Cavalier Call-in Highlights ’08, Show 5

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Al Groh

It seems like forever since the news broke that Peter Lalich had been dismissed from the UVa football team. In reality, however, it has only been four days and therefore Al Groh has not had an opportunity to address his Cavalier Call-in audience concerning the matter. So would the head coach take the opportunity to explain the incident to the Wahoo Nation or would he take his usual “next man up approach” and just sweep the issue under the rug?

Well to be honest, I’m not sure if I can even directly answer that question. Due to some technical difficulties with my hometown Cavalier radio station, I was not able to hear the opening comments between the “Voice of the Hoos” Dave Koehn and head coach Al Groh as they opened the show. But Jeff White of The Richmond Times-Dispatch picked up this quote about Lalich from the broadcast:

“Despite quite a bit of misinformation, rumor, innuendo, there’s lots of facts and realities and information that many people who think they have the answers, really don’t have,” Groh said. “Obviously, though, we had them, and members of our organization had them throughout. So, using those we made a decision, and we’ve moved on from that. We have the team that we have right now, and those are the guys that we’re concentrating on.”

With that out of the way, I was very relieved to finally be able to hear the call-in show once the radio station fixed whatever was ailing it. It’s kind of hard to write a summary without hearing the show after all. It just so happened that the “start” of the show for me coincided with the night’s first caller.

The first caller of the night was Rob from Norfolk. Rob didn’t want to wait for the Advanced Auto scouting report as he asked Coach Groh what we could expect from Duke this week. Groh called Duke a “very wide open team that is playing very well right now.” He complimented coach David Cutcliffe’s new system and said he expects a lot of plays from Duke that will utilize the perimeter of the field.

Jim from Hadensville expressed some concerns to Al Groh about UVa’s “12th man.” He told Groh of an instance where he was asked to settle down by another fan after cheering his head off and couldn’t understand why some UVa fans don’t cheer as loud other schools do from his hometown area of the “deep south.” Groh continued to compliment the fans and saying that they are continuing to grow the football culture at UVa.

Another caller was cut off before Ed from parts unknown had his call taken. Ed wanted to know if any of the remaining quarterbacks on the roster have any mobile characteristics as opposed to being pocket passers and thought the lack of mobility in that position was one of the team’s problems. Groh said both Marc Verica and Scott Deke were fairly athletic quarterbacks, especially Verica. Groh said it’s not so much about how mobile they are, but that the coaches try to use the offensive schemes with the personnel they have to “take advantage of what the players do best.”

Susan from Williamsburg asked Groh about his methods and what approach he takes to motivate the kids at halftime. He said a lot of his verbiage is “reactive.” He said that because of the short length of time from the sideline to the locker room, it’s hard to prepare what he is going to say. He said what they as coaches want to say is “whatever needs to be said that will make them play better” as opposed to what he might say just to “make himself feel good.”

Koehn then expanded on Susan’s question and asked Groh if as years go by and coaches like Groh get more experienced and older, does that make it easier to differentiate between being an encourager or just a “tongue lasher.” Groh said the main thing he has learned is to make sure that the “message doesn’t get old” and is appropriate to the situation.

Koehn took a call from Andrew who was in Charlottesville. Andrew commented on a running play that was run several times and almost looked “telegraphic” against Richmond and wondered if the play was meant to set anything up for future plays or games. Groh said that the team was “pretty heavy in that play” and thought it solved some issues pertaining to the challenges against Richmond and that Andrew was right in his observation. Groh did say that he wouldn’t be apt to use it so heavily against other teams.

Koehn wanted to know if there is ever a time where Groh looks back on a game and determines if there was a play that may have been run too many times. Groh said that was really never the case because of the pre-game preparation and what they thought they could run against a particular team.

Crystal called in from Vic Hall’s hometown of Gretna. She and Groh exchanged accolades of Hall and then continued the debate of putting Vic Hall behind center or implementing him on offense at all. Groh told Crystal that it was a good question and one that they “ask themselves around there quite a bit.” Groh called Hall a “throwback player” and “prepares diligently.” He said they take the “never say never” approach with Hall and did leave the door open for a possibility of utilizing him at some point in some way, shape, or form. Groh then told Koehn that fatigue and repetition in practice are major factors in determining whether or not a particular player is used both ways.

Koehn and Groh then talked about the “positive energy” of the Duke program right now in the Advanced Auto scouting report. Groh called Duke’s offensive scheme a “varied” one and called their defense “very sound” in that there not going to allow an offense to just walk over them. They noted quarterback Thaddeus Lewis has a streak of 206 straight passes without an interception.

Timmy from Appomattox wanted to know why Keith Payne remains buried on the depth chart. Groh said that it’s quite simple in that if Payne was outperforming the others in practice, he’d be out there in the games. Groh talked about how they “grade every player on every play on every day.” Timmy then praised Marc Verica ‘s performance in the UConn game and Groh agreed.

Chris from Lynchburg asked Groh how Mikell Simpson could have been fourth string last year if players truly got graded the way Groh says they do. Groh said it was mostly because of how he practiced last year. Groh said that since Mikell got his big break against Maryland last year, that Mikell has done a complete turnaround in the way he approaches practice. Chris went on to express his concerns about how the season is beginning to play out.

The last caller of the night was Scott who wasn’t identified as to where he was from. Scott raised the Vic Hall question once again. Groh said that the “only person who really doesn’t raise the Vic Hall to quarterback question is Vic” and said that taking Hall off the defensive side of the ball would weaken the team in that area.

That was it for this edition of Cavalier Call-in. The show will air again next Monday night after the Cavaliers’ match-up with Duke this Saturday at noon in Durham, NC.

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