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“The only thing that can change that is our play on the field,” Virginia head coach Mike London said of his team’s predicted sixth-place finish.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Coming off a 2012 season in which it finished sixth out of six teams in the ACC's Coastal Division, Virginia couldn't have had high expectations Monday prior to the release of the media's preseason football poll.
The Cavaliers weren't picked last in the poll, but they were sixth again, this time nudging Duke in a Coastal Division that has swelled to seven members with the addition of ACC newcomer Pittsburgh.
"I don't get caught up in where we're picked," said fourth-year head coach Mike London, whose 2011 team won eight games after being fifth in the Coastal Division. "Obviously, it is what it is and you can't change that.
"The only thing that can change that is our play on the field. All the talking we're doing will be reflected at the end of the season and whether [the sixth-place pick] was warranted or if we exceeded expectations.
"I want to be competitive on the field. I want us to be tough, smart and aggressive. Where we are now is not as important to me as, when it's over, where we end up."
London, whose 4-8 record in 2012 was his second in three years, was asked about his job security.
"You'd have to ask other people that particular question," London said, "but I plan on being at Virginia for a long time.
"All I can do is take this team, these players, the new coaches and put us in the mindset that, every game we play, we want to be competitive and we want to try to win."
Preseason practice begins Aug. 5, and London thinks he will be go public with his choice of a starting quarterback shortly thereafter. Sophomore David Watford was the No. 1 QB after the spring, followed by sophomore Greyson Lambert.
"Going into this season, there is no quarterback controversy," said London, who last year alternated between since-departed underclassmen Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims.
"Early on, in August camp, you'll know definitively who the starting quarterback is going to be. The guy who has the most experience is David right now, but the rein has not been handed to David because Greyson Lambert is going to be special as well.
"With the new coaches we have on staff, we're like, 'Hey, let's pick a guy early, let's get it established and let's go.' I had our [players] vote on leaders, who they thought were the model leaders on our team. The No. 1 vote-getter on our team was David Watford. Greyson Lambert was in the top 10.
"I think that's significant."
Fifth-year senior Sean Cascarano heads the UVa depth chart at right guard after starting 11 games last season, but his availability is in question.
"He's had shoulders; he has a hip situation right now that we're still evaluating," London said. "The question will be, can he play through it? Can he tolerate the pain? Does he need surgery. If he gets surgery, obviously, it probably would end his playing career.
"That's to be determined real soon. You'd like to say, 'Take one for the team, ' but we're talking about life after football.' If this situation with his hip isn't remedied, it might be in his best interest not to play."
London said he has awarded scholarships to a trio of walk-ons, fifth-year fullback Billy Skrobacz, junior punter Alec Vozenilek and junior long snapper Matt Fortinall.
In recent years, Virginia's kicking specialists have come from its walk-on contingent, but London said that new associate head coach Tom O'Brien has recommended that UVa pursue the nation's top kicking prospects by offering scholarships.
That may explain UVa's offer to Gary Wunderlich from Memphis University School. Wunderlich, rated the nation's No. 1 kicking prospect and the son of UVa graduates, committed to the Cavaliers this spring.
Mississippi recently made an offer to Wunderlich, who has not indicated a change of heart.
February signee Zach Jones, a wide receiver from Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, is not listed on the UVa roster amidst speculation that he could end up at Hawaii as a partial or non-qualifier.
"As far as I know, in talking to Perry Jones, his brother, Zach plans on going to Fork Union," said London, who had Perry Jones as his starting tailback for the past three seasons. "I've heard talk about the University of Hawaii, but that's not true."
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