October 26, 2016

The UVA Football Fan Experience, Part II: Chronicles of Kendall

Since the birth of my first child, here's what I've personally been treated to, live and in-person, over the last 8.5 years (starting with the present, and going in reverse order)...


  • Virginia 49, Central Michigan 35 
  • Richmond 37, Virginia 20


  • Boise State 56, Virginia 14 (beatdown in the rain) 
  • Virginia 35, William & Mary 29


  • North Carolina 28, Virginia 27 (too many men on the field) 
  • Virginia 45, Kent State 13


  • Virginia Tech 16, Virginia 6 
  • Clemson 59, Virginia 10 
  • Georgia Tech 35, Virginia 25 
  • Duke 35, Virginia 22 
  • Ball State 48, Virginia 27 (this was when I decided I was done with Mike London and being a season ticket holder) 
  • Virginia 49, VMI 0 
  • Oregon 59, Virginia 10 
  • Virginia 19, BYU 16


  • North Carolina 37, Virginia 13 
  • Virginia 41, Miami 40 
  • Wake Forest 16, Virginia 10 (ball bounces off of Khalek Shepherd's facemask) 
  • Maryland 27, Virginia 20 
  • Louisiana Tech 44, Virginia 38 
  • Virginia 17, Penn State 16 (Sam Ficken misses four field goals and a PAT) 
  • Virginia 43, Richmond 19


  • Virginia Tech 38, Virginia 0 
  • Virginia 31, Duke 21 
  • Virginia 28, NC State 14 
  • Virginia 24, Georgia Tech 21 
  • Virginia 21, Idaho 20 (OT) 
  • Southern Miss 30, Virginia 24 
  • Virginia 40, William & Mary 3


  • Maryland 42, Virginia 23 
  • Virginia 24, Miami 19 
  • Virginia 48, Eastern Michigan 21 
  • North Carolina 44, Virginia 10 
  • Florida State 34, Virginia 14 
  • Virginia 48, VMI 7 
  • Virginia 34, Richmond 13


  • Virginia Tech 42, Virginia 13 
  • Boston College 14, Virginia 10 
  • Duke 28, Virginia 17 
  • Georgia Tech 34, Virginia 9 
  • TCU 30, Virginia 14 
  • William & Mary 26, Virginia 14


  • Clemson 13, Virginia 3 
  • Miami 24, Virginia 17 (OT) 
  • Virginia 16, North Carolina 13 (OT) 
  • Virginia 35, ECU 20 (Cedric Peerman) 
  • Virginia 31, Maryland 0 (under the lights -- but this is the first time I noticed our attendance woes) 
  • Virginia 16, Richmond 0 
  • USC 52, Virginia 7 (I puked on the concourse due to 102-degree heat -- Scott Stadium was like a wok)

I chose that span of time because once you're a dad, there is real sacrifice to attending these games... until/unless the kid(s) have fun there themselves.  {That actually happened for us at the Central Michigan game, praise the heavens.}

Anyway, 8.5 seasons... and that was what... 21 wins against 27 losses, including two losses to FCS foes, three losses to VT (against zero wins), three losses to North Carolina (against one win), two losses to Duke (against one win), and two losses to Maryland (against one win). Of the 21 wins, 13 were against G5/FCS foes, and thus only eight against P5, and only seven against ACC opponents. In eight-and-a-half seasons.

48 Fatherhood Saturdays I have sacrificed to Virginia Football, and the return on investment has been very, very, very low. Excruciatingly low. An overtime win over Idaho isn't exactly "fun." Thumping a bad VMI team in 95-degree heat isn't fun. And losing - no matter what that loss looks like - is not fun.

Anyway, my kids are old enough to be playing their own sports, doing their own stuff, camping with the Cub Scouts (missing the Louisville game for that this weekend), whatever, whatever, whatever... and I'm making the conscious decision to throttle back on sinking my fall Saturdays into UVA Football when it is so abundantly clear that the administration gives approximately zero shits about trying to make attending games in Scott Stadium more fun or fan-friendly (or cheaper!), despite all of the losing on the field.

I believe wholeheartedly in Bronco Mendenhall. My chips are in the middle of the table; I'm all in on Bronco. But he's got to deliver some meaningful wins before the fans start shuffling back into Scott Stadium. He's got to deliver some meaningful wins, and he's got to do it for several seasons in a row. I think he can - and will - do that. And I'll be glad to spend more than my cursory 2-3 games attending the festivities once we're at that level of success and the ROI is a bit better... but not before.

We're fans, not lemmings. We've walked off of cliffs and into the crashing ocean waves enough times to know to stay the hell away.

I guess what I'm saying is it's not 'chicken or egg.' There is direct causality here. The losing, re-seating, and rising costs have caused the fanbase to go into hiding and gameday atmosphere to erode.

I say bring back the $99 season ticket. That'd be a start.

October 24, 2016

The UVA Football Fan Experience

I have [much?] more to say about this, but for now, another excellent post from 'Hoos Inc' on the Wahoos 247 message board.

I gotta be honest...
I don't have a lot to say about the game Saturday that hasn't surely been said. I think we were outclassed in the trenches, and it was a matter of time before UNC's running with Hood took its toll. The play action off the run in the second half became almost inevitable. Was pleased our defense held as long as it did.

Our offense could have been helped by better cuts from our backs, and better decisions from Benkert on how he moved in the pocket....I wish he'd step UP rather than defaulting into backpedaling or rolling out....he seemed to run into pressure about as often as he did away from it. UNC did a good job on the edges, though, so that may have been more about them than him.

But even if our backs had displayed better vision and Benkert had managed his movement better, I didn't think our OL could get any push. Pass protection, regardless of Benkert's pocket-presence, was crap. Our running numbers weren't awful, but most of those were on plays with some sort of misdirection. Our ability to just run to a gap was, to my eyes, almost nonexistent. Thought that, without that, we became very limited. I was pleased it was close early in the game and that we tied it up on a creative play (yet another example of good adaptation from our coaches, week-to-week), but I thought it was clear we were going to lose after the first few drives for each team. It's a shame we are where we are on the lines, but it is what it is.

Really liked Joe Reed, though. Dude's gonna be a star and would love to see him on the field, although I know it's hard to make room at WR.

What I want to focus on is this: college football is truly getting ruined for me. I have never been more downright BORED watching a game than I was yesterday. Maybe part of that was the stadium atmosphere. Or rather, the lack thereof. I usually park over on Fontaine near Jefferson Park Ave and walk up Maury to the stadium. I have never, EVER seen it that dead 20 minutes before kickoff. Never. Now, I haven't been to every home game in the past several years, and I'm sure there were some worse crowds during ML's death throes. But this is year one! The team has shown improvement and fight. They're competing, well. And we're playing UNC! On a beautiful day! And it was the worst I've ever seen, walking up Maury. Just empty. No energy. And it didn't change a whole lot in the stadium.

And I was thinking about that as I was watching that game....and it sort of becomes clear why that's the case. Obviously there's the losing.... the disinterest of an AD that let a coach have a losing season with awful game management costing us our biggest rivalry game, THEN go 2-10, THEN go 5-7, and THEN come back YET AGAIN. That's enough to kill any fan base. But then you add in the quality of the TV coverage and the difficulty of travel, the lack of appeal to pretty much anything about the game in Scott except the game itself......and then you ruin the game, itself....and what's left?

And by ruin the game itself, I mean this: I swear to heaven and earth, stoppages for reviews of calls on the field and TV timeouts must have been double the time the actual game clock was running. At least. Throw in a 40 minute half-time, long breaks between quarters, and you're approaching triple. And that's not even including just downtime in the game where the clock is running but play has stopped. If you're comparing actual gameplay to stoppages/timeouts/halftime/etc? Gotta be 1:10 or 1:15. It's absurd. It is just tedious and awful to watch, and that's with two offenses I was genuinely looking forward to watching, and which I enjoyed watching while they were playing.

It was awful. I was absolutely bored and found myself wishing I wasn't there. And I'm an alum and kind of an uber-fan, at a game with two fairly exciting, fast-paced offenses. What does the average casual fan who just likes rooting for his local team and having something to do on a Saturday think? He's got to be thinking that he could save a couple hundred dollars and watch it with his family, and switch to the OTHER game when these insufferable stoppages pop up.

And our game was on what? CSN? ESPNU? This isn't the prime-time ABC or CBS slot where they're REALLY milking that advertising money.

Money and these damned replays have really killed the in-person game-viewing experience for me. I hope that with wins, the gameday atmosphere will recover. But all the stoppages drain the energy out of the game and it HAS to be reformed, somehow. It's got to change, or the game's going to die.

Another thing I noted is that there's a LOT of gray hair in the stands. The average UVa football game attendee is not a young person, outside of the student section. Seems like a lot of people who got in the habit of going to games under Welsh are still there, but behind them is a demographic void of alumni and non-existent fans who lost interest in UVa football from 2005-2015. We need to start winning, SOON, and we need to make a greater effort to engage recent alums in attending. One way to do that would be to lower prices. When you have 20,000 seats empty for UNC on a beautiful day, it's time to cut prices.

Anyway. Just very frustrated by the continuing degradation of the average fan's gameday experience, and wondering how long it's going to be before I lose interest in CFB the same way I did the NFL. I might just start attending high school games on Friday nights. How can we exorcise these money-grubbing marketers from this sport I love?

October 18, 2016

Other Stuff I'm Reading...

Other than 100 Things Virginia Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, here's some stuff I'm reading...


Littlepage Out // The Rise of Reuter // Best Book Ever

Three news items to knock out before I push away from my desk to go grab some lunch...


Virginia announced on Tuesday an adjusted schedule for athletic director Craig Littlepage.

From October 24 through January 2, Jon Oliver will be acting director of athletics for UVa.

Press release from VirginiaSports.com:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia announced today (Oct. 18) an adjusted schedule for director of athletics Craig Littlepage from Oct. 24 through Jan. 2 to attend to family matters. Jon Oliver, UVA’s executive associate athletics director, will be the acting director of athletics during this time.

“I appreciate the support of the University administration, particularly President Sullivan, and our coaches, staff, and student-athletes,” Littlepage said. “It’s important that I focus my attention on the wellness of an aging member of my family in the coming weeks that will require frequent travel outside of Charlottesville. Jon is prepared to step into this role while I’m away and I know everyone in the athletics department is prepared to pitch in and help.

“We have a strong senior administrative team in place and there’s a great deal of positive momentum in the department right now. I’m confident progress will continue to be made on important initiatives and I look forward to my return in January.”

“I wish Craig and his family the best during this time,” said University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan. “The athletics department is well-positioned for success in Craig’s absence under Jon’s leadership and I expect a strong finish to the fall semester.”

“I know our coaches and staff are prepared to step up while Craig is away from Charlottesville,” Oliver said. “We’re behind Craig and his family and we have a solid plan in place to cover for him until his return to the office on a full-time basis in January.”

There will not be any other staff or operational changes within the athletics department as a result of Littlepage’s adjusted schedule.


Cut the bullshit and just read this piece from Jeff White.  It'll make you excited to see our sawed-off power forward in action this season, I promise.


Seriously, this is an awesome read.  I'll talk more about after I'm finished with it; I'm only about 3/5ths of the way through it now.  But rest assured, it is awesome.  Buy it for yourself, and buy it for the Hoofans you love.

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the UVA Bookstores, and other major retailers in Virginia, DC and beyond.

I encourage you to buy the book online using this Amazon Referral Link.

Seriously, best ten bucks you'll ever spend.

October 13, 2016

Wahooze 2016-17 Hoops Preview -- Part I

First, not sure I'll have time to give you my football pick for this weekend, so here it is:

Virginia 28, Pittsburgh 27

Now, let's talk some basketball.

First up, just go ahead and review THIS and THIS.

Next, my own personal ranking of the players. Long-time Wahooze readers will remember the UVAMBB Power Rankings, based loosely on the relative measure of how I expect them to perform, coupled with an in-order listing of each player's value to the team moving forward with the current season.  So let's start our hoops preview with one of those, shall we?

#1 Austin Nichols
Surprised it's not London Perrantes?  Yeah, I'm a little bit surprised myself.  But here it is.  I truly do believe that the 2016-17 Hoos will be an ensemble-driven outfit, with no ball-dominating stars like Brog or Joe Harris.  It's a collection of parts; role players complementing role players; a team built on synergy.  Therefore, a player like Austin Nichols -- who figures to be the single most indispensable cog in the Big Bad Bennett Machine -- should be ranked #1 in the power rankings.

My take on Nichols is that he's sort of a spliced-together Frankenstein's Monster of Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, and Darion Atkins.

He's the most talented big man Tony Bennett has had his hands on, to date.

And I think the key to everything this season is the inside-out offense, Perrantes to Nichols and back to Perrantes for the trey.  Boom.  Anyway...

Lots of Hoofans haven't seen Nichols play, and don't really know what to expect.  Here's the best write-up I've been able to find to date, from Upside and Motor...

It was somewhat of a surprise when the 6-9 forward out of Briarcrest Christian High School, which is located on the outskirts of Memphis, committed to Memphis. Programs like Duke, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State and Virginia had all offered the five-star forward who was ranked as the no. 22nd overall prospect in the nation by the 247Sports Composite Rankings. It eventually came down to Auburn, Duke, Memphis, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Virginia with Josh Pastner’s Tigers eventually coming out on top.

Nichols’ first year at Memphis was an overall disappointment as he struggled to get the playing time he deserved on a team dominated by four senior guards, Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, Geron Johnson and Michael Dixon Jr. At the time, forward Shaq Goodwin had started coming into his own and had the best season of his career, while center David Pellom was a graduate transfer who joined the team to provide depth. Nichols struggled, only averaging 9.3 points on 58.9 percent shooting, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 22.8 minutes per game.

The four guards led Memphis in field goal attempts per game that season with Goodwin coming in fifth at 7.5 field goal attempts per game. Nichols came in sixth on the team, but was one of the most efficient of the bunch. Nichols ended the season with a usage percentage of 18.9 percent, which was the third lowest of any rotation player, leading only Crawford, a three-point specialist, and Pellom, who took 81 shots all season.

What little draft stock Nichols had disappeared after his first season in a Memphis uniform. The forward with elite post moves and range out to 18-feet didn’t show up consistently, and his skinny frame allowed him to get pushed around on defense far too often. His lack of strength hurt him on the glass and he only tallied one game with double-digit rebounds as a freshman.

His sophomore season was the complete opposite, when he transformed into Memphis’ best and most important player. Had it not been for an ill-timed ankle injury he would have carried the weakest Memphis team in some time to a likely NCAA Tournament appearance. Instead they missed the postseason as they looked completely lost without Nichols.

The graduations of Jackson, Crawford, Dixon and Johnson and recruiting misses by Pastner forced Nichols into a starring role. His usage percentage sky-rocketed to a team-high 24.6 percent, which accompanied stat increases across the board. Averages of 13.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and one assist per game were all higher than the previous season. Field goal percentage is something that takes a hit as field goal attempts and usage go up as drastically as Nichols’ did, but Nichols was still a 50 percent shooter.

Such success out of the post meant that he was the focus of the opposing defense, which is when his passing ability came in handy. He could find the open man, but the Tigers lacked the talent to consistently take advantage of the open opportunities. Goodwin and Nichols developed a nice two-man team out of the high post because both were quality passers. One would post up while the other hit them with a great pass out of the high post. Nichols was the better of the two, but Goodwin struggled to finish around the rim.

Memphis didn’t limit him to being a post player, even though that is where he spent most of his time. He did find success as a jump shooter out of the high post and the pick and pop. Memphis’ guards struggled to get him the ball, but he is good at slipping the screen and finding open space for easier looks. It will be interesting to see if he can push his range out to the three-point line after shooting a mere 22 percent in his last season. While at Briarcrest, Nichols was a capable three-point shooter so Virginia could make that part of his role next season.

Nichols can also run the floor very well. He can keep up with quick guards and knows which lanes to fill. Guards find him open for dunks or easy baskets in transition frequently. Memphis plays a high tempo style of basketball so Nichols had plenty of chances. While running the left wing Nichols scored 1.8 points per possession and 1.2 points while running the middle of the floor. According to Synergy, he shot 71.8 percent while in transition.

Where Nichols made his biggest leap was as a shot blocker, averaging 3.4 per game which was good for third in the nation. Pastner was searching relentlessly for someone to protect the rim for some time, he found one in the most unexpected place as Nichols developed into one of the best shot blockers in the nation over a summer. Memphis guards were not the most adept defensive players in the world so Nichols had plenty of block opportunities. When a Memphis guard would get blown by or blow an assignment Nichols would be there to prevent the open shot.

Despite more playing time and a larger role, Nichols only committed 0.5 more fouls per game. He’s so efficient at blocking or contesting shots without fouling, only having four fouls four times and not fouling out once. Post defense is an area where he has to improve, he was still getting pushed around despite bulking up. The forward was the center of Memphis’ defense and it fell apart without him on the floor.

Despite his spectacular sophomore season Nichols’ name has not come up in NBA Draft talk. Part of it could be the lack of three-point range for someone who projects as an NBA four. Part of it could be his lack of success as a pick and roll man. Part of it is the fact he played for such a poor Memphis team that missed the NCAA tournament. This next season at Virginia will be big for the underrated forward.

There is a real chance the elite forward could improve his draft stock on a good Virginia team. He is going to fit into the system well and has most likely only improved over his time off.

#2 London Perrantes
Cali Swag shot an astonishing .488 from behind the arc on 160 attempts last season.  I don't think the percentage can go anywhere but down, but his shot volume will go way, way up (as we try to replace the 1,027 shot attempts Brogdon, Gill, and Tobey left behind).  If London keeps doing all of the little point guard things London does, continues knocking down over 40% of his threes, looks to attack the basket a bit more, and takes his rightfully well-earned leadership role for this season, we'll be cooking with gas.  Not since Mike Scott has a Virginia team had a real, true *motherfucker* as its lead dog.  In 2016-17, London Perrantes could be that motherfucker... which is why I buy us as a darkhorse Final Four contender.

LP smelling his fingers is pretty much my favorite thing ever.

Let's stop right here for a second.  There are a lot of ways I could go with #3, right?  And whoever it is, goes a long way toward defining what this season will look like.  It's like a choose-your-own-adventure book (remember those?)

"You Are A Shark."  What the fuck?!??!!

Maybe it's a returning starter in Isaiah Wilkins or Devon Hall?  Or maybe it's a guy with the sort of all-everything upside that Marial Shayok possess?  Or perhaps it's a hotshot rookie like Kyle Guy?  Or maybe a from-out-of-nowhere role player like Darius Thompson or Jared Reuter?  It really could be any of those guys.  So I just have to go with my gut on this, and I'm going with...

Marial Shayok
I think this is going to be an ensemble-type offense, where we get scoring from a lot of different sources, where four or five guys end up averaging between 10 and 12 ppg.  Nichols and Perrantes are two of those guys.  With his varied offensive skills, sweet (.436) stroke from the perimeter, and ability to get his own shot and drive to the hoop, Shayok is the third.  And the fourth is...

#4 Kyle Guy
He's a true freshman, and he's skinny (6-3, 165), and he has to learn the Packline, and he really should be working behind backcourt veterans Hall and Thompson, but I just can't shake the feeling that Tony is not going to keep this kind of explosive nitroglycerin scoring out of the regular rotation for very long.  Not for nothin', Kyle Guy is Tony Bennett's highest-rated recruit ever, and his first McDonald's All-American.  He's going to play, and when he plays he's going to score.  A lot.  Oh man, our opponents are really going to hate his guts.

#5 Isaiah Wilkins
I spent the first four spots focused on scoring, so now I need to turn my attention to the quintessential glue guy.  I have a feeling we're in store for a really "Jason Williford-esque" season from Wilkins, meaning good defense and rebounding, lots of hustle plays, some nice grit, and a bunch of things that simply help us win games.

#6 Darius Thompson
He's our best perimeter defender in 2016-17, and someone has to pick up that mantle left behind by Malcolm Brogdon.

#7 De'Andre Hunter
What?  Still no Devon Hall?  I know, I know.  Look, I know!  But I really do think this explosive frosh with the condor-like wingspan is an instant impact sort of player for us this season.

#8 Jarred Reuter
No offense to Hall, but I think the #3 big is more important than the #5/#6 wing.  Reuter's craftiness has earned him some Georges Niang comps... which I think is a reach... but there is absolutely nothing wrong with being able to bring a player like this off of the bench who has a low center of gravity and knows how to use leverage to his advantage.  And yes, I debated Reuter vs. Diakite, and I ultimately think Reuter is the more important player this season.

#9 Mamadi Diakite
But it's close!  In fact, I think matchups will dictate who plays more in any given game -- the strong and crafty but short Reuter or the uber-athletic raw upside of Diakite.

#10 Devon Hall
Sorry, but I'm just not a very big fan of his game.  There are too many redundancies in better players with more long-term upside.  I can see the inherent value in a veteran guard, but to me, Hall is merely an "okay" defender and he doesn't seem to really believe in his shot.  If his confidence level were higher, I'd probably rank him somewhere around #6 on this list, but alas.

#11 Jay Huff
He's tall, skinny, and can shoot the 3 and block shots.  An intriguing lump of clay for our staff to work with, no doubt.  I just don't see that many minutes available for him this season.

#12 Ty Jerome
I love - LOVE - his old man's game.  But with LP, Guy, Thompson, and Hall ahead of him in the pecking order, only scraps of playing time are available.  Plus, Jerome seems to be our most likely redshirt candidate.

#13 Jack Salt
He's officially a career back-up, but a good enough player should we see some injuries hit the frontcourt.

October 4, 2016

Football Hot Takes

This is a day late, but I wanted to get Becca's baseball report on here first!

My hot takes following Saturday's glorious road win over Duke...

Micah Kiser is our best player.  I hope he sticks around for his senior season in 2017.

Kurt Benkert is our best cube since...?  He's a better passer than Biscuit, bigger arm than Schaub.  Best QB since Aaron Brooks?  In any case, he's got an NFL future, I really believe that.  Several Brett Favre and Jay Cutler comps made by Hoofans over the weekend.  I'm not quite going that far, but I don't see any reason why Kurt can't compare favorably to Kirk Cousins, Blaine Gabbert, Colt McCoy, or even Sam Bradford.

I totally applaud Bronco's balls, but that fake punt was bad.

But there's yin to that yang!  Blitzing all day up the middle, and then BAM!  Delayed OLB blitz from the slot that led to the signature play of the game, Jordan Mack trucking the Duke QB in the end zone.  Genius call.

Other than Eric Smith (who is always a million yards downfield trying to throw extracurricular blocks, which I dig about him) and Jackson Matteo, our o-line needs a lot of work.  It's holding our offense back from being able to be balanced.

Smoke Mizzell is a whole lot of things, but "fast" ain't one of them.  Not a knock on the guy, I just think Hoofans need to adjust their expectations for the player on this one.

Our receiving corps (Smoke included!) is an embarrassment of riches.


Bryce Hall: a star is born.

Speaking of Bryce Hall, I've been really impressed with how the staff has gotten the true freshmen ready to play.  Hall, Mack, Dubois, Reed, all made big plays on Saturday.

Pitt is playing through GT's cut blocks this week while we rest up and lick our wounds.  On October 15th: Virginia 28, Pitt 27.

At this point in the season, we are what we are -- a passing offense with a blitzing, takeaway-oriented defense.  We struggle to run the ball, and we give up plenty of yardage, but hopefully offset that with "bend don't break" effect and generating enough turnovers.  Meanwhile, we don't have a kicker.  We just don't.  So we'll seem very risk-takey, but it's just because we can't kick field goals or extra points.

All of that being said, can't you see the blueprint of what Bronco is building?

I wish we could play Richmond and UConn right now, but alas.

My adjusted season prediction:

Pitt -- W (3-3, 2-0 ACC)
UNC -- L (3-4, 2-1)
Louisville -- L (3-5, 2-2)
@ Wake -- W (4-5, 3-2)
Miami -- L (4-6, 3-3)
@ GT -- W (5-6, 4-3)
@ VT -- ???