On Friday nights, Cavaliers football players hold a brief practice in the stadium they’ll play in the next day.
Before that workout begins, Virginia coach Mike London has the team walk the length of the field together.
“It’s to understand that the game is played between the white lines,” linebacker LaRoy Reynolds said. “Not in the stands.”
While that will again be true in Saturday’s rivalry tilt with Maryland, what happens between those lines will affect things across the state, one of Virginia’s most fertile recruiting grounds.
London has taken advantage of the disarray the Terrapins program finds itself in, and brought in players who couldn’t see themselves playing for their state school.
It started under former coach Ralph Friedgen, who alienated some of the state’s top talent at Good Counsel high school, including current U.Va. lineman Nick Jenkins.
“I just couldn’t stand the coaches,” he said, quickly clarifying that he was referring solely to the head coach. “Coach Friedgen was just a pretty arrogant person.”
Edsall instituted a “one voice” policy to control who speaks with reporters, and has banned players from wearing jewelry or certain types of baggy clothing during team functions.
Winning can make those gripes go away, but the Terps are just 2-6 entering today’s game, a mark London has cautioned his players against.
“To look at their record and say they’re 2-6, that’s not indicative of the type of talent they have,” the U.Va. coach said. “They were in a lot of the games at halftime that they lost.”
Crowds at Byrd Stadium have diminished accordingly, though Jenkins said that he’s preparing for a hostile environment. It’s Senior Day for the Terrapins.
“It’s exciting,” Jenkins said. “They have pretty mean fans up there. I mean, it’s such a nasty area to go play in. It’s fun, and I think everybody’s pretty excited for it.”
Virginia has 13 players on the current roster that hail from the state, but given that it’s the closest road game for the New York and New Jersey players, there will be plenty of players who bring a big cheering section today.