10 Things I Learned Vs. UNC

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For the sake of the 2007 season, UVa had to beat UNC this weekend. Had to. By two points. By 12 points. By 20 points. Didn’t matter … just had to win. And win, the team did. It was not the prettiest of wins, but it was a win nonetheless. The victory taught us that this year’s Cavs can win on the road. What else did we learn?

Al Groh’s team has made progress the past two weeks.

1. Was this is step in the right direction? Absolutely. We can argue about how big a step it was, but it was a step nonetheless.

I know that a lot of Hoo fans will say that for a second week in a row, UVa failed to put away a team when the opportunity was there, in both cases winning close games over weaker opponents. I will grant that. But as similar as the games were, there were two important differences. First, UNC is better than Duke. Second, this game was on the road. So for a team coming off a crushing loss to Wyoming, a win at home against Duke was a step in the right direction. Following that up with a win against a better UNC team on the road is another step forward.

And after last season and the 2007 season opener, that has to be this team’s focus right now. Each week, some improvement. Baby steps in some areas, perhaps. But improvement. And there certainly was improvement this week.

The special teams was much better (it would have been hard to be worse). The offensive game plan was better, and the plan for the running game in particular has improved each week. The defense came up with big plays at several key moments, offsetting some weak tackling in the secondary.

I often speak about the development curve of individual players, noting how important it is to build a player the right way in the right time. I think the same can be said of this football team. Each week, individuals and units have to build on the prior week’s success and learn from the prior week’s mistakes to take the overall level of play up a notch for the next game.

UVa’s 2007 schedule sets up perfectly for this kind of progression. Next up is a solid Georgia Tech team that certainly will provide the UVa offense its sternest test yet. If