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Virginia head coach Mike London is thankful for a call that went his way during the second half of Saturday's game against Ball State in Charlottesville. Ball State won 48-27.
Virginia wide receiver Tim Smith (20) makes a catch against Oregon at Scott Stadium on Saturday in Charlottesville.
Monday, October 7, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE - Less than a week after linebacker Henry Coley said Virginia's football team was in a "must-win" situation against visiting Ball State, the Cavaliers weren't as fixated on the possible outcome of this Saturday's game at Maryland.
Coach Mike London was concentrating on the process of preparing his team for its last scheduled game with the Terrapins, who move to the Big Ten next year.
"Obviously, we want to win," said London, whose Cavaliers dropped to 2-3 with a 48-27 home loss to Ball State. "We want to win now. I believe in the coaches. I believe in the players. I believe in the young players that are playing.
"We want to show improvement from week to week and that's my job. That's what I have to make sure that gets done."
Virginia, which had not been penalized for more than 50 yards in each of its first four games, was whistled 13 times for 93 yards against Ball State.
It was the third time in as many years that UVa had lost at home to a team from a non-BCS conference, following a 44-38 loss to then-unbeaten Louisiana Tech last year and a 30-24 setback to Southern Miss in 2011.
In the Louisiana Tech game last year, UVa was penalized 16 times for 145 yards. At the time, London said there would be repercussions and he offered similar threats Monday.
"There's consequences for players that continue to have penalties that cause us to lose," said London, who indicated there had not been habitual offenders before Saturday.
"Whether you believe it should have been called or not, it's a penalty and penalties cause you to lose. So, we'll address that at our practices."
Four players joined London at UVa's weekly news conference, including junior Khalek Shepherd, who was asked about similarities to a 2012 season in which the Cavaliers lost six games in a row.
"We don't want to get too low on ourselves," Shepherd said. "You can't let this stuff linger or it's going to have a negative effect. So, the best way to get over it is just to fix it."
Virginia is continuing to retool its offensive line and may move fifth-year left guard Luke Bowanko back to center, where he started all 12 games in 2012.
Bowanko would be replaced at left guard by Conner Davis, the Cavaliers' starting right guard this year until he suffered a hamstring injury in Week 2. Davis started 12 games at left guard last year.
Bowanko would become Virginia's third different starting center in three weeks, taking over from redshirt freshman Jackson Matteo, who made his starting debut last week.
If Bowanko moves, left tackle Morgan Moses would be the Cavaliers' only offensive lineman who has started every game at the same spot. London said Davis will be evaluated in practice before he is cleared to play Saturday.
Moses allowed one of two Ball State sacks Saturday and also was penalized for a hold.
"You know, [if] you're the left tackle, you're going to get the best rushers because people want to rush the quarterback's blind side," London said. "The challenge is always given to Morgan that he's going to have to perform at a high, high level."
By the numbers
With its minus-4 turnover differential Saturday against Ball State, Virginia has dropped to 120th among 123 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in turnover margin.
There is a direct correlation between those numbers and UVa's ranking in team passing efficiency. Starting quarterback David Watford has been intercepted seven times, as compared to his three touchdown passes.
Watford is 111th nationally in passing efficiency and ranks 14th out of 14 ACC quarterbacks in that category. Seven ACC quarterbacks are ranked in the top 30 nationally.
Wide receiver Tim Smith, who has played in parts of five seasons, returned punts for the first time in his career Saturday against Ball State. Smith's 36-yard return on his first attempt was the longest for the Cavaliers this season.
"He'd always been back there as one of the guys [in practice] catching punts," London said. It "was an attempt to make sure we're doing everything we can to put people in the right places. I think he will be a tremendous asset as we move forward."
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