Author's note: I went to the University of Virginia for law school and briefly considered answering my own questions. But I figured that would probably be an indication of mental illness. So I roped in Paul Wiley of Streaking the Lawn to make me look more sane. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PWiley87.
1.) Word is that quarterback Greyson Lambert may be out after suffering an ankle injury against BYU. How much, if anything, does the UVA offense lose with Matt Johns behind center, given how good he's looked at times this season?
We definitely lose SOMETHING. I've been arguing for weeks that Lambert has more talent and I think that's shown on some of the deep balls he's thrown. Johns is a very capable game manager and can create a bit more with his mobility than Lambert can (although Lambert rattled off a 37-yard run on our first possession against BYU then ran in for the game's first TD). The biggest difference is definitely on the deep throws. Underneath and even intermediate, the gap isn't as noticeable. But Johns doesn't have the deep accuracy to threaten to blow the top off a defense. Against Kent State, that probably shouldn't make a difference. Down the road, if Lambert has to miss a meaningful amount of time, that could prove problematic.
2.) Virginia's improved defense was an early storyline this year, but BYU scored 28 second-half points last week after a poor first-half showing. What weaknesses does the defense have that Kent State might be able to exploit?
UVa doesn't rotate a lot on defense, and some up-tempo offenses have gotten to our guys late when they look a little gassed. The corners are also a little iffy. Brandon Phelps has played out of his mind since moving over from safety, but the other side hasn't been reliable. Tim Harris has a ton of talent but has missed some key tackles and tends to get turned around on deep balls. Drequan Hoskey hasn't seemed to develop much over last year; we all saw a ton of potential but haven't yet seen the growth.
3.) Mike London is on the hot seat this year. How important to his employment prospects is it for the Cavaliers to win big on Saturday?
He has more leash now that we've played UCLA and BYU so tight, and beaten Louisville to get an ACC win. Still, Kent State is a must-win for this team if it wants to build on the good play through the first four weeks. Pretty much everyone in the ACC Coastal has looked beatable, but the schedule down the line doesn't do us any favors. At Florida State, at Duke (the team that has looked the most consistent in the Coastal) and at Virginia Tech are all very tough games. Even with the Hokies looking up-and-down this year, playing at Lane Stadium hasn't done Virginia any favors in recent years. If there is a path to six wins and a return to bowl season, that road has to go through Kent State. If the game's close, there will be some rumbling but the most important thing is the W.
4.) Are there any matchups with the Flashes that worry you?
No offense, but not really. If Dri Archer and Roosevelt Nix were still around, then yea absolutely. But Colin Reardon has fewer passing yards than Lambert. Our defensive front has made some pretty good runners look pretty mediocre, so I doubt Trayion Durham is going to fare much better. Our LBs are a bit better against the run than against the pass so Casey Pierce could find some room, but our safeties behind those LBs are pretty dang talented. Teams schedule teams like Kent State for a reason, and it's not to learn from playing against top-quality competition.
5.) What's your prediction?
Less than Ohio State's beatdown, but more than South Alabama's. I don't see the Flashes getting loose too much against this UVa defense. Even if Lambert can't go, the offense has a capable QB in the backfield with a talented stable of RBs and WRs. I would expect something like 31-10 Virginia.