Barring the unlikely, senior running back Perry Jones is four games away from the end of his Virginia football career. But Jones is still hoping to make the unlikely a reality.
Jones, a two-time Cavalier captain, says the message for Virginia's younger players is simple.
"Just try to keep those guys up, and let them know that the season's not over with," he said Wednesday morning after practice. "We still have a chance to win out and get to six games, and go to a bowl game."
Virginia is 2-6 on the season -- and 0-4 in the ACC, at the bottom of the league's Coastal Division standings -- with four games to play. The Cavaliers return from an off week on Saturday, when they travel to N.C. State.
"Guys are definitely ready. "We had this bye week, just trying to fine tune our own mistakes, and now we're ready to play," sophomore receiver Darius Jennings said. "Go back to the basics; fundamental football. So we can go there and perform on Saturday."
After opening the season with back-to-back home wins against Richmond and Penn State, Virginia has dropped its last six in a row. Three of those losses -- to Louisiana Tech, Maryland, and Wake Forest, all at home -- have been by a touchdown or less.
"The only thing different from last year is last year we won the close games, and this year we've lost the close games," said junior receiver Tim Smith. "The last two or three games have been close games, and we just couldn't pull it out. So we're there; we're that close. We've just got to keep pushing to get over the hump."
"The ball didn't bounce our way in a lot of our occasions," said Jones. "But we're not really looking to the past anymore. So we've just got to go out there and execute like we know we can."
Reaching the six-win plateau would make the Cavaliers bowl eligible for a second straight season. After Saturday's visit to N.C. State, Virginia has back-to-back home games against Miami and North Carolina (on a Thursday night), before wrapping up the season at Virginia Tech.
Entering the Hokies' visit to Miami on Thursday night, Virginia's final four opponents are a combined 19-14.
"We just have to take it one game at a time," said Jennings. "We have to win game one first. We can't win four if it doesn't start with one. So we're taking it one play, one practice at a time. And just working toward our goals."
"Just to be at this point where we are, we can turn it around right now and win four straight, and still get a chance to go to a bowl game," agreed Smith. "But we're still taking it one game at a time, so just having this bye week, it's got us re-focused on that goal."
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