2005 Outlook: The Running Game

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UVa’s rushing offense was first in the ACC in 2004.

Though he would not admit it under direct examination, I believe Al Groh loves to run the football. When I asked the coach if it was fair to say that he had a preference for running over passing, he said that would not be accurate. “All I’m interested in is consistent ball movement and doing so by taking best advantage of the personnel on hand,” he said.

To clarify his point, Groh relayed a conversation he had with Bill Parcells and former Yankees manager Lou Piniella. “If you’ve got home-run hitters, we play home run. If you’ve got hit-and-run hitters, we play hit and run,” Groh recalled Pinella saying. “That’s a pretty simple way to describe how to utilize your personnel and how you pick the plays you’re going to call. If you’ve got home-run hitters, you swing for the fences. If you can fast break, you fast break. If you can’t, you play half-court offense.”

The development of the rushing offense in Groh’s four-year tenure would seem to support his contention that he’s not just a running guy.

In 2001, 45% of Virginia’s offensive plays were running plays. In 2002 the Cavs ran the ball 52% of the time and in 2003 that number fell to 48%. In Groh’s first three seasons, UVa ran the ball 49% of the time and passed 51%. That’s about as balanced as you can get.

But last season 65% of Virginia’s offensive plays were of the run variety. Part of that is because the ‘Hoos had a dominant offensive line and two outstanding running backs.

The running attack has thrived under Ron Prince.

A second component is the nature of the games Virginia played.