Wednesday, December 15, 2010
A closer look at Virginia's bowl miss
By ESPN.com staff
We’ve now looked at what went wrong for Wake Forest and Duke’s bowl hopes this season. There’s only one team left: Virginia. Here’s a look at the Cavaliers’ situation and where they’re headed:
How it happened: Virginia changed coaching staffs and schemes, and that was a lot for the Cavaliers to adjust to. The lack of continuity on the staff and a lack of true playmakers were the underlying factors, but Virginia didn’t help itself. There were missed opportunities, too many turnovers and penalties killed drives. Virginia was No. 101 in the country in turnover margin, No. 106 in rushing defense, and only three teams in the country were penalized more. Injuries were also a factor, as the starting secondary was never really together much more than a game, and there wasn’t a lot of depth to rely on. Standout corner Ras-I Dowling was injured most of the year and turned out to be a nonfactor.
What needs to change: Recruiting. Coach Mike London knows the state almost as well as his own living room, but it’s going to be a battle to the end on the recruiting trail. On campus, the groundwork has been set and the attitudes in locker room are better than they were, so now it comes down to execution. There has to be smarter play and more discipline on penalties. The team needs more success at converting in the red zone, and has to cut down on interceptions and missed field goals.
Bowl-bound in 2011? London’s “work in progress” will continue next year. The nonconference schedule is manageable with William & Mary at home to open, a road trip to Indiana, which will be under a new staff, and games against Southern Miss and Idaho. Where it gets the most difficult is in the ACC with road games at Florida State, Miami, North Carolina and Maryland. The Cavaliers will be breaking in a new quarterback, so there will be a learning curve there. Virginia is starting to get talent, but it’s still young -- too young to go bowling in 2011.