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Aug. 7, 2006

Watch Coach Groh’s Preseason Press Conference (Aug. 4)

Charlottesville, VA Virginia football coach Al Groh held teleconference today (Aug. 7) to review the Cavaliers’ opening weekend of practice. Here are a few of Groh’s comments:

Question: Do you think sophomore WR Kevin Ogletree is a guy who is ready to take a big step forward this year?

Groh: Kevin’s got very good ability; he’s a natural pass-catcher. He’s got some real elusiveness, he’s got some real good acceleration and he’s a quality player at that position. A point that relates to the entire position–and it certainly relates to Kevin–is that we’re working to establish the mentality at that position that guys who play out there can either be pass-catching specialists or they can be football players. By that I mean, let’s say a guy caught seven passes a game and there might be 70-75 plays in a game. That would have him at 84 catches for the year and that might lead the ACC. But the only plays on which he contributes to the offense are the seven plays that he catches the ball. Then the other 90 percent of the plays he’s not really a very productive player for the team. So it’s blocking on all the runs, running routes–not only to get open, but if you don’t get the ball to open it up for somebody else. That’s really one of the things young receivers have to do–move beyond being just pass-catching specialists to being real football players. Kevin’s working hard at that. He shows he’s got all the skills to do those things. Now he’s just got to continue to break into those levels.

Question: In the slot, is he ahead of some other players like Emmanuel Byers and Andrew Pearman in those other areas?

Groh: Well, some of those players aren’t necessarily candidates at those positions. What we want to do with the young players is we don’t want to give them too many different positions–be a Z, be a back-up X. There’s certain players we put them in the slot to give them another position, but there are certain players that aren’t candidates for that position, either because of the skill requirements for that position or we just don’t want to overload him mentally. Kevin’s got the skills to play in the slot and now in his second year he’s got some background at the X position since he was up with us last year and not a redshirted player. So we think it’s a good time to move him forward in that role.

Question: In your five previous years at Virginia, have you ever had the combination of experience and depth in the secondary that you do now?

Groh: It is the best combination of those things. We’ve got the best overall speed level we’ve had back there and we’ve got more of them (players).

Question: With about 15 defensive backs on the roster, does it present any challenges from a coaching standpoint just getting players enough reps when you have that many?

Groh: We definitely have to have a planned rotation, otherwise guys are getting two (turns) here and one there. Sometimes that involves everybody getting a chance per day. Some of the practices we say, `Look, today, it’s going to be you two guys, and tomorrow it’s going to be the other two guys.’

Virginia’s practices scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday are open to the public. Here is the schedule:

Friday, August 11	2:30 p.m.Saturday, August 12	8:45 a.m. and 6:45 p.m.Sunday, August 13	2:30 p.m.
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