Good or bad, UVA coordinators moving on from last season
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Virginia fans were none too pleased with the offense's production last season and offensive coordinator Des Kitchings counts himself in the same boat.
"I'm just as pissed as they are, my expectations are high offensively as well," Kitchings said, "This is a competitive venue of college athletics and it's become a business and you got to produce and it's about production, and we didn't produce last year and I'm at the forefront of that."
The first season under Tony Elliott and Kitchings saw UVA's offense drop from national, record-breaking levels to the bottom of the ACC in scoring (17 points per game) and 10th in total yards (344.1). Now entering their second spring, Kitchings and the offensive staff highlighted the areas in need of improvement, which have been focal points in drills this spring.
"The vision obviously was to go out and win games and score points and there was some factors that deterred that from happening," Kitchings said, "When we reflected back on the season the things we did not like were the turnover rate, which was terrible, the drops that we had, we allowed too many sacks, so those are the things that we can correct."
The Cavaliers will not name a starting quarterback at the end of spring practice with Kitchings calling it "still an open competition" and coaches never expected to have a starter between Monmouth transfer Tony Muskett and Jay Woolfolk due to the latter's baseball commitments. But Kitchings has seen positive results with the quarterbacks and protecting the ball, mentioning Muskett has an above 70 percent completion percentage throughout spring practice. In regards to the dropped passes and sacks, both the wide receivers and offensive line feature largely new groups and new coaches.
Kitchings has also seen more 'buy-in' on the offense with players in the offices more frequently, giving confidence Virginia can take the right steps heading into the fall.
"But for the vision of the offense we're still pushing forward just knowing if we can address and correct those things then we'll get the results that we want in the fall," Kitchings said.
The story wrote out much differently in year one for John Rudzinski with the UVA defense going from second to last in the ACC in yards allowed (466 yard per game) to reaching seventh in the league in both scoring defense (24 points per game) and total yards (357.6).
"We've all got to have humility," Rudzinski said, "I think the young men in this program understand that we can't take anything from last year with us and frankly we can't take yesterday with us, we can learn some life lessons.
Despite the big jump for the defense, Rudzinski is not settling for middle of the pack with the entire defensive coaching staff returning and eight out of 11 starters back from last season.
"We're not done, we're not finished," junior safety/linebacker Lex Long said, "The other day Coach Rud read out our stats in the ACC and he was like 'I'm not satisfied with being average, we didn't come here to be average and if you want to play average football, go ahead and go to the other side of the ball."
The Cavaliers will look differently still without All-ACC performers in linebacker Nick Jackson, cornerbacks Anthony Johnson and Fentrell Cypress back, so Rudzinski the scheme might change slightly to fit around the personnel. But after the spring game on Saturday at 2 p.m., Rudzinski will wait to see what comes back to him at the start of fall practice.
"The challenge in front of us, particularly after we get through this spring game of these guys getting into the next training cycle," Rudzinski said, "Doing a great job of getting their bodies and minds ready for the rigor of both the ACC and our really competitive non-conference schedule."