Getting off on the right foot?
In seven games, Virginia has twice scored on its first offensive drive. In Saturday's loss to Georgia Tech, the Cavaliers had the ball first -- a change of pace for Coach Al Groh -- but a three-and-out stymied any momentum the offense could have generated.
"When it works and you win, you say that first possession really set the tone," Groh said of the first offensive possession. "When it doesn't work and you overcome it and you win, you say it really wasn't that important. But any positive possession clearly is important. Not just the first possession, but the avoidance of three-and-outs is really something that any offense wants to do."
Here is a look at Virginia's first offensive drives this season:
William & Mary: 3 plays, 39 yards; touchdown
Texas Christian: 7 plays, -3 yards; botched field goal attempt
Southern Miss: 2 plays, 18 yards; fumble
North Carolina: 3 plays, 6 yards; punt
Indiana: 4 plays, 38 yards; touchdown
Maryland: 4 plays, 9 yards; punt
Georgia Tech: 3 plays, 4 yards; punt
Some coaches script their first offensive plays. Groh said Virginia does so on occasions. Bill Walsh was one of the first coaches to script plays, Groh said, and many of his disciples have followed with similar plans.
"His theory was it's just a lot easier to think on Wednesday than it is in between plays," Groh said. "That in a lot of cases it didn't make a lot of difference what the plays were. It's just they were already on paper and it was easier to read them than think them. And sometimes they had a realistic purpose, and sometimes the purpose it was just easier."
There are games, such as Saturday, when Virginia appears out of sync from the beginning. In a loss to William & Mary, though, the Cavaliers' most promising drive was its first.
"We've done that on occasion," Groh said about scripting plays. "And some teams the 15 plays is just a number they've just thrown out there. I've known some guys who some weeks, not every week, I've known some guy who just said I'm going to script the whole first half."
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