Virginia coach Mike London took three cracks at explaining his end-of-game clock management Saturday. The first two made no sense, the third, via text to me, was far better but won’t appease justifiably exasperated fans.
Rather than using his final two timeouts to give the Cavaliers’ offense a final possession, London allowed Virginia Tech to run the clock down from 50 seconds to four before Cody Journell’s 29-yard, final-play field goal gave the Hokies a 17-14 victory.
Had London used his timeouts, the Cavaliers might have regained the ball with 40-some seconds remaining, albeit against a defense that limited them to 68 second-half yards.
Instead he used the timeouts to "ice" Journell before the kick, which came with four seconds left. Journell had missed from 42 yards three-plus minutes earlier.
London’s first explanation came after the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Michael Phillips asked whether he considered using timeouts to force a Tech kickoff.
“Not really,” London said. “Again, I thought we were playing well defensively. You just have to make the decision, if you try to save timeouts with seconds on the clock, or hopefully your defense will get a crack at maybe causing a turnover or maybe knocking them back a little bit. That didn’t occur. You try to play the game so you can get into it in the last second.”
A few moments later, I had this exchange with London.
Question: “Sorry to revisit this, but with 50 seconds to go, (Virginia defensive tackle Chris) Brathwaite goes off the field with an injury. If you had used two timeouts there, you could have conceivably gotten the ball back with 40-some seconds to go. Instead, they kick a field goal on the last play of the game. The clock management there, it just doesn’t compute to me.”
Answer : “I’d have to go back and look at that again. I’m trying to remember the sequence of the events and the information that I’m getting from upstairs and all that. When I do, and if I do, then I’ll definitely talk to you about how that played out.”
Shortly after I returned to the press box, London texted me from the team bus.
Getting back to you. 40 sec left thought process.
1. PK missed previous one.
2. Make them run/handle FB.
3. did not want expend the last two TO and concede 3 pts. Even with poss 30/25 secs left.
4. They would be kicking off with the wind. All kickoffs from the opp end to our locker room were ALL touchbacks.
Aspect of down 3 pts – ball on our 25 no time outs, 3-14 for 3rd downs, and drive the field to tie or score Td to win against the wind?
Anyway, out of respect to your question and your right to disagree. You deserve a proper answer. If you want to discuss further, let me know.
Two reactions: London was very gracious to text after a frustrating loss; I still disagree.
A paltry three second-half first downs notwithstanding, Virginia needed to preserve as much clock as possible for a potential last-ditch drive.
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