The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
College Football: Cavs searching for momentum
GOOD PRACTICE CAN’T CHANGE FACT THAT TEAM HAS BEEN HUMBLED IN ITS PAST TWO GAMES
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
CHARLOTTESVILLE—The University of Virginia football team had one of its liveliest practices of the season on Sunday.
That may seem odd considering that the Cavaliers were coming off their second straight loss—a humbling 27–7 defeat to No. 15 Texas Christian.
Virginia (2–2) has lost its last two games (both on the road) by a combined 56 points.
Cavaliers fans are wondering if Michael Rocco or Alabama transfer Phillip Sims will be the team’s starting quarterback.
The momentum built last season when Virginia won eight games and made its first bowl appearance since 2007 is being threatened by the slow start this year.
The Cavaliers are even a slight underdog at home against a non-BCS opponent.
They host Louisiana Tech (3–0) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. with a slew of questions needing quick answers, but head coach Mike London isn’t panicking yet.
“We are in the same position we were last year,” said London, whose team started 2–2 in 2011. “I think one of the things, being back at home and having a chance to play, is to kind of get re-galvanized and get that energy again. I think that’s probably why Sunday’s practice was one of the better Sunday practices we’ve had—because it’s good to be back home, it’s good to know you still control your own destiny.”
The Cavaliers play five of their last eight games at home. Their players said they’re eager to show recruits and others that last season wasn’t a fluke, and that Virginia is still on the rise.
“We take these [last] two games as a learning experience to get better as a unit,” sophomore return man Khalek Shepherd said. “We live by building this program brick by brick, and Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
NO QB CONTROVERSY
London said the Cavaliers won’t change anything in their approach to the quarterback situation this week. Rocco has started all four games this season, but Sims has played in each contest, as well.
London said he is concerned that the Cavaliers committed four turnovers and made just one first down with Rocco in the TCU game. He said some of the miscues weren’t Rocco’s fault, but added that ultimately the quarterback is responsible for what happens to the ball.
Sims replaced Rocco late in the TCU game and capped Virginia’s only scoring drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to E.J. Scott.
He finished 5-of-12 for 63 yards, but lost a fumble. Rocco was 13-of-28 for 126 yards and two interceptions. Shepherd said the quarterbacks have received equal first-team repetitions throughout the season.
“They’re no issues with us right now with quarterbacks,” London said. “We know [they] have to play better and we know the surrounding cast has to play better, as well.”
Virginia senior outside linebacker LaRoy Reynolds sat out the TCU game with a hand injury he suffered in the loss to Georgia Tech the previous week.
Reynolds’ injury requires surgery, and it’s uncertain how much time he’ll miss. Sophomore D.J. Hill started against TCU in place of the co-captain, and recorded a team-high eight tackles.
“The Sunday after the Georgia Tech game, I knew I would be starting,” Hill said. “I wasn’t too nervous. That’s what I came here for—to play football.”
AN OFFENSIVE JUGGERNAUT
Louisiana Tech has scored at least 50 points in each of its three games this season. The Bulldogs are coming off a 52–24 win at Illinois on Saturday. They operate a spread offensive system, but are equally adept at running and passing. They are 22nd in the nation in both categories. They’re third in the nation in scoring (54.7 points per game) and 11th in total offense (536.7 yards per game).
“I don’t know if you slow them down I think we are going to have to score some points,” London said.
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526