Thursday, December 15, 2011
Auburn's uncertainty could benefit Virginia
By Heather Dinich
The intangibles are adding up in Virginia’s favor.
Auburn has lost its offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, who was introduced on Wednesday as Arkansas State’s new head coach.
Auburn lost its defensive coordinator, Ted Roof, who left last week to take the same position at the University of Central Florida.
Auburn lost its leading rusher, tailback Michael Dyer, who was suspended for the Chick-fil-A Bowl game against Virginia.
At some point, these changes become an issue, but Virginia coach Mike London said Auburn’s loss of Dyer hasn’t affected the Cavaliers’ approach.
“It really doesn’t affect how we prepare,” London said. “This is a great team. They’re the defending national champs, so you better believe they have high school All-Americans and some kids that are highly recruited. You look and you see other guys that also carry the ball and when they put the ball in their hands, there’s no shortage of talent there.”
There is, however, a lack of identity for Auburn right now, and a sense of uncertainty. That’s not the case at Virginia, which couldn’t be more positive about the direction the program is heading under London. In only his second season, London won the ACC’s Coach of the Year Award, and he’s not done yet. If the Hoos beat Auburn, they will tie a school record for improvement from one season to the next. Virginia went from 3-8 in 1986 to 8-4 the following year. So far, Virginia has gone from 4-8 to 8-4.
If they can take advantage of Auburn’s personnel changes, an already good season could become great for Virginia.