time that makes him most nervous as injuries are inevitable and they are most unlucky when they occur during camp as the season is right around the corner.
There are a few specific players to watch in terms of injury status as they have come back from serious injuries last year. Fifth-year recipient Billy Kemp IV underwent surgery on his left leg in mid-December. Perhaps the most underrated member of UVA’s elite receiving core, Kemp’s value cannot be overstated. Virginia is better with him on the field.
This fall will also mark the much-anticipated return of Lavel Davis Jr., who arrived on the scene as a true freshman in 2020 before missing all of last season with an ACL injury in spring 2021. Davis had just 515 receiving yards and five touchdowns for 20 catches in 2020, ranking 1st in the ACC and 2nd in the nation averaging 25.75 yards per catch. Lavel Davis Jr.’s return to college football’s already five-man receiving squad has to be a scary sight for opposing defenses. If Davis can return to his first-year form, he has the potential to be a superstar.
Ronnie Walker Jr., fifth-year running back who sustained a serious injury in early April and missed all of spring football, is reportedly on track to return in late September. How often will we see him training with the UVA running backs at fall camp and where will he find himself on the depth chart when he returns?
5. Which transfers will have the biggest impact?
We’ll go into more detail on Virginia’s transfers of influence in a future article, but today we’re wondering how much impact UVA’s transfers will have on both sides of the ball?
On the defensive line, Kam Butler (Miami Ohio), Jack Camper (Michigan State) and Paul Akere (Columbia) are all experienced and could be asked for big plays early in the season. On offense, Miami running back Cody Brown as well as offensive linemen John Paul Flores (Dartmouth) and Andrew Canelas (Lehigh) could find spots near the top of the depth chart depending on how fall camp goes.
On special teams, UVA could consider Minnesota transfer Daniel Sparks as a starting punter, and Wisconsin receiver Devin Chandler could also consider Virginia’s second leg.
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