Virginia football has flirted with irrelevancy lately on the massive college football landscape.
Heck, even Bleacher Report cannot get their team name right.
Yet, coach Mike London and company is trying to change just that. Year one was a rough one, a 4-8 campaign that featured some decisive losses but also provided some light at the end of the tunnel.
Despite three straight losing seasons, cautious optimism reigns in Charlottesville, as top recruits continue to pick the Virginia Cavaliers and their fiery young coach.
Still, 2011 has many more questions than answers for Virginia football fans. Here is a look at the biggest questions heading into this season that need to be answered sooner rather than later.
Quarterback is the most important position in football, and uncertainty at this position can destroy any team's chances of success.
With the departure of Marc Verica, the Cavaliers have a void under center— a void that has not truly been filled since the days of Matt Schaub in 2002-03.
Trying to restore the team's faith in that position and take over the role of leader on offense are two young guns in redshirt sophomore Ross Metheny and sophomore Mike Rocco.
Both players saw limited action in clean up duty last season. Metheny completed 13-of-17 passes for three touchdowns and one interception. Rocco went 13-of-25 with a touchdown and two picks.
With such inexperience, it is hard to say who has the edge right now, but offensive coordinator Bill Lazor may have tipped his hand earlier this week when talking about Rocco.
Lazor remarked that Rocco possessed that deductive reasoning quarterbacks need to succeed. He can pick up things and see things without being explicitly told all the time.
If he can develop that sense, Virginia will have a bright future. Of course, no matter who the starter is, Virginia fans should expect growing pains.
The key is for the team to rally around their selection and step up their game. If Coach Mike London makes the right pick, it could lead to a few surprises in the ACC season.
Tim Smith is a speedy guy, but it is hard to blow by anyone with a cast on.
The redshirt sophomore was sidelined with a left ankle injury for most of last season after tweaking it late in the Southern California game last September.
At 6-0, 185-pounds, Smith brings both experience and explosiveness to an offense that has been more or less dormant for years now.
The rust may certainly be evident early on, but being fully healthy for the first time since 2009 could go a long way in helping Virginia spread the field. Smith had some long receptions as a freshman, exciting a fan base in an otherwise forgettable season.
While Smith's loss last year just two games into the season cost Virginia in the short term, it may help the Cavaliers long term. Other players were able to step up, and now the Cavalier receiving corps appears to be in better shape than in recent memory.
With question marks at the quarterback position, these receivers will need to play well to assist in the transition. Smith could be a big part of that mission.
One of Mike London's top recruits early on was Kevin "K.P." Parks.
Parks was a bit under the radar when he first committed to Virginia, but his senior season turned heads. The PARADE All-American became one of London's biggest names, and the running back got the Virginia message boards to light up.
Of course, knowing that last year was a rebuilding year, Parks redshirted. It proved to be a wise decision, as the dynamic duo of Keith Payne and Perry Jones did a good job moving the ball in 2010.
Now with Payne gone, Parks should be a suitable replacement in the backfield with the speedy Jones.
With an offense that needs a running game desperately to be successful, the pressure will be on Parks to live up to the hype that surrounded him when he first entered Charlottesville.
If he succeeds, Virginia could match or surpass its production of 17 rushing touchdowns last season.
This is just plain inexcusable.
Virginia is not good enough to give teams a break. The run-first offense cannot play from 1st-and-15's, and the defense cannot give their opponents a second chance.
However, in 2010, Virginia had 98 penalties. Worse yet, they averaged nearly 74 yards per game in penalties.
By comparison, in Al Groh's final year where the Cavaliers managed a paltry three wins, Virginia only had 68 penalties, fewer than their arch rival Virginia Tech.
That will not allow the Cavaliers to ever be successful. The 74 yards was worst in the ACC and only three more teams had more than 98 penalties on the season.
Virginia must clean up their game, otherwise Virginia's "Sea of Orange" will become one of yellow.
Despite Virginia's struggles in recent years, Cavalier fans could take pride in their defense.
Players like Chris Long, Chris Canty, Clint Sintim, Ahmad Brooks and so many others helped keep Virginia football respectable over the years.
Well the switch to coach London also meant a switch in defensive schemes from the 3-4 to the 4-3. That transition was far from smooth.
The Cavaliers dropped in nearly every defensive category. In 2009, Virginia was sixth in the ACC in total defense. In 2010, they fell to 10th.
In the rush defense particularly, Virginia gave up over 200 yards per game on the ground. That allowed teams to simply pummel the Cavaliers into submission and led to some lopsided scores.
The secondary may be solid, but the front seven must improve if Virginia expects to be competitive in 2011.
Fortunately for London, now that most of his players have a year under their belt, the 4-3 should improve.
How much will depend on just how well this talent has been developed under the second-year Virginia coach.
Virginia has won much more on the recruiting field than the gridiron lately.
The Cavaliers will have a bunch of talented players entering Charlottesville this August, but they will lack experience. Coach London will want to redshirt many of them, but will necessity change his plan?
Can some players work their way into the starting rotation early on?
Will injuries force other freshmen into early action?
Daquan Romero and Demetrious Nicholson appear to be two names that may be heard from before the end of 2011.
Romero is second on the depth chart currently at weak-side linebacker. The top notch recruit came in this past Spring and really impressed the coaching staff. He could quickly become part of the rotation.
Nicholson played with the first team on defense on the first day of practice this August. The cornerback has not only great athleticism but a good work ethic.
Dominique Terrell looked to be another candidate. The freshman wide receiver, though, could be in academic trouble as his practice was cut short on day one without much explanation from the coaching staff.
Virginia needs talent, but how much will London sacrifice in the long term for short-term solutions?
We mentioned earlier just how sad the Virginia defense was last season.
Well, the Virginia secondary was clearly the saving grace. The Cavaliers ranked third in the ACC in pass defense and most of that was without their top cornerback Ras-I Dowling, who spent most of last year on the sidelines.
Chase Minnifield stepped up big for Virginia and made the 2011 preseason All-ACC team. He is a play-maker on a team that has been devoid of them for some time now.
While Virginia's passing numbers look good on the surface, they can be deceiving.
When a team can run for over 200 yards per game, teams really do not have to go through the air to move the offense. Particularly late in games when the victory has already been decided.
Virginia still lacks big plays from their deep secondary, the ability to make quarterbacks pay for throwing deep.
The secondary also has struggled to make big plays when they need to. The secondary was demoralized last season when the Duke Blue Devils picked up a key fourth down conversion en route to a come-from-behind victory.
Giving up a fourth down conversion is one thing, but this was a 4th-and-20 with less than two minutes to go.
Virginia's secondary is a primary factor in the team's success this year.
It can be a chicken or the egg thing, but solid football programs need a solid fan base.
Virginia fans have been unfairly criticized over the years, but the truth is that up until recently, Cavalier fans would fill up Scott Stadium and be more than loud.
In fact, from 2003-2005, Virginia only lost three games at home total. Those three losses were to Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech, respectively.
Since the humbling start to the 2006 season, pride in Virginia football has ebbed dramatically. The once sold out Scott Stadium could barely muster half capacity in Groh's final season of 2009.
Even though coach Mike London has said all the right things and been a great role model, the numbers are still lagging behind. Despite the enthusiasm over recruiting and potential, people are still unwilling to make the commitment for season tickets.
Fans still have to see a consistent product before they fully buy in.
Can you blame them? Virginia fans have been burned so many times, it is hard to get one's heart broken over and over again.
Mike London has a difficult mission on and off the field. Not only must he convince players that Virginia will be competitive again, he must also convince the fans.
Despite the rise in optimism, neither mission is fully completed yet.
I know, I know, kickers are often maligned and probably not worth an entire slide.
Yet special teams can win or lose games.
Last year, coach London and special teams coordinator Anthony Poindexter got interesting on special teams. A few fakes here and there helped lead to a more exciting product, but it could not ultimately put Virginia over the hump and towards a victory.
The Cavaliers have almost all of their special teams players returning and will look to improve upon a unit that had the fewest field goals in the ACC last year.
While 11-of-18 looks bad, Robert Randolph was 10-of-14 on his opportunities and returns to improve upon those numbers.
The Cavaliers also had the third best kickoff return unit in the ACC, and punter Jimmy Howell has consistently helped Virginia fight in the battle of field position.
If Virginia can tweak the special teams just a bit, they could sneak away with a few extra victories.
College football is defined by rivalries.
If you cannot win against your most bitter enemies, the season is a failure. Plain and simple.
Last year, Virginia lost to Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia Tech for only the second time since 2001.
The Cavaliers have not beaten the Hokies since 2003. Only three times since then has Virginia been within two touchdowns of the lead by the time the game ended.
Former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen irked many Cavalier fans when he said that Maryland does not lose to teams like Duke and Virginia.
Well, Virginia cannot afford to lose to these teams.
Not if they want to get back into the ACC melee and be competitive.
Not if they want to continue to improve and solidify recruiting pipelines.
Not if they want to keep fans motivated.
Most importantly, not if they expect a season to be successful.
Virginia cannot sweep these teams this year. However, Virginia knows that they must become competitive once more with the boys from Blacksburg.
Can they give the Hokies a scare this season?
Virginia has not made a bowl game since the 2008 Gator Bowl following a dramatic, albeit lucky 2007 season, where the team won an NCAA-record five games by two points or less.
The Cavaliers are slowly picking up momentum, but if they want to keep it, they need to make a bowl game in 2011.
Even if it is the Office Depot Lowe's HH Gregg Best Buy Bowl of Sonoma County, Virginia needs those extra practices, the payout and the pride of going in the right direction.
Cavalier fans need to believe, but six wins will not be easy to come by. Despite a relatively easy out of conference schedule, Virginia only won one ACC game last season.
They have only won six ACC games the past three seasons.
Can Virginia get over the hump and make coach London proud?
That is the biggest question of all.