Cavalier Call-In Highlights ’08, Show 6

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Al Groh

The Virginia football team has stumbled to a 1-3 start and to make matters worse, the Cavaliers have been through three lopsided losses to boot. The most recent setback came on Saturday when Duke snapped its ACC losing streak by defeating UVa 31-3. Coach Al Groh joined Dave Koehn for Cavalier Call-in on Monday to talk about the game with the Blue Devils and more.

Koehn opened by asking Groh about the weekend’s game and whether the coaches had seen anything on the film that was encouraging. Groh said that the team had received a “positive performance from a large number of freshmen in the game” before noting that 12 freshmen (of both the true and redshirt variety) played on Saturday. He said that only 7 freshmen had played in the previous two seasons combined. Groh said that the staff preferred that the younger players have a chance to “age and mature and develop a little bit that way” but the offseason attrition changed the circumstances for the program.

Groh said the freshmen’s performance was “encouraging” before naming guys like Cameron Johnson , Rodney McLeod , Nick Jenkins , and Austin Pastzor. Koehn added a question about Corey Mosley to the mix and asked how he played in his defensive debut. Groh was “glad you brought him up” because Mosley played every play on defense. He said Mosley “did very well” but that with something like 50 games still ahead of him in his career that there is “considerable progress” still to be made. Groh did say that Mosley “elevated some aspects of the position” with his play. Groh also noted that five freshmen played most of the time on the dime defense.

Keith from Jacksonville kicked off the calls for the night. He had a question about the Cavaliers’ failed fourth down run in the first half of the Duke game. Keith said it looked like the “exact play against Richmond that got stuffed” and he wanted to hear Coach Groh’s “logic on that specific call.”

Groh said all teams practice several go-to, bread-and-butter types of plays for certain situations. “Pass and run, every team wants to have certain plays that they say ‘Hey, this is our play. This is the play we hang our hat on.’ Obviously, you don’t have just one, but you have certain numbers of them that you rep constantly and tell your players this is our play,” he said. “When we need something in a certain circumstance, this is one of the core plays that we’re going to go too. Those obviously get the most repetitions during practice.” Groh also noted that while the play didn’t work this time against the Blue Devils, that it “has been productive” for the team in the past.

David from Roanoke’s call focused on the team’s bad start to the season. He said “we’re at the very bottom looking up. I don’t know how much lower we can go. What do you think needs to happen?” Groh’s answer in part focused on the need to improve on offense. “It’s not what we think, we’re pretty aware of what those things are. … One of the things that we have to do is improve our production offensively, principally as it comes out of the quarterback position. … ”

Rodney from Staunton cited Marc Verica ‘s “four interceptions” and he wanted to know why not try Vic Hall. He said “Why not Vic Hall? Why not give him a chance?” Groh answered: “In all fairness to somebody like Vic, that would be quite a rare situation to put a player who had not practiced or was not prepared to play the position simply because the other quarterback wasn’t doing well.” Rodney interrupted by saying that Hall was one of the country’s top recruits at quarterback and wanted to know why he couldn’t be prepared. Groh said “he’s playing corner” and said making a rash move would be the same thing as saying let’s put the quarterback in at corner because a corner had made some bad plays. He did include one nugget about Hall in the answer though: “Maybe there might be something in the future that Vic can do for us offensively.”

Austin from Danville called to ask about the “emotional leader on the sidelines” because the team has looked “lackadaisical” from the stands. He asked “who is the emotional leader on the sidelines?” Groh said that the “most significant thing is emotional leaders on the field” and cited “real spirited guys” like John Phillips , Cedric Peerman , Clint Sintim , Byron Glaspy, and Vic Hall as those guys. Groh said the play on the field would be the best way to get both the team and the fans excited.

The call that got the most attention on the message boards Monday night came from Mick, who dialed in to say that it is “unfortunate the way things have gone” and to thank Coach Groh “for returning UVa football to the Dick Bestwick era officially. You’ve taken a well-respected program that George Welsh took 19 years to build and you’ve managed to completely tear it down.” After his comments, Mick’s question focused on the offense: “What demonstrated performance has Mike Groh shown that proves he should be your offensive coordinator?”

Groh’s answer: “I think in this particular case that we’ve dealt with enough negativity on this call so I think we’ll move on to the next one.”

The Cavaliers return to action this weekend with a home game against Maryland. The Terps and Hoos kick off on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Scott Stadium.

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