Aug. 20, 2012
2011 Finish: 8-5 (5-3, tied for second in Coastal Division)
Postseason: Lost 43-24 to Auburn in Chick-fil-A Bowl
2012 Prediction: Fourth in Coastal Division
Sept. 1: Richmond
Sept. 8: Penn State
Sept. 15: @Georgia Tech
Sept. 22: @TCU
Sept. 29: Louisiana Tech
Oct. 6: @Duke
Oct. 13: Maryland
Oct. 20: Wake Forest
Nov. 3: @NC State
Nov. 10: Miami
Nov. 15: North Carolina
Nov. 24: @Virginia Tech
Who’s Back: The offense returns seven starters, including quarterback Michael Rocco, Honorable Mention All-ACC tailback Perry Jones and wide receiver Tim Smith, as well as the entire right side of the O-Line in guard guard Luke Bowanko and tackle Morgan Moses and starting left tackle, Oday Aboushi, a Second-Team All-ACC selection in 2011 and a Preseason All-ACC pick in ’12, and tight end Colter Phillips. On defense, the Cavaliers only return four starters, defensive end Jake Snyder, linebackers Steve Greer, like Aboushi, Second-Team All-ACC in 2011 and Preseason All-ACC in ’12, and LaRoy Reynolds and corner Demetrious Nicholson.
Who’s Gone: The Cavs lose their last year’s leading receiver and the school’s second-leading receiver all-time, Kris Burd, All-America guard Austin Pazstor, honorable mention All-ACC center Anthony Mihota and fullback Max Milien. The defense loses seven starters, with the front line and backfield hit especially hard. D-Line loses include All-ACC DT Matt Conrath, DT Nick Jenkins and DE Cam Johnson, while the backfield will miss All-America corner Chase Minnifield, strong safety Rodney McLeod, and free safety Corey Mosely. Aaron Taliferro is the lone linebacker not returning. Perhaps the biggest losses will be on special team, where UVA must replace Kicker Robert Randolph, punter Jimmy Powell and kickoff specialist Chris Hinkebein.
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech’s six-game winning streak to start the 2011 season came to a screeching halt, as the offense was stymied in a 24-21 loss at Scott Stadium. The Jackets were held to 272 yards rushing, the first time all season they’d been held below 300 yards, and completed only two passes. Tech had a rough start, allowing a 12-play, 73-yard scoring drive to open the game and a two-play, 45-yard scoring drive on the second series to fall behind 14-0 after one quarter. The Jackets fought back to tie the game in the second quarter, on a Tevin Washington 11-yard run and a Rod Sweeting 32-yard interception return, but surrendered another pair of long scoring drives and trailed 24-14 at the half. Washington capped a 19-play, 85-yard drive to open the second half to cut the lead to three, but the Jackets never crossed midfield the rest of the game and never got the ball back after punting with 5:58 to play. Washington had 115 yards on 26 carries for Tech but only completed 2-of-8 passes for 24 yards, with two interceptions. For the day, the Georgia Tech and Virginia were dead-even with 272 rushing yards, and Tech was outgunned 407-296 in total yardage.
All-Time Series: 16-17-1 (13-7 at Bobby Dodd Stadium)
Five Things You Need To Know About Virginia:
The Cavaliers have a 24-32 mark all-time in ACC play, but are 10-18 all-time on the road. That includes a 6-11 ledger in Coastal Division teams’ stadiums.
Senior tailback Perry Jones, who made the Paul Hornung Award Watch List, given to the most versatile player in college football (Georgia Tech’s Orwin Smith also is on the list), enters 2012 with 1,570 rushing yards. That’s second in career rushing yardage among active ACC players, but is a distant 785 yards behind the leader, Clemson’s Andre Ellington. Yellow Jackets quarterback Tevin Washington is nipping at Jones’ heels, entering the season only 30 yards back.
There’s not much drop-off when Jones gets a breather, as Virginia is three-deep at tailback, with redshirt sophomore Kevin Parks and true sophomore Clifton Richardson more than capable of doing damage. Last season, Parks netted 709 yards and nine TDs on the ground, adding 82 receiving yards and a score. Richardson rambled for 374 yards and scored twice, and took his only reception six yards for a score. Together, the trio combined for 1,990 yards, 60 receptions and 21 touchdowns.
When Virginia Head Coach Mike London was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2011 — his second year on “The Grounds” — he became the ninth Cavaliers head coach to win the award. The nine coach-of-the-year awards is the most of any school in the ACC. Current Georgia Tech Defensive Coordinator Al Groh took home Nos. 7 and 8 for the Wahoos, winning in 2002 and 2007.
The Cavaliers are only returning four starters from last year’s squad that ranked third in the ACC in total defense, but they represent three of the team’s top four tacklers. Linebackers Steve Greer (103, 43 solo, 6.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks) and LaRoy Reynolds (88, 50, 8.0 TFLs) were 1-2 in stops, while cornerback Demetrious Nicholson (60, 43, 2.0 TFLs, two INTs) ranked fourth.