Read What Head Coach Al Groh Said at His Press Conference Tuesday as His Team Readies for North Carolina
Oct. 17, 2006
Charlottesville, Va. –
Al Groh Press Conference 10/17/06
Q: Does the success the offense had in the previous game against Maryland give it a sense of confidence going into Thursday night against North Carolina?
Groh: Well to fall back on one of my tried and true beliefs that confidence is a result of demonstrated performance. Whether it was individuals looking back on their performance, they can see themselves doing things at a better level than what they had done before. So that should elevate their confidence, and if it is their teammates looking at them, then they can judge how the team is, how is the team doing, what has the team done before. I would certainly hope that would be the case, confidence is such a huge factor in performance but I’m not trying to throw cold water on the party here. We got out of one of our planning sessions around 10:05 last night and someone had the Arizona-Chicago NFL game on. I got in there just in time to see the newly anointed quarterback get strip sacked for the second time in the half following two interceptions, so he had four turnovers in the first half. And I just thought to myself, well that’s the way it goes with that position. You can be red-hot and have one of those games and it just looks like there is an imposter in the uniform. We’d like to keep this trend going more than just one shot.
Q: Has the coaching staff been slow to push Jameel Sewell to run more because of a desire to make sure that he develops his passing game?
Groh: We haven’t overemphasized it to a large degree one way or the other. He has this ability, he has to be alert and ready to use it. I think in that respect there have been different plays that we have put in where we have tried to be prudent to not overload his playbook too much, too fast, for example going into the game last week, there were patterns that we had thrown against that team in their coverages in the past that we didn’t put in the gameplan because we just didn’t have enough cumulative repetitions in a number of things. We’re trying to keep it in an area where he is getting comfortable with a number of things, if we start jumping to a lot of different things all at once then we have to find a new comfort zone for him.
Q: How would you assess the job Mike Groh has done as offensive coordinator?
Groh: Well certainly he has made the big adjustment of a tremendously greater level of responsibility, not just in the game, but that responsibility goes all day long, with both Mike Groh and Mike London. They moved into these positions, they now have the overall responsibility for game and practice scripts written and the cards drawn. Game plans that somebody used to put on their desk, now they are responsible for preparing and putting it on somebody’s desk. Cut-ups that get shown to the offense and defense that play in the Friday night meetings. I was sitting in Mike London’s office a couple weeks ago and I was joking with him, `Oh it looks a little bit different now doesn’t it when you have to draw all those cards?’ And he was just shaking his head. I went through that in the past, I know what both of them are facing. As well they still have to be position coaches. Both of them have handled the adjustment very positively.
Q: Has WR Kevin Ogletree been a big play receiver in practice?
Groh: Last week was probably one of the few occasions that most of you all have had to see him out in the open. To see that he has that good athletic ability, that very graceful, smooth style. He’s got some spurt to him. So you can see some of that athletic ability that we talked about on some occasions. Certainly that was evident on the one he caught in the end zone, he really had to finish the play, fight the ball out. It looked like it could have been an interference call but it wasn’t going to get called. It’s either catch the ball or not get much out of it. I was certainly impressed with that.
Q: QB Jameel Sewell complimented the scout team defense on assisting in his progress, do they deserve some credit for the job they have done?
Groh: I think that is his experience on what he has to go against. It’s easy for him to say too because he hears the coaches say that to that group everyday. As well as some of the offensive players, as we have remarked in here before. Some of those guys, it’s a group that is really fun to watch work. They have a lot of energy, they have that sense about them that they project, that they have a history of being good football players. There is no doubt in their minds that they are going to be good football players. And that they really like football. Ok, so they are not playing in the games this year, but that does not dull their enthusiasm about it. It’s a Tuesday afternoon and they get to put their stuff on and play football. They like that. That kind of energy and feeling for the game is very infectious on a team, so even though they (primarily members of first-year class) are not playing in the games, they are giving us some real indications of what they are going to bring.
Q: Is it contagious for the players and coaching staff to get excited for a prime time matchup?
Groh: Oh sure, definitely. I remember very clearly two years ago, we played Clemson here on a Thursday night. There have been some games over these five and a half years where we have had just great environments in the stadium, with teams that people would classify as longer term rivals for the school than Clemson, but I don’t remember any game that we have played where there was more electricity in the night than that Thursday night game. Part of it is the whole Thursday night deal, it’s the same with Monday Night Football. Anybody that’s involved with it, player, coach, and obviously fans, it seems to raise the level of everything. So we’re hoping to show the whole country that again on Thursday night.
Q: North Carolina most likely is coming into this game thinking they have a lot to prove, how have you game planned for this?
Groh: Our whole mentality is to prepare for their best game of the season. While we perhaps played our best game of the season last week, in the end result it wasn’t good enough. It was still the best that we did, it could have been good enough but it wasn’t. We need to play better then we did last week to match what we expect to be the best that they have played so far. Our perspective is that from all the feel-good things that came out of last week, all that pop psychology only goes so far. Just because we feel good about it doesn’t mean we are going to win. That’s over and done with. If we play better we’ll win. If we don’t play better, we won’t. People have asked me about how many games in a row Virginia has won in Charlottesville, first of all, Coach Welsh won all those games, I didn’t, give all the credit to him. Secondly, none of us were around for any of them, players, coaches, whatever, so it really has no carryover whatsoever, unless you are trying to whip up some type of cause for your team. It’s the same kind of deal. I don’t think there is any carryover from those games, I don’t think there is a lot of carryover from our game last week, and that’s why it was so important to begin the preparation for this game quickly. You try to do that shortly after every game. Every week I listen to players doing interviews, usually while driving, mostly on the NFL channels, how their coach has a 24-hour rule. Well, when you have 48 hours less to get ready for the game, you don’t even have a 24-hour rule, you have more of a 10-minute rule after that Saturday game and you start forming that mentality for the next game. All those things must be dealt with quickly, the psychology and mentality right after the game.