Mike London on first half fiasco: ‘This team is 2-5’

Why did Mike London flub the end-half scenario that left at least three points on the field after a Virginia drive that got stopped at the Georgia Tech 1 as the first-half clock expired?

mike-london-nd“We got down there, and obviously we could have kicked the field goal, but this team is 2-5,” London answered by way of not answering following UVa.’s 35-25 loss to the Yellow Jackets.

The then-2-5 Cavs were trailing 14-10 late in the first half and had the ball with a chance to do something to put itself in a position to try to move things in the direction of 3-5. Quarterback David Watford ran a solid two-minute drill to get the Cavs to first-and-goal at the 2 following a pass-interference penalty in the end zone with 16 seconds on the clock.

UVa. had one timeout to work with, so running the ball was certainly an option, though maybe it would have been best to do that on a second-down play, after giving the mobile Watford a run-pass option on first down on a play-action that could allow him to hit a receiver or tight end dragging across the formation or running it in if Georgia Tech’s defenders had his receiver options covered.

Instead, London and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild opted to run Kevin Parks into the line on first down. Parks gained one, and inexplicably London let the clock run all the way down to six seconds before calling timeout.

At this point, it was probably best advised to kick the field goal, since the typical play from scrimmage in this kind of scenario can run anywhere from five to seven seconds. With no timeout to work with, either a pass or a run was a risky proposition, given the length of any play that you might be able to run in that part of the field.

But London sent the offense back out on the field, and he and Fairchild decided on another Parks run into the line, which was stuffed for no gain. The final seconds ticked off the first-half clock, and Virginia still trailed 14-10 heading into the locker room.

“We are trying to score a touchdown,” a defensive London said of the thought process into the botched decision, merely stating the obvious. “We did a great job moving the ball down there, and we wanted a touchdown. We can talk about play selection, but what we tried was a jumbo package play, and we tried to show them something different and capitalize on that, but we didn’t.”

This failure after another failed red zone possession in the first quarter when London sent the offense back onto the field after Georgia Tech was called for a dead-ball encroachment on a fourth-and-five-and-a-half at the Jackets’ 15 before what was going to be a 32-yard field goal attempt by Alec Vozenilek. With fourth-and-less-than-one, London and Fairchild decided on a pass in the flat that wasn’t even close.

Leaving anywhere from six to 10 points on the field was a key factor in the stinging defeat. Another key: Virginia also failed to convert on five Georgia Tech turnovers, two in Jacket territory, two in the vicinity of midfield.

Which is why this team that was 2-5 and trying to do something to reverse course in the failed late second quarter decision to roll the dice is now 2-6.

This, and the way Georgia Tech was able to run for 394 yards, putting three individual backs over the 100-yard mark for the day, despite what Tech coach Paul Johnson called “poor blocking” on the part of his offensive line.

“There were some good things that happened out there, but not enough good things that allowed us to win,” London said after the loss, the fifth in a row for his Cavs, who have just one win this season against an FBS opponent, that increasingly head-scratching 19-16 win over a BYU team that has since had blowout wins over Texas, Boise State and, yes, Georgia Tech.

“We have a lot of work to do for this football team. We are trying to win games. That is the goal, and that is the challenge.”

It is a goal and a challenge that London seems increasingly to not be up to.

Column by Chris Graham



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augusta free press news

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