Elliott at midway point of training camp: ‘We’re a lot further along’ than this time a year ago

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

If you’re a Virginia football fan, coming off a 3-7 season and losing some key personnel from a team that grossly underachieved, you’re probably looking for some positive signs heading into the upcoming campaign.

Tony Elliott provided some silver linings after Monday’s practice, midway through August training camp. He reported to media that the Cavaliers are well ahead of last year’s team at this point, and went on to explain why.

Elliott is a diligent note-taker, so it’s easy for him to look back at the same time last year — his first as a head coach — and see where his team stands compared to that date a year ago.

“I remember this time last year I was having to stop the entire team and run as a group because we got guys getting into altercations and stopping practice,” Elliott said. “Now we’re flowing through practice.

“The guys understand the pace, they understand the structure, they understand the expectations. They’re jogging on and off the field, chasing the ball until the whistle is blown, so we’re a lot further ahead.”

The coach said the offense, which never really clicked last season, is more cohesive even without some of the former playmakers in the mix.

“When I look at us offensively, last year [at this point of camp] we were still struggling with the snap count,” Elliott said. “We were having guys jumping offsides regularly. Now we’re not seeing as many of those issues and we’re doing a lot more of the offense than we were able to do last year just because the guys have another year under their belt.”

One of the key factors this August has been the academic schedule, giving the coaches and players more time to work and study together. Last year the players were still in summer-school classes; not the case this time around.

“In football, you’ve got to have great players, there’s no question,” Elliott said. “You’ve got to have great coaching. But in my experience, what wins is ‘do you have a team?’

“Teams win, and I feel like we’re the furthest along in that area of being a team. We’ve still got some things X’s-and-O’s wise, but overall, we’re a lot further ahead as of our scrimmage last Saturday.”