Mike London has only been a Head Coach for four years (two at Richmond and two at Virginia) but he knows what he is doing and has the Cavs on the right track and ahead of plan. Coming into the year we had Virginia projected fifth in the Coastal even though we all agreed that Mike London had them headed in the right direction. Virginia rode a good defense (third in ACC in Total Defense, fifth in Scoring Defense) and an OK offense (9th in ACC in Scoring Offense, 4th in Total Defense) to finish in second place in the Coastal. In fact, Virginia was just one win away from going to the ACC Championship Game. If Virginia could have found a way to be their rival Virginia Tech at the end of the year, they would have been playing in their first ACC Championship Game ever. It wasn’t to be this year as the Cavs fell by 38 points in Charlottesville. Virginia won some good games this year (Miami, FSU, Georgia Tech) but they have the taste of two losses left in their mouth to close the season. It will be very interesting to see how Mike London and the Cavs come out in 2012. Are they ready to take the next step or did they play over their heads in 2011? We caught up with the Virginia blog Lambeth Field to get their final take on the 2011 Cavaliers and to get a quick glimpse into 2012.
CFBZ: Virginia had a great season and appears to be ahead of schedule under Mike London. Does losing the last two games of the season hurt Virginia’s momentum?
Lambeth Field: Not so much. If anything, it will ground the kids going into the next season. For a team picked to be at the bottom of the ACC to almost reach the ACC Championship, go to the #2 conference bowl game, and still have an 8 win season, there are very few ways to spin this season as a failure. UVa thought that way so much so that Mike London was rewarded with an extension and a nice little pay bump.
CFBZ: What is the lasting memory you will have of this season?
Lambeth Field: I think the high point of the team all year was the UVa/Florida State game. The last 100 seconds actually took 30 minutes and felt like 14 hours. But for Virginia to pull off that victory and become the only team ever to win at Miami and Florida State in the same season mean a lot, especially for a team that had only won in the state of Florida once before this season ever. It was one of many steps this program took this year.
CFBZ: If you could have a “do over” for any game which would it be?
Lambeth Field: I guess if there was a play, it would either be the 3rd & Long in the 4th quarter of the Southern Miss game where we let them off the hook or the pick 6 against NC State. But, to be honest, I would really like to replay that UNC game. We played them early in the season and we weren’t as ‘gelled’ as we were from the Georgia Tech game on. I have come to peace with the Southern Miss, NC State, and even the Virginia Tech loss, but that UNC game stung a little. Let’s just say I’ll be looking forward to that game in Charlottesville next year.
CFBZ: What are the primary areas that Virginia needs to improve in order to take the next step in 2012?
Lambeth Field: This is a very interesting question, one that I pondered for a long time. But every time I look at a need, the answer just comes down to recruiting and experience. Virginia was well ahead of the rebuilding
schedule for Mike London and his first class will only be sophomores next season. They will have to replace a good amount on defense, but a lot of areas (like OLB and S) it might be addition by subtraction. Offensively, if QB Mike Rocco can move from “game manager” to “game changer” and sync up with the WRs in the vertical game, that will give us a dynamic that hasn’t been at UVa in a decade.
CFBZ: What are your early expectations for next year?
Lambeth Field: To be honest, this year’s team was a .500 team that willed their way to 8-5. 2012 has a very ambitious non-conference schedule with Penn State, at TCU, and Louisiana Tech as well as Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech on the road. It is a crap shoot between 6-6 and 8-4 again, but a solid season and another bowl trip would enstill some consistency and show the fans, alumni, and recruits that this season was not the outlier.
Previous 2011 Exit Surveys
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