Offense Sees Much Room for Improvement
By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sep 5, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- In the 2011 regular-season finale against Virginia Tech at Scott Stadium, David Watford, then a true freshman, played briefly off the bench for UVa. More than 21 months passed before Watford appeared in another football game. That was last Saturday, when Watford started at quarterback for Virginia against BYU.
"I felt like I was kind of anxious to get back on the field and just perform," Watford, who redshirted last season, said Wednesday, "but after a while I got back into my groove and just started to get the rhythm of the game and feel everything out. I feel like getting that first start under my belt, that really calmed me down and that helped me out a lot."
Watford struggled at times Saturday, as did the entire offense in its first game under new coordinator Steve Fairchild. But when the final second ticked off the clock at Scott Stadium, ending a game that had been interrupted by a 129-minute weather delay, the Cavaliers could celebrate a hard-earned 19-16 win over the Cougars.
"Offensively, we did some positive things," Watford said, "and [there] was a lot of stuff to learn from and grow off of from that game. We're just looking at it in a positive way and trying to move from there. We're trying to take it step by step."
In his first start as a Cavalier, Watford completed 18 of 32 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown, an 11-yarder to junior wide receiver Darius Jennings. He was intercepted once.
"Just knowing Dave, I know he's his biggest critic," Jennings
said Monday, "so I know he's going to be tough on himself, and he's going to
correct his mistakes. But Dave did what we needed him to do. We got the W. We
put enough points on the board. When we needed to score, Dave was there to make
plays. He made plays with his arm and his feet. He can definitely do that for
us, and I definitely expect Dave to play better as he goes throughout the
Offensive tackle Morgan Moses agreed. "We knew going in it was going to take time," he said Monday. "It was David's first start."
Virginia's two touchdowns came on possessions that started inside the BYU 20-yard line. The Wahoos totaled only 223 yards and punted 13 times, and they know a similar performance this weekend is likely to result in a defeat.
At 3:30 p.m. Saturday, UVa hosts second-ranked Oregon (1-0) at Scott Stadium.
"There's a lot we've got to improve on," Fairchild said Wednesday. "[The BYU game] was a barometer. We took kind of a gauge of where we're at, and every phase of the game's got to get better."
Still, Fairchild said, he liked some of what he saw last weekend.
"I thought we were a little more physical than I anticipated going in there," he said. "I thought we held our own at the line of scrimmage against a very, very good front seven. We generated some run game, which was positive. We only had one offensive penalty, we only had one turnover, which David, I'm sure, would love to have back.
"There's some things you can build on. We've got to become a lot more explosive offensively, there's no question about it, and we've got to be a lot more consistent. But this is just the beginning. We'll keep working."
Watford said: "I feel like for the first game there were a lot of positives. Offensively we wanted to do more and we should have done more, and I take that on myself. We had a great scheme in, Coach Fairchild called a great game, and I just have to demand more of my guys and be more demanding of myself and more of a leader out there on the field."
Oregon opened with a 66-3 win over Nicholls State. Such outbursts are nothing new for the Ducks. In 2012, they ranked second nationally in scoring offense (49.5 points per game) and fifth in total offense (537.4 yards per game).
The Ducks weren't as dominant defensively, but they allowed only 21.6 points per game last season. That ranked 25th in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision.
"Their defense doesn't get as much credit as I think they should, because their offense kind of overshadows their defense," Watford said, "but their defense does a hell of a job out there ... They pin their ears back, they get after the quarterback, [run] a lot of exotic blitzes and schemes. It's going to be a tough challenge, but I think we'll be ready for it."
Watford is one of UVa's fastest players, and Fairchild wants to take advantage of that speed. Watford wasn't sacked against BYU, which ranked No. 2 nationally in rushing defense last season, but he netted only 10 yards on his 10 carries.
"BYU's defense, they flew to the ball," Watford said. "That's one thing I really noticed on film, and then just being on the field: Those guys, they flew to the ball. They were ball hawks. Every time I tried to break contain or break the pocket, I had two or three guys chasing me."
He can expect to see Ducks flying to the ball Saturday. Oregon led the nation with 40 turnovers gained last season -- 26 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries. It's no secret why.
"No. 1, they play a lot of man coverage," Fairchild said. "Their guys on the outside are very talented at cornerback. They're not afraid to jump routes."
No. 2, Fairchild said, "they're fast. At all 11 spots, they've got good speed, so if the ball does pop on the ground or something, they've got very good team speed to kind of swarm to it and a get a lot of hats to the ball.
"They're impressive. Everybody comments how fast they are offensively, which I'm sure they are, but they're very, very fast defensively."
Virginia's defense distinguished itself against BYU, but it can't do it alone this weekend, Watford knows. The offense must play better, and that starts with him.
"I have to just be more demanding of myself, I have to just be more demanding of my guys," Watford said. "We just have to make plays. I have trust in those guys, and I know they have trust in me. So I have to make more plays, I have to make first downs, keep our defense off the field, give them time to rest and get themselves together.
"But we have to put points on the board. That's the bottom line. Coach Fairchild called a great game [against BYU]. It's my job to execute. It's my job to lead my troops, so I have to do that, and that's what I'm going to do."
Fairchild called plays from the press box in the opener. He might move down to the sideline Saturday.
"We're going to do what's necessary for the team and David to be successful," head coach Mike London said Wednesday.
Fairchild said: "The vantage point's always a little better upstairs, and you can get away from all the chaotic part of the game, so to speak. So there's some advantages to being upstairs. The advantage to being downstairs is a little more in player involvement during the game, especially with the quarterback, David, being new.
"It's something we're considering. We haven't made a final decision. I've called plays before on the field, both in college and the NFL, so it wouldn't be anything new to me."
Oregon brings national power to U.Va., eccentricities and all
September 5, 2013
Fashionistas can rate Oregon's myriad uniforms. Architectural Digest can critique the Ducks' opulent and excessive — take a bow, Nike — football support complex. Analysts can dissect the program's warp-speed, no-huddle offense.
Regardless of your tastes in color schemes, hardwood floors and Xs and Os, there's no questioning that Oregon, eccentricities and all, is a national curiosity and power.
The Ducks are the only program ranked among the final top five each of the past three years — they lost the national title game in January 2011 to Auburn. Oregon and Alabama are the only teams with five consecutive top-15 seasons, and entering Saturday's game at Virginia, the Ducks boast the nation's longest road winning streak of 15 games.
"We believe wholeheartedly from top to bottom in what we're doing," coach Mark Helfrich said Tuesday during the Pacific 12 Conference's media call. "(Speed is) a program thing. It's not an offense. …
"We talk about live with a forward lean, whether you're sitting in geography class or you're attacking on third-and-8, or in the weight room, or dealing with the media. … Just kind of an attack mentality."
Helfrich is a rookie big whistle but steeped in Oregon's philosophy, and if history repeats, the Ducks will sustain their success under his leadership.
Declining an offer to walk on at Oregon, Helfrich was a NAIA All-America quarterback at Southern Oregon (class of 1996). He joined Oregon's staff in 1997 as a graduate assistant under Mike Bellotti before heading to full-time assistant gigs at Boise State, Arizona State and Colorado.
Helfrich returned to Oregon as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2009, when Bellotti stepped down and the school promoted then-OC Chip Kelly to head coach. Kelly exited for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles in January, and less than a week later Oregon elevated Helfrich.
"Obviously, there was all sorts of interest (in the job), and we wanted to make sure we canvassed the landscape and did a national search," Ducks athletic director Rob Mullens said Wednesday. "But we knew what we had here as a starting point with Mark. He understood the culture, he understood the philosophy, the system. He played a key role in the past success."
In Kelly's six seasons with the Ducks, the last four as head coach, they ranked no lower than 12th nationally in scoring and sixth in rushing offense, showcasing the likes of Dennis Dixon, Derron Thomas and LaMichael James. Add a 66-3 rout of Football Championship Subdivision lightweight Nicholls State last week in Helfrich's debut, and Oregon has scored at least 30 points in 67 of its last 80 games.
The Ducks are 66-14 during that stretch, 3-10 when scoring below 30. Virginia has scored 30 or more 18 times in its last 80 games.
"The expectations around the offensive style are very high," Mullens said. "We can put up big numbers, and people are still focused on why did we punt X number of times, or why did we only have 500 yards."
Helfrich wants the Ducks to play even faster than under Kelly, and for one week, albeit against minimal resistance, he was true to his aim. Oregon gained 772 yards Saturday in just 19:46 of possession time, an absolutely staggering pace.
Running backs De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall, plus quarterback Marcus Mariota, rushed for more than 100 yards each and combined to score five touchdowns. Reciting Mariota's skill set — speed, accuracy, arm strength, football IQ — as rapidly as his offense runs plays, Helfrich said the sophomore from Honolulu "would be good in any offense."
The no-huddle/spread is all the rage in college football — see Old Dominion and quarterback Taylor Heinicke for the local variety — but adaptation is not easy.
"You have to operate faster, but (be) more efficient," Arizona State coach Todd Graham said on the Pac-12 media call. "I think it takes three years to get in shape, mentally and physically to be able to handle the fast-paced, no-huddle. …
"Most people will go to the no-huddle, fast tempo and then they abandon it because they start to have more mistakes than they're accustomed to. And so it's got to be something you totally commit to."
Virginia knows all about embracing and aborting the spread. The Cavaliers did both in 2009 when embattled coach Al Groh hired Gregg Brandon as offensive coordinator. By season's end, Virginia was 3-9 and ranked 105th nationally in scoring, results that ended Groh's nine-year tenure.
With one losing season in the last 19 years, Oregon has endured far fewer recent hiccups than U.Va., or most any other program.
"We're not just a flash in the pan," Helfrich said.
Aside from the Kelly-to-Helfrich transition, the Ducks' biggest offseason news was this summer's opening of their Football Performance Center, funded by Nike founder and Oregon graduate Phil Knight. First toured by national media such as the New York Times and Sports Illustrated, the building made headlines for its $68 million (at least) cost and over-the-top accessories such as Brazilian hardwood floors, walls covered in football leather and foosball tables from Barcelona.
To its credit, Oregon doesn't tip-toe around its linkage with Knight and Nike, providers of the school's countless sports uniforms.
"We are the University of Nike," senior associate athletic director Jeff Hawkins told the Times. "We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits."
Mullens was equally unapologetic about a building that is part museum, training facility and five-star restaurant.
"This was a piece that was needed," he said. "Our football staff, we were multi-purposing rooms, so our media room, for example, would be a tight ends meeting room. We had conference rooms that were doubling up as spaces. So it was really about functionality, so that every position has a meeting room. We also didn't have a proper dining facility."
The complex, which has a parking spot reserved for "Uncle Phil," is "presented in this outstanding, modern way, which is sort of our brand, with the innovation and creativity," Mullens added. "We've had feedback of all sorts, but a majority of the feedback that we've had has been very positive.
"If our goal is to become a program of excellence, what a great opportunity for us to work with a very generous donor to build something that sets the standard."
Excellence, not to mention entertainment, have become staples of Oregon football. Only a national championship is missing.
Surely the Ducks could find an appropriate space in their space-aged home to display the trophy.
Teel Time: Wilkins' stepson another NBA connection for U.Va.,
By David Teel
11:58 a.m. EDT, September 4, 2013
Isaiah Wilkins’ commitment to Virginia this week brings additional NBA pedigree to the Cavaliers’ future roster.
A 6-foot-8 senior forward at the Greater Atlanta Christian School, Wilkins is the stepson of former NBA all-star Dominique Wilkins, a 2006 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. He chose Virginia over Miami, Memphis, Southern Methodist and Wichita State.
Wilkins is part of a 2014 recruiting class that also includes B.J. Stith, son of former Virginia All-American and NBA player Bryant Stith. The younger Stith transferred this year from Brunswick County High School to Oak Hill Academy.
All of which got me to thinking about other NBA sons who have played at Virginia and in the ACC.
The only other at U.Va. that I recall is Chris Havlicek, whose father, John, starred at Ohio State (Jerry Lucas and Bob Knight were teammates) and with the Boston Celtics. Chris was a reserve for the Cavaliers from 1991-94, playing on three NCAA tournament teams and a NIT champion.
Mike Krzyzewski has coached at least four NBA sons, each of whom made All-ACC: Mike Dunleavy (Mike Sr.), Gerald Henderson (Gerald Sr.), Austin Rivers (Doc) and Seth Curry (Dell).
Two of Hall of Famer’s Rick Barry’s sons, Drew and Jon, earned all-conference recognition at Georgia Tech. Most recently, Glen Rice (Glen Sr.) led the 2012 Yellow Jackets in scoring average.
Sean May led North Carolina to the 2005 national title and was voted the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. His father, Scott, was the national player of the year in 1976, leading Indiana to an undefeated season — the Hoosiers remain Division I’s most recent unbeaten champion.
Scott May was the No. 2 pick of the 1976 draft, by the Chicago Bulls; Sean was the No. 13 pick in 2005, by the Charlotte Bobcats.
Richmond native Ed Davis was a freshman on North Carolina’s 2009 national champions. His father, Terry, starred at Virginia Union and was a NBA journeyman.
(UNC sports information czar Steve Kirschner adds two more to the list: Larry Drew II (Larry) and Dean Shaffer (Lee). Drew transferred to UCLA in 2011; Lee Shaffer was the 1960 ACC player of the year for the Tar Heels, and Dean appeared in 10 games in the 1980-81 season.)
Damien Wilkins (Gerald) was a double-figure scorer at North Carolina State for two seasons (2000 and ’01) before transferring to Georgia, alma mater of Dominique Wilkins, his uncle.
Former Clemson, Oklahoma and NBA forward Harvey Grant will have had three sons play in the ACC once the 2013-14 season opens. Jerai Grant spent four years at Clemson, graduating in 2011. His brothers, Jerian and Jerami, play for ACC newcomers Syracuse and Notre Dame, respectively.
Coach Mike London's call to the U.Va. community
By Mike London | Sep 04
U.Va. Student Body:
Thank you for your support last Saturday at Scott Stadium! Your energy and enthusiasm were crucial to the team’s success in our victory over BYU.
After a great start to the season, we need to keep our momentum going this weekend. With No. 2 Oregon coming to town on Saturday, the national spotlight will be on Charlottesville at 3:30 p.m. We need YOU to pack the student section. Come early, be loud, and set the tone for the rest of the stadium! I cannot wait to see our student section at its best on Saturday!
Oregon is known for its fast-paced, prolific offense. The Ducks accumulated 46 plays of 25 yards or more last season and 69 such plays during the 2011 season. Oregon is led on offense by sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota, junior running back De’Anthony Thomas, and senior wide receiver Josh Huff. The Ducks’ offense runs a play every 17 seconds. The louder Scott Stadium is when the Oregon offense is on the field, the better!
While we were pleased with the win last weekend, we know we can and will need to play better starting Saturday. We’ll need to be balanced and efficient on offense to keep Oregon’s offense off the field. We’ve also noticed plenty of areas to improve defensively and we’ve been focused on schemes to counter the wide splits the Ducks’ offensive line presents. Our special teams play will also be important in all phases on Saturday.
There’s nothing like the buzz on Grounds during home football games and our plan is to continue to host games against strong competition. In addition to playing BYU and Oregon this season, we host UCLA to open the 2014 season and Boise State and Notre Dame in 2015.
Thanks for all you do to support Virginia football and I’ll see you on Saturday!
Head Coach Mike London
Points, not punts
Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 10:45 pm
Posted on September 4, 2013
Darius Jennings repeated the number and shook his head.
“Thirteen,” he said.
Virginia made history on Saturday by becoming the first Football Bowl Subdivision team this century to win while punting, yes, 13 times.
“We definitely have to do better,” said Jennings, UVa’s junior receiver. “That is unacceptable.”
Sure, punter Alec Vozenilek was spectacular in the Cavaliers’ 19-16 victory over BYU. Of his 13 boots, the junior had three downed inside the Cougars’ 8-yard line. Another punt was settled at the 14.
But through the eyes of the Wahoos, he was seen far too often.
“It was a combination of their great defense just along with our mistakes,” Jennings said.
BYU’s defense was ranked third-best in yards against in 2012. In their 2013 opener, the Cougars, still headlined by All-American linebacker Kyle Van Noy, held Virginia to 223 yards. The Cavaliers converted just six of 20 third downs, never had a drive go longer than 42 yards and quarterback David Watford threw one interception.
UVa head coach Mike London attributed the struggles to a combination of the strong opposition, the feeling out of a new system under first-year coordinator Steve Fairchild, Watford’s first start and the rainy conditions.
The forecast for this Saturday is 83 degrees, partly cloudy and just a 10 percent chance of precipitation.
Weather shouldn’t be an issue, but the competition is almost 100 percent guaranteed to be.
At 3:30 p.m., Virginia will host No. 2 Oregon and its lightning-paced offense.
Punting it 13 times to these Ducks and the Cavaliers know they’ll be in trouble.
Earlier this week, Virginia defensive end Eli Harold told Watford and left tackle Morgan Moses: “Just try your hardest to sustain drives and I think we can get the job done.”
The goal is for Watford and company is to grind possessions out, taking up chunks of time and keeping the Duck O off the field.
“If they can get 10-, 12-, 15-play drives,” Harold said, “I really believe that we can [be successful].”
Oregon dismantled Nicholls State last week, 66-3. The Ducks, behind Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Marcus Mariota and Heisman Trophy candidate running back De’Anthony Thomas, gained a school-record 772 yards.
Here’s the kicker: the lowly Nicholls Colonels only punted seven times. They won the time of possession battle by nearly a full 20 minutes, but failed to take advantage with two turnovers and a pair of missed field goals.
Oregon scored nine touchdowns and added a field goal yet only held the ball for 19:46.
Granted this all came against a team from the lower-level Football Championship Subdivision, but the eye-popping numbers weren’t totally out of the Ducks’ norm.
Last season, Oregon went 12-1, won the Fiesta Bowl, finished fifth nationally in total offense and second in scoring offense, yet it finished ninth in time of possession... in that Pac-12, that is.
Apparently, the Ducks don’t need to hog the football to win.
Since the start of 2009, when Chip Kelly became head coach and Oregon’s spread offense began to take serious flight, the Ducks are 47-7.
In those rare defeats, Oregon lost the time of possession battle by an average of 37 minutes to 23 minutes. They lost the points battle, 30-23.
The Cavaliers should have the pigskin plenty on Saturday. To get a win, they’ll need to do something with it.
“I have to make more plays,” said Watford, who hit 18 of 32 targets for 114 yards against BYU. “I have to make first downs, keep our defense off the field, give them time to rest and get themselves together.
“We have to put points on the board. That’s the bottom line.”
In doing so, they’ll try not to make Vozenilek work overtime again.
Last season, in a game against Tennessee Tech, Oregon got the Golden Eagles to punt 12 times. Naturally, the Ducks cruised, 63-14.
You think having valuable possessions will be crucial to the Cavaliers on Saturday?
“I think the defense is looking for us to do that,” Moses said.
Scattershooting: UVa coaches aim to help Watford
Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 6:04 pm
Posted on September 4, 2013
Scattershooting around the ACC, while wondering whether it will
be up or down for Virginia offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild this Saturday
when No. 2 Oregon comes to town…
UVa coach Mike London said during Wednesday’s ACC teleconference that he, Fairchild and Tom O’Brien (associate head coach/offense) are discussing the possibility of Fairchild calling the Cavaliers’ offense from the sidelines so that he can be there for sophomore quarterback David Watford.
“If David needs a voice in his ear right when he comes off the field for instant feedback, those are the kinds of things we’re looking to do to improve everyone’s game, particularly the guy that touches the ball all the time,” London said.
Fairchild said there are advantages to being both upstairs in the coaches box in the press box and on the field, and that he’s called games from both places in the NFL and in college ball.
“The vantage point is always a little better upstairs, away from the chaotic part of the game (on the sidelines),” Fairchild said. “The advantage downstairs is more player involvement during the game, especially with the quarterback, with David being new. We’re thinking it through and feeling out where we’re at right now.”
Fairchild and O’Brien were upstairs for the win over BYU last Saturday night, as was defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta.
Watford was 18-for-32 for 114 yards, a touchdown and an interception, a fairly low percentage for a modern day passer.
Last Saturday, Watford communicated with Fairchild via a headset from the sidelines.
Rolled by Tide
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said that even though his team was soundly beaten by No. 1 Alabama that he thought the game was good for his program.
“When you play a team that is good in every area as Alabama, you find out exactly where your football team is,” Beamer said during Wednesday’s ACC Coaches teleconference. “Sometimes when you play a lesser opponent, things slide a little bit for a few weeks, then you get down the road against an important conference game, all of a sudden something shows up. We know more about our football team right now than we would if we’d beaten someone 50-0.”
Beamer said that ESPN approached Tech last spring and gave the Hokies a chance to opt out of the Alabama game and play another opponent but Beamer said he wanted to stay with the ‘Bama game. Apparently ESPN had another team in mind as the Crimson Tide’s opponent, but Beamer declined to identify that team or the team ESPN wanted Tech to play.
As Maryland’s athletic department continues to struggle financially in its final year of competing in the ACC, one wonders how the Terps will pay the ACC a $50 million penalty exit fee if it loses the court case.
Maryland football coach Randy Edsall said that wasn’t his problem when asked Wednesday if he played a role in trying to raise attendance and interest in sponsorships for Terrapin football.
“That’s somebody else’s job, worrying about the financial problems,” Edsall said. “I wasn’t the one that got us into those problems.” (Send queries to former AD Debbie Yow in Raleigh).
Edsall said his job was to put the best football team he can on the field and bang the drum for his program in the community. Well said, not easily done.
Jim Grobe, the master of redshirting entire classes, played 10 true freshmen in last weekend’s win over Presbyterian. What?
Grobe said there were two reasons behind his atypical decision: one, the Deacs had a sterling recruiting class in his eyes; and two, depth.
“At the end of last season we had at least a handful of players on our football team that could have really been helping us toward the end of the year when we had all those injuries,” Grobe said. “We just became a really bad football team, especially the special teams, because of the numbers.”
So, he’s playing most of those freshmen on special teams and will let them earn more snaps on offense or defense depending on performance.
By the way, Florida State played eight true freshmen last week. Virginia, only two.
With the abundance of high tempo offenses around the country, there have been accusations, or at least suspicions that some defenses are faking injuries in order to slow the game down.
Asked about that Wednesday, UNC coach Larry Fedora, who runs a hurry-up offense, wasn’t sure how to answer the question.
“I would question the ethical part of it,” Fedora said if he thought coaches were telling players to fake injuries in order to stop the clock. “That’s a tough one because a guy is trying to put his team in a position to win. He’s trying to give them every advantage, and if they’re getting gassed or they’re getting worn out and he doesn’t have timeouts or doesn’t want to use timeouts, I don’t know what the answer is there.”
Quote of the Week
Virginia’s Mike London on Oregon’s speed:
“Their whole team can run… even the guy that goes to get the tee after the kickoff is really fast.”
Stat of the Week
With his five touchdowns against Georgia last week, Clemson QB Tajh Boyd (a Virginian) upped his career TD responsibility (running/passing) to 94 in only his third year as a starter. He trails only N.C. State’s Philip Rivers (2000-03) with 112.
Some local perspective: UVa’s record for TDR is 71 by the great Shawn Moore who started three seasons (1988-90).
Watch out for Miami. The ‘Canes have had to add 2,000 seats to their stadium for this weekend’s clash with Florida.
Some of those in attendance are recruits, bunches of them.
“It’s a who’s who from what I understand,” Miami coach Al Golden said of the prospects coming in to watch.
Ducks highest since ‘99
No. 2 Oregon is the highest ranked opponent to visit Scott Stadium since 1999 when No. 1 Florida State came to town. The only other team ranked as high as the Ducks that has played in Scott was FSU in ’95, and the Cavaliers won that game in a huge upset that rocked the college football world.
Wasn’t that way in ’99 when FSU won, 35-10. In fact, the Cavs also upset No. 7 Georgia Tech in Scott that season, 45-38, and lost to No. 8 Virginia Tech, 31-7. UVa also upset No. 17 BYU in Provo that same season, 45-40.
Of course, there was one other No. 1 team to play in Scott Stadium, when No. 1 Virginia played there.
… If Louisville was already in the ACC and Notre Dame was playing its partial schedule this year, ACC-affiliated teams would hold four of the AP’s top 15 spots: 4. Clemson; 8. Louisville; 10. FSU; 14. Notre Dame. In addition, Miami fell only eight points short of a No. 25 ranking. … Louisville, which will officially compete in the ACC next year, has agreed to meet Auburn in the 2015 Chick-fil-A Kickoff at the Georgia Dome. … UVa and Florida State have an active streak of 30 straight years of having a player drafted by the NFL. The only longer streak by an ACC school is Miami with 39 consecutive years (also active). … Perhaps even more impressive than rookie QB Jameis Winston’s 25-of-27 completions in his debut against Pitt on Monday night was the fact that not a single ball hit the ground in all 27 attempts for FSU. … Look for Wake Forest to be better offensively this week as senior flanker Michael Campanero rejoins the lineup after battling tight hamstrings and missing the opener. … How bad was Georgia Tech’s 70-0 win over Elon last Saturday? The Elon coach asked officials to keep a running clock in the fourth quarter and Georgia Tech concurred.
Last week: 10-3. Upset Specials: 0-2. This week: (Friday) Upset Special, Wake Forest 30, Boston College 19. Saturday: North Carolina 33, Middle Tennessee 17; Clemson 40, S.C. State 0; Virginia Tech 45, Western Carolina 0; Maryland 33, Old Dominion 20; Upset Special 2, Miami 27, Florida 24; Duke 30, Memphis 21; Northwestern 28, Syracuse 17; N.C. State 38, Richmond 10; (Future ACC’ers, Louisville 40, Eastern Kentucky 17; Michigan 27, Notre Dame 24); Oregon 44, Virginia 24.
Catches keep adding up for UVa wide receiver Darius Jennings
The junior, who had a career day against BYU, entered the season with the most receptions by a UVa wide receiver (68) after two years.
DOUG DOUGHTY | 981-3129
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Lost in the discussion of a two-hour lightning delay and a late, game-changing interception was the role of Virginia wide receiver Darius Jennings in a 19-16 victory over Brigham Young.
A 53-yard Virginia field goal at the halftime buzzer followed a soaring grab by Jennings for 20 yards on a third-and-10, and he later gave a textbook exhibition of staying in bounds on a third-quarter touchdown reception.
Maybe that could have been expected after a 2012 season in which Jennings caught 48 passes for 578 yards and five touchdowns.
In many ways, it fit the description of a breakout season.
“Personally, I wouldn’t consider last year a breakout season,” said Jennings, a 5-foot-11, 178-pound junior from the Gilman School in Baltimore. “I feel as though I could have done a lot more.
“I definitely left plays on the field last year that I expect to make and my team expects me to make.”
Jennings was coming off a 2011 season during which he had 20 receptions as a true freshman. His 68 receptions after two seasons is the high for a UVa wide receiver.
Tight end Heath Miller had 103 receptions in his first two seasons (2002-2003) but the most by a wide receiver was by future NFL star Herman Moore, who had 60 catches in his first two UVa seasons. Kevin Ogletree had 59 and Billy McMullen had 58.
Of that group, all but McMullen had the benefit of a redshirt year.
Nobody has come close to threatening McMullen’s UVa record for career receptions, 210, but Jennings is moving up the list quickly.
His seven receptions for 62 yards Saturday matched his high for catches in a game.
“This year, I didn’t really set any goals,” Jennings said. “The only thing I told myself was, just win games and become a household name.
“If I’m doing that, it means I’m doing my part to help my team and that we’re out there connecting.”
The Cavaliers were trailing 10-7 before Anthony Harris blocked a punt that gave the ball to the UVa offense at the Brigham Young 16-yard line early in the third quarter.
After two running plays, Virginia faced a third-and-5 from the Cougars’ 11. Quarterback David Watford rolled to his right and spotted Jennings in the back-right corner of the end zone.
A heavy rain was falling at the time and it was unclear whether Jennings had gotten the required one foot in bounds, although a nearby official raised his arms to signal a touchdown.
Almost immediately, play was halted so the call could be reviewed.
Jennings stopped to watch replays on the Jumbotron, although water on the camera did not make for the clearest view.
Eventually, the call on the field was confirmed.
“During the play, I really wasn’t thinking [about] getting a foot in,” Jennings said. “It was just kind of instinct. I knew that I had dragged a toe, but I didn’t know if I was in or not when I caught it.
“There was some uncertainty. It was just a great feeling. It was such a struggle through the whole first half, just to put six on the board was great for our offense and team as a whole.”
Virginia had 223 yards in total offense, its lowest total in a victory since 2009. Watford, in his first start, was 18-of-32 for 114 yards and was intercepted once.
“Knowing Dave, he’s his biggest critic,” Jennings said. “He’s going to be tough on himself and correct all his mistakes. Dave did what he needed to do. We got the ‘W.’ Dave was there to make plays with his arms and his feet.”
Virginia had 60 offensive plays and gained more than 10 yards on four of them, the longest being the 20-yard reception by Jennings.
It was the Cavaliers’ debut under new offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild, who was hired after former offensive coordinator Bill Lazor went to the Philadelphia Eagles as quarterbacks coach.
“When coach Fairchild first came in, his biggest point to the players was, we wouldn’t have to adapt to him,” Jennings said. “He was going to adapt to us.
“That was very helpful. Some of the terminology stayed the same; some changed, as well. For him to be all ears, you can’t ask for much more than that.”
Fairchild might have been told that he could count on Jennings, a prized 2011 signee who played quarterback as a senior in high school and also had a background at running back.
Jennings has a smooth way about him and one reporter went so far as to compare him to former Washington Redskins wide receiver Art Monk, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who, at 6-3, is considerably taller than Jennings.
“I’ve never heard that,” Jennings said, “but I’ll take it.”
U.Va. hopes for fewer punts to get a leg up on Oregon
By Ed Miller
September 5, 2013
As his oft-used nickname suggests, junior Alec "Voz" Vozenilek is well-liked among his Virginia football teammates, who were quick to praise him as one of the standouts of a 19-16 win over BYU last Saturday.
Nevertheless, they'd be thrilled to see a lot less of him this Saturday, when Virginia hosts No. 2 Oregon.
Vozenilek punted 13 times against BYU, one shy of the school record. No FBS team this century has punted as often and won a game.
It's a rare feat Virginia has no interest in repeating Saturday - not that there's much chance.
While the BYU game was a slog, with neither team finding much offensive traction, the game against Oregon is more likely to be a track meet. The Ducks' up-tempo read-option offense averaged 49.6 points per game in 2012, second-best in the nation. Oregon had the ball for less than 20 minutes, but rolled up 66 points, 32 first downs and a school-record 772 yards in a win over Nicholls State on Saturday.
While Virginia's defensive players believe they can slow Oregon, stopping the Ducks is probably out of the question.
"It's just like Kevin Durant," linebacker Henry Coley said. "You know Kevin Durant is going to go out and get 30 points every night regardless, but are you going to let him get 45 is the question."
The only foolproof way to keep the Ducks from having a breakout night is to keep the ball from them. To do that, the defense will need help.
"If we can get like 10-, 12-, 15-play drives, I really believe we can beat Oregon," defensive end Eli Harold said.
It's hard to know at this point whether the Cavaliers can do that. Virginia had just one drive of at least 10 plays Saturday. It ended with an interception. Its two touchdown drives were set up by a blocked punt and an interception, and covered just 16 and 13 yards. It won the time-of-possession battle by about eight minutes, but will probably have to control the ball even more against Oregon.
The Cavaliers totaled only 221 yards and converted just 6 of 20 third-down plays. While some credit must go to a well-regarded BYU defense that ranked No. 3 in the nation in 2012, "there's a lot we've got to improve on," offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild said Wednesday.
Of the Cavaliers' three new systems under a fresh batch of coaches, the offense had the least to celebrate. While the defense yielded just one long drive and special teams made things happen and covered well in the return game, the offense was forced to call on Vozenilek time after time.
"We have to do better; that's unacceptable," wide receiver Darius Jennings said. "It was a combination of their great defense along with our mistakes."
They were the mistakes of a young quarterback making his first career start, and the inevitable growing pains that come with unveiling a new system.
Quarterback David Watford completed 18 of 32 passes, but his longest went for 20 yards.
"We should have done more," he said. "I take that on myself."
Watford admitted he was anxious to get on the field for the opener after redshirting last year. A two-hour weather delay after the first quarter didn't help matters. Watford paced around and talked to Fairchild immediately after teams were sent to their locker rooms. Then, like several of his teammates, he took a nap.
Virginia's offense was slow to stir after the delay. But the Cavaliers managed to pound out a hard-earned 109 yards rushing against BYU's big defensive front. For a unit that has set a goal of becoming a more physical running team, it was something to build on.
"Not a lot of people run the ball on them," offensive tackle Morgan Moses said. But "I feel like we left a lot of yards on the field."
Spending a bit more time on the field could be crucial Saturday - for everyone but Vozenilek.
"I don't even know how many times I punted," he said after the BYU game.
If it's too many to keep track of again, the Ducks' 21-point spread should be safe.
Former UVa standouts on the rise after strong showing
Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 4:37 pm
Posted on September 4, 2013
Daily Progress Staff Reports
Treat Huey and Dom Inglot’s remarkable run finally came to an
On Wednesday in Flushing, N.Y., the former Virginia stars lost, 7-5, 6-3, to 10th-seeded Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the US Open quarterfinals.
Playing in Louis Armstrong Stadium, the 16th-seeded Huey and Inglot didn’t serve nearly as well as they had in their Round-of-16 win on Monday. The duo had six double faults and was broken three times in a match that lasted just 1 hour and 3 minutes.
Dodig and Melo, who won 83 percent of their first-serve points and had just eight unforced errors, advanced to a semifinal showdown against second-seeded Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares. The winner of that match will play in Sunday’s championship against the winner of the match between Bob and Mike Bryan and Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek.
The top-seeded Bryan brothers are bidding to become the first team since 1951 to sweep all four Grand Slam tournaments in men's doubles in a single year.
Huey, 28, and Inglot, 27, became the first UVa alumni to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in the open era.
By making it to the quarters, they each earned $29,000.
Winners of the doubles championship earn $230,000 each, while the runner-up earns $115,000 each.
Both Huey and Inglot’s rankings figure to rise following their strong showing. Huey entered the tournament with a doubles ranking of 32, while Inglot was 38.