Elliott takes blame for some ‘bad calls;’ UVA injury update

By Jerry Ratcliffe

(Photo: UVA Athletics)

Tony Elliott said there were three to five plays that he and offensive coordinator Des Kitchings would like to have back from Saturday’s four-overtime loss to Miami. During his weekly press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Elliott said he’d like to have those calls back from a coaching standpoint, “where we could have made better calls to put the players in a better situation to be successful.”

The Cavaliers were 0-4 when it came to scoring touchdowns in the red zone against the Hurricanes, and are ranked as one of the worst teams in the country in that category.

Elliott told media that he addressed those shortcomings in a meeting with the team on Monday.

“So I point out first and foremost, before I talk about the grades for the players, I talk about the coaching staff and the areas we need to get better, the calls that we need to make better,” Elliott said. “If we’re going to have accountability in this program, we’ve got to have total accountability, starting with myself.

“If I make a mistake, then I’ve got to be the first one to say that I made a mistake, and I’ve got to have people around me that are going to hold me accountable and tell me when I make a mistake, and then my job is to evaluate the coaches. So when I’m looking at the film, I’m evaluating play calls. Is it successful? Are the young men in position? And if there was a breakdown, what was the breakdown?”

Elliott said one of those calls was a third-and-one when “we called a naked [bootleg].” He said they probably needed to run the ball in that situation.

On one first-and-10 where Virginia was matched up in zone, where another boot was called, he said that was a bad call. On another third-and-one on the Bryant Hall end of the field, the Cavaliers were outnumbered by Miami’s defensive front and made another bad call.

“I should have called a timeout, seeing the situation, so I fell short there,” Elliott said. “And then you look down in the red zone, when I think it was the first time we got down there with Lavel (Davis Jr.), I think we ran the ball on first down.”

After another unsuccessful run, Elliott called for a shovel pass, which he’s done many times over the years. This time it didn’t work, nor did a jump pass from an unbalanced set.

“So there was an opportunity for success there,” UVA’s coach said.

UVA’s staff tried some speed sweeps because “we couldn’t go right at [Miami’s front] and knock ‘em back,” explained the coach.

Elliott said he believes in being transparent with his coaching, even if he has to admit mistakes.

Injury Update

Virginia hopes to have offensive linemen McKale Boley and John Paul Flores back this week for the North Carolina game (Noon, ACC Network).

“[Flores] has been having to do a little rehab,” Elliott said. “Noah Josey (who filled in for Flores) did a great job when he came in. I think he shows a ton of potential, and that’s why we’re challenging him to continue to improve.

“Those guys have been battling, and we’re also hoping to have Boley back this week. He’s been back in practice, so it seems week-to-week of whoever’s available. You just mix and match those guys. It’s hard to build continuity, but I tell you what, those guys were scrapping. They had a very tough task this past week with that defensive front from Miami, probably the best or second-best defensive front that we’re going to play all season.”

Meanwhile, linebacker Josh Ahern is day-to-day with a hamstring problem and running back Ronnie Walker Jr. is getting some special-teams work while he continues to mend from a preseason problem.

Quarterback Brennan Armstrong, who had his ankle rolled up, left the game and spent time in the medical tent, but returned heavily taped. He played without incident the rest of the day, and said after the game that he was fine, but his ankle had been a “little weird” lately.

Elliott said Armstrong has been full speed in practice this week.

Wednesday: Just how long is it going to take for this offense to finally figure things out?