With spring practice officially underway around the ACC, we’re taking a look at each program, using recent performance, win-loss trends, coaching and current and future personnel as indicators. Next up: Virginia
2015 record: 4-8 (3-5 ACC)
Three-year record: 11-25
Coaching situation: Virginia made one of the boldest coaching moves in the offseason, bringing in Bronco Mendenhall from BYU to try and get the Cavaliers turned in the right direction. Mendenhall has spent nearly his entire life out West, so the move East represents a vastly different challenge than anything he has faced in his career. But Mendenhall felt the time was right to take it on after spending 11 years at BYU. He brought nearly his entire staff with him, including offensive coordinator Robert Anae and defensive coordinator Nick Howell. But he also smartly brought in former East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill and kept receivers coach Marques Hagans (a UVa alum) as well. So not only did Mendenhall keep staff chemistry, he bolstered recruiting with McNeill and Hagans in the mix.
Roster situation: Virginia has struggled because it has not had any consistency on offense, and that all starts with the quarterback. Matt Johns returns as the incumbent after throwing for 20 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions a year ago. There is no true game-breaking receiver on the roster, and no home-run back, either. Perhaps Mendenhall will find a way to unleash Smoke Mizzell into a much bigger role this year. Defensively, Virginia loses three starters along its defensive line and needs to have a breakout season from former ESPN 300 defensive tackle Andrew Brown.
Recruiting situation: Former coach Mike London had a banner recruiting season in 2014, signing four ESPN 300 recruits and a Top 25 class. Only one -- safety Quin Blanding -- has made an impact. The last two recruiting classes signed finished in the bottom three in the ACC, and behind rival Virginia Tech. So the new coaching staff clearly has work to do to upgrade its recruiting efforts, especially given the talent-rich Tidewater region in its backyard.
Trajectory: Up. Any time a new coaching staff comes in, the arrow is pointed up. Especially with Virginia, a team that has talent but lost a number of close games during the last two seasons that cost it bowl eligibility. Between 2014 and 2015, the Cavaliers lost a whopping 10 total games by eight points or less. That suggests they are close. Now, if they can fix turnover margin (minus-9 in 2015) and penalties (No. 13 ACC) just to start, they will give themselves a much better chance to get back to a bowl.