Chris Graham: Little things

Little things. Three interceptions. A fake punt that extends a drive that later results in a touchdown. Another punt downed inside the 1 that leads to another touchdown.

Little things can be and usually are big things in a game pitting two evenly-matched teams.

“You’ve got to do better. You’ve got to make those plays. You’ve got to get the coverages. You’ve got to stay onsides. It’s different things like that. We just wanted to reemphasize that preparation for this week’s upcoming opponent has to start in a film room, the practice field and everything that they do to rededicate themselves. These are close games, but you can be on the other side of a close game by just executing,” UVa. coach Mike London said after his team’s 30-24 home loss to Southern Miss Saturday night.

The three interceptions led to a Southern Miss field goal and snuffed out a Virginia scoring drive. The punt-team issues resulted in 14 USM points. The ‘Hoos also failed to convert a first-and-goal into a touchdown on a critical third-quarter drive and then failed to capitalize on a fourth-quarter Golden Eagles fumble around midfield.

Little things. Big things.

“Whenever we lose a game, we look at the little things and figure out what exactly it is that we need to work on. I’m pretty sure that tomorrow when we get in the film room, the coaches are going to break it down and let us know the small things we need to improve on,” said fifth-year senior wideout Kris Burd, who dropped a fourth-down pass in the final minute as the Cavs made a last-ditch effort at a rally.

London is still in the honeymoon phase of his tenure in Charlottesville. Year two of a rebuilding project is not the time to jump the gun. The London staff is obviously recruiting well, if not getting the fan base excited about where things are going. (Saturday’s attendance, 43,220, is barely above the capacity for Scott Stadium before the 2000 renovation that pushed the capacity to 62,500.)

Somebody needs to say this, and I guess it’ll have to be me, since few others who cover the team on a regular basis seem willing to go out on a limb – these little things that cost Virginia another game aren’t Al Groh’s fault. Two weeks running now, Virginia has outplayed quality opponents but failed to post Ws on the ledger because it couldn’t take care of the little things that so often mean the difference in the end.

And that comes down to the head coach and the staff.

Bottom line.

London acknowledged as much himself postgame.

“We just got to coach it up better and do better, still be aggressive, but at the same time be smart about how we do things,” London said.

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