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Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A With Streaking The Lawn

Streaking The Lawn, SB Nation's University of Virginia blog answers our questions about UVA football, the ACC and the new college football season.

If the Cavaliers don't make a bowl game, UVA may be looking for a new football coach after this season.
If the Cavaliers don't make a bowl game, UVA may be looking for a new football coach after this season.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

BN: Virginia has set up a solid record of scheduling games against Pac-12 schools. Virginia has UCLA this year and next, Oregon last season and 2016, and Stanford 2017. What is it about the Pac-12 that makes our teams good choices as opponents?

STL: "Good choices" would be up for debate among Virginia fans. Choices that make for a ballin’ strength of schedule? Absolutely. Choices that help a growing program move forward? Maybe, maybe not. If moving forward can only be counted by games won, then scheduling some of the strongest programs in the country ain’t so bright. If moving forward entails learning from programs that have come up from obscurity or back from mediocrity—and, in the cases of UCLA and Stanford, done so while maintaining rigorous academic standards—then sure. There is also something to be said for establishing a national recruiting footprint, but I’m not sure that argument holds much water when the national exposure is getting trounced by 40-plus points.

BN: Mike London is entering his 5th season, with a record of 18-31, 8-24 in conference at UVA. There is only one bowl game in that span- Chick-Fil-A Bowl after 2011 season. What does UVA need to do this season (# of wins/ postseason/conference finish/etc) for London to still be coaching in Charlottesville next season?

STL: A bowl game saves London’s bacon. It would demonstrate that things are moving in the right direction (not to mention VASTLY exceed expectations for this season). Five wins? That might do it too, IF the five wins are over the right opponents and the losses aren’t for the same dumb reasons. If we beat Kent State and Richmond, then manage three wins in conference, that’s probably enough, especially if one of the ACC wins is against Virginia Tech. I think there’s a path to four wins that keeps London in Charlottesville, but I’m not happy about it. Anything less than four and he’s out; losing to Richmond might mean he’s fired before the heart of the conference schedule.

BN: Who do you think is the favorite in the ACC Coastal Division this season? Where do you see Virginia finishing this season?

STL: The Coastal is WIDE open. The only constant is inconsistent or unproven QB play. Miami is starting a freshman, Tech has to replace Logan Thomas with a transfer, UNC has to replace Bryn Renner, we’ve been a flaming hot mess at QB for almost ten years, Pitt is replacing Tom Savage…et cetera, et cetera. I would personally like to see Duke back in the ACC Championship Game. I like David Cutcliffe, I love what he’s done with that program, and the Blue Devils are the most palatable of some pretty unsavory options. As far as Virginia goes, finishing above sixth is going to take some luck—playing Florida State and Louisville as our Atlantic Division crossovers lays a tough row to hoe. I’d like to think we could finish above Pitt or Georgia Tech (or possibly even both), but closer to the cellar looks like the more realistic scenario.

BN: The Pac-12 is the only major conference which plays 9 conference games. Is there any talk of the ACC moving from 8 games (current) to 9? Should the ACC move to a 9 game conference schedule? Do you think this would help or hurt the ACC's chances of having a team in the College Football Playoff every year?

STL: If memory serves, there was talk of moving to a 9-game conference schedule but it got axed at the offseason meetings. I think that’s a shame. I admire the PAC-12 for its scheduling rules and think it should be rewarded for that when it comes time to pick who’s in and who’s out. That said, the quasi-addition of Notre Dame means that five teams each year will be playing Notre Dame as a non-conference game; so long as Brian Kelly can keep his players in class and doing their own work, that should make for a stronger schedule slot than, say, Kansas (lookin’ at you, SEC…). I’ve also told BYU fans that the ACC rule against counting BYU as a Power-Five opponent is a mistake. TL;DR: I have lots of issues with ACC scheduling rules.

BN: Sophomore starting QB Greyson Lambert made headlines earlier this week by saying UVA's defense is as good as UCLA's. How do you think Lambert will perform: a) against the Bruins? b) during the entire season? Will he still be the starting QB at the end of the season?

STL: First things first, the fact that he said that is a sign of inexperience. No reason to give an opponent bulletin board material. That being said, he has a point. Football Outsiders uses S&P+ to rate defenses on per-play efficiency, adjusted for opponent strength. Last year, UCLA ranked 27th, UVa ranked 32nd. We return the same number of starters on that side of the ball including an All-American safety, we add two of the nation’s top-ten overall recruits (DT Andrew Brown and S Quin Blanding), and get back an NFL-caliber CB who missed most of last season with an injury (Demetrious Nicholson). Neutral outsiders say this defense could be one of the nation’s best. So Greyson has a point. But practice is different from a game and our offensive line is just … ew bad awful. We discussed his season-long prospects over at STL, and all pretty much agree that if he isn’t starting by the end of the year—barring injury—then the train has gone badly off the rails.

BN: Who do you think will make the College Football Playoff this year? Who plays for the title? And, who wins it?

STL: Florida State, because they’ll go undefeated. Alabama, because they get Auburn at home. I want to say both Oregon and UCLA from the PAC-12, but given that they would have to go through each other in the conference title game just before selection time, probably only one. I’ll say Michigan State gets past Oregon and into the playoff (which means Oregon would have to win the PAC-12 to get in, but would be a super strong one-loss team). My seeds would be #1 FSU vs. #4 Oregon, and #2 Alabama vs. #3 Michigan State. One little piggie gets ALL THE POINTS, one little piggie gets none. Florida State outshoots the Ducks, and MSU out-Sabans Saban. Defense wins championships, but so does Jameis Winston. FSU 24, Michigan State 18.

BN: Hundley or Winston...Who wins the Heisman?

STL: In the above scenario, Jameis Winston. In my dream world, Navy’s Keenan Reynolds. He’s going into his third year as a starter in an offense where experience REALLY counts. If they beat Ohio State in week one, look for his name to pop up in dark horse lists by mid-season. Anchors aweigh, vote Keenan all day.

Thanks to Paul Wiley and the team at Streaking The Lawn for participating in this Q&A.