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Florida State football opponent preseason preview: Virginia

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We are setting up preview pages for each of Florida State's football opponents. This is the page for Virginia. FSU hosts Virginia on November 8, and will be looking to take back the Jefferson-Eppes Trophy. The last time Virginia was in town, it beat Florida State in a stunning upset. Since that time, FSU has gone on a 28-2 run, with two ACC Championships, two BCS wins and a National Title.

Virginia is going to continue to do its thing on defense (all man-to-man, all press coverage, tons of blitzing, a lot of sacks and tackles for loss, and some long touchdown bombs given up. High risk, potentially high reward). The offense, though, will probably still be pretty bad. Both of the experts listed here give Virginia a non-zero chance of making a bowl game.

Here's a snippet from Bill Connelly. All of these are fantastic and must be read.

Virginia is basically Wake Forest with more size. Like the Demon Deacons, the Cavaliers had a salty, fun defense whose effect was completely wasted by a feckless offense. And as with Wake, it's probably unfair to assume the offense will improve at any sort of magic, drastic rate in a single offseason. Like Wake, Virginia's offense is loaded with sophomores, and the Hoos probably have greater upside in guys like Mizzell and company. But like Wake, whatever upside the offense has probably won't be reached until 2015 or beyond.

That said, the defense is going to be awesome, potentially great, and it's hard not to notice the opportunities Virginia will have at home in 2015. UCLA, Louisville, Pitt, North Carolina, and Miami all come to Charlottesville (eat at Mel's while you're in town, visiting fans!). Beat Richmond and Kent State and go 3-2 in the above games, and you're one upset from bowl eligibility.

That's probably too much to ask, of course, but it's at least on the table. And with a young, athletic team, some early momentum could be rather beneficial. This isn't going to be agood team in 2014, but it could be competent and strong enough to improve its win total by at least two or three games. And if Mike London has reached Year 5 because of potential and potential alone, that might be enough production to achieve a Year 6.

And here is one from the excellent Paul Myerberg, as well. Again, please click the link and read his fine work as well.

Begin with the positives. Handing the quarterback job to Lambert is a good decision today – he's an immediate upgrade – and a great decision in the long run, since he has the skill set to develop into a top-half starter in the ACC. As a whole, Virginia's defense has enough depth and talent to carry the Cavaliers to several wins during conference play, particularly against teams like Miami (Fla.), Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. The backfield is a strength; there's enough depth for one option to get squeezed out of touches, though Fairchild must make sure Mizzell remains a focal point of the entire offensive blueprint. In total, London and his staff have accumulated enough talent to turn the page on one of the dreariest seasons in program history.

The issues are equally obvious. One is the offensive line: UVa's young quarterback and promising ground game could scuffle enormously due to the inexperience and lack of adequate depth from tackle to tackle. Another is the receiver corps: Virginia has bodies, true, but you're banking on a number of underclassmen playing beyond their years – possible, of course, but that's a tall order. To be truly successful, this offense must unite a solid front and a productive passing game with relatively error-free football. What are the odds?

And what if this team falls flat early – as could be the case, given the nature of UVa's schedule? Then you're looking at a scenario where a team already short on confidence disintegrates before the calendar turns to the heart of ACC play; if that occurs, then you're looking at a coaching change. I'm simply not optimistic about the Cavaliers' chances at a one-year turnaround. Four wins? That should be doable. Five seems attainable. Six? Again, I don't have a great feeling. London has reversed the tide once before; whether he can do so again will determine the direction of the program in 2015 and beyond.