Virginia Loses to TCU, Falls to 0-2
Sunday, September 13, 2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Sept. 12 -- The same chants from one week ago were present on Saturday, only this time more audible and perhaps more meaningful. "Groh Must Go" echoed throughout Scott Stadium in the fourth quarter of Virginia's 30-14 loss to No. 16 Texas Christian.
Only two weeks into the season, Virginia continued spiraling downward in what appears to have the makings of a long season -- and one in which the prevailing question remains whether Groh will keep his job as the Cavaliers' coach.
Groh actually opened his postgame news conference by thanking the fans that greeted the team at the stadium, and he said those supporters displayed positivity despite the team's struggles.
"Those are the people we really want to win for," Groh said. "Those are what real, true fans are. And we haven't given them much to be positive about."
But another faction of vocal fans voiced displeasure with the head coach and a sputtering offense that displayed few signs of progress from last week's loss to division I-AA William & Mary.
Virginia did not reach the scoreboard until 4 minutes 14 seconds remained in the game, when Jameel Sewell hit Javaris Brown for a 56-yard touchdown pass. By that point, the Cavaliers already were trailing by 30 points. They added another touchdown with 1:48 remaining on a 26-yard touchdown pass to Tim Smith.
The points were merely cosmetic. Even with the late yards, Virginia totaled only 177 yards and seven first downs.
"Disappointing, but there's nothing you can do about it now besides get better," Sewell said of the team's 0-2 start. "I don't think things can get any worse unless we let it go that way."
Virginia had the opportunity to take the lead and gain momentum after the opening drive. The defense forced a TCU fumble four plays into the game, giving the offense possession on the Horned Frogs 39-yard line. But TCU held Virginia to a field goal attempt, and a poor snap went beyond the grasp of holder Vic Hall, who did not play in his normal roles as quarterback and punt returner because of a hip injury.
Groh took responsibility for that play, reflecting that he should not have played Hall, who could not extend to catch the ball. Groh emphasized that Hall was medically cleared, and his confidence in the senior captain persuaded him to insert Hall.
The turning point came in the second quarter, when the Horned Frogs faced third and nine from the Virginia 36-yard line. TCU wide receiver Jimmy Young dropped a pass that would have been a first down and the Cavaliers appeared to have forced a punt, but safety Corey Mosley's momentum led him into Young. Mosley did not hit Young particularly hard and even held up as he ran into him, but the personal foul gave TCU possession on the 21-yard line and a first down. Two plays later, TCU scored the game's first points.
From the time of the penalty to the Horned Frogs' ensuing kickoff, Groh stampeded down the sideline outraged at the officials. Fans shared Groh's disdain, booing with venom. It was the only time the fans booed anything besides Virginia's offense.
"It certainly was a significant play in the game. It turned out to be a seven-point play," Groh said. "But that's what they call these days. You got to have a conscience when you make certain calls. But that's what gets called, and we have to understand what the rules are. As we say, every player is responsible for his own penalties."
Said Mosley, "The last thing I wanted to do was be unsportsmanlike."
With Hall injured, Groh used Sewell throughout the entire game. Sewell completed eight of 18 passes for 119 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Groh said the team is heading in the direction of making Sewell its full-time starting quarterback.
Regardless of who plays quarterback, the Cavaliers' offense needs better production up front. The line was considered a position of strength with four returning starters, but it was dominated for eight sacks on Saturday.
"That's a position where we clearly need a higher level of performance," Groh said. "Those things aren't scheme-related. It doesn't make a difference whether your scheme is called. That's just individual execution in those circumstances."
Scott Stadium drew 48,336, more than 6,000 less than watched last weekend's loss to William & Mary. With two road games before Virginia returns home on Oct. 10, the Cavaliers need to figure out how to record a victory if they want to expect much support in a month.
"I'm not going to predict any wins or anything, but we're capable of competing with anybody," Sewell said. "We're going to win some games. We're definitely going to do that. There's no doubt about that. The guys we got, nobodies going to back down. Everybody's willing to work. Nobody's too salty about the situation."