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What?s going on with UVA Football?
by Jay James,posted Oct 22 2012 10:56AM
I was looking at a very ironic coincidence this morning, UVA and Auburn were in the bottom two in the nation in turnovers heading into last weeks games, Virginia after 3 more turnovers is now last in the country at -16. However Auburn, like Virginia, is winless in their conference, and is 1-6 on the season. A far cry from the two teams that faced off in last years Chick Fil A Bowl.
So what is the deal with Virginia? It comes down to several recent issues. First, the special teams has been a real issue, coverage problems to decision making issues on when to catch kicks, or take them out of the end zone. The special teams unit has also been penalized far too often, at times causing negative field position implications for the team. Penalties in general have been an issue, but it seems like Virginia’s players are reacting out of frustration, the frustration of outgaining opponents in yardage but not being able to make critical plays to sustain drives, the mounting frustration of being at a disadvantage in the field position battle as well. Lastly, the turnovers at the worst possible times also add to the mounting frustration for a team that really doesn’t know how to win, because the majority of the significant contributors from last year that grounded the team are gone. Matt Conrath at defensive tackle, Cam Johnson at end, Chase Minnifield at corner, Mosely, and Mccloeud at safety, Snyder and Bird at receiver, and Mahota at Center. These losses have proved to be HUGE, with a young secondary which never benefits from being placed in bad field position. Plus an offensive line that managed 48 rushing yards against Wake Forest. Virginia has two great tackles, but the interior of the line features guys who missed practice in the spring, and Luke Bowanko who played well at guard moving to center, and no consistency at guard from Cascarano, Wallace, Davis up front for the Hoos. This team just doesn’t know how to win with so many young players and ill advised mistakes at key moments, turnovers, penalties, and mistakes have cost UVA four of their six losses. I would argue that Ga Tech, and Duke, just flat out beat UVA. Virginia was in the game against TCU, not to mention losses to La Tech, and MD, and Wake on basically the last play or opportunity to make a play late in the game.
Lastly, we must look at what is going on offensively. Since making the QB change UVA has put up 17, 20, and 10 points. The offense has become one dimensional because teams are stacking the box to stop the talent of Parks and Jones. To me, with no slight to the talent of Phillip Sims, the offense has not improved after the change. The turnovers and dropped passes remain. So was it Michael Rocco or the combination of a struggling offensive line, receivers not achieving separation, and a running game underperforming? Plus the injury to Tim Smith which caused him to miss consecutive games as the only really experienced receiver was also big. I interviewed Phillip Sims after the game about the offenses struggles, and what’s next for this team: “I think a lot of guys are frustrated at this point that we’re not successful as an offense. We’re not doing the things that we expect from ourselves. We’ve got to put that in the past, let this bye week come get healed up and focus on some of the small things that got the season going off on the right foot.” The bye week presents an opportunity to look at everything, go back to training camp basics, on tackling, who starts at each position, ect. What do they have to lose? The only way to change the result is to change what you’re doing. As they say, we’ll see. It is year three, another year of building, it took the last few seasons of the Groh era, in which academic casualties, and staff changes hurt him, for the program to be in a tough position when Mike London inherited it. It’s going to take longer than three years to fix, that is the painful reality.