Spring Superlatives – Most Likely To Surprise

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Anthony Harris

When Mike London took over as head coach of the Virginia football program, recruiting became one of the key areas of focus. In order to turn around the Cavaliers, the coaching staff needed to bring in more talent to create depth and competition. Now after stringing together multiple solid recruiting classes in a row, some of those early recruits are entering their second and third season on the field. That experience could start to shine through this season.

With that in mind, let’s look at the next superlative-style breakdown with “Most Likely To Surprise” for the Hoos.

I’m going with the safeties. It’s a much-maligned position among fans and the group has taken some lumps over the past several seasons without question, though Rodney McLeod did make it to an NFL payday with the St. Louis Rams. The unease with the safety spot falls back to UVa’s propensity for allowing big plays without a counter-balance of turnovers caused. That is because, in theory at least, the safeties are the proverbial last line of defense, but they are also the potential ball-hawking disruptors in the passing game.

In 2012, Virginia ranked 59th nationally out of 124 FBS teams in plays allowed of 30 yards or more with 23; that same season, the Hoos had just 4 interceptions, which ranked 118th nationally. In 2011, it finished 63rd out of 120 with 24 plays allowed of 30 yards or more; the Hoos had 12 interceptions to tie for 55th nationally. In 2010, it was 111th out of 120 with 34 plays allowed of 30 yards or more; the Hoos had 11 INTs and tied for 66th nationally.

From the unfair comparisons department, Alabama allowed just 47 plays of 30 yards or more while intercepting 53 passes in the past three years combined. From the you might be surprised department, however, arch nemesis Virginia Tech allowed 81 plays of 30 yards or more while intercepting 52 passes in the past three years combined.

Simply put,

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