augusta free press news

Chris Graham: Another new low for UVa. football?

There were fans across UVa. Nation who watched two plays of the 45-26 UVa. loss at Miami on Saturday: the opening kickoff and the first play from scrimmage, a botched wide-receiver screen that was intercepted and returned for a Miami touchdown and gave the ‘Canes a 7-0 lead six seconds into the game.

mike-london-ndAs some (me, at least) expected, Virginia was competitive with the ‘Canes, who just three weeks ago were ranked in the Top 10, but had come in reeling on a three-game losing streak.

The talent is there on Mike London’s roster, the benefit of three Top 25 recruiting classes that have redshirt sophomores and juniors getting the bulk of the playing time.

What’s not there for Virginia football was once again obvious on Saturday in rainy Miami.

That first play, for example. Offensive coordinator Steve Fairchilds clearly doesn’t trust starting quarterback David Watford to throw the ball downfield, and it’s hard to fault him, seeing what we did later, when consistently overthrown balls kept the chains from moving, and in two cases led to two more Miami INTs that set up Hurricanes touchdowns.

For the first time all season, OK, not counting the game against FCS VMI, but for the first time all season against an FBS foe, Virginia was able to get a running game going, piling up 243 yards on the ground to fuel an impressive output overall on total offense (483 yards).

And for the first time really since a 14-3 loss to Pitt in Week 5, the Cavs got something positive out of their defense, limiting Miami to just 303 yards, and a first half that saw UM gain just three first downs.

But two Virginia first-half turnovers led to 14 Miami points and a 21-13 Hurricane halftime lead.

Two fourth-quarter turnovers led to another 14 Miami points and our final margin, which looked like a Miami laugher but was anything but in the way the game was played, save for those four turnovers.

You want to give Virginia credit for playing well despite the turnovers. This young team that everybody keeps talking about dominated the trenches against a Miami team still in the running for an ACC Championship Game berth.

But part of being a supposedly young team that has talent is that you see this young team with talent get better over the course of a rebuilding season.

Virginia’s best moment was its season-opening 19-16 win over a BYU team that has since gone on to beat Texas and Georgia Tech. That remains the Cavs’ only win against an FBS opponent in 2013, and the program has now gone 4-17 since a modest 2-0 start in 2012.

Somehow, some way, UVa. athletics director Craig Littlepage continues to insist that London will be back for a fifth year because Littlepage somehow sees what the rest of us don’t, that the program is headed in the right direction.

Unless Littlepage has ulterior motives, and the direction he wants to see the program head in is extinction, he’ll need to re-evaluate that stance sometime in the next week to 10 days.

The talent base that London’s recruiting hauls have brought in can make for a quick turnaround when the next man up gets his hands on the reins of the program.

It’s time to pull the trigger and get UVa. football headed back in a positive direction.