CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia coach Mike London has to concern himself with 11 moving parts on each football play, and it’s one of the most basic jobs that has given him headaches through two weeks.
New center Luke Bowanko has missed the exchange with quarterback Michael Rocco four times in two games, a number that caught the coaches off-guard.
“I didn’t expect to have that,” offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. “We haven’t had that problem in training camp at all, so that kind of surprised me.”
Changing poor technique is one thing for coaches, but when the mistakes aren’t replicable, it’s tougher to fix.
“Sometimes people walk up getting ready to blitz, and there’s a tendency for the quarterback to pull out, to get away from the pressure,” the coach said. “There’s a tendency of the center, maybe looking to declare who the rushers are and not see a guy, or something like that.”
Bowanko doesn’t have to worry about his job, though. The 6-foot-6, 295-pound junior excels in blitz recognition, something crucial if the Wahoos want to beat Georgia Tech this weekend.
Replacement Ross Burbank, a redshirt freshman, is still working his way through learning all the calls and protections.
“What Luke provides right now is some experience in knowing that and doing that,” London said. “Ross will get better at doing it, but there’s still a little ways for him to go to get that comfort level, and get it 100 percent right — because you’ve got to be right, or your quarterback gets hit.”
Bowanko has been growing into the role since his days at Centreville High in Northern Virginia. The former basketball standout switched to the gridiron as his body weight went from 185 pounds as a freshman to 260 pounds as a senior.
Now the starting center, he’s working on the mental aspects of the game, including bouncing back after fumbles.
“Those things happen like any other bad play,” he said. “You’ve just got to forget about it and move on.
“It’s not like it’s something that has been going on in practice or anything, or all camp, so it’s kind of a fluke thing. The blame’s pretty much equal on both of us.”
Bowanko also had to make the calls Saturday without guard Cody Wallace, who sat out with a lower leg injury. London said Wallace is expected to return this week, which should give the team more depth.
All that will help London achieve one of his big goals for the week, which he emphasized on Sunday and Monday.
“We need to be able to run the ball with authority,” London said.
Read more about the Cavaliers at TimesDispatch.com