Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning (10) is sacked by Virginia defensive tackle David Dean (55) in Charlottesville on Saturday.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — No matter where you stand on the issue of global warming, everyone should be able to agree the University of Virginia football team suffered a complete meltdown against Ball State University.
Maybe it was the heat. The temperature Saturday was in the high 80s all afternoon.
Maybe it was the cumulative frustration of watching one teammate after another make a critical, game-changing mistake.
Maybe it is the maddening effect of having the offense struggle one week and the defense struggle the next.
But inside every dark cloud there is a silver lining.
Only 38,228 were in the 61,500-seat Scott Stadium to witness what Virginia coach Mike London called an “embarrassing” performance.
London was not talking about an embarrassment of riches. He was talking about the kind of embarrassment that comes with 13 penalties, two of which negated Virginia touchdowns and several more that kept Ball State drives alive.
London was talking about the kind of embarrassment that comes with four turnovers and with the lack of poise on offense, defense and special teams that made bad situations worse.
London’s poise is being tested as well. He’s usually able to find something positive in even the most negative situations.
He didn’t mention any after the 48-27 loss to the Cardinals, members of the Mid-American Conference, even though Virginia racked up 459 yards of offense.
London even referred to his players’ “dumb” penalties and said they weren’t being smart.
That’s something less than vintage London. But he knows where all these embarrassing moments can lead a coach — to his dismissal.
London did a fine job of talking around that issue, a much better job, in fact, than his defense did of stopping Ball State, which had 506 yards of offense.
“My goal is to make sure we do what we need to do to help these players be successful,” London said. “That’s what I’m committed to doing. I go to work every day with that mindset. The coaches we have go to work with that mindset.”
London has been saying that since his arrival here in 2010. With the exception of the Cavaliers’ 8-5 finish, including a loss to Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl following the 2011 season, London has had to emphasize the personal development of his players instead of his teams’ winning ways.
Personal development and academic success are important aspects of a major college program. So too is making these young people better players.
There is a disconnect somewhere in the Virginia program.
“We look great all week in practice,” said Luke Bowanko, a fifth-year senior and starting guard. “We’ve practiced better this season than we have since I’ve been here. I can’t make it easier for guys in games. I can’t slow the game down on game day. The coaches can’t do that.
“Coach [London] can’t go out there and put an extra hand on the ball for you. Guys just need to grow up and be able to internalize things and make their blocks and make their catches and hold onto the ball. They’re doing it all week so, hopefully things turn around.”
London’s job probably isn’t in jeopardy at the moment. And it shouldn’t be. Dismissing a coach during the season usually does more harm than good.
And these are college players, not hardened professionals who perform in an environment where only winning matters and who know jobs are at stake on a daily basis.
London really does want the players in his program to leave as fully formed young adults.
There’s value in that.
But even for a college coach, graduation rates and service in the community are secondary to success on the field.
London says his players have to be accountable for their performances.
If those performances don’t improve, London and his staff will be held accountable as well.
Weather JournalWarmth next 2 days hits icy wall