Cold temperatures and icy field conditions forced the Virginia football team inside the George Welsh Indoor Facility for the second spring practice of the year Thursday morning.
The winter weather already forced Mike London's team to cancel Tuesday's scheduled practice. But London told reporters before Thursday's workout that the Cavaliers would get in all 15 practices allotted each spring by the NCAA -- and that UVa would make the most of them.
"Today's a day to make sure we improve, and get better from what we did last time," London said.
UVa is coming off a 2-10 season in 2013, that came after London made changes at all three coordinator spots. Last spring's practice sessions were a crash course for the Cavaliers in the schemes of those new coordinators -- Steve Fairchild (offense), Jon Tenuta (defense), and Larry Lewis (special teams).
On Thursday, London said the Cavaliers are "light years from where we were last year." And his players talked after practice about how much more comfortable they felt after a full year in the coaching staff's schemes.
"Comfort is pretty high. I feel like a lot of the guys are feeling a lot more comfortable," said rising sophomore quarterback Greyson Lambert. "We have a lot of experience coming back this year, with 22 seniors. So all of us feel a little bit more comfortable."
"You see a lot of guys flying around faster. And you can see what Coach Tenuta wants us to do," said rising senior cornerback Tra' Nicholson. "Guys are aggressive, guys getting after it. We're blitzing. We're covering guys. And that's how I imagine he's imagining it in his head, and that's how we're doing it out here."
"Whenever we're in our second year of going through the offense, this is the same offense. So it's a lot easier for us to just go full speed," said Lambert. "You know what to expect, you know the offense, and so it just comes to production."
Statistically, the Cavaliers struggled in all three phases of the game last season. The offense ranked 89th in the country in total yards (368.4 ypg) and 109th in scoring (19.8 ppg), while the defense was 65th in yards allowed (403.6 ypg) and 98th in scoring (33.3 ppg). Special teams ranked 89th in kick return defense (22.37 average yards allowed) and 80th in net punting (36.39 net yards).
But London is banking on those rankings improving, thanks to another year of familiarity for his players.
"Guys understand the techniques," he said. "And now you get better, and you get faster at those things. So being able to play at full speed, and not worrying about making a mistake, is always critical in the execution of any offense, defense, or special teams."