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August 29, 2013Today is the official start of the 2013 college football season which means we are just less than 48 hours away from the kickoff of BYU's season. The Cougars open up the campaign against in Charlottesville Virginia against the University of Virginia Cavaliers from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
This is the first matchup between the Cavaliers ad the Cougars since 2000 when a LaVell Edwards led BYU squad went into Charlottesville and beat Virginia 38-35 in overtime. Virginia leads the all-time series over BYU 2-1 with wins coming in Provo in 2000 and in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1987 All-American Bowl.
Virginia is coming off a 4-8 record in 2012 and a last place finish in the Coastal division of the ACC with their wins coming against Richmond, Penn State, Miami of Florida; and North Carolina State. The Cavaliers had one common opponent with BYU in Georgia Tech to which they lost 56-20 on September 15th. The Cougars played the Yellow Jacket six weeks later and came away with a 41-17 victory.
After having losing seasons two of the last three years, Coach Mike London has made massive changes to his staff. The Cavaliers have three new coordinators this season and should have a much different look then in years past.
The Cavaliers will run a pro-style offense with sophomore quarterback David Watford at the helm. Watford appeared in ten games for Virginia in 2011 but will be making his first start on Saturday against BYU. The Cavaliers return seven starters on the offensive side of the ball including a group of very impressive receivers in Tim Smith, Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell. The trio combined for 106 receptions for 1,448 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012. Also look for Watford to find tight end Jake McGee early and often in the passing game. McGee, who was named to the John Mackey Award Watch List, caught 28 passes for 374 yards and five touchdowns last year.
The Cavaliers also have loads of talent in the backfield with the return of junior tailback Kevin Parks. Parks has rushed for 1,443 yards in his two seasons as a Cavalier, which is second all-time for a Virginia running back after their sophomore season. Parks will be spelled in the back field by junior Khalek Shepherd and freshman speedster Taquan Mizzell. The running game should be very explosive thanks in part to a very skilled and tested offensive line. Virginia returns the bulk of their line from a year ago including All-American candidate Morgan Moses. Moses will be making the switch over to left tackle after playing on the right side a season ago.
The Cavalier defense will run a 4-3 scheme and try to get as much pressure as possible. They also return seven starters from 2012 but do have a couple giant holes to fill in the line backing core. Virginia lost La'Roy Reynolds and Steve Greer. Reynolds recorded 90 tackles even though he only played ten games last year. Greer led the Cavaliers in tackles three of the last four seasons and finished his career as the University of Virginia's sixth leading tackler of all-time. This year's squad will be led by junior cornerback Demetrious Nicholson who has started every game of his Cavalier career. The defense will also lean on senior defensive end Jake Snyder. Snyder recorded 44 tackles including 2.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss in 2012.
The Cavaliers hope to be much improved in 2013 but were picked to finish just sixth in the seven team Coastal division of the ACC, ahead of only Duke.