Notes from ACC media days
Virginia is represented in Greensboro by cornerback Ras-I Dowling and quarterback Marc Verica. As you can imagine, the players answered every possible question about the coaching transition from Al Groh to Mike London. The prevailing sentiment is that there is a new energy from London, who has been approachable and instilled an entirely different attitude among the football program.
"Coach London is just so attentive to building strong relationships and having good connections with his players, his staff," Verica said. "It's easier to do your job when there's support around you. He understands the importance of stuff and has done a better job of building and strengthening those ties. Other than that, he's just such a down-to-earth guy. You feel like you can go in there and talk about whatever. We talk all the time. The captains meet with him every week to talk. That's important, to have that relaxed environment where you don't see him as a detached, untouchable figure."
Whether that translates to victories, though, will ultimately determine whether the London Era is successful.
- Few could ever have expected Verica to be in the position he was in Sunday as the senior captain and top quarterback on the depth chart. Never mind the inconsistent performances during the past two seasons. Verica was once an afterthought on the depth chart who was in the same class as Peter Lalich, who figured to start at quarterback throughout Verica's career.
Verica took an extended pause when asked if he thought it was realistic to reach this position, responding with, "I don't know," before reflecting further about continuing to work hard and believing the chance would come. But with Lalich tabbed as the "quarterback of the future," Verica still believed.
"You're there. You're there every day seeing what's going on," he said. "The media, they're not involved, they don't know what's going on. It's easy to anoint someone as something, or peg this guy as that, 'this guy will never amount to anything', or call this guy 'the savior.' When you're there day in, day out, working out, seeing all these things that happen on a day-to-day basis, you get a better feeling, a better understanding of where you fit in, of what your role is."
- Dowling has been a starter throughout most of his Virginia career, and his return for his senior season was London's biggest recruiting catch of the offseason. Dowling explained his decision to reporters on Sunday, reiterating what he told The Post after he made the decision:: Dowling wants to graduate, which he is scheduled to do. He will be the first member of his family to graduate college.
But it was clear on Sunday that it's a different Dowling this season. He has accepted his role as the team's marquee player, even if he will not admit such. When told that he was the only player featured on the team's preseason fact book, Dowling said it's about the team. But he was considerably more comfortable in the public spotlight than his previous three seasons, and has accepted his role as one of the team's spokesman.
- Looking for Virginia's breakout players? Verica said pay attention to sophomore running back Perry Jones and offensive tackle Oday Aboushi. Groh did not redshirt either player last season, although neither played a significant role. They could play a bigger role in 2010.
July 26, 2010; 11:32 AM ET
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