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Under new coaching staff, Mihota received opportunity to start

Every week last season, Virginia center Anthony Mihota said, he would approach then-Offensive Line Coach Dave Borbely with the same question: What do I need to work on in order to get more playing time?

"He never really gave me a straight answer," Mihota said. "He said I was ready. He told me I was ready and that I just needed to wait my turn, basically."

After the Cavaliers went 3-9 last season, Coach Al Groh and nearly all of his staff were fired. Mike London was hired to succeed Groh in December. Center Jack Shields -- who started in front of Mihota for two seasons -- left the program shortly thereafter.

When asked whether receiving a fresh look at his potential from a new coaching staff was beneficial for him, Mihota responded: "Maybe."

Mihota -- a fourth-year junior who arrived at the school in 2007 as a defensive lineman and switched to the other side of the ball nearly immediately -- has been Virginia's unquestioned starter at center since spring practices.

Mihota did not express any bitterness toward Groh, Borbely or anyone else on Virginia's previous coaching staff, and he says he does not draw any extra motivation from Saturday's game against Georgia Tech, which will afford him and the rest of hte Cavaliers their first opportunity to face their former coach. Groh now serves as the Yellow Jackets' defensive coordinator.

"Honestly, I’ve never thought about who the defensive coordinator was when we play other teams," Mihota said. "So I’m not going to start thinking about it now."

As for the end of the Groh regime, Mihota observed that "it just all had to do with the buy-in system of the team."

"If the team wasn’t buying it, then there was no way we could have a good season," Mihota continued. "I personally liked (Groh). But again, it was all about who buys in and who doesn’t. And if the river’s not flowing all in the same direction, you can’t have a good season."

Mihota then was asked if not enough guys were buying in to what Groh was preaching by the end of the 2009 season.

"Yeah," Mihota responded.

And at that point, it wasn't likely those players were going to start buying in?

"Nope," he said.

By Steve Yanda  | October 5, 2010; 5:51 AM ET
 
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