Saturday, October 15, 2005

Wake Up The Echoes

The 1995 Virginia Cavalier football team was used to disappointment. Losing on a last play to Michigan at the Big House, a last second field goal by Texas (getting the pattern). So it should come to no surprise when another football giant was storming down David A. Harrison field in the final minutes, it was deja vu all over again. QB Danny Kannell was finding receivers, RB Warrick Dunn had been kept in line for most of the game but come on this was Florida State. FSU was undefeated, #2 in the nation, a common occurrence since they had NEVER lost in the ACC. UVA was the 25th ranked squad, hoping to hold on with an amazing performance from Tiki Barber and QB Mike Groh. With seven seconds Kannell moved them inside the ten yard line and threw an incompletion leading to one last play with three seconds to go.

The snap goes to Dunn and he plows towards the endzone and falls with his helmet at the white chalkmark of the goal line. The ball never crosses, the game ends, the Cavaliers win???? Pandemonium in Charlottesville, Virginia will go on to win its 2nd ACC football title and defeat Georgia in the Peach Bowl (With some drama involved in that game as well). Virginia head coach George Welsh has done the unthinkable!

....That was then boys and girls. It is 10 years later. Mike Groh's not throwing it deep, but still on the sidelines, helping his new coach daddy Al shape current QB Marques Hagans into an all around threat. Wali Lundy may not be Tiki, but at the moment he's not even himself. The offensive line is a huge question mark, and the defensive secondary is one big frowny face. Florida State is (surprise, surprise) undefeated, 4th in the nation and brimming with confidence after finally defeating long time rival Miami. Virginia is reeling, two losses to ACC middleweights Maryland and Boston College (not exactly Michigan and Texas), with a hideous stretch of Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Miami still to come.

In other words, there is no reason UVA should win this game. Except for the fact that this game is ten years later, at home, and will show Dunn's stuffing at the one inch line about 500 times. Football's mental edge is one of the most underrated aspects. How else do teams like TCU beat Oklahoma or South Florida beat Louisville? Virginia has the potential to win this game, but it needs MANY contingencies. The fans, the attitude, the overconfident FSU and a lot of luck for starters.

At the end of the game, Virginia will stand at either 4-2 or 3-3. Virginia has not lost 3 games in a row since Al Groh's first year but they seem to be in grave danger this time around. UNC and Temple stand on the horizon, but even UNC may not be a given with 3 losses in a row. Virginia can't live in the past, but they shouldn't ignore it either. No one believed in the 1995 crew and they won the ACC championship. It's make or break time for Virginia, before CavMan and the Wahoo faithful ride off into the sunset.


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