August 28, 2012
Five We'll Be Watching: U of R
The Virginia Cavaliers are coming off a great 2011 season and face an FCS opponent (with a new head coach) in the season opener within the friendly confines of Scott Stadium. But that doesn't mean the Wahoos can take Richmond, their opponent on Saturday afternoon (3 p.m., RSN), lightly.
In order for Virginia to begin the 2012 campaign on the right foot, the Cavaliers want to do exactly to UR what they did the last time these two teams met.
Two seasons ago, in his first game back in Charlottesville, UVa head coach Mike London got a win over his previous squad and his alma mater in a 34-13 decision.
But in order to avoid the upset (which has befallen at least one UVa team in a season opener against an FCS team) , Michael Rocco and the UVa offense will have to deal with the same issues Steve Greer and the defense will: New coaches and new schemes.
Richmond head coach Danny Rocco comes to UR from Liberty, where he led the Flames to a 47-20 record over the last six seasons. Rocco, the uncle of UVa's starting quarterback, is no stranger to the Cavaliers coaches and fans. He served as recruiting coordinator from 2001-2002 and associate head coach/linebackers coach from 2003-2005.
The reason Danny Rocco is now in Richmond rather than Lynchburg has to do with a number of factors, including that the Spiders are coming off a 3-8 campaign where they finished 0-8 in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
There's a youth movement at UR, which will start a freshman at offensive guard and have seven, including three true freshmen, on the two-deep. Of that group, six are on the offensive side of the ball. Of its 83 players, Richmond has 23 true freshmen, six redshirt freshmen, 11 true sophomores, and 15 redshirt sophomores. That means that 67.4 percent of the roster is made up of underclassmen.
It seems to spell trouble for first-year starter (and fifth-year senior) John Laub, who got the nod at quarterback over UVa transfer Michael Strauss.
Luckily, Richmond does have a great fullback in Kendall Gaskins, who acquitted himself quite well in the 2010 matchup.
Still, it appears to be a tall task for the Spiders in their 2012 season opener, especially against Rocco and a UVa offense that returns six other starters. Meanwhile, Greer and the defense have to replace seven departed starters, though others played substantial time last season.
As is our custom for Virginia fans during game week, we've looked at the opponent's roster and picked out five players to keep an eye as this game unfolds on Saturday.
Here are the Five We'll Be Watching: Richmond
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