- - Friday, November 25, 2011

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — In 2007, the Virginia Cavaliers earned the nickname “Cardiac Cavs” as they won five games by two points or less.

That team would be proud of this year’s edition.

U.Va. has seen four of its games come down to the final seconds, including a field goal that drifted wide left to give the Wahoos a victory last Saturday against Florida State.

As in 2007, the victories have created a winner-take-all matchup against Virginia Tech. Coach Mike London is hoping the similarities end there, though. The Hokies won the 2007 game, as they have the last seven in the series.

“We’ve said before that winning breeds success, and success breeds confidence,” the coach said. “The way it is now, ‘I got you. We’ll turn this around and get it done,’ lends you to staying in games.”

London’s motivational speeches have been credited by the players as being an inspiration this season. Each week, the coach chooses a theme for the week’s game — against Florida State, it was David and Goliath.

On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Jim Reid said that this week’s theme had yet to be chosen; London said that sometimes he doesn’t think about what he’s going to say until the morning of the game.

“Coach London is great at that,” Reid said. “He’s really a superhero when it comes to judging the pulse of our team.”

He’s also emotional on the sidelines, where he works to infuse the Wahoos with energy. In a season of close calls, they’ve needed it.

In addition to the FSU game, Miami had an opportunity to beat U.Va. on the last play, and Virginia kicked a field goal to beat Indiana with no time remaining.

Idaho went for two in overtime, and lost to the Cavs when a pass fell incomplete.

“It’s a 60-minute football game, and we’re a 60-minute team,” receiver Kris Burd said. “It shows the resiliency we’ve built up in the offseason, that never-give-up attitude.”

It’s also a shocking turnaround for a team that limped to the finish line last year. If Virginia finds a way to win the ACC title, it would be the first team ever to go from worst to first in a single year.

“If you look at the roster, it’s the same guys for the most part,” safety Rodney McLeod said. “I think everybody’s gotten better. We had great training this summer and we’re preparing well. Preparation builds confidence, and then gives you victories.”

It’s a sentiment the coaches can agree with, even if the tight finishes are a little scary at times.

Reid joked that “if I work here much longer, I might not be here much longer.”

London said that he’s been impressed with the confidence demonstrated by the team when they’ve been trailing this season, and last Saturday confirmed that.

“We should be in every game we play,” the coach said. “We should expect to win every game we play.”

Read Michael Phillips’ U.Va. blog at TimesDispatch.com

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