Student Diary: Eric Leibowitz
March 4, 2002
Monday, February 25th
Day off. We won our opening game of the season yesterday, 20-5 over Drexel. It was a solid win and we need to use today to rest and get ready for what needs to be a great week of practice.
Everyone knows that beating Syracuse will take an extraordinary team effort. I think we’ll come ready to work in practice this week.
Tuesday, February 26th
Today was just the type of practice we needed to have. The whole team is excited and motivated for Saturday’s game against ‘Cuse. Our practices early in the week are our tough, physical days where we get our conditioning in and beat each other up a little bit. Today was one of those days.
We put in offensive and defensive schemes for this weekend and began planning personnel matchups. The coaches are putting us in a great position to win this game with their scouting and gameplans, but as they all stressed today, this game will come down to the rather basic aspects of desire, execution, and discipline.
After practice we watched some film of Syracuse so that we could begin to recognize some of their tendencies. We need to take advantage of anything that might give us an edge to win the game, and these scouting reports are an enormous boost. Tomorrow we need to build on today’s solid practice and get better as Saturday comes nearer.
Wednesday, February 27th
Another tough physical day of practice. The weather was not optimal for practice, the temperature was hovering somewhere around freezing. All that means is that we have to be more focused. The uncomfortable conditions today could have been a blessing in disguise, as the weather forecasters are calling for really foul weather on Saturday. Despite the cold, the enthusiasm was present although it may not have been vocalized. Guys seemed to be playing hard and doing their best to be aware of what Syracuse is going to try and do this weekend. Today was our last real tough, physical day of the week. On Thursday and Friday we will fine tune our game plan and concentrate on the unsettled game and understanding our matchups.After practice we finished the scouting report on Syracuse and then hit the weight room. It is important that we maintain our physical strength as well as our conditioning, and we are lucky to have a strength coach like Derek Laing. He is a great guy who puts us in the type of shape necessary to compete in these big games.
Thursday, February 28th
Today was our sharpest day of practice this week. We have gotten better each day this week and we are continuing to put ourselves in a good position to win Saturday’s game. Again, there was a great deal of enthusiasm, and at the same time guys were really focused. We ran through our unsettled drills today and continued to prepare for any situations we might see on Saturday. Our games with Syracuse are usually pretty tight, so we spent some time reviewing tactics for the end of the game like clock management and coming from behind. We practiced at Klockner today, and the field looks spectacular. There are not a whole lot of places in the country that provide a better atmosphere for a game. The crowd is close and the place gets pretty loud. Hopefully we’ll have a big crowd on Saturday.
Friday, March 1st
We were only on the field today for about half an hour. Fridays are just a tune up and quick review session for the game the following day. There is no doubt that we are all ready for the game. There is no shortage of enthusiasm or focus. We all realize what type of effort we will need to put forth in order to win this game. This game means a great deal to all of us-we have never beaten Syracuse in the regular season in the last four years, although we did top them in the national championship our freshman year. The weather was great today, and we’re hoping it will hold up for tomorrow, despite the fact that the forecasters are calling for rain.
Saturday, March 2nd:
Despite playing extremely hard, we lost to Syracuse 15-13 today. The game lived up to its billing and had all the excitement that the typical Virginia-Syracuse matchup provides. There were lead changes, ties and the game nearly went into overtime. Unfortunately, a few mistakes in a game like this are always magnified, and today Syracuse made fewer errors. We learned today that we can play with and beat the best, which is a big positive for a team that has some young guys in key spots. We had our chances but just couldn’t capitalize. This game will serve as a building block for what hopefully will be an extremely memorable season.