10 Things I Learned … Maryland

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Jon Copper and the Hoos came through with a big win on Saturday.

Wow. A 31-0 win over Maryland. You saw that one coming? Yeah, sure you did. Right. No really, I believe you … . So what did we learn from the Cavaliers’ impressive outing this weekend? Let’s take a look in this week’s 10 Things column.

1. What happened? Coming into this game, it was awfully hard to figure out how this UVa team was going to cover the spread, much less pull off a win. A 31-point shutout win over a red-hot Maryland team? That requires some explanation.

Looking back, I think a big key to the game was emotion. Yes, execution is the “e” word that always draws the focus of coaches but the simple fact is that this Virginia team had a bounce in its step right from the beginning of the game that seems to have been lacking since the start of the USC game and certainly was missing last week against Duke. For whatever reason, the team was having trouble generating the energy needed to compete at a high level. But this Saturday, this obviously were different. When I look back, I think several factors were working in the team’s favor:

  • A Night Game. Silly as it may seen, impossible as it may be to explain, there is no question that college football players have a different energy level for night games. Whether playing the game at home or on the road, there is something about having to sit around all day and think about the upcoming game that builds a player’s – even a coach’s – sense of anticipation and excitement. Next time you go to a night game, for example, look at the difference between how the team goes through warm-ups as compared to how it does those same warm-ups for a noon game. While every coach strives to have his team execute every aspect of preparation and performance the same way for every game, something is just different when kickoff is after dark … and for a UVa team coming off two very painful losses (and three weeks of having to think about those losses), anything “different”