2016 record: 2-10, 1-7 in the ACC (T-6th in the Coastal Division)

Head coach: Bronco Mendenhall (2nd season)

The Cavaliers return their top passer and wideout from last season, which for many teams would provide reason for great optimism. That senior duo of Kurt Benkert and Doni Dowling, though, led the team to a dismal 2-10 record in 2016, despite high hopes created by the arrival of new head coach Bronco Mendenhall. 

Without many new faces at the head of the Cavalier offense, it is unlikely the team will be able to snap its streak of five consecutive losing seasons.

Benkert, now a senior, set several school records last season—his first in Charlottesville after transferring from East Carolina—and will surely need to build on his impressive performance to best 2016’s win total.

Perhaps the greatest area for offensive improvement is in the Cavaliers’ rushing game, where the team averaged an ACC-worst 113.6 yards per game, led by now-departed halfback Taquan Mizzell and senior Albert Reid.

Even if Virginia steps up its game offensively, they have shown an inability to keep opponents out of the end zone. The team was outscored 405-270 last season and ranked 11th in the conference in sacks, giving opponents plenty of time to pass for an average of 256.6 yards per game while also rushing for 190.

With this said, the Cavaliers’ lone conference victory last year came during their trip to Durham, when the team bested Duke 34-20 behind 336 yards and three touchdowns from Benkert. 

Even though Virginia lacks strength on paper, the team clearly has the tools to succeed against the Blue Devils if  Benkert has a solid showing. Head coach David Cutcliffe should not write off Virginia as an easy win, or his team could return from its October 7th trip to Charlottesville, Va., empty-handed.