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London renews commitment to running game
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
"I think you'll see more of a commitment to the running game and not abandon it," UVa head coach Mike London said Tuesday in a news conference devoted to spring ball.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
As Virginia was putting up its third straight 3,000-yard passing season in 2012, another statistic wasn't nearly as impressive.
The Cavaliers were 96th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in rushing offense, with 128.5 yards per game on the ground.
That might be the first order of business for UVa's three new offensive coaches, including coordinator Steve Fairchild.
"I think you'll see more of a commitment to the running game and not [see Virginia] abandon it," UVa head coach Mike London said Tuesday in a news conference devoted to spring ball.
"I'm not saying you vacate the throwing game. Absolutely not. I think we have some very talented receivers that can stretch the field, but we want to be versatile enough to say, 'We're going to run the ball.' " Virginia was not alone last year in its inability to run the ball. Five other ACC teams were ranked below UVa in rushing offense in 2012: Duke (98th), N.C. State (108th), Maryland (112th), Wake Forest (113th) and Boston College (115th).
The Cavaliers had rushed for 162 yards per game in 2011, the second of three seasons with Bill Lazor as their offensive coordinator,
Lazor resigned in January to become the quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I think coach Lazor was very honest in his play calling," said center Luke Bowanko, described by London as an all-star candidate for 2013. "When things weren't working, he tried to find out what would work.
"He's a quarterback coach and he likes to throw the ball and I don't blame him at all. Sometimes, we didn't earn the run to be called last year. Obviously, that's got to change for even coach Fairchild to call it."
Gone from the Cavaliers' season-ending roster are three players with remaining eligibility - tight end Jay Mathis, offensive lineman Kelby Johnson and defensive lineman Courtney Wynne.
Mathis, who would have been a senior, had lettered twice for the Cavaliers and caught five passes for 42 yards and a touchdown last season. He had two touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2011.
Mathis and Johnson, who would have been a third-year sophomore, both came out of DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md. Wynne, one of four 2012 UVa signees from Norfolk Christian, was rated the
No. 12 prospect in Virginia by The Roanoke Times in 2011 and was redshirted this past fall.
London said that Wynne had been dismissed for "conduct detrimental to the team." Earlier, the Cavaliers had lost 2012 sack leader Chris Brathwaite, who was declared academically ineligible but could return as a fifth-year senior in 2014.
Mathis is one of three scholarship tight ends from a year ago who are gone, including Colter Phillips and Paul Freedman, who were seniors.
As a result, 6-foot-6, 255-pound Zach Swanson will move to tight end from fullback, where he was No. 1 on the depth chart. Tight end was Swanson's original position when he enrolled at Virginia, and he will serve the need for a blocking tight end to complement Jake McGee, a threat for big plays in the passing game.
London is hoping that 6-4, 275-pound Vince Croce will be the answer at fullback after playing sparingly as a redshirt freshman on the defensive line. Croce has experience as a blocker, having served as a tight end at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Olney, Md.
Hamm a 'Hoo
Fort Chiswell coach Steven James reported Tuesday that first-team All-Timesland running back Daniel Hamm has accepted a preferred walk-on spot at UVa, where he also hopes to run track.
Hamm (5-10, 185) rushed for 1,902 yards as a senior, when he scored 26 TDs, and also had 20 receptions for 304 yards.
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