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Virginia opens a tough regular season against Brigham Young, but the Cavs already have their in-state rival circled on the calendar.
Courtesy of UVa
A pair of clocks in the Cavaliers' locker room count down to Virginia's season opener against BYU (top) and the season finale against rival Virginia Tech (bottom).
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Forget one game at a time. When you haven’t beaten your rival in nearly a decade, cliches go out the window.
That’s why in the Virginia football locker room, the Cavaliers have two countdown clocks. One ticks down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until UVa’s season opener against Brigham Young.
It displays the time remaining until the regular-season finale against rival Virginia Tech, which has won nine straight against the Cavs.
With the possible exception of the Brigham Young opener, Virginia Tech “is the most important thing, right?” redshirt freshman center Jackson Matteo said last week during Virginia’s preseason media day. “Obviously, those guys up the road are always going to be in the back of our head.”
Junior linebacker Daquan Romero said he looks at the Tech clock whenever he’s in the locker room.
“I look at the time and I just say, ‘We have to be ready,’ ” Romero said last week. “When that time comes, we better be ready. Everybody better have their big boy pants on, they better be strapped up, and they better be ready. Because we are not the only ones that’s excited. I feel like they’re just as excited.”
It’s not that UVa’s players are looking past their first 11 opponents. There’s little chance of that since the Cavaliers follow the BYU game with a meeting with national power Oregon.
“Everybody knows it’s one game at a time,” Romero said. “But when that one game comes up, you better be ready. Because we haven’t beat Tech in a long time. I’m not used to losing rivalry games. That’s just not me. As a team, we’re not bowing down to nobody.”
For that reason, he said, Virginia Tech might be “the most important game on the schedule.”
Virginia Tech has won 13 of the past 14 meetings in the rivalry. It’s been so long since the Cavaliers notched a victory (a 35-21 home win in 2003) that Romero said he couldn’t remember the name of the trophy given to the winning team.
“It’s bad blood between us and Virginia Tech,” junior linebacker Henry Coley said. “But over the past couple years, this thing hasn’t even been a competition. I think we haven’t won since I moved to Virginia back in 2003. We definitely have to turn this thing around.”
The lopsided results in recent years have only made the rivalry more intense for the UVa players, Romero said.
“I feel like it’s grown to be a nasty rivalry,” Romero said. “Sometimes I get disgusted when I see people with Tech stuff on.”
The Cavaliers have come close, losing 17-14 in Blacksburg last year and in 2008. But from 2009-2011, the Hokies won the three meetings by a combined score of 117-20.
“I thought we were going to win last year, but that got away from us,” Coley said. “This year, we just have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
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