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Mike London’s New Staff Brings New Attitude to Virginia Spring Football

Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports

After taking Virginia down to the final game for the ACC Coastal Division title during his second year in 2011, Cavaliers Coach Mike London saw his squad rapidly regress last season from 5-3 to 2-6 in conference play. This trip from second-place to the bottom of his division in relatively weak conference caused some soul-searching for the UVa football program, leading to a massive overhaul of London’s staff and reportedly raised level of intensity in spring practice.

The 4-8 debacle in 2012 saw four football coaches fired and an infusion of new staff that includes ex-North Carolina State head coach Tom O’Brien at offensive coordinator, Jon Tenuta at defensive coordinator and Larry Lewis as special teams coordinator and running backs coach. Tenuta is among the Cavalier coaches bringing an increased sense of intensity and urgency to spring practice.

“It’s intense, because that same attitude has to translate onto the field,” UVa linebacker Henry Coley said, via The Washington Post. “If he’s intense, we’re intense and we’re living through him. I always felt that’s how football needed to be.”

The Post didn’t detail of any balls being chucked at heads or boorishly offensive slurs, but did note that the curse jar requiring $1 for curse fines (donated to charity) has been done away for this offseason. Time will tell if these measures produce a squad more ready for opening day, though it’s likely to pale in comparison to recruiting and developing players into a cohesive unit better than perennial Coastal Division winners Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

Who knows if this intensity storyline or other offseason endeavors will pay dividends, but the on-field results will show conclusively. As the The Key Play sums up one of UVa’s ideas from last year, “Frank Beamer doesn’t put his face on shirts for recruits. He just beats UVA 38-0.”

Thomas Emerick is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEmerick, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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There's No Longer Any Reason To Believe In UVA

Two weeks ago, the Virginia Cavaliers stood at 4-2, 2-0 in the ACC. Given how bad the rest of the Coastal Division seemed to be, there was optimism that UVA would at least finish above .500 on the season, perhaps make a bowl game, and if everything broke right, stay in contention for the Coastal Division title and a berth in the ACC Championship Game.

However, a 20-13 loss at Duke last week slowed that momentum, and Saturday’s 28-27 home loss to North Carolina not only ended any optimism, but it squarely turns the heat back up on head coach Mike London and his coaching staff.

Virginia wasn’t drastically outplayed today, and actually led the game 24-21 at halftime; however, as was the case for much of the second half — and several times over the last few years — a simple mistake cost the Cavaliers big time. With 1:17 to play and exiting a timeout, North Carolina lined up for a field goal that would have made it 31-27, leaving UVA at least a chance to win.

Instead, Virginia came out of the break with 12 men on the field. Carolina got a first down on the penalty and subsequently ran out the clock.

Such mistakes are the type you see when teams are led by rookie coaches, and while London is young, he isn’t a rookie. As fans streamed out of Scott Stadium in the final minute, with Virginia resigned to the type of befuddling loss that the Cavaliers seem to suffer at least twice a season, it became clear that this isn’t going to change.

The 8-5 season in 2011 was a mirage. Other than that, London is now 14-30 in Charlottesville. Despite his well-earned reputation as a top recruiter, he and his coaching staff either don’t use their talent properly, or don’t manage the fine points of the game that can cause a team to win or lose.

The penalty for too many men on the game’s most crucial play proves that the more things change, the more things they stay the same in Charlottesville. And with games left against Georgia Tech, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech, finding a reason to believe is going to be difficult for Virginia fans moving forward — if they pay attention at all.

Ed Morgans is an ACC Basketball Writer for Follow him on Twitter @writered21 and add him to your network on Google.

Virginia football's failings can no longer be hidden after home loss to UNC.

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