With Wednesday’s pair of practices, the Virginia football team wrapped up its most physical training camp in Al Groh’s four years as head coach. Tomorrow the players will move out of the Cavalier Inn, where they have stayed the past two weeks, and get the day off. Friday they will reconvene and begin preparing specifically for Temple.
In recent years, UVa has relied mainly on finesse and execution to win games. But Groh believes this team has the personnel to be powerful, so he emphasized toughness and physical play throughout camp.
“It’s been tough but it’s worth it,” said senior guard Elton Brown. “We want to play power football, so that’s what we’re working on. It’s getting back to basics. Beating the guy in front of you. Hitting guys in the mouth. We want to be stronger, meaner and nastier.”
Those words don’t leap to mind when describing the Cavaliers of the past five years or so. Scrappy, maybe. Resourceful and resilient, sure. But not rough and tough. Groh’s teams have been defined by a short passing game and an undersized, bend-but-don’t-break defense. That’s been good enough to produce a 22-17 record and two bowl wins. But to go to the next level, Virginia must add more power to the equation.
“I think this team can play that way. We want to be a tough team,” said junior defensive end Kwakou Robinson. “Now we have a physical offensive line and a physical defensive line. We have the big guys. We have the strong guys. We just have to play tough.”
How’s this for big and strong? Brown and Robinson are among five Cavaliers listed at 324 pounds or more (Ron Darden, Keenan Carter and Marshal Ausberry are the others). Other players, like D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Chris Canty, have gotten markedly bigger and stronger over the past few years. The linebacking corps is huge and Virginia doesn’t appear to be undersized...
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