If you were curious how many times this year’s Virginia squad could measure itself against the 2007 Cavaliers team, the answer, apparently, is at least one more.
Prior to Saturday, Virginia had not won a game in the month of November since 2007. Then the Cavaliers beat Maryland, 31-13, to snap that skid. Also prior to Saturday, Virginia had not been bowl eligible since 2007. The win over the Terrapins gave the Cavaliers their sixth win of the year and took care of that factoid, as well.
This coming weekend, Virginia will host Duke, a team the Cavaliers have not defeated since … you guessed it … 2007. Virginia beat the Blue Devils at Scott Stadium, 24-13, on Sept. 8, 2007. Then the Cavaliers lost to Duke in 2008. And in 2009. And in 2010. A fourth-straight loss to Duke – which in recent history seems to have paid annual rent to live in the ACC’s basement – would be quite a blemish on what otherwise has been a laudable season for Virginia.
From 1989-2007, the Cavaliers went 17-2 against Duke. While an assistant under former Coach Al Groh, Mike London never experienced a loss to the Blue Devils. London, who is in his second season as Virginia’s coach, said Sunday a mentality existed among the players during those days that “we’re not going to lose any games.”
“Over the years, that’s been lost for whatever reason,” London said. “But this year’s team and the mind-set and kind of the mentality is that you have to play well in all your games, but this is a game that we want to play in, that the guys want an opportunity to be successful. … I think the guys will be ready for this game.”
Last season, Virginia posted 643 total yards and 48 points and still lost, 55-48, at Duke. Given the Cavaliers’ defensive improvement, it seems likely this year’s game won’t quite play out in the same fashion. Duke (3-6, 1-4 ACC) has not been good this season, though London said Virginia will not take the Blue Devils lightly.
“The biggest challenge from the week before last was to kind of regenerate that passionate energy, and I thought we played with that against Maryland on the road,” London said. “And now that we’re at home, you’ve got to reduplicate that again. You can’t just because you’re at home think that all of the sudden you’re going to get points because you’re at home.”
Also during his Sunday night teleconference, London said sophomore right tackle Morgan Moses twisted his ankle during Saturday’s win at Maryland. Moses hobbled off the field with just more than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and did not return. London said Moses’s ankle injury is not serious, though Moses wore a protective boot and did not practice Sunday as precautionary measures. London said he expects Moses to participate when the team resumes practice Tuesday.
Redshirt freshman tailback Kevin Parks sprained his thumb during Saturday’s game, but continued to play. Parks – who finished with 67 yards on 14 carries, as well as a 35-yard touchdown reception against Maryland – practiced Sunday. London said Parks is “alright.”