news tony elliott with season on the line faced with the tough task of keeping his players on board
Sports

Tony Elliott, with season on the line, faced with the tough task of keeping his players on board

tony elliott
Photo: UVA Athletics

Tony Elliott points to how his team played Miami tough for four quarters and four overtimes as an indication that his UVA Football team is still laying it all on the line.

We’re still hearing from the periphery that there’s even more concern among players that more of their teammates are checking out on the 2022 season and still fearing a mass exodus once the season is over.

Elliott either doesn’t see that, or is trying to put on a happy face, which, you wouldn’t blame him there, because there are still four games to go in the season, and the Cavaliers still have a chance to play their way into bowl contention, which would be a moral victory, if nothing else, considering how Year 1 has gone.

“I think the guys have turned the corner in terms of believing what we’re trying to build from a program standpoint, and they’re excited about the opportunity that they have left,” Elliott told reporters at his weekly presser on Tuesday.

“I mean, yeah, we’re 3-5, but we got four more games and an opportunity to possibly win eight games,” Elliott said. “If you get hot and you win down the stretch, you get an opportunity for the postseason and win the postseason. So, there’s still a whole lot left to play for this team.”

That there is, with the first of the four being a matchup at noon Saturday with #17 North Carolina, which comes in with a 7-1 record, a 4-0 mark in the ACC, and its sights on a matchup in Charlotte with #5 Clemson next month, if things play out the right way.

UNC is an eight-point road favorite this weekend, but wins for Carolina in Charlottesville can be hard to come by.

Elliott sounded at times in the Tuesday presser like he was hoping he could get the idea across to his players through the media that they have a unique opportunity in front of them this weekend.

“To build upon in the locker room what I need to establish for these guys is, man, it’s got to, it’s really got to hurt to lose,” Elliott said. “When it really, really hurts to lose, that tells me that, you know what, you’re fully invested in the process, you’re fully invested in giving everything that you have. Then as a competitor and as a winner, you know the cost of playing the game, that I could win or lose. I expect, I believe that I’m going to win. If I happen to lose, right, I take ownership for my responsibility in the loss. I have self-awareness. I evaluate what I need to do to get better. It hurts, and then I channel that thought, and I put it back in my brain and I use it as passion and motivation, so I don’t feel it again.

“When you’re OK with losing, then you’re never fully going to be invested, you’re never fully going to commit, you’re never fully going to give yourself an opportunity to win every game when you step on the field, regardless of who you’re playing,” Elliott said. “I’m starting to see more of the guys that are believing in what it takes, and it takes what it takes, and what it takes is everything you got. There’s no substitute. You can’t settle for less. That’s where I’m trying to transition the mindset.”

But you can see it there. Elliott is “starting to see” guys buying in, and he’s “trying to transition the mindset.”

What we’re hearing on the other side is that some players are seeing teammates not only not buying in, but checking out, which is not only not surprising given human nature, but then also, it would reflect the times, with the transfer portal offering student-athletes the chance to move on to another school and play immediately, which would be something that you’d think would be easier from kids who can get into UVA and progress toward graduation there.

Elliott seems to be trying to convince his team that it’s still a team.

Good luck on that.

Chris Graham

I write books, two on UVA basketball, one on pro wrestling, one on politics, which is getting to be like pro wrestling more and more each day. I've finished three marathons, but my maranthoning days are over. I'm also a progressive who voted for Biden, but we need another Democrat in 2024. (Sorry, Joe, and thanks.) Want to reach me? Try [email protected]