Virginia Football: Time to Part Ways with Anthony Poindexter?

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IOctober 2, 2011

17 Oct 1998:  Defensive back Anthony Poindexter #3 of the Virginia Cavaliers looks on during the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Cavaliers 41-38.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

He was one of the greatest Virginia Cavaliers of all time.

Anthony Poindexter was a defensive juggernaut for Virginia, a former All-American and icon for the program. His energy, hard hits and overall charisma made for a feared player; his talent made Virginia a team to be reckoned with.

A tragic ACL injury his senior year cut a career tragically short, but Poindexter returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant and worked his way up the ladder.

As a running backs coach, Poindexter helped guide some of the top running backs of the Al Groh coaching era. From Wali Lundy to Mikell Simpson, Poindexter's charges put up some impressive yardage and he appeared on his way to becoming a valued commodity on the staff.

However, what seemed to be a logical move has turned into a shaky one.

Poindexter took over the secondary responsibilities in 2009 and became a special teams assistant in 2006 before eventually becoming coordinator last season.

The results have been, in a word, bad.

Despite the talented cornerback Chase Minnifield, Virginia's secondary lacks depth and discipline. The Cavaliers are 10th in the ACC in interceptions, and has given up nearly 200 yards a game through the air.

While those numbers are not terrible, considering the talent at those positions relative to the others, the results need to be better.

Also consider the competition in those numbers. While Virginia could stop the William & Mary Tribe, the Cavaliers could not beat North Carolina's Bryn Renner who went 15-of-21 for 143 yards, and the 313 yards from Southern Mississippi's Austin Davis does not help.

Now that Poindexter is working specifically with the safeties, his players need to be more disciplined. Instead, they are getting burned on critical plays.

The numbers get worse when it comes to special teams.

Virginia was next to last in the league in field goal percentage last season. This year they are averaging less than 20 yards per game on kickoff returns, while giving up the second-most yardage on returns in the ACC.

On punt returns, Virginia is averaging just over six yards a return.

Special teams often get ignored unless something goes wrong—which means it is getting all the attention in Charlottesville.

The mistakes are bad enough, however, it is when they are happening that drive fans insane.

Last week against Southern Mississippi, the Golden Eagles faked a punt from inside their own end zone. Virginia could not stop them and allowed their opponent to score a touchdown and seize momentum.

Late in the first half, desperate for a score, Virginia let the Southern Mississippi punt roll and waste precious time off the clock.

Of course that beat the situation against Indiana where a bad kick allegedly touched a Virginia blocker on the punt return, leading to a turnover. Whether or not replay incorrectly ruled contact on the play, Virginia needed to be better trained for the situation.

Virginia has played four different guys on punt returns and none of them seem to be able to read the situation correctly in crunch time.

Against Idaho, Virginia had a field goal blocked, a punt blocked for a touchdown, and once again could not get free for big returns.

The Cavaliers cannot hope to win games without help from the special teams unit. With an experienced place kicker and punter, combined with speed at the return position, Virginia should be doing more.

At the very least, they cannot continue to make the same mistakes.

Anthony Poindexter the player is revered. The coach, however, is maligned, and rightfully so.

If Virginia continues to lose, people will need to start pointing fingers.

Sure, you can blame head coach Mike London for botching the quarterback situation, but it is too early to give up on Michael Rocco.

You could blame defensive coordinator Jim Reid, but his firing or retirement will not be enough for the dejected Virginia fanbase.

No, Poindexter's role on this team needs to be reexamined. His cheerleading is stellar—his results as a coach or anything but.

Is it time to invest in a new coordinator for the Cavaliers?


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