ACC All Access: With his voice back, Virginia coach Mike London reflects on BYU win, looks ahead to Oregon

It turns out the only major casualty from Virginia’s 19-16 win Saturday against Brigham Young was Cavaliers coach Mike London’s voice.

Losing his voice sometime in the third quarter didn’t cause any problems during the game, but it definitely became an issue later that night.

His voice was back by Sunday evening, which provided him opportunity to reflect on the win by teleconference as I sat at a rest stop at the Georgia-South Carolina border on my drive back from the Alabama-Virginia Tech game. He also previewed next Saturday’s game against No. 3 Oregon, and discussed how helpless he became after the BYU game.

“It was the first time anything like that has ever happened,” said London regarding losing his voice. “The only issue I had was later that night, laying in bed, I get a full-body cramp and I’m calling my wife’s name out and she can’t hear me. I’m yelling, ‘Gina, Gina,’ and she can’t hear me. That was really the only time it hit me.”

Damaged vocal chords, uncooperative muscles and a game that took 5 1/2 hours to finish due to a weather delay that lasted more than two hours – all of it seemed a lot more bearable after picking up a win in a season-opener for the fourth time in his four seasons at U.Va.

Though the win featured a breakout performance from safety Anthony Harris, who had a blocked punt and an interception to set up U.Va.’s two touchdown drives, a far more efficient effort in the red zone than the Cavaliers had last season and a strong performance against the pass, London knows there’s a lot to get ironed out before Oregon (1-0) comes to Charlottesville.

U.Va. quarterback David Watford, a Hampton High graduate, was unspectacular from a statistical standpoint in his first career start, completing 18 of 32 passes for just 114 yards, a touchdown and an interception. BYU (0-1) was unable to capitalize on his second quarter interception.

While Watford still has a lot to figure out in terms of decision-making, London was pleased with the mobile element Watford provided at the position. Of course, that’s a big reason Watford won the starting job in the first place.


Click here to follow Norm Wood on Twitter. Thanks.


“David did a nice job, but he knows he’s going to have to better, particularly this week with the opponent that’s coming in,” London said.

“I think obviously he made throws, and made some athletic decisions that you see why he’s going to be a pretty good player.

“He’ll carry the ball some in this offense. Sometimes with the quarterback, you want to teach them either they have to go down, get out of bounds or instead of trying to reverse field, just take what you can get and go down. Sometimes by being so athletic, he wants to try to make a play or he extends the play by trying to cut across the grain, so those are all learning things. David will learn as we go on here.”

U.Va. only posted 223 yards – its lowest production in a win since Oct. 2009, when it put up 201 yards in a 20-9 victory against Maryland. U.Va. made the most of scoring opportunities when it had them.

Watford helped lead U.Va. (1-0) to scores on all three red zone chances, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darius Jennings in the third quarter. Last season, U.Va. was 70th in the nation among 120 Football Bowl Subdivision programs in red zone efficiency, scoring on 80 percent (32 of 40) of its trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

Giving up 187 yards rushing to BYU, which was 64th in the nation last season in rushing offense (153 yards per game), doesn’t seem quite as egregious when the fact the Cougars ran the ball 53 times is taken into consideration. They averaged just 3.5 yards per carry.

Still, after looking at Oregon’s box score in its 66-3 blasting of Football Championship Subdivision foe Nicholls State on Saturday, London didn’t need many hints on where his team will have to be sharp next weekend – rush defense. Oregon gained 772 yards against its overmatched opponent, including 500 yards on the ground.

Oregon is perhaps the nation’s most proficient employer of the read option-style offensive craze that has captivated many offensive coordinators on the college and pro levels in the last two seasons.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De’Anthony Thomas, both of whom are Heisman Trophy candidate, combined to have 241 rushing yards against Nicholls State, and Mariota also threw for 234 yards. Again, it was just against Nicholls State, but it got London's attention.

“We’re definitely going to have to do better than (they did against BYU in stopping the run) – tighten up our own responsibilities in terms of running back, quarterback and filling the gaps the way that we need to,” London said. “We’ve got to play better. That’ll be the focal point of this week’s practice.”


Click here to follow Norm Wood on Twitter. Thanks.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad