By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — UVa’s first-year football coach isn’t kidding around. Mike London expects his players to attend class and to show up on time. When they fail to do so, they suffer the consequences.
That was evident Saturday night, when several Cavaliers were conspicuously absent from the starting lineup, including center Anthony Mihota, defensive end Zane Parr and safety Cory Mosley.
“There’s some issues that I had with some guys [related to] expectations of making sure we go to class and be on time, and if not, then it’s going to affect some playing time,” Mike London said on his weekly Sunday night teleconference.
“Unfortunately it affected the playing time of a couple young men. So hopefully the message [about] going to class and being at class on time will resonate with some guys, and they’ll play more or they’ll have opportunities to start games.”
Sophomore Mike Price started for Mihota, redshirt freshman Jake Snyder for Parr and junior Dom Joseph for Mosley. Mihota entered the game on UVa’s second possession. Parr missed the Wahoos’ first two defensive series — he and Snyder split time thereafter — and Mosley sat out the entire game.
London would rather not have to hand out such punishments, but he had been looking for opportunities to get more players in games. So he was pleased that Price, Snyder and Joseph, as well as other reserves, including offensive guard Luke Bowanko, saw significant time in Virginia’s 48-21 win over Eastern Michigan.
“You can’t have guys taking 60, 70 reps and being 100 percent all the time,” London said.
With Price at center, UVa went 81 yards in 10 plays for its first touchdown Saturday night. The Great Bridge High graduate “didn’t have any center-quarterback exchange issues and did a nice job and had a chance to gain a little bit of experience,” London said.
Five regular-season games remain for UVa (0-3, 3-4), which hosts No. 22 Miami (3-1, 5-2) at noon Saturday. ESPN will televise the ACC game from Scott Stadium.
“At this point, everybody has the nicks and bruises to their bodies,” London said. “You’ve just got to be able to get more from other players. I can’t expect [first-team defensive end] Cam Johnson to play 80 snaps and then, when it’s a critical time in the game, to all of the sudden come off the edge and pass rush and do a great job.
“I’ve got to be smart, and as coaches we have to be smart about at least sometime in the first quarter or the second quarter … to allow one of those other guys, a Dom Joseph, [safety] Trey Womack, Jake Snyder, guys like that, to go in the game and give us a series, give us a couple reps. And then hopefully as you go into the game later on, guys are pretty fresh.”
London said about 60 players saw time for the ‘Hoos on Saturday night. “And so when you have a chance to do that, their development is only going to get better, because they’re actually playing in games.”
STANDOUTS: UVa’s players of the game against Eastern Michigan, London said, were tackle Morgan Moses and wideout Matt Snyder (Jake’s older brother) on offense, outside linebacker Ausar Walcott on defense, and Womack, fullback Terence Fells-Danzer and kickoff specialist Chris Hinkebein on special teams.
Fells-Danzer scored the first two touchdowns of his college career: the first on a 3-yard pass from quarterback Marc Verica; the second, on a 70-yard kickoff return.
“It felt really good,” Fells-Danzer said. “Even in high school, I haven’t had a two-touchdown game. It was unexplainable.”
The former Culpeper High star did not begin the game on an auspicious note. The opening kickoff was headed to return specialist Raynard Horne when Fells-Danzer, one of the Cavaliers’ up backs, reached up and got his hand on the ball. Horne had to fall on the fumble for no gain.
Some 24 hours later, his coach could laugh about Fells-Danzer’s lapse in judgment.
“I almost crushed Terence because he touched the first kick that Ray should have caught,” London said, “but he made amends.”
Moses, a 6-6, 350-pound true freshman, has started the past two games at right tackle. He joined the first team after junior Landon Bradley, a two-year starter at left tackle, broke his right hand.
In Bradley’s absence, sophomore Oday Aboushi shifted from the right side to the left, and Moses took over for Aboushi.
Bradley was in uniform Saturday night, his hand wrapped up, and could have played, London said.
“The way it played out, there was no need for him to play,” London said. “Morgan Moses did a nice job, as did Oday on the other side. So we just kept him out, and now he’s got another week to heal up and to find a way to bandage his hand, to give him an opportunity to play. Because he’s a competitor, and he’s going to find a way to play this particular game, because of who he is and because it’s a big game for us.”
When Bradley returns, Moses could slide inside to guard, where he played Oct. 9 against Georgia Tech.
“It all depends,” London said. “We’re going to put the best combination out there in order to help us. We’ll see how Landon” is able to block in practice this week.
HARD-LUCK STORY: The UVa cornerback who was expected to contend for All-America honors this fall, senior Ras-I Dowling, didn’t start Saturday night and was in for only one series.
Dowling, a second-team all-ACC pick in 2009, came out of training camp with a bad hamstring, and now his knee is hurt. He didn’t play at all against Richmond, USC or North Carolina.
“I’m frustrated for him, because I know he wants to play, and I have to be guarded [in discussing] his ability to play,” London said. “That’s why we have doctors, and that’s why they have treatment, and that’s why sometimes you go up to game time to see what’s going on, how he feels.
“I’ll continue to do that to safeguard him. He’s a tough kid, he’s very resilient, but obviously everyone’s frustrated for him, because he was going into the season one of the best corners in the country. And when he gets healthy, whether it’s now or next week or two weeks or after the season, he’ll still be one of the best corners in the country.”
Sophomore Devin Wallace has been starting in Dowling’s place. For the season, Dowling has 15 tackles and a pass break-up. He intercepted three passes as a junior.
“I know it’s frustrating for him, but at the same time we have to prepare in order to get ready to win games,” London said. “If he’s with us, great. If not, then we’ve got to prepare and get ready to go.”