For UVA players, focussing on incremental progress sometimes easier said than done
Virginia Coach Mike London said Wednesday that he will view the team's success this season "in increments." And while the players seem to have bought into that approach, that doesn't mean it's always an easy one to follow.
Especially for the veteran players -- the ones who witnessed first-hand the disappointing 2008 and 2009 seasons -- it sometimes is difficult to resist the urge to rush progress as much as possible.
"It's definitely tough," junior strong safety Rodney McLeod said. "My freshman season, we came so close to making a bowl game, and last year we had so many high hopes for the season and just the way it went down, a lot of tough-knit games, you know? You definitely just find yourself looking back on the team like, 'Are we that bad? What's going on?' We were lost. So I think this year, you know, everybody's just trying to go into this training camp right now and just get prepared for the Richmond game and just allow everybody to see what happens, that we indeed are a new team."
After going 9-4 in 2007, the Cavaliers went 5-7 in 2008 and 3-9 last season, after which Al Groh was fired as coach and replaced by London. Virginia is installing a new pro-style offense and switching from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3 alignment, transitions that will take some time to settle in. The players acknowledge as much, but that doesn't make the waiting any more bearable.
"It's hard because I've been here, and my redshirt year we had a lot of success here, so it's not like we don't know what it feels like to be successful," junior wide receiver Kris Burd said. "It's just kind of like, alright, now that we got a new system, a fresh start, it's time to, you know, just make something happen. Enough of the, 'We've got a new offense,' or, 'We've got a new defense,' or, 'We've got new coaches.' It's time to just really put it in action, and I feel like our team has really embraced that this summer and just really started pushing towards winning, more than just going out there and playing the game every Saturday."
August 6, 2010; 10:11 AM ET
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