By Jeff White
CHARLOTTESVILLE — They turned out in force for Anthony Poindexter on Saturday, former UVa football players who wanted to pay tribute to a man who means so much to the program.
Among those who gathered near the south end zone at Scott Stadium about 30 minutes before kickoff Saturday afternoon were Aaron Brooks, Wali Rainer, Shannon Taylor, Adrian Burnim, Billy Baber, Fontel Mines, Angelo Crowell, Marquis Weeks, Art Thomas, Deyon Williams and Maurice Covington.
George Welsh was there, too, as well as former UVa assistant coaches Danny Wilmer and Art Markos.
Poindexter, now the Cavaliers’ secondary coach, was a two-time All-America at safety for UVa in the ’90s, and his alma mater retired his jersey Saturday. What followed the ceremony — Virginia’s 47-7 rout of Indiana — made the day that much more special to Poindexter.
He wasn’t available for comment after the game, but his boss, Al Groh, talked about Poindexter.
“We’re very happy for Anthony,” Groh said. “One of the great players in Virginia history. [Poindexter’s wife, Kim] and I were talking about it on the way in here. It’s such a great thing for him.
“Over a period of time, had [the game] not turned out positively for us, I’m sure it would have been a memorable day for Anthony and his family. But Anthony is so about the team that it would have been hard to get him to feel positive about it today.
“He’s about the future, and he’s about the team, and he appreciates deeply the recognition.”
Vic Hall, whose latest position is wide receiver, still plays defensive back in passing situations. Hall was part of a secondary that played superbly against Indiana.
“Dex is one of the greatest players in Virginia football history,” Hall said, “and to come back and coach his alma mater, coach the position that he played and to be able to come out here on the day that he was enshrined into the legends’ walk and be able to have a win like this, it’s not only great for the team and the fans, but I know personally he took that as something that he can really appreciate, and I’m just glad for him that it happened that way.”
SPECIAL GUESTS: UVa men’s basketball players raised the Power of Orange flag before the game. They were clad, not surprisingly, in orange sweatshirts.
Tony Bennett’s team begins practice this week.
HISTORY REPEATING: In 2006 and again in ’07, quarterback Jameel Sewell played better late in the season than he had early. In 2008, he was out of school serving an academic suspension, so his struggles in UVa’s first two games this year were perhaps to be expected.
“But he’s had three positive outings here now, and he seems to be finding that rhythm that he found when we went on that winning streak in ’07,” Groh said Saturday night. “With three of them now, we can begin to think that maybe we’re going in that direction.”
Sewell completed 20 of 30 passes for 308 yards and one touchdown against Indiana. He wasn’t intercepted.
“We wanted to be very aggressive with the ball,” Groh said. “What we could see is that if we just turned it into a trench fight, they had some pretty tough, rugged kids that were hard to knock out of there, and we were going to have to be pretty open and diversified in what we were going from the outset. We stuck to that, and clearly when the guys were open, Jameel hit them. All those things, they don’t look as spiffy if you overthrow them or underthrow them.”
ALUMNI UPDATES: Saturday went well for two former Groh assistants who are now head coaches.
Mike London’s Richmond Spiders, the defending champions in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision, held off James Madison University in Harrisonburg to move to 3-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association and 5-0 overall.
In Philadelphia, Al Golden’s Temple Owls beat Ball State to improve to 3-0 in the Mid-American Conference and 3-2 overall.
Another former Groh assistant, Danny Rocco, is head coach at Liberty. The Flames (3-2 overall) were off Saturday.
EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCE: Rodney McLeod is one of the team’s faster players, so UVa fans understandably thought a touchdown might be coming when the sophomore safety recovered a fumble forced by cornerback Ras-I Dowling on the game’s first series.
Alas, McLeod was clearly laboring as he ran along the Indiana sideline, and he was dragged down after a 32-yard return.
“It’s my knee,” McLeod said. “I hurt it a couple weeks ago. It’s not 100 percent yet.”
The injury kept McLeod out of Virginia’s game at North Carolina last weekend, but he played Saturday and made three tackles.
JACK OF ALL TRADES: Senior running back Rashawn Jackson is an excellent blocker, but that’s not his only talent. Jackson rushed eight times for 73 yards and caught three passes for 45 yards Saturday.
“He’s one of our real-good all-purpose players,” Groh said.
Asked about Virginia’s 40-point margin of victory, Jackson said, “You never really envision blowouts. For me, at least, and the Cavalier team, we just envision the next play and perfecting the next play to the best of our ability.
“Things are just paying off. We’ve been practicing really hard, and it’s obviously coming to life out there on the field, and I’m very grateful to be in this position.”
THE LIST GROWS: Linebacker Tucker Windle and offensive tackle Oday Aboushi played against Indiana, bringing to 12 the number of true freshmen Groh has used this season.
One of those first-year players, tailback Dominique Wallace, suffered a season-ending football injury in UVa’s third game. He’s expected to receive a medical harship waiver and thus would get this year of eligibility back.
UP NEXT: Virginia (1-0, 2-3) plays Maryland (1-1, 2-4) next weekend in College Park. ESPNU will televise the 4 p.m. game Saturday.
Maryland lost at Wake Forest on Saturday night.
The Cavaliers have won two straight over the Terrapins, who lead the series 41-30-2.