Here's a snippet of our Q&A with Virginia blog Lambeth Field from our preview:
CFBZ: After going 4-8 in his debut season, Mike London led the Cavs to an 8-5 record in 2011. What were the primary reasons behind the jump in wins?
Lambeth Field: Like most new coaches in a rebuilding project, you are trying to implement your philosophy with players you did not recruit. Case in point, Virginia changed from a 3-4 defense to 4-3. So not only do you have to essentially start from scratch with your front 7, you have to redefine roles for each player. In 2010, the Hoos were one of the worst rushing defenses in the ACC. 2011 saw them improve to 4th and cut out over 600 opponent yards as they became more comfortable.
On offense, it was a switch from Groh’s last ditch effort in 2009 to go to a spread offense, to London’s ground and pound. Again, the Cavs saw a 500 yard spike in rushing over the previous year. These two changes saw a 7 point swing in offensive ppg to defensive ppg from 2007, and when 5 wins were by 7 points or less, that is the most linear difference from the two years. Now there are a lot more subtile differences, like 3rd down defense efficiency (down from 42% to 33%) and 2nd year QB Mike Rocco managing the offense better over a 7 game stretch that lead to some key wins, but now that the players know what London is trying to do and as more of his pieces are game ready, Virginia should see more consistent results.......