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Nov. 25, 2002

So…. What can this football team do for an encore? University of Virginia football coach Al Groh and his staff have already raised the bar in the department of poise and perseverance. Following last week’s 48-13 dismantling of highly touted Maryland the Cavaliers have few curtain calls left. I suppose a win in Blacksburg would just about push Cavalier fans over the edge.

I’ve been around a lot of coaches…teams, and players. But this group takes the cake. Nothing phases them…. Not running backs who run for 150 plus yards…not quarterbacks who get national ink…not defenses that tear your heart out on a normal Saturday. UVA’s 2002 team is a study in concentration…a lunch pale bunch that comes to work everyday…listens to what the coaches are saying and then executes like no other team before them. I mean…..come on….Virginia has ten seniors…seven of which are making game day contributions. Our running backs are made up of first years and guys who were fourth on the depth chart in August. The offensive line is so young three of them can’t grow facial hair. The Wahoo defense was so maligned in September that Coach Groh and defensive coordinator Al Golden received e-mail suggesting the Cavs think about abandoning the 3-4.

Then there was the Cavalier quarterback story. There was more talk show debate over who should play than which presidential candidate took Florida. Virginia had problems….too many young kids…not enough athletes, and the schedule was way out of line.

So what happened?

Virginia’s coaching staff is so damned determined, organized, and can flat out teach….that’s what happened. When Groh built his staff last year he assembled a group of talented individuals that know how to do one thing. Game plan! The whisper around the Atlantic Coast Conference is that UVA is out scheming everyone. Take the Maryland game and the Billy McMullen, wide receiver reverse pass to Michael McGrew for the 27-7 lead early in the third quarter. The week before against NC State the ‘Hoos ran several reverse plays against the Wolfpack pressure. It kept State’s defense on it’s heels most of the day. So when UVA called the play against Maryland the Terps thought they had the play perfectly defended. Yeah…right….

” It was a natural progression,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave told me after the game. “We added the pass play this week for Billy…it was the natural call.”

Wait a minute…..are you trying to tell me coaches call plays two games in advance? They put one game plan together for one week and already think of how a wrinkle the next week might work?

“Yeah…basically,” Musgrave responded.

I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but this takes the one game at a time theory and dumps it in the Gatorade cooler.

The Maryland win was the 8th in two years during the Al Groh era when Virginia was an underdog. Again….it was a second half onslaught….only it started fifteen minutes before half time.

I know I’m just the radio guy…and I know my job is to paint the picture and deliver the game story to Virginia fans and ACC listeners…but I have to admit. I’m impressed. Virginia is 6-2 in the ACC. The Cavaliers are going to a prestigious bowl game in late December or January…and with 8 wins the football program renovation seems a couple of years ahead of schedule. However I am pretty impressed…and like a lot of people….I’m having loads of fun watching the construction project.

See you in Blacksburg!

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