Just a few hours after a fire damaged the indoor practice facility going up nearby, coach Mike London was drawing a parallel to his 2-4 Virginia football team.
"Kind of the same way with us, you know what I mean?" London said with a smile at his weekly Monday news conference. "With the team, it's just getting ourselves maybe on the outside, hurting here and there from losses or whatever may be. But on the inside, the spirit and resolve of our team is in good shape."
London's Cavaliers will try to avoid a fifth straight loss on Saturday when Virginia hosts 3-2 Maryland. Virginia's four losses already match the team's total during the 2011 regular season.
"It's difficult this year," junior offensive lineman Luke Bowanko said Monday. "You're standing there watching, and things aren't going you're way, four games in a row. Especially after the Penn State game, when everything went our way. Maybe we used them all up."
"It's definitely frustrating,especially when you have the habit to do it and it doesn't happen," said senior running back Perry Jones. "You can easily get frustrated. But you can't let it affect the way you approach practice, or the next game."
"We're still optimistic. We've still got a lot of faith in our season," said senior linebacker LaRoy Reynolds. "I don't think anyone has given up on anything yet. We lost four games last year, and unfortunately we lost four games this year."
Last Saturday, Virginia fell to 0-2 in the ACC after a 17-14 halftime lead at Duke turned into a 42-17 Blue Devils win. The Cavaliers made a noticeable effort to throw the ball downfield more often with sophomore Phillip Sims starting at quarterback, but with little success.
"It's been interesting, because last year when we needed a play, we made the play," said Bowanko. "We're talking about it as a team. And young guys that haven't been there before - and even older guys that this is their first year playing a lot. Talking about, "You've got to make that play. You can't wait for it to happen. You can't sit on it. You've got to make it happen. You've got to grab the spotlight.""
"We're really close to really hitting on all cylinders," Bowanko added. "And I think one of these days -- it might be this week, it might be the next week -- we're going to put up a complete performance. And that's what we're working toward. Four quarters of football."
Virginia has won four of its last five meetings with the Terrapins, who got off to a 1-0 start in the conference with a 19-14 win at home over Wake Forest last weekend. On Monday, London talked about maintaining a positive attitude heading into Saturday's Homecomings game.
"We talked about the month of October, winning the month of October. That's important with a bye at the end of the month," he said. "You take the games as they come and the importance of the games, and you talk about the positive things that can happen out of that with the renewed sense of effort from everyone, from coaches, from players, from everyone."
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