Cavalier Call-In Highlights: 8/29/05

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Al Groh

Al Groh participated in his first Cavalier Call-In radio show of the season tonight. Along with host Mac McDonald, Groh talked about Western Michigan, the team’s attitude and instant replay. He also took questions from fans about the most improved part of the team, the importance of an offseason program, the balance between power and speed, and the impact of Al Golden on the secondary.

Callers and Questions

1) Ginger from Roanoke noted that many teams lose leads in the fourth quarter and asked how Groh tries to avoid allowing that to happen.

Groh said that momentum shifts usually happen several times in each game, regardless of the quarter. If it happens in the fourth quarter and you lose, he pointed out, people say you blew the game. But “it kind of balances out,” he said. “The players and coaches deal with situations that come up over the course of a game and we really don’t concern ourselves with what quarter it is in the game.”

2) Cathy in Charlottesville asked which part of the team was the most improved and which presented the biggest challenge going into the 2005 season.

“One area that has to prove itself is the defensive front seven,” Groh said, pointing out that only two starters from last year are back at practice. (He counted Ahmad Brooks as among the missing.)

He mentioned the punting game as the biggest challenge. “We’re hoping it will improve,” he said. “We’ve seen positive signs. But it takes more than one kick. It takes consistency.”

3) Henry in Tampa, Fla., asked how much of an advantage it is for returning players to have gone through the team’s entire offseason program, compared to true freshmen in the first training camp.

Groh said he posed that question to redshirt freshmen like Cedric Peerman , Clint Sintim and Chris Gorham . According to Groh, they said, “Coach, it’s like I’m in a different world from what I was going through last year.”

4) Will in Hanover asked about the balance between power and speed on a team. Do you have to sacrifice one for the other?

“Once you put the linemen out there, it’s a game of power,” Groh said. “It’s not just a seven-on-seven passing drill when the linemen are out there. We were able to benefit greatly on a number of occasions because we were able to overpower our opponents. At the same time, this is a game of speed. … We’re trying to build a big, strong, fast team.”

5) Rich in Knoxville, Tenn., asked about the backup quarterback situation.

If Marques Hagans is injured, Groh said, “the first guy we’ll be putting in the game is Chris Olsen .”

6) Paul in Richmond asked about Groh’s wife and kids and background.

Groh noted that he is a 1967 UVa graduate with a BS in Commerce. He said he met his wife, Ann, on his first day as an assistant coach at West Point in 1968 (and then met Bill Parcells the next day.) He has three children: Mike (a UVa assistant), Ashley Anne (married in Cleveland) and Matt (a UVa law school student). “My wife has been a tremendous partner and companion for 36 years,” Groh said.

7) Jimmy in Charlottesville asked about the impact of Al Golden’s move to coach the secondary.

“We’re trying to emphasize the play-making aspect of players,” Groh said, reflecting the fact that Golden is encouraging the DBs to go for the ball and force more turnovers. “Some guys have a knack for it.”

Notes and Quotes

  • Of the team’s attitude, Groh said, “This has been a team that has shown a very strong will. Not that other teams haven’t, but they’ve shown a willingness to develop the type of camaraderie to have a very good team.”
  • Groh said he has heard good things about many ex-Cavaliers in NFL training camps, specifically mentioning Chris Canty, Elton Brown, Alvin Pearman, Matt Schaub, Dennis Haley and Angelo Crowell.
  • Of the ACC’s use of instant replay, Groh said, “We’re strong advocates of it. It’s just another means to make sure that the team that should win the game wins the game.”
  • Western Michigan has a new coach in Bill Cubit and new coordinators. Because of that, Groh said, “We don’t have a great deal of awareness of what they’re going to do.” But he expects them to pass a lot. “We know they’re not going to come in here and run it 50 times.”

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