After a few days off, the Virginia football team had its first padded practice of the bye week Wednesday. Coach Mike London said the Cavaliers worked mostly on fundamentals and then spent time preparing specifically for their next opponent, No. 13 Georgia Tech, near the end of the workout.
Last season, as you may remember, Virginia dropped a 33-21 decision at Georgia Tech in which the Yellow Jackets rushed for 477 yards and four touchdowns. Georgia Tech operates a vaunted triple-option offense, which currently is averaging more rushing yards per game (378.2) than any other FBS team in the nation. The Yellow Jackets have scored more than double (24) the number of rushing touchdowns that Virginia (11) has.
With that in mind, London was asked Wednesday during his segment of the ACC coaches’ teleconference whether it was good to have a bye the week before facing Georgia Tech.
“It is a type of offense that is highly successful and requires a tremendous amount of detail work and timing,” London said. “It’s hard to simulate an offense where they know 100 percent what they’re doing, and you’re trying to simulate a scout team or a show team to give you that type of up-tempo look.”
London said another reason why the bye has come at a good time for the Cavaliers is it gives a chance for some of their injured players to heal up a bit.
Redshirt freshman middle linebacker Henry Coley hasn’t played in the past three games because of a hamstring injury. Redshirt junior tight end Colter Phillips returned Saturday against Idaho on a limited basis after missing the previous three games with an ankle ligament tear. Defensive end Cam Johnson sat out Saturday with what London described as a lower leg injury.
Redshirt freshman tailback Kevin Parks – who leads the team with six rushing touchdowns – didn’t play against Idaho because of a high-ankle sprain that had been bothering him for several weeks. London said Parks practiced Wednesday.
London said the bye week also will afford his team time to make corrections in areas the team has struggled with of late, specifically noting punt returns – Virginia’s 6.1 yards per return average on punts ranks No. 85 in the nation – and guarding against opposing special teams fakes.
“Obviously, special teams-wise, the punt return game and the decision-making has to be cleaned up,” London said. “We’ve got to get those decisions made because it’s field position. . . . And so we’ve just got to eliminate those type of things, whether it’s the person or a new person or teaching and coaching situations like that in practice or creating those type of situations. The ball is getting ready to go out of bounds or it’s a poor punt and it’s on the ground. What do you do? How do you do it?
“Sometimes you take things for granted. But this week more so we just go back to the basics of everything.”