The 2013 season is six months away. Let's punch fate in the face and make wild assumptions about what could be the best 20 teams in the country next year.
Important People: Matt White (A); Rob Emery (M); Owen Van Arsdale (A); Chris LaPierre (SSDM); Charlie Streep (A/M); Mark Cockerton (A/M)
Formerly Important People: Steele Stanwick (A); Matt Lovejoy (D); Chris Bocklet (A); Colin Briggs (M); Rob Fortunato (G)
Final 2012 Poll Positions: Media: 5; Coaches: 8
2012 Record: 12-4 (2-1, ACC)
2012 Snapshot: Hey, pretty lady!
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Steele Stanwick -- the 2011 Tewaaraton winner and chief Dirty Bird -- is fresh out of eligibility. This wouldn't be a problem for Virginia if, say, someone on the Grounds had invented a time machine that could give Stanwick endless eligibility and, potentially, shake human existence to its collective core. As nobody in Charlottesville has gotten around to that, though (that wine and cheese isn't going to eat itself, friend), Virginia needs to come to grips with the fact that its primary offensive focus for the last few years has vanished; the identity that Stanwick built around the Cavaliers offense is now left to history. Stanwick is gone, man, and given how much he meant to Virginia's overall offensive momentum -- the efforts he put together that edged around the double-digit point mark; single-handedly carrying a team to victory in Denver last season against Pennsylvania; almost dropping Notre Dame by himself in Philadelphia; ad nauseum -- the Cavs are going to have a totally new look (by default) entering the 2013 season.
And that's the issue, right (the change in identity)? At times last season, Virginia looked a little lost without Stanwick blowing things up on the field. Where do the Cavaliers go from here? It's unclear. There's lots of offensive talent kicking around, but a lot of that talent was dictated by what Stanwick made of it. In short: You can see the pieces of the puzzle, but the picture just isn't clear; what's missing is the hand to pull it all together. Marc Van Arsdale has a task this fall and early spring -- not an impossible one, but one that is going to require some dedication -- to find a new identity for this Virginia offense and make it sing.
A Thousand White Doves
Even though Stanwick is gone, there is plenty in the cupboard to make a meal. Charlie Streep's transfer from Bucknell to Charlottesville provides a unique dimension that may ultimately dictate what the Cavaliers choose to do and how they choose to do it. An attack of Streep-White-Van Arsdale and a midfield of Tucker-Emery-Cockerton is very strong (although it will need to coalesce). Throw in complementary talent in Matt Cockerton and James Pannell and the Cavs look -- on paper -- to have enough offense to keep them well within the national conversation. Combined with a defense with lots of nice parts -- Harry Prevas, Scott McWilliams, LaPierre, Tanner Ottenbreit -- and the Cavaliers, while full of questions regarding actual production in 2013, may be just a step below expected ACC title contenders Duke and Maryland.