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Season wrap-up: Virginia

12/9/2009

As if it couldn’t get any worse than losing to William & Mary in the season opener, Virginia suffered further embarrassment in Game 2 when mascot Cavman fell off his horse.

Talk about an omen of things to come.

It was another trying season in Charlottesville, but one that was too difficult to ignore. Virginia (3-9, 2-6 ACC) ended the season with six straight losses, a finish which cost Al Groh and all but two of his assistants their jobs. In typical Groh fashion, though, there was a point during the season when it seemed as if Virginia might rally, just as it had done so many times before. After opening the season with three straight losses, Virginia used its bye week to regroup and reeled off three straight wins to suddenly jump back into the Coastal Division race. It turned out to be a fleeting moment, and the Cavaliers were exposed once they faced better competition.

Much of this year’s struggles could be attributed to the sweeping offseason staff changes, in which offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon was hired to implement the spread offense. The change didn’t work, as Virginia didn’t have the personnel to execute it.

Offensive MVP: Quarterback Jameel Sewell He rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown against rival Virginia Tech, and finished the season with 1,848 passing yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 53.8 percent of his passes. He had his 10th 200-yard passing game against BC.

Defensive MVP: Nate Collins – He finished second on the team with 77 tackles, but led the defense with 10.5 tackles for loss, had six sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery.

Turning point: After evening their record at 3-3 following an 0-3 start, the Cavaliers surrendered an 18-play, 82-yard, 10:47 third-quarter scoring drive by Georgia Tech to allow the Yellow Jackets to pull ahead 20-6 in what had been a close game. Georgia Tech won 34-9 and UVA did not win again the remainder of the season.

What’s next: Former Richmond coach and UVA defensive coordinator Mike London has officially taken over and faces the difficult challenge of regrouping the fan base, filling the seats, recruiting and beating Virginia Tech. No pressure.