Virginia Coach Mike London said Thursday he would like for his team to get off to a faster start Saturday on offense and special teams than it did last weekend. Against William & Mary in the season opener, the Cavaliers converted on 3 of 10 third downs in the first half and their average starting field position before halftime was their own 30 yard-line.
True freshman Darius Jennings dropped the opening kickoff before recovering and advancing to the Virginia 15 yard-line. True freshman Dominique Terrell misjudged a punt early in the third quarter, and the ball ended up being downed on the Virginia 3 yard-line.
On the night, Jennings returned two kickoffs for an average of 16 yards and one punt for 27 yards. Terrell returned two punts for an average of 8.5 yards.
The Cavaliers’ third-down conversion rate (4 of 7) and average starting field position (the Virginia 46 yard-line) improved in the second half, which encouraged London. Still, he’d like to see improvement at the outset of the game Saturday at Indiana.
“Particularly being on the road, if we can start fast the first quarter, first half and not have those types of issues offensively and special teams-wise … I think that will be key,” London said.
In other news from London’s Thursday teleconference, starting tight end Colter Phillips will be “a game-time decision” for Saturday’s game against Indiana, the coach said. Phillips suffered an ankle sprain during the William & Mary game and has been limited in practice all week.
“He’s another experienced, veteran guy where he took a lot of mental reps in practice,” London said of Phillips. “He knows the schemes; he knows the plays. We’ll just try to get him back to if it’s one, two, five, eight, 10 plays that he can help us be productive, then we’ll do it.”
This is a big game for the Phillips family. Colter’s brother, Paul, is a reserve tight end for the Hoosiers, and the two brothers have been talking trash all summer over how this contest would play out.
London tried to recruit Paul to Richmond when London was the Spiders’ head coach. In fact, Paul still had yet to commit to a school when London took over at Virginia in December 2009, but by that point, the Cavaliers already had oral commitments from tight ends Jake McGee and Zach Swanson for the 2010 recruiting class.