Cavaliers have high expectations after dismal year

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm •  Published: August 13, 2014
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Looking around the room, Virginia's players see signs of greatness everywhere.

A big-armed new quarterback in Greyson Lambert with plenty of skill players to lean on. An aggressive defense more familiar with the system its second year under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta.

"We see what the potential is that we have," tackle David Dean said. "We see the ceiling that we have and it's only us that can stop us from reaching that ceiling."

In many ways for the Cavaliers, it's like last year's 2-10 record never happened.

But it did and coach Mike London — who's fifth year could determine if he gets a sixth at Virginia — is well aware things need to improve.

Virginia was fifth nationally in time of possession, keeping the ball for better than 33 minutes per game, but 110th in scoring, averaging just 19.6 points. They forced 21 turnovers but turned them into just 13 points, and ranked 74th nationally in red zone efficiency with just 21 touchdowns on 41 attempts.

"It's great to execute, it's great to have the ball, but if you don't produce, if you don't have points coming out of that, then that's a statistic that obviously is not in our favor," London said. "Our focus is on the executing of the offense. ... One of the functions of an offense is scoring points."

The hope is that Lambert, a 6-foot-5 redshirt sophomore who supplanted incumbent David Watford in the spring, will help, as will an emerging group of wide receivers. It may take a few of them to replace receiving leader Jake McGee, a 6-6 tight end who transferred to Florida for his final season.

"They've been the biggest surprise I think this spring," offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild said. "That's probably where we are most improved."

Running back also is solid with Kevin Parks providing the power and fellow senior Khalek Shepherd and sophomore Taquan "Smoke" Mizzell both possessing the breakaway speed that can produce big plays.

The defense has two new assistants in defensive line coach Jappy Oliver and safeties coach Mike Archer, both of whom have histories working with Tenuta. The unit will be led by tackle David Dean, middle linebacker Henry Coley and safety Anthony Harris, whose eight interceptions led the nation.

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