Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Dabo Swinney says Virginia has “a lot of young talent” and is “a lot closer [to success] than people think.”
Associated Press | File October
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney speaks to defensive tackle DeShawn Williams in the closing minutes of a game against Florida State.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
If Virginia football coach Mike London were running for office, which, in some respects, he might be, he couldn’t find a better campaign manager than Dabo Swinney.
Swinney is in his fifth season as the head coach at Clemson, which comes to Charlottesville today as an 18-point favorite over a Virginia team that has lost five games in a row.
Swinney described his opponents as “a good-looking football team, [with] a lot of talent … a lot of young talent.”
Swinney clearly had done his homework. According to the Clemson game notes, the NCAA is showing Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC) as having the toughest schedule in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The Cavaliers’ first seven FBS opponents have a combined record of 42-14, 36-13 when not playing UVa.
“I know their [record] is not what they want,” Swinney said, “but make no mistake, this is a football team that is a lot closer than people think.”
Whether anybody will notice is hard to say. The last four teams on UVa’s schedule — Clemson, North Carolina and Miami on the road, and Virginia Tech in Charlottesville — have a combined record of 22-8.
The Tigers (7-1, 5-1) got as high as No. 3 in The Associated Press poll before losing to then-No. 5 Florida State, 51-14, at Clemson.
Last week, Swinney took his team to Maryland, where it was a six-point game in the third quarter before Clemson pulled away late and triumphed 40-27.
“I think we’re seventh in the country in wins over the last three years,” Swinney said, “and the reason for that is, you move on. You can’t sit around and bask in a victory or dwell on a loss.”
Clemson, which trails Florida State by one-half game in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, is making its first visit to Virginia, which plays in the Coastal Division, since 2008. Clemson is not scheduled to return to Charlottesville before 2025.
Today’s game will mark a homecoming of sorts for Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who grew up in the Norfolk area and played at Phoebus High School in Hampton.
Boyd was being redshirted as a freshman when Virginia played at Clemson in 2009, a game won by the Tigers 34-21. The only time he has played in Virginia was in 2011, when he led the Tigers to a 23-3 victory over then-No. 10 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
An added story line for today’s game is Boyd’s connection to David Watford, who is in his first season as Virginia’s starting quarterback. Watford played at Hampton High School, which is Phoebus’ big rival.
In 2008, Boyd was a senior quarterback for Phoebus when it defeated a Hampton team quarterbacked by Watford, then a sophomore, 42-6.
“I couldn’t let the young guy beat me,” Boyd said.
One of Boyd’s touchdown passes in that game went to Phoebus tight end Daquan “Da Da” Romero, now one of Virginia’s starting linebackers.
Boyd “kind of took me under his wing in high school,” said Watford, who followed in a line of Peninsula District quarterbacks that included another Hampton QB, Tyrod Taylor, who went to Virginia Tech.
Other Hampton High quarterbacks included Ronald Curry, who played at North Carolina, and Marques Hagans, who was a quarterback and wide receiver at Virginia. Watford and Hagans, who coaches the UVa wide receivers, are cousins.
“I remember those guys from my first football memories,” said Watford, who also mentioned another former Cavalier, Aaron Brooks. “In rec league, I just wanted to be like those guys, trying to take something from their game and put it into my game.”
Boyd and Watford have exchanged texts on occasion, even as recently as this week.
“I told him how proud I was of him,” said Boyd, referring to Watford’s 43-of-61 performance in a 35-25 loss to Georgia Tech. “It’s been fun talking to him and watching him play, just [seeing] his growth and maturation.
“I’m always here if he needs to talk. I’m always here with advice if he needs it, and he’s tapped into me a few times. It’s just been good to talk to him.”
If London were to call, Swinney could tell him about the 2010 season, when the Tigers went 6-7 and lost five games by six points or fewer.
“I see a lot of similarities in this Virginia team,” Swinney said. “I think their future is very bright. Nobody wants to hear that but I think, with a little patience, this team is going to step up and be one of the surprise teams in the next year or so.”
Weather JournalRain is here; no snow