'Hoos Hot - Cavalier Top 5 [Week 3]

The Cavaliers dropped their first game of the season in Chapel Hill last Saturday.  With the loss comes some changes to the Cavalier Top 5 through week 3 for Virginia.  Without further adieu, here is this week's revamped Top 5:

1. Kevin Parks  (Last Week – #2)

[caption id="attachment_221" align="alignright" width="247" caption="Kevin Parks has been outstanding for the Cavaliers. Photo / Virginia Media Relations / Jim Daves"][/caption]

Kevin Parks left the Indiana game early in the 2nd half last week against Indiana with an apparent ankle injury.  As such, most figured Clifton Richardson to get more touches and Perry Jones to continue to shoulder a majority of the workload against a stout UNC front 7.  It was Kevin Parks, however, who once again stole the show.  KP ran for 98 yards on 14 carries - a stellar7.0 yards / carry average against a vaunted UNC run defense on Saturday.  Though he didn't find the endzone, Parks' ability to churn out yards on the ground opened up the passing game for Mike Rocco and allowed the Cavaliers to move the ball efficiently on Saturday [well...until they go into scoring position, at least].  I look for KP to have a huge game against Southern Miss in Charlottesville this weeekend.

 2. Robert Randolph (Last Week – #1)

Randolph missed his first FG attempt of the season on Saturday, which ended up haunting the Cavaliers all day on Saturday - putting them in a constant hole of more than 2 scores throughout the game.  His miss aside, Randolph did drill his second attempt and is now 9/10 on the season.  As the rankings are cumulative, it's hard to ask for much more out of your kicker through 3 games and Robert is still one of the early season stars for the Cavaliers [let's not forget his game winner against Indiana in week 2]. 

3. Oday Aboushi (Last week - 'Hoos Knocking on the Door)

[caption id="attachment_222" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Oday Aboushi has been the leader for the high performing Virginia OL. Photo / Virginia Media Relations / Jim Daves"][/caption]

Our first big mover of the season, Oday vaults from last week's 'Hoos Knocking on the Door list into this week's top 3 - and deservedly so.  Coming off a sterling performance against Indiana which resulted in Aboushi receiving ACC Lineman of the Week honors, Oday and the Cavalier offensive line went up against one of the nation's best defensive front 7 - one that had given up only 60 rushing yards through 2 games.  On Saturday, Aboushi and the mules were the stars of the show for the Cavaliers, allowing the Virginia offense to amass 468 yards on they day.  More importantly, the Cavalier offensive line only gave up 1 sack on the day and afforded QBs Mike Rocco and David Watford   If this type of production continues, this group - led by Oday Aboushiat this point in the season - will wind up as one of the ACC's top units by season's end and the Cavaliers will notch up 6 wins when all is said and done.

4.  Will Hill (Last Week - 'Hoos Knocking on the Door)

Through the season's first 3 games, no Cavalier defensive lineman has appeared as consistently solid than Will Hill.  Which is odd, considering he's currently playing in a reserve capacity of the Cavaliers.  Will looked shined along the line against UNC in an otherwise very poor outing for the unit as a whole.  More importantly, Hill was the only Cavalier defensive tackle who was able to shed blocks and get into the backfield against a huge UNC offensive line.  Look for his minutes and productivity to increase starting this week against Southern Miss. 

5. Cam Johnson (Last Week – #3)

[caption id="attachment_223" align="alignright" width="300" caption="There was no holding penalty on this play... Photo / Virginia Media Relations / Jim Daves"][/caption]

While I contemplated dropping Cam out of the Top 5 given his lack of productivity against the Tarheels, his defining play two weeks ago in Bloomingtonkeeps him in the Cavalier Top 5 for 1 more week.  It appeared Johnson was injured in the loss to UNC on Saturday, as he did not see the field in the second half.  This is something to monitor very closely moving forward as the Cavaliers cannot afford to lose their top pass rusher amongst a unit who has really struggled up front through 3 games.  Assuming his health is intact, Cam will be hungry to get to the Southern Miss QB on Saturday.

‘Hoos knocking on the door?

Chase Minnifield (previously #5) and LaRoy Reynolds (previously #4) dropped out of the Cavalier Top 5 following very disappointing outings by both against the Tarheels.  I expect Chase to avenge his play this weekend on Saturday and really have a breakout game - having been relatively quiet thus far for someone entering the season with such high expectations.  Reynolds, on the other hand, appeared to get banged up in the second half - leading the way for T-Fr DaDa Romero to get some meaningful snaps.  Romero made his presence known and will likely get more reps moving forward - which could land him on the below list soon.  Through 3 games, these are the guys knocking on the door of the Cavalier Top 5.

[caption id="attachment_225" align="alignright" width="252" caption="Mike Rocco needs to start getting the ball in the endzone for the Cavaliers. Photo / Virginia Media Relations / Jim Daves"][/caption]

Mike Rocco- Rocco has proven he can move the ball effectively through the air for the Cavaliers, amassing 652 yards through the air thus far.  His ability to find the endzone, however, should be a grave concern for Cavalier fans - with Rocco only throwing for 1 TD pass to 4 interceptions on the season (though 2 late INTs against UNC skew the numbers here).  If Rocco can learn to be more efficient with the football in scoring position, he'll find himself in the top 5 soon.

Max Millien -The senior fullback has been a star [as it comes to the fullback position, at least] for the Cavalier offense this season.  He has been a great safety valve for QB Mike Rocco, who has hooked up 5 times for 82 yards with Millien- one of which went for a 41 yard TD against UNC that swung momentum back to the Cavaliers at the beginning of the second half on Saturday.  More importantly, Max has helped the Cavaliers maintain a solid running game and will remain a key cog with respect to this part of the offense moving forward.  I would love to move the fullback up the list and, with another score on Saturday, he might just find himself there.

[caption id="attachment_224" align="alignright" width="215" caption="Virginia needs Chase Minnifield to up his play. Photo / Virginia Media Relations / Jim Daves"][/caption]

Chase Minnifield - Chase had a rough outing on Saturday, getting beat for a score andletting his man behind him on several other plays which were near misses for the Tarheels.  As a result, he slid out of the top 5.  His play against William & Mary andIndiana, however, was solid and with a big game on Saturday Chase will find himself back in the Cavalier Top 5.  I expect him to do just that on Saturday.

Kris Burd- Burd had a breakout performance against UNC, leading the way for the Cavalier receiving corps with 7 receptions and 110 yards.  Mike Rocco needs to start finding the endzone when the Cavaliers are in scoring position and there is no one more able to help him with that task than Kris Burd.  With another 100+ yard performance on Saturday, Burd will continue to climb the rankings.

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