Back to the Nonconference Schedule
During the week leading up to Saturday’s win over North Carolina, Virginia’s players frequently reminded everyone that they were 0-0 in the ACC. They took the mentality that the nonconference schedule, in which the Cavaliers have gone 0-3, was merely a tuneup for ACC play.
The Cavaliers responded with a 16-3 victory – evidence that the approach worked.
This week, however, Virginia hosts another nonconference opponent when Indiana visits Scott Stadium. It means that the rallying cry from last week becomes irrelevant on Saturday. So, what is the message this week?
“There seems to be a real excitement about the challenge of playing a Big Ten team and seeing some of the things that we did the other day provide us, as I said after the game, provide us as an opportunity to use those things to move forward, but there is no guarantee to that opportunity,” Coach Al Groh said. “We've got to make sure we take advantage of that opportunity or else somebody else is going to, so I think for that reason we will have our eye on this target pretty good, too.”
The Cavaliers were in a similar situation last season when they hosted East Carolina two games into the ACC season. Virginia disposed of the Pirates, 35-20, the second victory of a four-game winning streak.
When this comparison was raised to Groh on Monday, he said it is somewhat difficult to compare because the Cavaliers had a history with East Carolina. The game did not present some of the unfamiliarity that marks a typical nonconference game, such as Saturday’s matchup with Indiana.
“We don't have any of that built-in information about the team,” Groh said. “How they tried to play us in the past, who the personnel is, we don't know anybody from recruiting and what his natural speed is so it's taken deeper research. It's a fun project to be on but it's very challenging and that makes [Monday] a very, very important today because everything that follows from today is based on what is discovered during the course of the day from the coaches.”
There is research for the players, too. They look up the opponents’ biographies online and study past performances. Linebacker Steven Greer joked that the coaches tell the players to learn the names of their opponent’s girlfriends – all in an effort to resemble some of the familiarity Virginia has with its conference rivals.
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