June 29, 2009

2009 Football Schedule, Part II


I'm back from vacation and [finally] ready to pick up where I left off.

Through the first three games of the season -- W&M, TCU, @ Southern Miss -- I'm predicting a 1-2 start... surely to leave plenty of the members of the Sea of Orange wringing their hands and reading Troy Calhoun bios on the internet. The next three-game stretch offers a little rest for the weary... possibly.

@ North Carolina
The Tarholes are a sexy pick in the ACC, as they turned a bit of a corner last year and have plenty of talent in the program after a few years of Butch Davis stocking his own cupboard. They lost the explosive receiving trio of Hakeem Nicks, Brooks Foster, and Brandon Tate to the NFL, but they return gifted (and fragile) QB T.J. Yates, who will spread the ball around in Davis' "U"-esque pro-style offense. I think we can slow down this UNC offense, but it's not their offense I'm worried about... it's their defense. The Carolina D will be experienced, tough, and FAST --- a lot like Davis' units at Miami when they were national championship contenders. I can see the Hoos hanging tough in a defensive battle in this game, but a critical turnover kills us late. Heels 17, Hoos 9.

Indiana
Start 1-3, and the "FIRE AL GROH" movement will have once again grown into an avalanche. Luckily, Groh has this game against a terrible, quarterback-less IU team to right the ship and quiet the critics. Indiana is about as bad a power conference team as you'll ever find. They are soft on the lines and feature youth and inability at the skill positions. This should be an easy home win for us. Hoos 42, Hoosiers 13.

@ Maryland
Circle October 17th on your calendar, because I think this game in College Park will be the make-or-break game of this football season and ultimately of Al Groh's continued employment as UVA's head football coach. The Terps lost a lot from last year's team, and they roll into the '09 season needing to rebuild the offensive line and re-stock the entire defense. They have some good players at the skill positions -- QB Chris Turner, HB Da'Rel Scott, HB Davin Meggett, WR Torrey Smith, and WR Ronnie Tyler -- so if they can find some effective blockers, they could be fairly explosive. This game could easily turn into a shootout, which would be very bad for the Hoos. We need to come out and dominate on defense, and force the raw Maryland D to stop us... a feat I do not think they can accomplish. I have faith in our defensive front seven, and I see us winning a close one here. Hoos 24, Terps 17.

With wins over W&M, Indiana, and UMD stacked against losses to TCU, So. Miss, and UNC, we head into the second half of the schedule at 3-3 and in desperate need of a few more wins.

Part III, coming soon...

June 20, 2009

2009 Football Schedule, Part I


Yesterday, I laid out what I think our expectations should be for this football season and what I think it will (should) take for Al Groh to save his job -- simply, 7+ wins or 6 wins including a victory over Virginia Tech. Of course, nothing will play a larger role in that effort than the schedule.

At first blush, this is sort of a ho-hum football schedule. But dig a bit deeper, and it's loaded with interesting match-ups. Here's a quick peek at the first three games, along with a hipshot prediction.

William & Mary
W&M is a fairly solid FCS team. They have developed an explosive passing game and a solid defense under coach Jimmye Laycock. Still, they're just a FCS team, and they're not anywhere near the caliber of Richmond... a team we beat 16-0 last year. In this game, I expect to see a very vanilla version of the Gregg Brandon spread offense, as we don't want to tip our hand too much for TCU to see. We'll run the ball a lot, churn the clock, and make it a short evening in the Hook. Hoos 31, Tribe 7.

TCU
Let me be crystal clear about this: at this point in time, TCU has a better overall program than UVA. They went 11-2 last year, and have high hopes of crashing the BCS party this year, like their Mountain West brother Utah did last year. They fully expect to come to Charlottesville and crush Virginia. The Frogs have an excellent defense, and Andy Dalton at QB gives them an experienced, capable passer to power their offense. Our best shot at springing the upset is to go balls-out with the spread in an effort to lure them into a shootout-style game. It won't be easy. I think we have a good chance to keep it close (mostly due to Vic Hall and Jameel Sewell's scrambling ability), but TCU is just too tough. Horned Frogs 27, Hoos 21.

@ Southern Miss
Casual fans will see "directional school" and dismiss this as an easy win. Not so fast. I think we'll be the underdogs in this game, as Southern Miss has a quality program and is ascending quickly. They run their own version of the no-huddle spread offense, and in Austin Davis they have a battle-tested QB who has already found quite a bit of success in the system. They also have a great tailback in Damion Fletcher, who led the C-USA in rushing (1,300+ yards) last season. They return eight starters on defense. Yikes. This is going to be a very difficult game for us to win. I think our defense can slow them down, but I'm not confident that our offense will be able to deliver the goods on the road against a quality opponent this early in the season. Golden Eagles 38, Hoos 24.

Part II coming soon...

June 19, 2009

Win or else...

This week, I've been busy pondering all of the blog entries I'll unleash upon you between now and September 5th, when the 2009 version of UVA football kicks off against William & Mary.

I've got blogadoccio planned that will look at the upcoming schedule and predict wins and losses, drill down into the bedrock of the roster and make bold predictions about who will step up and who will leave us wanting, examine the upcoming league race and the ongoing football legacy of each of the ACC schools, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

But before we get to all of that, I want to just begin at the beginning. I think any sport's season (especially football) should begin with the fanbase clearly determining and defining its expectations for the upcoming campaign.

This exercise is doubly interesting for the Sea of Orange this season, because our head coach's future employment, in no uncertain terms, is tied directly to his team's ability to meet or exceed these expectations.

I don't profess to know exactly what the fanbase is thinking, nor do I know what the big-time donors expect from the team this season. What I do know, and what I present to you here, is what I expect and what it would take for Al Groh to save his job if I were the one in charge of making the decisions. So let's take a look at all of the possible levels of success (or failure, as it were) for the football team and the subsequent outcome for Al Groh's University of Virginia coaching career.

5 or fewer wins (including a loss to Virginia Tech)...
Hit the bricks. Pack your shit and leave.

5 or fewer wins (including a WIN over Tech)...
I'm glad you were able to land your white whale in the last game of the season, but it's still not good enough. Goodbye.

6 wins (including a loss to Tech and a loss in a crappy bowl game)...
Buh-bye.

6 wins (including a WIN over Tech)...
This, to me, is the fence. I could see keeping the man around after a season like this. A win over our most hated rival, plus an appearance in a bowl game. With a brand new offense in place, this would qualify as progress (albeit very minimal progress) from the 5-7 season in '08. The leash would stay tight, and Groh's seat would still be red-hot heading into 2010... but I think I'd let him keep his job after a 6-7 season that includes a victory over the Hokies. So that's one baseline -- six or more wins including a victory over Tech saves Al Groh's job. Beating the Hokies is very, very important for Al Groh this year. Understatement of the century.

7 wins (including a loss to Tech and a loss in a crappy bowl game)...
Close, but no cigar. Sorry coach, but you're shitcanned.

7 wins (including a loss to Tech and a WIN in a crappy bowl game)...
Wow, another tricky one. 6-6 in the regular season, and then a win over a team like Navy or Troy or Toledo a lower-tier bowl game? Naaaah, not quite good enough.

8 wins...
I actually think eight is the magic number. Win eight games this year, and Groh is back for 2010. It doesn't matter which games comprise the eight victories, as long as we get to eight.

9 wins...
Even better.

10 wins...
Double-digit victories, no matter when or where they come, not only saves Groh's job, but earns him his extension. Get him back to a standing four- or five-year contract, so he's no longer hamstrung in recruiting, and rest easy.


So there are your tiers -- 6 or 7 wins + a win over Tech / 8 or 9 wins / 10+ wins.

But wasn't this whole thing about expectations? Being realistic, what do I expect? 6 wins in the regular season, a loss to Tech, and a bowl game with Al Groh's coaching fate teetering in the balance. Get ready for grand drama, Eagle Bank Bowl!

June 18, 2009

Chris Wallace on RivalsRadio

I love Chris Wallace, he tells it like it is. This is a good 10-minute listen...

RivalsRadio -- Chris Wallace

Thank You, Virginia Baseball

It was one hell of a season. 19 wins to start the season. ACC tournament champs. Survived [read: dominated] the so-called "region of death," out-battled Ole Miss in Oxford, won a game in Omaha in our first-ever CWS appearance in 120 years of playing baseball. Yes, it was one hell of a season.

Next year has the potential to be even better... Only Andrew Carraway and Robert Poutier are lost from the pitching rotation, and young guys like Scott Silverstein and incoming uber-frosh Branden Kline should be able to more than fill the gaps. Meanwhile, basically the entire roster of position players returns, a year older, a year better, and with this CWS experience powering them forward.

(If you want to join the Howells and Keens in purchasing ten-game ticket packages, let me know.)

June 13, 2009

A Game-by-Game Look at the Al Groh Era

Needing to blow off a little steam from the baseball game, I think I’ll throw another log onto the Wahooze fire. If you are a member of the Cavalier Keeper League fantasy football league, you’ve seen this before. If not, it’s new for you… so enjoy.

I’m going to take a quick look at every game Al Groh has coached at the University of Virginia. I'm assigning each game a grade, 1-5. (1 = piss-poor embarrassment / 2 = loss, but not a bad loss / 3 = "good" loss or a "bad" win / 4 = nice, solid win / 5 = awesome, beyond-belief victory) Then I'll average the scores to yield a grade for the season.


2001

@ Wisconsin - (L) 17-26
We hung for a while, but we fell too far behind after Antoine Womack got hurt (again and as usual). Grade: 2

Richmond - (W) 17-16
Too close for comfort against a D2 team. This is the definition of a "bad" win, in case you were confused by my grading criteria. Grade: 3

@ Clemson - (W) 26-24
Niiiiiiiiiiiice. Grade: 4

Duke - (W) 31-10
Solid thumping of a shit Dook team. Grade: 4

@ Maryland - (L) 21-41
Ouch. This one really stung. Grade: 1

@ North Carolina - (L) 24-30
UNC was good this season. Grade: 2

Florida State - (L) 7-43
Blown out at home. Never good. Grade: 1

@ N.C. State - (L) 0-24
These State teams were very solid. But still, a shutout? Grade: 1

Wake Forest - (L) 30-34
Wake was still bad, and we had no business losing this game. Grade: 1

Georgia Tech - (W) 39-38
Hook and ladder! And this GT team was ranked. Grade: 5

Virginia Tech - (L) 17-31
We hung around for a while... Grade: 2

Penn State - (W) 20-14
This was a great win. Grade: 5

Season average: 2.58
Groh's first season at UVA was marked by some nice wins and some ugly losses. Up-and-down,
but the Penn State win left a sweet taste in the mouth, despite missing the postseason.


2002

Colorado State - (L) 29-35
Marques Hagans coughed up a fumble on the goal line, and we were upset by the Rams. Grade: 1

@ Florida State - (L) 19-40
Matt Schaub took over and played well, but this was just another blowout against the 'Noles. Grade: 1

South Carolina - (W) 34-21
This was a huge win at the time, as the Cocks were ranked in the low teens. Grade: 5

Akron - (W) 48-29
The Zips were in the game in the 4th quarter. Grade: 3

@ Wake Forest - (W) 38-34
Nailbiter against a sub-par Deacs team, but it was an awesome game. Nathan, Chuck, and I were in Winston-Salem for this game, so drunk I don’t remember the first half. Grade: 3

@ Duke - (W) 27-22
Too close for comfort! Grade: 3

Clemson - (W) 22-17
Awesome come-from-behind win! Grade: 4

North Carolina - (W) 37-27
Another dramatic comeback. Grade: 4

@ Georgia Tech - (L) 15-23
I honestly don't remember this game. At all. Grade: 2

@ Penn State - (L) 14-35
We had no answer for Larry Johnson. Grade: 1

N.C. State - (W) 14-9
We stopped Phillip Rivers on the goal-line in the mud and the muck. Grade: 4

Maryland - (W) 48-13
Hands down, one of my most beloved wins of the Al Groh era. Grade: 5

@ Virginia Tech - (L) 9-21
The wind disrupted the Schaub-led WCO passing game. We were ready to beat them that day, but like too often against Tech, it wasn’t to be. Grade: 1

West Virginia - (W) 48-22
Tire Bowl #1, and an amazing victory. Grade: 5

Season average: 3.00
This was an exciting, fun year to be a Hoo football fan. It was a great season, in which we tied FSU for the ACC crown. But still... losses to Colorado State and a so-so VT team were black marks on the record.


2003

Duke - (W) 27-0
This was a sound dismantling of a horrendous Dook team. Grade: 4

South Carolina - (L) 7-31
With Schaub out of commission, Anthony Martinez laid an egg. Grade: 1

@ Western Michigan - (W) 59-16
Marques Hagans stepped in and delivered a great performance. Grade: 4

Wake Forest - (W) 27-24
Bad News Hughes! Grade: 4

@ North Carolina - (W) 38-13
UNC sucked, and we took care of business. Grade: 4

@ Clemson - (L) 27-30 OT
Blecccch. Grade: 2

Florida State - (L) 14-19
I really, really thought we had 'em in this one. AP caught like 400 passes that night, but a bad snap over Schaub's head cost us the game late. Grade: 2

Troy State - (W) 24-0
We played Troy? I don't remember this one at all. Grade: 4

@ N.C. State - (L) 37-51
This was a Rivers/Schaub shootout. Grade: 2

@ Maryland - (L) 17-27
I hate, HATE losing to Maryland. Grade: 1

Georgia Tech - (W) 29-17
Nice win. Grade: 4

Virginia Tech - (W) 35-21
Al's only win over Cousin Eddie. Grade: 4

Pittsburgh - (W) 23-16
Tire Bowl #2 featured us shutting down Larry Fitzgerald. Grade: 4

Season average: 3.08
It was a good season, but we needed to beat Florida State for it to have been a great season. With most of the team returning in 2004, expectations went skyward...


2004

@ Temple - (W) 44-14
A nice bloodletting to open the season. Grade: 4

North Carolina - (W) 56-24
We're rolling... Grade: 4

Akron - (W) 51-0
Ha ha ha. “Zips.” Grade: 4

Syracuse - (W) 31-10
This was at the beginning of Syracuse's slide into suckdom. Grade: 4

Clemson - (W) 30-10
This Thursday night game featured Clemson taking an early 10-0 lead, and us storming back. Grade: 4

@ Florida State - (L) 3-36
I want to take a few minutes to talk about this game. This is the game that defines Al Groh's failure as our head coach. We were 5-0, poised at #6 in the nation, and were everyone's darling to win the ACC. All we needed to do was win a "statement" game on the road in Tallahassee... and we shit the bed. This game put the ceiling on how far Groh could take the Cavaliers, and in my opinion will prove to be the single most harmful loss in Groh's coaching legacy. If we had won this game, we might be a totally different program today. Grade: 1

@ Duke - (W) 37-16
Shaky bounce-back performance. Grade: 3

Maryland - (W) 16-0
I missed this game to be at (in) Kirk's wedding. But Ahmad Brooks dominated the game. I know because I watched it on VHS the next day. Grade: 4

Miami - (L) 21-31
We put up a decent fight against a good Miami team, but fell short. Grade: 2

@ Georgia Tech - (W) 30-10
It's never easy to win in Atlanta, and this was against a good GT squad. Grade: 4

@ Virginia Tech - (L) 10-24
We should have been more competitive in this game, one which we dominated early but couldn't seem to score any points. Grade: 1

Fresno State - (L) 34-37 OT
Ugly, ugly, ugly. Grade: 1

Season average: 3.00
This was supposed to be the season. We were stacked. AP and Wali Lundy running the ball, the defense led by Chris Canty, Ahmad Brooks, and Kai Parham, with Marques Hagans as the x-factor at QB. But we lost that game to Florida State, and the wheels fell off. The excitement that we all felt from the 2002 season had transformed into bitter disappointment. The bullshit loss to Fresno in Boise salted Groh's legacy of mediocrity. UVA went from a hot "up-and-coming" program to a middling, inconsistent, schizophrenic outfit. This is the season that began our well-chronicled road woes, and it was the beginning of the decline of our productive West Coast-style passing game. Al Groh's conservative style won out over Bill Musgrave's balls-out offense, and we fumbled away our identity as a team capable of roaring from behind with trick plays and razzle-dazzle.


2005

Western Michigan - (W) 31-19
This was a pretty shaky win over a much less talented team. Typical UVA football. Grade: 3

@ Syracuse - (W) 27-24
We won this game on a Michael Johnson kickoff return. Lucky win against a crap team. Grade: 3

Duke - (W) 38-7
Clockwork Dook blowout. Grade: 4

@ Maryland - (L) 33-45
We were down three touchdowns all game before rallying late. Grade: 1

@ Boston College - (L) 17-28
Terrible, gutless performance. Grade: 1

Florida State - (W) 26-21
Nice win, but a year too late. Grade: 4

@ North Carolina - (L) 5-7
I almost drove us off the road into a ravine on the way back from Chapel Hill that day. This was the worst football game I've ever seen. We ran the counter trey for 0.0001 yard gain at least 473 times. It was like watching an abortion in slow mo and high definition. Grade: 1

Temple - (W) 51-3
Ho-hum. Grade: 4

Georgia Tech - (W) 27-17
This was a big win, as it got us to bowl eligibility. GT was (as usual) rock solid that year. Grade: 4

Virginia Tech - (L) 14-52
If 2004 @ FSU is Al Groh's worst loss at UVA, this one is a close second. I remember considering suicide that night. Grade: 1

@ Miami - (L) 17-25
A game effort in the OB, but Deyon Williams wasn't quite enough to pull the W. Grade: 3

Minnesota - (W) 34-31
I was shocked at how well we played in this game, and frustrated that it took 11 games before this "good" version of 2005 UVA football came together. But still, a very good win in a decent bowl game. Grade: 5

Season average: 2.83
I don't have much to say about this season, other than it sucked. And 2006 was even worse...


2006

@ Pittsburgh - (L) 13-38
EPIC FAIL. Grade: 1

Wyoming - (W) 13-12 (OT)
This is the worst win I've ever been a part of or a privy to. A missed PAT in overtime won us the game… at home… against Wyoming. Grade: 3

Western Michigan - (L) 10-17
Yep, that's right. We lost to Western Michigan. At home. I tend to forget about this game when I think about Al Groh's record at UVA. I think many Vietnam vets can relate. Grade: 1

@ Georgia Tech - (L) 7-24
Calvin Johnson crushed us, almost single-handedly. Grade: 1

@ Duke - (W) 37-0
Yippee. Grade: 4

@ East Carolina - (L) 21-31
Horrible. Just horrible. But to be fair, this was at the beginning of ECU's ascension under Skip Holtz, and they had some explosive weapons that we couldn't contain. See also: Chris Johnson. Grade: 1

Maryland - (L) 26-28
We were up 23-0 at halftime. 'Nuff said. Grade: 1

North Carolina - (W) 23-0
Revenge... or something like it. Grade: 4

N.C. State - (W) 14-7
Solid, hard-fought victory over an equally uninspiring NCSU team. Grade: 4

@ Florida State - (L) 0-33
Bend over and take it, sez the Noles. Grade: 1

Miami - (W) 17-7
It was a good win. Sewell played his best game of the season in this one. Grade: 4

@ Virginia Tech - (L) 0-17
The score looks close, but this game was never in doubt. Tech dominated us. Grade: 1

Season average: 2.17
"5-7" doesn't look nearly bad enough to properly represent this season. We rolled in with Christian Olsen as our starting QB, which displayed a tremendous lack of ability to judge talent. Eventually, Jameel Sewell took over, and we were content to have him learn on the job. It paid off with wins over State and Miami, but overall this season was just ugly from start to finish. And the GROH MUST GO movement officially began...


2007

@ Wyoming - (L) 3-23
Joins 2004 FSU, 2005 VT, and 2006 Western Michigan among the top five worst losses of Al Groh's UVA career. Grade: 1

Duke - (W) 24-13
A win, but it was ugly. Grade: 3

@ North Carolina - (W) 22-20
I was shocked to see that we beat the Heels on the road, on the day Mark got married. (Why do so many of my friends insist on getting married on Saturdays in the Fall? Find a bye week, assholes!) Grade: 4

Georgia Tech - (W) 28-23
Good win in every way. This was the point where we started seeing the team really come together. Grade: 4

Pittsburgh - (W) 44-14
KABOOM. Gotta love those night games in the Hook. Grade: 4

@ Middle Tenn. St. - (W) 23-21
Peerman breaks his foot, but we escape with a narrow win against a team we should have annihilated. Grade: 3

Connecticut - (W) 17-16
This game cemented the 2007 team as the "Cardiac Cavs." Grade: 4

@ Maryland - (W) 18-17
This game directly led to the conception of my first-born child. Mikell Simpson was a revelation, a navy blue blur in a sea of evil red. Chris Long’s goodnight kiss sack into the end zone is forever ingrained in my memory. Grade: 4

@ N.C. State - (L) 24-29
I accidentally knocked over a table in BW3 during this game. I spilled lots of beer. Grade: 2

Wake Forest - (W) 17-16
Swank missed a field goal?!? Grade: 4

@ Miami - (W) 48-0
One of the best wins of the Groh era. Hands down. Grade: 5

Virginia Tech - (L) 21-33
We outplayed the Hokies, but were robbed by the refs. Still, I can admit they were the better team. Grade: 2

Texas Tech - (L) 28-31
Gator Bowl... we had this game on lockdown and then Lalich coughed it up after Sewell bid his typical mid 4th quarter injury-related adieu. This loss set the tone for the bad beginning to the 2008 season. Grade: 2

Season average: 3.23
In my opinion, Groh's best season at UVA, and he won ACC Coach of the Year for the effort. But still... we needed to beat Tech, and we needed to win the bowl game.


2008

Southern California - (L) 7-52
Anecdote: during the pre-game warm-ups, I turned to Joe and said, “DAMN, their o-line is HUGE!” To which he replied: “That’s number 85, 87, 83, and 80. Those are the fucking WIDE RECEIVERS.” Grade: 1

Richmond - (W) 16-0
We led this game 3-0 late in the 3rd quarter. Richmond is a very good FCS team, but there's no excuse to not blow them out. Grade: 3

@ Connecticut - (L) 10-45
UConn came in with 19 returning starters and revenge on their to-do list. I knew we'd lose this game, but to be blown out like this? Not good. Grade: 1

@ Duke - (L) 3-31
Okay, Duke is better under Cutcliffe. But it's still a four-TD loss to Duke. Unacceptable. Grade: 1

Maryland - (W) 31-0
One of my top five favorite wins of the Groh era. We walked to the game like we were walking to a funeral. Only about 35,000 die-hard fans were there for a night game. But it was still an electric environment. Grade: 5

East Carolina - (W) 35-20
Great win against a good ECU squad. Grade: 4

North Carolina - (W) 16-13 (OT)
We had no business winning this game, but we pulled through when it mattered the most. And Captain Averica captured the hearts of the fanbase. Grade: 4

@ Georgia Tech - (W) 24-17
Wow. A win in Atlanta against a very good Ramblin' Wreck team. Grade: 5

Miami - (L) 17-24 (OT)
We knew the letdown was inevitable. Grade: 2

@ Wake Forest – (L) 17-28
Wake is the toughest team in the ACC, now that Grobe has his system firmly rooted. We got behind early, and mounted a little bit of a rally before succumbing. Grade: 2

Clemson – (L) 3-13
This game was like holding sand. We kept clenching our fists tighter, but the sand just kept slipping through our fingers. This game was to get bowl eligible, and we let the opportunity escape against a thoroughly uninspiring Klem’s Son team. Grade: 1

@ Virginia Tech – (L) 7-14
Props to Al Groh for throwing the curveball and starting Vic Hall at QB. Curses to Al Groh for waiting so long to give the kid his rightful chance behind center. F-bombs to Al Groh for not allowing Vic to throw a pass in the game. Death to Al Groh for relieving Vic with Marc Verica late in the 4th quarter, with the game on the line. Grade: 2

Season average: 2.58
Getting one more win and to a bowl game was absolutely imperative, but Groh proved a whole lot with the improbable four-game turnaround. He knows how to coach, and his players will follow his leadership and fight for him. That's a statement I wasn't prepared to make prior to the win in Atlanta, so that's a big deal... and part of the explanation for my flip-flop from the GROH MUST GO camp to being on the fence. But look at the facts – we lost by four touchdowns to Duke, couldn’t dig out a win when we needed it most, and have a 1-7 record against Virginia Tech under Al Groh.


So where are we now? The short answer is that 2009 is an intriguing “win-or-else” season for Al Groh, who managed to save his job (and cost Dave Leitao his*) by hiring Gregg Brandon as offensive coordinator and [seemingly] embracing the modern spread offense*. He added to the good will with a great 2009 recruiting class*, easily his best since that 2002 haul headlined by Ahmad Brooks. The ’09 schedule* is daunting, and the stakes are high. Win or lose, I can’t wait to see it all unfold.

(*Wahooze blog entries for another day.)

June 11, 2009

CWS Schedule

Here's the College World Series schedule. Games in which the Hoos could be playing are in bold.

College World Series -- June 13-24 (double elimination)
Rosenblatt Stadium | Omaha, Neb.

Saturday, June 13 -- Bracket One
Game 1: Arkansas vs. Cal State Fullerton, 2 p.m. (ESPNHD/ESPN360.com)
Game 2: Virginia vs. LSU, 7 p.m. (ESPNHD/ESPN360.com)

Sunday, June 14 -- Bracket Two
Game 3: Arizona State vs. North Carolina, 2 p.m. (ESPNHD/ESPN360.com)
Game 4: Southern Miss vs. Texas, 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD/ESPN360.com)

Monday, June 15 -- Bracket One
Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 2 p.m. (ESPN2HD/ESPN360.com)
Game 6: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD/ESPN360.com)

Tuesday, June 16 -- Bracket Two
Game 7: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 2 p.m. (ESPN2HD/ESPN360.com)
Game 8: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD/ESPN360.com)

Wednesday, June 17 -- Bracket One
Game 9: Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6, 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD/ESPN360.com)

Thursday, June 18 -- Bracket Two
Game 10: Winner Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8, 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD/ESPN360.com)

Friday, June 19
Game 11: Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 9, 2 p.m. (ESPN2HD/ESPN360.com)
Game 12: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 10, 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD/ESPN360.com)

Saturday, June 20 -- if necessary
Game 13: Winner Game 11 vs. Loser Game 11 (if first loss), 2 p.m. (ESPNHD/ESPN360.com)
Game 14: Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 12 (if first loss), 7 p.m. (ESPNHD/ESPN360.com)


CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES -- June 22-24 (best of three)

Monday, June 22
Game 15: Bracket One winner vs. Bracket Two winner, 7 p.m. (ESPNHD/ESPN360.com)

Tuesday, June 23
Game 16: Bracket One winner vs. Bracket Two winner, 7 p.m. (ESPNHD/ESPN360.com)

Wednesday, June 24 -- if necessary
Game 17: Bracket One winner vs. Bracket Two winner, 7 p.m. (ESPNHD/ESPN360.com)


Some thoughts as we head into the weekend...

  • The fact that these games are spaced out with a day in between (unlike the Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon format of the first round regionals) somewhat negates one of our biggest team strengths -- pitching depth.
  • I'm not sure we have one dominant starter, but we do have three very good starters in Hultzen, Morey, and Carraway. It'll be interesting to see if and how BOC shortens the rotation with four full days between starts. I'd guess Morey would move to the bullpen for long-innings relief, but he's been arguably our hottest pitcher this postseason.
  • I think our chances to make some real noise in Omaha rest on the bats of Jarrett Parker and Dan Grovatt. These two guys were our big hitters all season long, but they've been relatively quiet in the postseason, especially during the three-game series in Oxford.
  • Picking up the JP/Grovatt slack has been Franco Valdes, who was able to come through with clutch RBIs in the two wins against Ole Miss. If he can keep his hot streak alive in Rosenblatt, we'll truly have legit hitting threats in batters one thru nine. I'm not sure any other team in the CWS can boast that type of balanced batting order.
GO HOOS!

June 10, 2009

Uni Watch

If you love Bill Simmons, you'll love Paul Lukus. He's like the Tim Gunn of the sports world. And yes, I absolutely mean that as a compliment.

Uni Watch -- The Obsessive Study of Athletics Aesthetics

Uni Watch is a media project that deconstructs the finer points of sports uniforms in obsessive and excruciating detail. It has nothing to do with fashion — it’s about documenting and maintaining the visual history of sports design, and about minutiae fetishism as its own reward. If that concept doesn’t make sense to you, no problem — Uni Watch definitely isn’t for everyone, and there have always been people who Don’t Get It™. But for those who understand the pleasures of detail obsession, programmatic classification systems, information overload, and sports history, you’ve come to the right place.

I am my own follower.

Narcissism reigns supreme.

Won't you join me?

My Top Five Moments in UVA Sports

I have a love/hate relationship with Adam Gottschalk. I don't know the dude personally, but I find his shrill little voice to be highly irritating on the radio and I think his opinions are usually way too extreme and aggressively overstated for a person who is supposedly "the voice of the fanbase." It always sort of seems like he has an axe to grind or something, and that grinding is more akin to nails on a chalkboard for me. That being said, I typically enjoy the content of his show... especially yesterday, as he was discussing and dissecting the fan reaction and excitement surrounding the baseball team's upcoming trip to Omaha for the College World Series. In an effort to identify the correct historical context for this event, Adam listed his own personal top five moments in UVA sports. (UVA baseball advancing to Omaha was #3 for him, I think.) Being older and more experienced than Adam Gottschalk; having experienced more awesome UVA sports moments; being an all-around better / more interesting / more awesome Wahoo than Adam Gottschalk, I figured this is my opportunity, nay, my responsibility to identify my own top five moments in UVA sports. So here goes...

#5 -- Virginia Baseball advances to the College World Series. UVA baseball in Omaha is a big deal, people. It's a very, very big deal. 120 years of [rarely] rich history... and this is our first-ever trip to the CWS. Heck, our little trip to Oxford to play Ole Miss was our first-ever berth in a Super Regional! A college baseball team making it to Omaha is the direct equivalent of a college basketball team making it to the Elite Eight. When you consider UVA's former sad-sack, doormat history, Coach Brian O'Connor's accomplishments go from remarkable to almost downright unbelievable. The game that clinched the CWS berth wasn't particularly awe-inspiring or miraculous. It was just another good, solid team performance in a postseason full of good, solid team performances. The team is on a roll right now, and if it can continue that roll in Omaha the 2009 baseball team might be able to add another moment to my top 5 list. But for now, baseball settles in comfortably at #5.


#4 -- Lacrosse Perfection. The 2006 Virginia Lacrosse team went wire-to-wire -- 17 games -- on it's way to a perfect season. It was an absolutely dominant outfit. In the NCAA tournament, the team won all four games by an average of 8 goals, including the 15-7 dismantling of UMass in the championship game.


#3 -- "The Comeback." If you've been following Virginia football at all over the course of the last decade-plus, the above image should be enough to spark off the same feeling of unbridled euphoria you felt 10.5 years ago. Down 29-7 at halftime, the Hoos staged the biggest comeback in school history... against their most bitter rival... on the road. Sparked by a Byron Thweatt pick six, the Hoos rallied for the 36-32 victory, capped off by Ahmad Hawkins' 43-yard touchdown reception and ensuing "thank the heavens" victory pose, as pictured above.

Wade Peery wrote a brilliant blow-by-blow review of the game in his blog for Bleacher Report. You should take five minutes and read it, and re-live the glory. I promise it'll make your entire day. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1880-1998-greatest-comeback-in-uva-football-history-uva-36-vt-32/show_full


#2 -- Sean Singletary's Point and Stare. (Good lord, I hate Dook basketball.) February 1, 2007 -- Singletary, UVA's best player this decade, hit a miracle falling fadeaway jumper over 6-foot-10 douchebag Josh McRoberts to seal a comeback victory over the hated Blue Devils. The win cemented Virginia's ascension to among the ACC's elite that season, and left us with our most enduring, endearing image of Sean Singletary. I was at the game. I didn't sleep that night, too busy watching and rewatching and rewatching the game on TiVo.



#1 -- UVA 33, FSU 28. "This nationally-televised contest was the first Thursday night game played at Scott Stadium and marked Florida State's first loss in an Atlantic Coast Conference game (after winning its first 29). In arguably the greatest victory in Virginia football history, FSU running back Warrick Dunn was stopped inches from the south end zone goal line after taking a direct snap on the game's final play. Fans stormed the field and brought down both goal posts, a feat not since repeated at Scott Stadium." It was my first year of college and I was at the game with my dear friends... I have a piece of one of those goalposts proudly displayed in my home. Not only is this game one of my top five moments in UVA sports, it was one of the top five moments of my life.

So what about you? What are your five favorite moments in UVA sports? Drop a comment and let us know!