Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

September 25, 2012

Virginia Cavaliers' momentum gone

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia seems to be going backwards after consecutive lopsided losses to quality teams.

The Cavaliers (2-2), outscored 83-27 in losses to Georgia Tech and No. 15 TCU the past two weeks, host Louisiana Tech (3-0) Saturday, and risk having some dismiss their turnaround bowl season of 2011.

The scrutiny isn’t just from the players and fans of this year’s team, but from recruits who have been looking for indications the program really did turn the competitive corner last season.

“It’s always important that you play well and you represent to these young people that are looking at schools to go to that you represent the best in what they are looking for,” coach Mike London said.

The situation is the same as last season, London said. In 2011, the Cavaliers started 2-0, then lost two straight before winning six of their next seven on the way to earning a Chick-fil-A Bowl bid.

He’s hoping to get the same kind of turnaround started Saturday, and said the team is excited to be back home. The coach said Sunday’s practice was one of their best Sunday workouts of the season.

“It’s good to be back home. It’s good to know that you still control your own destiny,” London said.

Five of the Cavaliers’ last eight games are at home.

The team’s sense of progress hasn’t wavered, linebacker D.J. Hill said.

“We definitely feel like last year wasn’t a fluke. That’s the team we are, to go to a bowl game every year and compete for the ACC championship every year,” Hill said. He made his first start on Saturday in place of LaRoy Reynolds, a team captain whose injury and status going forward have not been addressed.

But Virginia’s 2-2 mark this season is more tenuous.

Virginia played well in its 17-16 victory against Penn State, but the Nittany Lions would have won had their placekicker not missed four of five field goal tries, including one from just 20 yards away.

The Cavaliers also have 10 turnovers in their last three games, which surely caught the Bulldogs’ attention. Louisiana Tech, of the Western Athletic Conference, has yet to score fewer than 52 points in a game this season, and its scoring low point came Saturday — a 52-24 victory at Illinois of the Big Ten.

The victory was the seventh straight on the road for the Bulldogs, their longest such streak since 1973-75. A big reason why? In those contests, they have a plus 16 turnover margin.

“We have made ourselves a good road team, I think, in the last year, year and a half,” third-year coach Sonny Dykes said. “Our guys enjoy going on the road and we look forward to the challenge and seeing something new and a new place and all that. Our players do not really get intimidated, so that is good.”

The Cavaliers feels the same way about themselves.

“If we keep working, I know we’re a good team,” Hill said. “We just gotta win.”

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