10 Things I Learned 2010 … Miami

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The Hoos got a chance to celebrate a big win this weekend.

Do I think Mike London and his staff are making progress? Uh … yes, and this week, the whole country heard about it. Now we get to break it down.

1. A Signature Win. Mike London and the staff wanted this win … bad. The team did, too, and it showed.

This was about as good a week of practice as the UVa squad has had all year long. The focus was there, the effort was there, and the execution was there. When you get all three in the same week, you cannot help but have a good feeling about how things might go.

Admittedly, Miami was the more talented team – in fact, the much more talented team – and that makes it hard to be truly confident about pulling out the win. But the staff and team managed to find ways to minimize the talent gap. Take special teams, where Miami had a ridiculous advantage when you break down a lot of the match-ups. As good as Miami’s punts were, for example, UVa managed to pin the Hurricanes inside the 20 on four of six punts, only allowing the Canes to try three punt returns (which gained all of three yards on average). In other words, while Miami averaged more gross and net yards per punt, the Canes did not take advantage on punts the way they needed to and arguably should have, with the exact same dynamic playing out on kickoff returns (Miami averaged only 15.5 yards per kickoff return). That was a big win for the Hoos simply because it was not a big loss.

As for the win in general, there are a lot of different ways to look at it. Is it a “signature win”? I would argue that it can be. This was a big recruiting weekend for the Hoos, both for trying to grow the class and trying to hold on to what we have. Beyond that, it was a time in the season where it could feel like things were getting away a bit if UVa lost another ACC game. But more than anything, it was a win that made a team – and many that follow it – feel like progress is being made, just like the prior staff got a boost from its first season win over Penn State.