or the second consecutive week, Virginia demonstrated the benefits of collective amnesia for a football team.
Put another way, the Cavaliers bore little resemblance to the September team that got smoked by Connecticut and played a ghastly second half in a loss to Duke.
Two weeks into October, the Cavs have a two-game winning streak, following Saturday's 35-20 win against East Carolina.
"Regardless of what happened last month, things are different each week," U.Va. offensive tackle Eugene Monroe. "Week to week, you've got to forget what happened the last week and move on to the next game. So, it's just maintaining that level of focus and improving each week."
Virginia has beaten a pair of teams — first
, and then ECU — that had some notable performances. Debate among yourselves how much the Cavs' modest win streak is a reflection of their own play and how much is due to the recent shortcomings, mental and physical, of the opposition.
Regardless of the percentages you assign, however, Virginia's progress is undeniable and easily traced.
"Growth," Virginia coach
explained. "We go up to Connecticut, we go down to Duke, we've got a quarterback who's never been in a game before. We've got our runner who's stood out for the past two weeks, essentially not playing. We've got a young offensive line, and now there's some growth there."
Indeed, quarterback Marc Verica again managed the game well, while tailback Cedric Peerman stamped his credentials for offensive MVP.
Verica completed better than 73 percent of his passes for the second week in a row, albeit out of a short-to-medium range passing game that's more tailored to his present capabilities than those of his wide receivers.
Peerman, meanwhile, rushed for 173 yards — his second straight game with more than 100 yards — and had a pair of long touchdown runs that shook the offense out of an early torpor.
Virginia piled up 430 yards, its second straight week with more than 400 total yards. The Cavs haven't done that in back-to-back games since the end of the 2005 season against Miami and then Minnesota in the Music City Bowl.
"Everybody sticking together," Groh said, "and seeing that there's going to be some light at the end. We're into the tunnel — a long ways 'til we get out and see the light, but we're making good progress, in that respect."
Groh paused for a moment, then decided to get one more thing off his chest.
"Clearly," he said, "our offensive coaches, despite some opinions, can put together a fairly good game plan and call a fairly good game."
Touché. Just a couple of weeks back, a significant segment of Sabre Nation wanted Groh's head on a stick and blamed him for everything from the Cavs' offensive impotence to the sub-prime mortgage meltdown.
Offensive breakout aside, Virginia won a peculiar affair that sort of tilted a couple of old football bromides on their sides — the ones about games being decided by field position and football being a four-quarter game.
Through the first quarter-and-a-half, the Cavaliers ran exactly three plays in ECU's end of the field, while the Pirates ran 23 plays in Virginia territory, yet the Cavs led 14-6.
The lead was courtesy of Peerman's two touchdown runs, of 79 and 60 yards, and was part of an over-the-top performance by the offense in a span of 15 minutes, 10 seconds.
Peerman's first TD run came on the last play of the first quarter. Counting that play, Virginia totaled 292 yards and 28 points in the second quarter-plus-one play, and would have had 31 points had Yannick Reyering not missed a 38-yard field goal at the end of the half.
That means that the Cavs managed just 138 yards and one touchdown in the other three quarters — and that touchdown came off of a fake field-goal attempt following a short drive that began with an ECU turnover.
"The challenge facing this team after last week's win," Verica said, "was just: Can we do it again? Can we come out and fire on all cylinders like we did against Maryland? It'll continue to be a challenge.
"This is a great win, but like I said, we can't hang on it too long. The challenge is just to play this way consistently for the rest of the season. If we do that, we're going to be hard to beat."