Pads Practice, Special Teams Highlight Weekend

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Virginia coach Mike London has demanded a fast tempo throughout the first week of spring practice.

In pads for the first time, a full group of 11 offensive players went into a huddle, with a full defense on the other side. The ball sat on the 5-yard line as the Cavaliers practiced a goal line situation, while new coach Mike London intently looked on. Per the norm, a clap from QB Ross Metheny broke the huddle, and the offense jogged out to the line of scrimmage.

“Hold on a second!” London yelled as the offense left the huddle. “I don’t like the tempo here, offense!”

London ordered that the offense start the huddle over, and break the huddle and step up to the line with a quicker pace. For London, it is becoming increasingly clear with each day of spring practice that the norm is not enough.

For London, an offensive lineman’s job isn’t done after the play has moved downfield – he wants them hustling after the play, anticipating a potential fumble. A running back’s job isn’t done until he gets into the end zone, even in non-contact drills. In three out of the four spring practices to this point, the team wasn’t done until it had completed timed wind sprints across the field; tight ends coach Scott Wachenheim ran with them, remaining upright and barking at the players whose hands went to their knees between sprints.

“Some of the feedback that players give is, the tempo of practice is fast, you learn how to play the game, and you get in shape by doing football things,” London said. “We’re starting to see guys with energy.”

Friday, the Cavaliers went to full pads for the first time in the spring season; Saturday, they went back to helmets only, completing the NCAA-requirement of three non-padded spring practices. Here are notes from each of the two days.

Friday

Rather than moving to the intermediate step of shoulder pads after helmets-only practices

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