When Virginia Coach Mike London watched the film Sunday of the Cavaliers’ 56-20 throttling at the hands of Georgia Tech, it looked no better than what he saw from the sidelines in Atlanta the day before.
The Yellow Jackets executed their flexbone offense “extremely well” and Virginia’s defense responded by playing “cautious,” London said. He once again singled out his sophomore safeties — Anthony Harris and Brandon Phelps — for their hesitancy and inability to shed blockers, although he was quick to point out “the people surrounding them didn’t play well.”
The offense wasn’t much better, partly because of an interior offensive line that needs “help,” London admitted Sunday night. But with Saturday’s game at No. 17 TCU next, the highest priority is simply to move on.
“The biggest thing is that was just game three for us, and this team is still 2-1,” he said. “You have to have a short memory.”
Unfortunately for Virginia’s defense, forgetting about Georgia Tech means thinking about TCU. The Horned Frogs are averaging more than 500 yards of total offense after beating Kansas, 20-6, Saturday in its first conference game as a member of the Big 12.
TCU’s offense that features a plethora of weapons. Quarterback Casey Pachall threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas, completing 24 of his 30 passes. He had 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions when he took over from Andy Dalton a year ago.
Pachall may also have a star in the making outside with sophomore wide receiver Brandon Carter, who exploded for eight catches, 141 yards and two touchdowns against the Jayhawks. Running backs Waymon James and Matthew Tucker, meantime, were both named to the Doak Walker Award watch list, given annually to the nation’s best tailback.
Lest we forget, TCU Coach Gary Patterson’s defense has also finished ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense four of the past five years and has yet to give up a touchdown in two games this year. Under Patterson, the Horned Frogs are 49-5 since 2008 and have a national-best 10-game winning streak.
The Horned Frogs did fumble four times Saturday, which is the main reason they mustered just two touchdowns against the Jayhawks
“They present a whole host of other challenges,” London said. “We don’t try to dwell on the negative things that happened. We have to dwell on the positive things, the possibilities and how these guys can play. That’s what we’re doing. This game is behind us, and the only thing we can do now is look forward.”
Other notes and quotes
>> London said Virginia will consider pursuing a medical redshirt for running back Clifton Richardson this week after the sophomore re-aggravated his hamstring injury and was unable to complete Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech. Richardson is eligible for a medical redshirt because he missed the first two games of the season and therefore hasn’t participated in more than 30 percent of Virginia’s schedule.
The 210-pound Richardson rushed for 366 yards a year ago, and brought a powerful, downhill style to the field that proved to be a nice change of pace from Perry Jones and Kevin Parks. London said no decision has been made yet and that there are “several options on the table.”
“I’d rather have him 100 percent going into these games, particularly after these next two games, than something re-occurring, re-occurring,” London added. “So we’ll decide here soon about what our course is gonna be with him.”
>> After Saturday’s game, Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington accused Virginia players of trying to take advantage of a new rule in college football by purposely ripping off his helmet during goal-line situations. When a player loses his helmet, he must go to the sideline for at least one play, a rule that was instituted this season by the NCAA.
But London was adamant there was no truth to Washington’s claim.
“I don’t believe that,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes on there when you’re trying to gang tackle. Helmets come off all the time and there’s no one that’s trying to intentionally rip a guy’s helmet off to get him out of the game . . . During the game, during practice, we don’t advocate that. We don’t teach that. We didn’t even think about doing anything close to that.”