- That there is an actual offensive philosophy and an overall plan. The O doesn't need to be good per se, but it at least needs to show the framework of being effective. We need high school quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, and offensive linemen to be able to look at our offense in action, squint their eyes, and imagine themselves playing in that system and being successful.
- An identity on offense. This was sorely lacking under Al Groh after Bill Musgrave fled to the NFL, and in the later years of his regime it became a damning problem. It kind of fits in with the first point, above, but recruits need to be able to clearly see what our offense is, and what it intends to become. Will we run the ball between the tackles? Interior o-linemen and power backs will like it if we show a commitment to power running. Will we use play action to throw it deep? Fleet wide receivers will like to see us putting the ball in the air. Et cetera. I think you get the point.
- Just like with the two points about the offense, this season needs to show that the newly-installed 4-3 defense will be effective. More than that, that it will be exciting and impactful. Recruits need to want to play in the system, et cetera, et cetera.
- That Coach London can cultivate talent and send players to the NFL. This one hinges largely on Ras-I Dowling, our only current slam-dunk prospect for the 2011 NFL draft. If Ras-I plays at an elite level all season and then goes in the first round of the draft, then that's just great. If he struggles under London's guidance... well, not so great. Additionally, if other legit draft prospects emerge during the season, it will be a boon to the recruiting effort. Guys like Jared Detrick, Cam Johnson, Rodney McLeod, Joe Torchia, and Dontrelle Inman all have a chance to play their way into the 2011 NFL draft discussion, and if it happens, it will be a great thing for Virginia Football.
- That as far as Virginia has fallen, we're not at ground zero. Recruits are interested in helping to rebuild a program into something special; they aren't interested in toiling in complete futility. We have to be able to sell hope, and hope begins with winning some games in 2010.
- That this team isn't so far away from being able to compete on a high level, go to bowl games, and flirt with winning the ACC.
So yeah, he should not be burdened by expectations, but Mike London does need to win some games this season. I'd say three... at a minimum. Four or five would be great. Getting to six or more wins would well exceed even the most optimistic hopes for this season, and send a very strong message to recruits: The rejuvenation of Virginia Football will be swift and exciting. Join the effort NOW!
Of course, the talent on hand, and how the team is assembled and how it ultimately performs will tell most of the story. We'll get to that once we get a little bit closer to the start of the season, once we see where the roster chips begin to settle.
The rest of the story will be told by the schedule the Hoos play this season. Are there cupcakes to snack upon, to build up a few easy wins? Do key games fall at the right spots on the schedule? Just how good will each of our twelve opponents be this season?
Virginia needs to win a few games this season, to maintain traction with recruits. But will the schedule cooperate?
Here's my raw stab at the 2010 football schedule, and some *WAY WAY WAY TOO EARLY* predictions.
When it comes to U of R vs. U of VA on September 4th, I think it's fair to state a few fact-based opinions. 1) No matter how good or how talented a FCS team is, a FBS team should be more talented. I think UVA's talent trumps Richmond's talent. When it comes to the size, speed, and ability of the players, we are better than they are. This was true in 2008, when we beat them 16-0. They went on to win the FCS national championship that year. We went on to finish at an entirely unremarkable 5-7. 2) The Richmond players might feel motivated by some sense of revenge, trying to show their old coach that he made a mistake by jumping from Richmond to Virginia. Meanwhile, Coach London's knowledge and experience with that Richmond roster means he knows their weaknesses and the best ways to attack those weaknesses. Therefore, I think Coach London's knowledge trumps Richmond's revenge incentive. 3) Richmond plays its home games in front of ~22,000 fans in City Stadium. They are used to playing in front of crowds around that size. For London's first game as coach of the Cavaliers, I expect Scott Stadium to be close to capacity... and excited... and a more or less full throat. Will Richmond be affected by the Wahoo faithful? I think the UVA fans trump anything the Spiders have seen or will see in a regular season game at the FCS level.
In this game, I see us grinding it out on the ground and attacking the rebuilt Richmond o-line in an attempt to rattle the rusty Aaron Corp. Let's say Dominique Wallace churns along for 100+ yards and a TD, while Perry Jones offers a dynamic change of pace and slashes and dashes for another 50 yards and a score. The Orange Crush tallies three sacks, including one by Cam Johnson. The game is too close for comfort, but the Hoos prevail, 24-16.
Coming soon: Part II