Seventh Heaven For Cavs, Groh

By Adam Caparell - October 24, 2007

The No. 15 team in the latest BCS rankings is Virginia - believe it or not - and in this wild and crazy college football season you might as well call them the Cardiac Cavs.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Virginia has won seven straight after a disappointing loss at Wyoming to begin the season. And five of the seven victories have come by five points or fewer with their last three wins having been by a combined four points. And on top of it all, in those three close games Virginia hasn't secured the win until the final seconds of the game.

Fun times in Charlottesville for sure, but for coach Al Groh, who has been around the football block a few times, it's nothing out of the ordinary. And while the nauseating outcomes might not be by design, they're certainly no accident either.

"Unless you're a dominate team, dominate personnel-wise - you're just going to go out there and knock everybody down and win by a large margin of which there are very few every year - one of the keys to amassing a positive record is being able to win (close games)," Groh said. "In a lot of ways your execution is pretty much the same whether you end up with one more or one less. That's a skill that certain teams have. It's like anything that happens repetitively after a while, it's not just an accident."

With this unexpectedly successful season so far, Groh very may well have saved his job. In his seventh season at his alma mater, Groh entered on the proverbial hot seat and the calls for his head only increased after that loss in Laramie. But with seven straight victories - tying a single-season record that's only been duplicating three other times in program history - Groh looks to have his Cavs headed back to a bowl game after Virginia missed the postseason for the first time in four years last season. That figure to make Groh's return to campus for an eighth season a near certainty.

But it's funny how quickly the tables have been turned. Last season saw the Cavs limp home to a 5-7 record that including some thumpings at the hands of Pittsburgh, Florida State and Virginia Tech. They were the hunters in 2006, looking for the upset every week. Now they're the hunted, sitting atop the ACC's Coastal Division, in stark contract to their more familiar position in the middle of the conference standings.

"We have addressed with them the fact that the teams that we're playing and their perception of us is going to be different than it was before," Groh said. "That ought to serve as another source helping us elevate our game. It really falls in line with what we've really tried to emphasize; when you get into this time of year the teams that continue on are the teams that continue to play better."

Posted by Adam Caparell at 05:11 PM on October 24, 2007
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