September 30, 2010

Tarhell

There's a reason that John Blake is known as "the pimp of college football."


The NCAA is about to bomb North Carolina back to the stone ages.  This old-school journalism from Yahoo! Sports will get you caught up on the rotten activity that has been happening behind the scenes in Chapel Hill.

September 29, 2010

100 Things

I have lots and lots and lots of things bouncing around in my head that I want to put on this blog, but not enough of them are clumping together to form coherent, cohesive blog posts.

Considering that "making lists is lazy writing," and that I am nothing if not lazy, I thought I'd give you a list.

In an effort to make it epic (and to stick it to a person who recently doubted if I could even generate a piddly 50-item list), I'm going to make a list of 100 random Wahooze-related thoughts.  If I can't dazzle you with quality, I'll dumbfound you with quantity.

This will be long, this will be rambling, it will flow in a stream-of-consciousness style, it will likely be a soul sucking siege for you to read, but here it is.  I'll do my best to make it amusing, entertaining, and/or enlightening along the way.

(Special thanks to Peter King and Matthew Berry for providing inspiration for the tone, content, and format of this piece.)

With no further ado, here is 100 THINGS!


1) The football team needs to win at least one of the next three games (FSU, @GT, UNC) if it wants to push for that 7-5 record and an outside shot at a bowl game.

2) We'll be at least 7-point underdogs in each of those three games.

3) I think losing Dominique Wallace really sucks.  He's a talented football player, and seems like a good dude.  I expected big things from him.

4) With Wallace gone, we now have a gaping hole on the roster.  After Keith Payne exhausts his eligibility after this season, who will be the Hoos' power back?  It's a role that seems pretty crucial to the type of offense London and Lazor are building.  Don't be shocked if we make a late recruiting rally to add a big back to the 2011 class.

5) Speaking of the 2011 class, I think the player I'm most excited about is quarterback David Watford.  He's a true dual-threat QB, and based on what I've seen from the London/Lazor pro-style offense, a mobile QB would be an extremely dangerous weapon.

6) That's not to say that Watford won't have a battle on his hands once he arrives in Charlottesville.  The hype machine is on full throttle for Mike Rocco, and I think he looked fantastic in his game action against VMI.  Best arm since Matt Schaub, easily.

7) I'm glad Tim Smith is being shut down for the season.  Having him on the team three years from now will be more valuable than having him on the team as the #3 WR this season.

8) The person responsible for initially pushing Smith out of the starting lineup and to the #3 role -- Dontrelle Inman -- is rapidly emerging as one of my favorite players this season.  He's providing a great receiving presence opposite Kris Burd.  He's tall, has good body control, runs good routes, and is sure-handed.

9) In watching Burd and Inman work through three games, I have finally discovered my favorite trait in a wide receiver: the ability to catch the football.  It trumps speed, it trumps size, it trumps leaping ability, it trumps open field moves, it trumps downfield blocking, it trumps everything else.

10) Applying the above realization to my fantasy football pursuits led me to make a trade last week for Miami's Brandon Marshall.  After his 10-catch, 166-yard explosion against the Jets on Sunday night, I had a big smile on my face.  CATCHING THE FOOTBALL.  How profound.

11-16) Let's stay in the NFL for just a second.  The fantasy football dork in me likes to pride itself on realizing trends in pro football offenses as they emerge, and then extrapolating how the game will be changing in the near future.  Here are my most recent observations/hypotheses:
  • The unbalanced line, aka the 6th o-lineman.  Power football is making a big comeback, and it only makes sense that getting an extra lineman on the field is the way to go.  This might come in the form of a jumbo, blocking specialist tight end, or it might be the "6th man" on the o-line who lines up off tackle.  In either case, it's clear that there are benefits to getting better blocking on the field, especially on the edge.
  • Return of the fullback.  Look no further than the recent success of guys like Jason Snelling, Peyton Hillis, and John Kuhn.  I think the recent explosion of committee backfields will soon settle into a system of having a designated banger to complement a designated jitterbug.
  • The designated jitterbug.  I'm a little late to the party mentioning this one, as guys like Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, and Darren Sproles have been making hay in the league for a few years already.  But the backs are still getting smaller, shiftier, and faster, and NFL teams are splitting these guys out wide.  Dexter McCluster is the latest and best example, but Jahvid Best, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Mike Goodson, Justin Forsett, and Joe McKnight also fit the jitterbug profile.
  • The TE/WR hybrid.  Tight ends have been getting more and more athletic over the course of the last decade, to the point where offensive coordinators are flexing them out wide on a regular basis.  This opens the door for guys like the Patriots' Aaron Hernandez, who at just a shade under 245 pounds is woefully undersized as a prototypical tight end, and too big to run deep routes as a wideout.  But who do you cover him with?  He's too shifty/fast for linebackers and too big for safeties.  When the term "tweener" begins to be replaced by the term "hybrid," you know the concept is beginning to gain traction.
  • The LB/S hybrid.  The obvious yin to the TE/WR's yang.
  • Slot receivers!  Wes Welker has paved the way for the sure-handed overachievers.  Guys like Jordan Shipley, Eddie Royal, Davone Bess, Austin Collie, and Lance Moore are starting to make huge impacts on NFL games.

17) Off of that tangent and back to UVA football.  Have I mentioned how excited I am about almost all of the things Mike London is doing to rebuild Virginia Football?  I'm planning to re-visit the "Road Map to Relevancy" again sometime soon...

18) Saturday's game against VMI was one of the top-five hottest games I've ever experienced at Scott Stadium.  It felt like the stadium was a giant wok, and I was a shriveled up sliver of moo goo gai pan.  The other four hottest games in reverse chronological order: 2008 vs. USC, 2007 vs. Duke, 2006 vs. Wyoming, and 2002 vs. Colorado State.

19) Ras-I Dowling didn't play well against VMI.  He's understandably rusty coming back from injury, but he needs to get it going if we're going to have a good season and if he's going to cement his first round status for NFL scouts.

20) Prediction: We're going to give up a backbreaking kick or punt return touchdown this season, and it will cause us to lose a game we would otherwise win.

21) Chase Minnifield has had an awesome first three games.  He's making me look smart for predicting he'd top five INTs this season, considering the fact that he already has three picks.

22) Ditto Cam Johnson, whose 3.5 sacks are making me look smart for predicting he'd hit double-digits.

23) More defense...  Has any young player on the team been more exciting to watch than LaRoy Reynolds?  It often looks like we have three different #9s playing defense.  He's all over the field.

24) I was nervous about Matt Conrath's move to defensive tackle, but he's been playing extremely well in his new role.

25) Holy crap.  I'm high on our receivers, our o-line, our running game, our defense, and I bullishly defend Marc Verica as a competent Dilferesque starting QB.  Is it possible that we might actually be pretty good this season?  I guess we'll know a lot more about this team after Saturday's game against Florida State.

26) I love that NC State hung 45 points on Al Groh's shitty 3-4 defense at Georgia Tech.

27) Speaking of Al Groh, it's finally becoming clear that he was a man of fallacies.  He proved that "he bleeds orange and blue" was totally false when he made the scumbag move to join the Yellow Jackets staff for a discounted price.  Now "his defenses were never the problem" is coming under some fire.  Yes, we generally had some solid D here at UVA during Groh's tenure... but how many times would you say our defense made the explosive plays to win games?  We kept scores down and kept games close, but that defense was never feared, and it never really swung the tides in games.  Just saying.  (He's gone, and I reserve the right to pile on.)

28) Al Groh ended up having a 2.5 year honeymoon at UVA, and then a three year phase of general acceptance that gave way to apathy.  The apathy turned to anger in 2008/2009.  If Mike London doesn't win big within his first three years at UVA, I wonder how long our fans will tolerate him?  I'd say that he gets at least three more years than Groh, if for no other reason than he's a more charismatic human being.

29) Don't take #28 to mean that I think Mike London will fail at UVA.  I don't.  I think he'll succeed.  I'm just trying to be realistic.

30) Why did we waste the WHITEOUT on a 12:00 noon kickoff?  I know we were sort of big-timed by the TV game selection process, but c'mon.

31) I love the fact that we're even having a WHITEOUT.  This is exactly the kind of stuff we should be doing, and it's exactly the kind of stuff we weren't doing under Al Groh.

32) The Advertures of CavMan has to go.  It was cool at first, but now it's a tired concept.  The production quality is also embarrassingly crappy.

33) Can I bitch for a second about our two local radio shows?  I didn't like Adam Gottschalk, but at least he was focused on UVA sports.  Mark Moses doesn't even pretend to care about UVA and Mac McDonald's show (while being broadcast out of Charlottesville) stubbornly covers the entire state.  In other words, why does our local radio insist on pandering to Hokies?  And who gives a shit about anything Mark Lorenzoni has to say?  Yeah, I tune in to sports radio so I can hear about high school track and field.  Huh?  Sorry... rant over.

34) I thought it was really cool that VMI brought the entire Corps of Cadets.  It was less cool when I was trying to go anywhere on the concourse and they were clogging the aisles, hitting on chicks.

35) That fake punt against USC was awesome, and it made me hungry for another trick play.  I bet we trot one or two out against Florida State this weekend.

36) Maybe it was a little bit odd that we burned Mike Rocco's redshirt for mop-up duty against VMI, but it was clear that the coaching staff wanted to see him in action in a game setting, and that they think he's a better prospect than Ross Metheny.  (Sorry if this one is a little bit redundant with #6.)

37) It was VMI... but I thought Torrey Mack looked good.  He's still got the talent that made him a four-star prospect coming out of high school.  If Perry Jones goes down, we're going to need another back to step up.

38) We're now 2-for-6 on field goals this season.  To the special teams' credit, the operation is looking much better than it did against USC.  I still think a missed kick will cost us another game.  I have zero confidence in our ability to kick field goals.

39) I'll touch on this again when we revisit the road map, but our 2011 out of conference schedule includes home games against William & Mary, Southern Miss, and Idaho, and a road game against Indiana.  That slate won't sell tickets, but it might help to manufacture some wins.  Considering the fact that we could have as many as seven returning starters on offense and ten returning starters on defense, I think we could be looking at a bowl game next season.

40-55) Here's a bunch of YES or NO questions based on this year's individual football stats through three games:
  • Marc Verica is currently on pace for 2788 passing yards.  Will he actually eclipse 2500 yards this season?  NO
  • He's on pace for 19.99 TDs.  Will he throw for 20+ TDs this season? NO
  • He's thrown 5 TDs and just 1 INT.  Will his TD:INT ratio stay better than 2:1?  YES
  • Keith Payne and Perry Jones are both on pace to rush for over 800 yards.  Will Keith Payne eclipse that mark?  NO
  • Will Perry Jones?  YES
  • Payne has 5 rushing TDs, which puts him on pace for 19.99 on the season.  That's a bit extreme... but will he break double-digits?  YES
  • Kris Burd has 260 receiving yards, putting him on pace for 1039 on the season.  Will he actually break the 1000 yard plateau?  YES
  • Dontrelle Inman has 214, good for a 856 yard pace.  Will he break 800 yards?  YES
  • 5 receiving TDs between the two of them, 19.99 pace for the season.  Will they combine for 20+ TDs?  NO
  • 15-19?  YES
  • Cam Johnson's 3.5 sacks puts him on pace for 14 sacks this season.  Will he break 12 sacks?  NO
  • 10?  YES
  • Chase Minnifield's three picks puts him on pace for 12 INTs this season.  Will he get to six?  YES
  • Eight?  NO
  • Will Ras-I Dowling be a first round draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft?  NO
  • Will we get to six wins this season?  YES

56) Didn't think I could get to 100, did you?  Now that you've experienced some of my fulgurant shortcuts, do you believe?

57) Ha!  Nailed you with another shortcut at #56.

58) Through four weeks of college football, I've actually been able to watch every single ACC team in action at least once.  Here are my current power rankings for the conference:
#1 Miami -- It's all sort of coming together, meltdown at Ohio State notwithstanding.
#2 NC State -- Clicking on all cylinders, but this weekend is a big-time litmus test.
#3 Virginia Tech -- Recovering from the losses to Boise and JMU by getting the defense revved up and making plays.
#4 Florida State -- Ponder's passing and a fierce pass rush make up a winning recipe.
#5 Clemson -- Seems to be solid in all phases of the game (except maybe kicking).
#6 Boston College -- Tough D, good o-line, strong running, nothing really remarkable... the typical BC formula for success.
#7 Georgia Tech -- The defense is not good, and teams are finally starting to catch up to that triple option attack.
#8 North Carolina -- The off-field stuff has torpedoed their once-promising season.
#9 Virginia -- I think we have the look of a .500 type of ACC team, via aggressive defense, high energy, and relentless effort.
#10 Maryland -- Their 3-1 record is a bit of a mirage.  This team has some damning flaws, but they are playing very tough.
#11 Duke -- Even though they lost at Wake, I think their explosive offense will allow them to spring an upset or two in conference play.
#12 Wake Forest -- They are 2-1... en route to a 3-9 season.

59) I just said that I think we have the "look" of a .500 type of ACC team, and I stand by that.  But just because we look like a .500 team doesn't mean we'll get those four wins.  But what wins will we get?  Here's my list of possibilities, ranked from most likely to least likely: EMU, Maryland, @Duke, UNC, @GT, @BC, FSU, @VT, Miami.

60-67) Last year I did a UVA Sports Over/Under that was a lot of fun to write.  Judging from the positive response it received, I think it might have been fun to read, too.  I wanted to do one again this year, but never got around to it.  So here's a quick version, embedded in my epic list of 100 Things.  Enjoy!  (Oh yeah, and in case you're hazy on what an over/under is, here's the basic definition: "An over-under or over/under bet is a wager in which a sportsbook will predict a number for a statistic in a given game (usually the combined score of the two teams), and bettors wager that the actual number in the game will be either higher or lower than that number. For example, in Super Bowl XXXIX, most Las Vegas casinos set the over-under for the score of the game at 46.0. A bettor could wager that the combined score of the two teams would be either more than or less than that number (as it happened, the combined score was 45, so anyone who had bet the under won)."  Anyway, here is the Wahooze Over/Unders for 2010-2011:
  • Over/under -- UVA Football wins in 2010: FOUR.  I'm betting the OVER.  We've got two in the bank already, and EMU is another lock.  I'm confident that we'll beat Duke and Maryland, and then shock another team along the way.  So that puts us at six.  If we can spring a second big upset, we're going bowling!
  • Over/under -- Number of times I'll curse Al Groh's name for needlessly burning Dontrelle Inman's redshirt: 2 million.  Bet the OVER. Trust me on this.  Inman is playing great... just think about how valuable he'd be next year as a 5th year senior.  *sigh*
  • Over/under -- UVA Football wins in 2011: SIXI'm going OVER.  Like maybe even way over.  I think we could be looking at an 8-win team next season, if we can find the right QB to lead the way.  (Mike Rocco, I'm looking at you.  Well, not literally, but you know what I mean.)
  • Over/under -- ACC wins by UVA Basketball during the 2010-2011 season (five last year): FIVE.  Maybe I continue to be stupidly intoxicated by Tony Bennett's good vibes, but I will take the OVER on this. I think another year in a cohesive system and energy provided by the seven freshmen will be enough to snag some wins in a weakened ACC. Nothing ground-breaking, but I see 6 or 7 ACC wins this season.
  • Over/under -- Mike Scott's averages (he averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds last season): 15 and 8.  Scott should lead the Hoos in both categories, but I'm still going to take the UNDER here.  I think we'll see a more liberal rotation this season, as Bennett attempts to get all of the freshmen adequate playing time.  I think Mike Scott will end up duplicating his numbers from last year, which would still represent very solid production.
  • Over/under -- Freshman K.T. Harrell's scoring average this season: 7 ppg.  OVER.  I think Harrell will be an absolute revelation to us, and will quickly assume a primary scoring role for this team.  We have good complementary-type scorers in Mike Scott, Sam Zeglinski, and Mustapha Farrakhan, but I think it is Harrell who will emerge as the team's go-to scorer.  10, 12, maybe even 14 or 15 ppg as a freshman could be in his future.  Bold, I know.  ACC Freshman of the Year?  Hmmmm...
  • Over/under -- ACC wins by UVA Baseball during the 2011 season (23-7 last year): 19.  I'm going to have to say UNDER on this one.  We'll still be a good team, but we lost a lot from last year's elite outfit.  I feel a 17-13 or 18-12 type of ACC season coming on.  Another NCAA appearance, but not hosting a regional at Davenport.
  • Over/under -- The number of juniors who leave the baseball team for the professional ranks after the 2011 season: TWOWe lost a ton last year, but this year should be less brutal.  However, I still see us losing at least three guys, so I'll take the OVER.  Danny Hultzen, John Hicks, Steven Proscia, Scott Silverstein, and maybe even Keith Werman could be looking at lucrative careers in pro baseball.

68) Let's focus on the basketball team now.  It's clear that I like K.T. Harrell's potential as a scorer for this team, but where do I think the other six freshmen will ring in?  I'm not sure about the exact numbers, but here is the order in which I think they'll rank when it comes to scoring average: James Johnson, Joe Harris, Billy Baron, Akil Mitchell, Will Regan, Thomas Rogers.

69) It's easy to be excited about the freshmen, but there are two other players I can't wait to see in action this season.  The first of which is Jontel Evans.  I've heard that he's added a bit of a jump shot to his game, that his ballhandling has improved from good to very good, and that his defensive ability has gone from very good to completely off the charts.  He might still be an offensive liability, but he's just really fun to watch.

70) The second guy I'm psyched to see is Assane Sene.  He was about to be lost in the shuffle, but has added a bunch of weight, added considerable strength, and has focused on improving his ability to catch the ball.  Any contribution he can make is gravy, but I think he'll push for a starting spot in the rotation, and will change the nature of games with his shot-blocking ability.  I'm actually looking for his improvement to mirror that of Jerome Meyinsse's last year, which would be a great thing for the basketball program.

71) I'll love the freshmen, I'm excited to see Evans and Sene, but my favorite player on the team is Mustapha Farrakhan.  I'm not sure exactly why, either.  I guess I just like his moxie.  I like smaller guys who take it to the hole, I can't help myself.  (PS -- I still miss you, Sean Singletary.)

72) I don't want to rip through the basketball roster without mentioning Sam Zeglinski.  He'll cede the bulk of his point guard duties to Evans and Baron, which means he should be more free to serve as a spot-up shooter.  It's a role that I think suits him well.  By the end of the season, I think he'll be one of our few feared offensive weapons.

73) This basketball team will struggle to score.  That's pretty obvious.  Defensively, we should be very good, especially if guys like Mike Scott, Jontel Evans, Assane Sene, and Mustapha Farrakhan continue their rapid improvement on that end of the floor.

74) The key to the season will be the freshmen.  If they can add some scoring punch while not being absolute liabilities on defense, I think we have a good chance to be pretty good.

75) We'll be tested early in the season, that's for sure.  Games against Stanford, Washington, Kentucky or Oklahoma, Minnesota, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Iowa State, and LSU before the New Year will tell us what kind of team we have.  A 4-4 record in those eight games would bode extremely well for the trajectory of the team.

76-87) Can we talk about REALIGNMAGEDDON for a second?  Because I don't feel like it's over; not yet; not by a long shot.  The Big 10 (12?) still has unfinished business, and I don't believe the Pac-10 (12?) is satisfied either.  The Big XII (X?) is still extremely fragile, and ripe for the picking.  And as the ACC and Big East continue to flounder in football, their stability comes into question.  Will the SEC finally decide to throw its considerable weight around in all of this?  Nothing will happen in the short term, but I do have some bold long term predictions:
  • Texas and Notre Dame will swap places as Div-1A Independents.  The Longhorns are developing their own cable network, which will quickly render their Big XII affiliation unnecessary.  Meanwhile, Notre Dame isn't generating anywhere near the ratings they once did for NBC... which means the Irish could be looking for shelter in the form of conference affiliation at some point within the next decade.
  • Notre Dame will join a conference, but it won't be the Big Ten.  I honestly think that Notre Dame is too proud and too stubborn to ever cave in to the Big Ten bully.  The Big East or the ACC will be the conference that benefits from that tumultuous history between ND and the B10.
  • With Texas gone, the pin will be pulled from the Big XII grenade.  Oklahoma will have options, but I think they'll end up leading a few other B12 castoffs to the Pac-12 or the SEC.  Missouri will try, once again, to seek entry into the Big Ten.  Schools like Kansas and Iowa State could be left to scramble for the scraps.
  • Maryland will have wanderlust.  The Terps might start looking for the bigger buck, and the Big Ten might be looking for a toehold in the DC/Baltimore media market.
  • Ditto Rutgers.  If the Big Ten expands the rest of the way to 16, and I think it probably will, I'm almost certain that Rutgers (for the NY/NJ market) and Maryland (for Baltimore/DC) would be included in that expansion.  The other two schools?  My best guess is Missouri and UConn.  That would leave the Big East with only six schools, and the ACC with 11.
  • Once the Big Ten expands to 16, I think the SEC will follow suit.  Their targets would be Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and one of the ACC schools that could give them a further reach up north into markets not currently tapped, while still fitting the SEC profile.
  • My guess for that one ACC school to join the SEC?  Virginia Tech.
  • The ACC and Big East leftovers will then combine to form a basketball-based superconference.  BC, Virginia, UNC, Duke, Wake, NC State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, and Florida State would join forces with Syracuse, West Virginia, Pitt, Louisville, Notre Dame, and... wait for it... Kansas.  Hoops, anyone?
  • The Pac-10 will get shafted in all of this realignment.  With no good options available, they'll decide to stand pat at 12 schools.
  • The biggest losers in all of this?  Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, South Florida, and Cincinnati... and fans of the BCS.
  • Fans of the BCS lose?  How?  With four superconferences -- the SEC, the Big Sixteen, the Pac-10, and the *NEW* ACC -- the BCS is punted in favor of a playoffs-style championship tournament for football.
  • The NCAA will collapse.  Once the superconferences learn that they can work together to govern themselves, they will no longer need a third party to set rules and enforce regulations.  And just like that, the world of college athletics will be changed forever.  It didn't happen in 2010, but I bet it all happens before 2020.  Or maybe 2030.

88) Back to #30 and #31.  For this WHITEOUT, it's already been revealed that the team will be wearing blue jerseys and white pants.  That's cool... but why isn't the team wearing all white???  (Before you say "the home team wears the colored jersey and the away team wears the white jersey," know that you're wrong.  The home team gets to choose, under new rules that started a year or two ago.)
89) I have a hunch that we haven't seen all of the new uniform options.  I think we're holding something up our sleeves... perhaps for this season's last home game, against Maryland.  I thought we might debut white helmets for the whiteout, but it seems like that isn't going to happen.  At least not this week.  I hope it's a white helmet, I think those would look awesome over either the orange, blue, or white jersey.

90) While we're on the subject of uniforms, how do you like our new uniforms?  I've heard some people say that they're too plain / too boring.  I happen to love them.  Especially the orange jersey with the blue pants, as seen here:



91) I hope we bring back the throwbacks we wore against Richmond in 2008.  These were awesome.
See what I mean about the white helmet?


92-99) Sorry for geeking out on the uniforms.  Since I'm on #92 and starting to try to wind this thing down, I want to get back into the meaty opinion stuff.  Here's a big one for me, personally.  (And yes, I do try to live by this decree.)  EIGHT WAYS TO BE A BETTER VIRGINIA FAN:
  • 1 -- Every season, make it a point to attend at least one home football game, one home basketball game, one home baseball game, one home lacrosse game, and one other non-revenue sport's home game/match/meet.  Part of what makes Virginia sports so great is the celebration of those non-rev, so-called "Olympic" sports.  We have world-class soccer, tennis, swimming & diving programs, and we're rapidly approaching elite levels in many other sports.  Grab your family and go soak in a game.
  • 2 -- Tailgate!  If you attend a Virginia home football game, that's great.  But you need to spend some time (preferably 3.5+ hours) in a parking lot eating food and imbibing libations.  It's the UVA way.  And someday, I hope that we can develop a reputation as a "tailgating school."  It's a little dream of mine.
  • 3 -- Be loud, and stand up, put your arms around each other's shoulders, and sway while singing/shouting the Good Ol' Song.  I know, I know, it's kind of wimpy and a little bit embarrassing, but it's our thing.  Embrace it.  (Also, I will accept "DAMN GAY!" but never "NOT GAY!")
  • 4 -- Make it a point to make the following fans uncomfortable in our stadium or arena: Maryland, North Carolina, Duke (for basketball), and especially Virginia Tech fans.  These Hokie a-holes think they own Scott Stadium.  We need to make sure they understand that they in fact do not.  Now, don't stoop to starting fights or spitting on sweatshirts.  Instead, just be loud as hell, stand up in front of them while they are sitting, and show them your true school pride and love for dear ol' UVA.
  • 5 -- Make it a point to seek out a fan of the opposing team after the game to congratulate them or to wish them well for the rest of the season.  If we want to be known as classy fans, we have to be classy fans.
  • 6 -- Be knowledgeable about the game!  Nothing annoys me more than when our own fans don't know what in the hell they are talking about.  It's an embarrassment to our entire fanbase, actually.  Read about the game in the newspaper, and ask questions about stuff you don't know or don't understand.  Being knowledgeable is almost equally important to being passionate and being classy.  You have to have all three if you want to be a "good fan."
  • 7 -- For the love of god, be loud while we're playing defense and be quiet when we're on offense, in the huddle and just prior to the snap.  If you don't understand why, see #6, above.
  • 8 -- Finally, the ultimate key to being a better fan is to make a personal investment.  Learn about the team, and follow the story of the season as it unfolds.  If you care about what happens on the field, your passion will bubble to the surface.  If you are going to the games as strictly a social endeavor, that's cool... but you're not being the best fan you can be.

100) Wow, I didn't think I'd make it.  This odyssey has taken me two days to complete.  I think it might be one of my best blog entries to date, right up there with the road map and the long listing of all of Al Groh's games as head coach.   I hope you enjoyed reading these 100 Things as much as I enjoyed writing them.  Speaking of, thanks for reading my blog.  Your readership, and your friendship really means a lot to me.  GO HOOS!

September 28, 2010

Wahooze ACC Picks -- Week Five

More good juju last week.  I'm in a groove, baby.

Last Week: 6-2 (5-1 ATS)

Season: 31-7 (21-10 ATS)


My record is so good, even the Cowgirls are impressed.


Miami (-3.0) @ Clemson
Miami showed that they are the class of the ACC last week, by pounding Pitt on the road.  Clemson has had two weeks to lick its wounds after that tough-to-swallow overtime loss @ Auburn.  I expect to see a spirited, hard-fought game here.  In the end, I just think the U has the slight edge in talent and momentum.  Canes win the squeaker, and barely beat the spread in the process.  31-26, Miami

Florida State (-7.5) @ Virginia
This line shows that the Hoos are actually getting some love from Vegas.  Both teams are on the rise in their rebuilding efforts, but FSU just needed some shingles replaced and a new coat of paint, whereas UVA needed to lay some new brick and mortar and cobble together a fresh foundation.  These are two teams in different stages of the reinvention process, and FSU's elite quarterback will power them to a relatively easy win after UVA puts up a nice first half fight.  I don't think we have an answer for Christian Ponder, especially not with Ras-I Dowling and Rodney McLeod not at the top of their games.  34-14, Florida State

Virginia Tech (-3.5) @ NC State
NC State is 4-0, looking great, and has been installed as home underdogs this weekend.  WHAAAAAT?!?  I'm only betting with my reputation, but I'm all in on State this weekend.  I love home 'dogs in games that seem pretty close on paper.  Of course, if Virginia Tech is truly surging like they showed at BC, I could be wrong.  At the end of the day, I think Russell Wilson trumps Tyrod Taylor.  27-24, NC State

ECU @ North Carolina (-17.0)
Two weeks ago, ECU gave Virginia Tech a battle only to see the Hokies pull away late.  I see the same sort of game here, with two differences: 1) With two weeks to prepare for the game, ECU will have a few more tricks for Carolina than they did for VT, and 2) UNC isn't as good as Virginia Tech.  No way will UNC beat this spread.  No way.  I think they'll win the game, but no way will they beat this spread.  31-23, North Carolina

Duke @ Maryland (-10.0)
Last week, Duke laid an egg and was rolled by Army while Maryland manhandled a pretty solid FIU team.  I think there is a [slight?] talent differential here, one which will likely be exacerbated by the fact that the Terps are playing in front of the home crowd.  This 10 point spread feels right.  However, I've got a gut feeling that Sean Renfree will be able to move Duke's offense in this game, and create a bit of a shootout... the likes of which Maryland isn't equipped to handle.  35-31, Duke

Georgia Tech (-14.0) @ Wake Forest
Georgia Tech was exposed by NC State last week.  Meanwhile, Wake Forest wasn't exposed, because everyone already knew that they are pretty crappy this year.  The Ramblin' Wreck will win this game that nobody really cares about.  37-21, Georgia Tech

Notre Dame (-1.5) @ Boston College
BC has a golden opportunity to claim a little bit of respect for the conference.  Notre Dame, meanwhile, will be desperate for a W.  Montel Harris hasn't been as dominant as I expected him to be this season, but I think he'll find plenty of running room against the Irish.  28-24, BC

September 20, 2010

Q&A

Within my various circles of friends, I work to position myself as the so-called "authority" when it comes to all things related to UVA football and basketball.  As such, I end up fielding a bunch of different questions about a bunch of different stuff.  Some of the questions end up being pretty good, and I often think: hey, that would be something good to put in the blog!, but then I never get around to it.  Well, today I'm getting around to it.  Here are the best questions I've received lately, and my best attempt at an answer.  (Thanks to everyone who asks me questions --- keep 'em coming!)


Q: After beating Richmond and then hanging tough on the road against USC, I was gushing in the office about how well the football team has been playing under Coach London, and about how excited I was to watch the rest of the season unfold.  I proudly declared that the 2010 team looks much better than I expected.  At that point my friend Jen (admittedly not a football fan) asked me the following profound question: How good is our football team this year?

A: The answer is tricky, Jen.  I think we could be pretty good.  But in this case, "good" is a relative term.  Good enough to be able to beat the teams less talented than us, sure.  That includes Richmond, VMI, and Eastern Michigan.  I'd say we're equally talented to teams like Duke and Maryland.  We should, at a minimum, split those two games.  And then I think we're good enough to steal a win or two from the teams that are more talented than us.  So to answer Jen's question... I think we're good, but would 5-7 or 6-6 be considered a "good" record?  No, not really.  Not to the naked eye.  But compared to last year's 3-9, it's a lot better, and we're on the right track.


Q: A well-conceived follow-up question from my friend Andrew: How many seasons do you think it will take for Mike London to get the football program above .500 and in serious contention for the ACC crown, if ever?

A: I think you have to look at a few things when you consider a question like this.  First and foremost -- how good is the competition?  If Virginia were playing in the SEC, I'd have a hard time believing that we would ever have a chance to win that conference.  But in the ACC, a middling team can rise to the top in short order, because so many of the programs are up and down and just plain schizophrenic.  There isn't much stability at that top, beyond Virginia Tech's reliable 8+ wins and the caché of Miami and Florida State.  Teams like Clemson, Boston College, and Georgia Tech are always hovering near the upper crust, but do any of those programs really scare you?

The second thing I'd look at is the succession plan at the quarterback position.  Do you have a can't-miss QB of the future?  I'm excited about the young arms in the system and in the 2011 recruiting class.  None of them are "can't-miss" per se, but I think the future looks pretty bright under center.

The last thing to consider is the recruiting trajectory... and that's an area where Mike London is making the most headway.  We already have 20 commitments for the 2011 class, and it's a group good enough to rank #18 nationally, according to Rivals.

Andrew, my answer to your question is --- we will push for that .500 conference record NEXT SEASON, and we will be in hot pursuit of an ACC championship game appearance at some point within the next three or four years.  Call it 2013.  ("In hot pursuit" doesn't mean we're a lock to win the ACC.  I just think that Coach London will have this team's talent level up to that of the Clemson/BC/GT tier within three years, which means we'll have the ability to win games against those teams on a consistent basis, which is what it takes to ultimately chase the Orange Bowl dream.)


Q: I was on the phone with my brother this past week while we were both watching with envy as Russell Wilson lit it up for NC State on Thursday night.  He asked me if I thought Marc Verica was a decent QB, and then he asked me where Verica would rank amongst the starting QBs in the ACC, and amongst the starting QBs the Hoos will face this season.

A: Allen, here are my rankings...

ACC Starting QBs
1-Jacory Harris, Miami
2-Christian Ponder, Florida State
3-Russell Wilson, NC State
4-Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
5-Kyle Parker, Clemson
6-Josh Nesbitt, Georgia Tech
7-T.J. Yates, North Carolina
8-Sean Renfree, Duke
9-Dave Shinskie, Boston College
10-Marc Verica, Virginia
11-Jamarr Robinson, Maryland
12-Tanner Price, Wake Forest

Starting QBs on the Hoos Schedule
1-Jacory Harris, Miami
2-Christian Ponder, Florida State
3-Matt Barkley, USC
4-Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
5-Josh Nesbitt, Georgia Tech
6-T.J. Yates, North Carolina
7-Sean Renfree, Duke
8-Aaron Corp, Richmond
9-Alex Gillett, Eastern Michigan
10-Dave Shinskie, Boston College
11-Marc Verica, Virginia
12-Jamarr Robinson, Maryland
13-Cameron Jones, VMI

I don't think Marc Verica is bad.  Not at all.  I just think there are some very high quality QBs in the ACC and on the UVA schedule this season.


Q: Every year, my friend Paul asks me: What sort of future NFL talent do we currently have on the team?  I think he uses that as a gauge for how good our team should be on the field.  Either way, it's an interesting thing to ponder.
A: In my opinion, here are the guys who will someday be suiting up on Sundays, listed in order of likelihood: Ras-I Dowling, Rodney McLeod, Austin Pasztor, LaRoy Reynolds, Chase Minnifield, Joe Torchia, Kris Burd, and Steve Greer.  Guys like Keith Payne, Nick Jenkins, and Matt Conrath are on the cusp.  I can't really comment on the younger guys, because I haven't seen enough of them yet.


This is fun.  I'll try to get to more of these soon.  Meanwhile, if you have a question you'd like to see answered, fire it at me.  kendallhowell@gmail.com.

Wahooze ACC Picks -- Week Four

Last week's picks were dead on, for the most part.  I absolutely nailed the NC State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Duke, and Wake Forest picks.  I'm also not above a little chest thumping and horn blowing.

Last Week: 7-1 (5-2 ATS)

Season: 25-5 (16-9 ATS)


Gotta love those four d-bags standing behind the FSU Cowgirls.



Miami @ Pittsburgh (-1.0)
This is a big game for these two teams.  Both have the talent to be relevant in the national discussion, and both should probably be considered the frontrunners in their respective conferences.  I love Pitt's Dion Lewis... though he has struggled so far this season.  Jacory Harris gets my vote as the ACC's best quarterback... though he threw four ugly backbreaking interceptions against Ohio State.  This game is all about which team can overcome its warts.  I like Miami here, and I like them by a couple of TDs.  ACC >>> Big East.  31-17, Miami

Virginia Tech @ Boston College (-2.0)
The Hokies finally started to pull everything together in the second half against ECU.  Now this road game at BC stands between them and being able to salvage their season.  The Eagles have been Tech's bugaboo in recent seasons and Montel Harris is a stud, but I think we'll see the explosive David Wilson power Tech along in this gut-check game for the program.  24-22, VT

NC State @ Georgia Tech (-9.0)
Here's hoping Russell Wilson lays 150 points on that Georgia Tech defense, as a once and final "eff you" to Al Groh for not recruiting him at Virginia.  Seriously though, this 9 point line surprises me.  On paper, GT is the better team, but so far on the field the Wolfpack has been superior.  I see better than I hear.  State with the shocker.  26-21, NC State

FIU @ Maryland (-14.5)
Florida International has been game in their close losses to Rutgers and Texas A&M so far this season.  The Panthers have a tough, big play defense that has forced eight turnovers through two games.  Maryland will have to take care of the football to come out of this game unscathed.  I actually like FIU's chances to spring this mild upset, but I suspect the Terps will be too tough at home.  20-16, Maryland

VMI @ Virginia (no line)
VMI is a bad D-1AA team, and it looks like Virginia might have a chance to be a fairly decent FBS team.  I think too much Perry Jones on the perimeter, too much Keith Payne up the gut, and too much speed on the Virginia V-fense spells disaster for the Keydets.  45-6, UVA

Army @ Duke (-6.0)
Last year, Duke beat Army 35-19 in West Point.  I'm not sure how much better or worse Army is this year, but I know Sean Renfree looks pretty good for Duke, and that the David Cutcliffe offense is usually predicated on the ability of the QB.  I smell a blowout here for the Dookies.  48-27, Duke

Wake Forest @ Florida State (-19.0)
Florida State is relatively loaded, and Wake seems stuck in its post-2006 rebuilding process.  I'm actually hearing rumors that Jim Grobe's job status could be in trouble.  THIS MAN WON THE FREAKING ACC FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP AT WAKE FOREST.  He is a great coach.  But the 'Noles have too much firepower for Wake's obviously lackluster defense.  I think the Deacs hang around and keep the game somewhat close, but FSU pulls away late to beat the spread.  42-21, Florida State

North Carolina @ Rutgers (game off the board due to possible player suspensions)
0-2, backs against the wall, and facing a Rutgers team that just barely beat FIU... UNC seems like a logical pick here.  However, two big things are going against them: 1) Rutgers has had two weeks to prepare for this game, and 2) the game is being played in New Jersey.  It seems like the off-field stuff is slowly being worked out, but it still has to be a big distraction for the Tarheels.  It's another bad beat for the ACC, but I like the Scarlet Knights in this game.  31-24, Rutgers

September 13, 2010

Wahooze ACC Picks -- Week Three

Last week: 8-2 (4-3 ATS)

Season: 18-4 (11-7 ATS)


No caption necessary.


The ACC needs to recover from this past weekend's shellacking.  None of its marquee teams were able to represent the conference with any amount of respectability.  Only NC State was able to deliver the goods and defeat a relatively good non-conference opponent.  This week presents some more great opportunities... but will the ACC be able to step up and begin repairing its damaged national image?


Cincinnati @ NC State (-2.5)
Believe it or not, State (along with Clemson and maybe Maryland) is the ACC team that can boast the most deserved college football "cred" so far in this young season.  They are making big plays on defense and playing it safe on offense, and it has been a winning recipe so far.  Cincy is struggling to find its offensive rhythm after the coaching change and player exodus from last year's 12-1 faux juggernaut.  QB Zach Collaros is a real talent however, and could give Russell Wilson a nice passer's duel.  I like State to win this game and cover the spread this week, playing at home.  This should be a very entertaining game on Thursday night.  31-27, NC State

Georgia Tech @ North Carolina (game off the board due to possible player suspensions)
The Ramblin' Wreck played like shitake against Kansas.  They'll bounce back.  But the Tarholes have had two weeks to prepare [their piecemeal roster] for this contest, after a game effort against LSU in the season opener.  The stormclouds are still swirling however, and I like the Jackets to win this game by pounding it out on the ground with that flexbone offense.  31-17, GT

Maryland @ West Virginia (-13.0)
West Virginia survived a serious scare from Marshall this past Friday night, and to be honest with you, the Mountaineers did not impress me.  But neither did Maryland in their "win" against Navy.  This game will be so ugly, viewers that tune in for the entire 60 minutes might just turn to stone.  I'd feel sorry for the fans that will be attending the game, but these are probably the two most despicable fanbases in all of organized sports.  I'll be pulling for some sort of natural disaster (rockslide? earthquake? hillbilly rebellion against society?) to claim these teams and those scumbag fans this weekend.  As for the pick, I guess I'll go with the home team here, but I have a hunch that UMD covers.  30-21, West Virginia

East Carolina @ Virginia Tech (-17.0)
This opening line amazes me.  I was about to go all in on the Hokies having a big bounce back week... but it looks like Vegas beat me to the punch.  Wow.  The Pirates probably lack Tech's pure talent level, but this offense has shown that it can melt down the scoreboard after scoring 100 total points through two games.  ECU heads into Lane confident, knowing they can beat the Hokies.  This game will end up being a real battle.  I think Tech will come out fired up and frenzied, desperate to save their season.  The VT running game and defense will finally get on track, and the Hokies will capitalize on some ECU turnovers to pull away late.  40-20, VT

BYU @ Florida State (-8.0)
I'll never pick against the 'Noles when they're playing in Doak Campbell, thanks to the Florida State Gowgirls.  FSU crushed BYU, 54-28, last year in Provo.  This game is in Tallahassee, Florida State is better than they were a year ago, and BYU is much worse.  Here comes another big blowout, and this one is my stone cold lead pipe lock of the week.  Bet the Semenholes and give the points.  55-27, Florida State

Alabama (-23.0) @ Duke
Poor Duke.  This game will be like the hammer meeting the nail.  No, make that the jackhammer meeting the push pin.  Roll Tide.  64-14, Bama

Clemson @ Auburn (-6.0)
Very interesting game here.  Auburn didn't really wow me in their 17-14 win over Mississippi State on Saturday, but I think MSU is much improved.  The spread offense seems to be taking hold in Jordan-Hare, and this game should be an entertaining shootout.  I like Clemson's team this year, and I think the absence of superstar C.J. Spiller might actually be good for them, as they are able to diversify that offense a little bit.  Winning a game on the road against a quality SEC opponent might be a tall order, though...  Hmmmm...  Ah, what the heck.  34-26, Clemson

Wake Forest @ Stanford (-16.0)
Here comes the weekly ACC bloodletting, this time in the west coast night cap.  Stanford is legit.  Wake?  Ehh... not so much.  Tune in to CSN to rubberneck the carnage.  48-6, Stanford

September 12, 2010

Moral Victory

Keith Payne was, once again, a beast.


You can read facts about the game in your local news rag, or watch the game in its entirity on Cavalier Playback on CSN.  This post is all about my scattered and assorted thoughts on last night's game, on three hours of sleep (damn you, west coast).  Don't read this expecting anything other than pure, blissful conjecture.  Let's roll...
  • Considering the fact that this team beat us down 52-7, at home back in 2008, I'm happy to take this 17-14 loss as a moral victory.  And you know what?  Our team could still have played a lot better.  We could (should?) have beaten the Trojans.  Marc Verica also seemed to embrace the moral victory, saying, "...we sent a message tonight that this is a new team. This is definitely not who we used to be. We can play with anybody left on our schedule. This one hurts a lot, but it proves we're going to be a good team."  For a team trying to rebuild from the disaster of the last two seasons, I think a moral victory is absolutely acceptable in these circumstances.
  • It's official.  Lane Kiffin is a PRICK.
  • I thought the defense played great, still without arguably the secondary's two best players in Ras-I Dowling and Rodney McLeod.  Both guys should be back after the bye week.
  • Late in the game, Cam Johnson limped off the field.  Looked like he rolled up an ankle.  I really hope he's okay, because otherwise our pass rush (already a little bit on life support) might completely die.
  • Punter Jimmy Howell had a nice night, so he's not included in my next statement.
  • Our kickers suck.  Robert Randolph straight up shanked his 45-yard attempt in the 1st quarter, then had to sneak a PAT over the crossbar before having his second field goal attempt partially blocked after he kicked a line drive.  The only kick he nailed was the last, meaningless PAT.
  • Despite the shoddy kicking, our special teams play was much improved.  We limited their returns, which is crucial against a team like USC.
  • Too many penalties!  That's the next area for the coaching staff to focus on.
  • The running game is alive and well.  Keith Payne is a load at 250+ pounds of forward lean, and Perry Jones has the best instincts and balance of any tailback we've seen on the Virginia roster since Tiki Barber.  The dynamic duo churned up 134 yards and a TD on USC's imposing defense.
  • Dontrelle Inman is a revelation.  He's poised to have a big senior season as our #2 wide receiver.  He's tall and sure-handed, and has a knack for those little hand battles that occur between receivers and the DBs that cover them.  I thought he played great last night.
  • This USC team might struggle in Pac-10 play.  I thought Virginia played pretty well, but the Trojans had a bunch of issues --- namely, they just seem completely undisciplined.  That was fine under Pete Carroll, when they had the best athletes money could buy.  But now that cupboard is a bit more bare, and while the athletes are still great, they don't have near as many pure freaks of nature who can win games with sheer physical ability.
  • Matt Barkley: I'm not buying the hype.
  • B.J. Cabbell had a very good game last night.  He was the pulling guard on many of our best runs.
  • Still excited about LaRoy Reynolds.  He didn't make the plays he made against Richmond, but he still brought a swagger to the D.  It's clear that there is plenty of dog in #9's game.
  • The Coliseum is an awesome football stadium.
  • I loved, LOVED the determination to score that last touchdown.  That showed me a lot, about the team and about the coaching staff.  I also loved the hit we put on that dude trying to recover the onside kick.  Four seconds to go in a game we couldn't win, and we're still laying licks.  I don't want to beat on a dead horse, but an Al Groh team wouldn't have even attempted that onside kick.  They wouldn't even be kicking off, becuase he would have sat on the ball and run out the clock, down 10 with a minute to go.
  • Based on what I've seen from the first two weeks of the season -- UVA playing pretty well and the rest of the ACC sucking -- I'm thinking about adjusting my expectations for this season.  Coming in, I thought we'd win the VMI and EMU games, and have a good shot at beating Richmond, Duke, and maybe Maryland.  At this point, I think we'll win another game or two somewhere in there.  I think we can beat UNC.  I think we can hang with FSU and BC.  And at this point, who knows about Virginia Tech?  The point is, if we can continue to play tough, inspired football, we'll have our chances to spring some upsets and win some games.
  • This has nothing to do with our game against USC, but I'm happy for JMU.  Sure, that 21-16 win in Blacksburg makes the ACC look like crap, but I think a win like that can be really good for a program like JMU... and it can also be really good for the in-state recruiting efforts for a program like UVA.
  • I'm also happy for Kansas.  Mostly because I want to see Al Groh's 3-4 defense fail at Georgia Tech.  (Hey Man in the Glass, Kansas only mustered 3 points against North Dakota State last week.  Get bent.)

September 10, 2010

Jeff White: No Easy Road

Interrupting football for a quick hoops shout-out, Jeff White delivered the goods with this early season preview piece:

No Easy Road for Men's Hoops in 2010-11

September 7, 2010

Wahooze ACC Picks -- Week Two

Last week: 10-2 (7-4 ATS)


Still worth two TDs apiece.  Count 'em: one-two... three-four.


Duke @ Wake Forest (-6.5)
Here's an interesting early-season ACC matchup.  Neither of these teams are considered frontrunners in the ACC, but both will really need a win in this game in their ultimate pursuit of making a postseason appearance.  I like Wake in this game, but I can see it being a very close, at times sloppy, contest.  27-25, Wake

#15 Georgia Tech (-12.0) @ Kansas
GT rang up a ho-hum 41-10 victory over SC State on Saturday.  Meanwhile, Kansas was busy crapping the bed and losing an embarrassing 6-3 game to North Dakota State.  Yikes.  Mismatch.  I'm sure the Jayhawks will play up to the Yellow Jackets, but I think the Wreck just has too much flexbone firepower.  31-13, GT

JMU @ #13 Virginia Tech (no line)
I feel really sorry for the Dukes.  Tech will take out their frustration over the Boise State game on JMU.  59-6, VT

Kent State @ Boston College (-18.5)
BC was merely solid in their win over Weber State.  Meanwhile, Kent crushed Murray State.  Mighty mite running back Eugene Jarvis is enough to keep the Golden Flashes in this game.  I'm betting Kent State to beat the spread, and to really give Boston College a tough test.  24-21, BC

#17 Florida State @ #10 Oklahoma (-8.5)
From what I was able to see, FSU (and especially Christian Ponder) looked FANTASTIC in week one.  Granted, it was against Samford... but still.  Oklahoma claims to be rebuilt and looking for a national championship this season.  I believe in Landry Jones and DeMarco Murray, and that Boomer Sooner home crowd.  However, 8.5 seems steep.  I like the 'Noles to beat this spread.  33-28, Oklahoma

Presbyterian @ Clemson (no line)
BLUE HOSE!  Upset special!  Just kidding.  63-6, Clemson

#12 Miami @ #2 Ohio State (-9.5)
Since Virginia Tech dropped the ball in the conference's first marquee out-of-conference matchup, the onus now falls on Florida State and/or Miami to rep the ACC in week two.  I think FSU has a chance against Oklahoma, but I'm not buying Miami in the Horseshoe.  I think the Canes are good, and Jacory Harris can lead them to some points, but the Buckeyes are loaded for bear this season and are much too tough at home.  They'll beat this spread, going away.  44-20, Ohio State

Morgan State @ Maryland (no line)
UMD survived their Labor Day game against Navy... but if it weren't for a TON of Midshipmen turnovers in the red zone, the Terps would have been crushed by that triple option attack.  Sure, the Maryland defense might have been pretty good, but to this naked eye it looked like nothing but a bunch of blind luck.  Of course, it doesn't really matter against a creampuff like Morgan State.  35-10, Maryland

NC State @ UCF (-4.0)
Wow, no love for the Wolfpack from the oddsmakers this week.  Central Florida might have a nice team this season, but this is the kind of game that the ACC needs to see its teams win.  I like State to carry the conference's banner this weekend.  Russell Wilson SONIC BOOM!  28-20, NC State

Virginia @ #16 USC (-18.0)
The eternal optimist in me says we have a [slight] chance to win this game outright.  If the Hawaii defenders hadn't been tackling like they were all sharing one arm, the Trojans might have lost in Honolulu last week.  USC's offense is incredible, but their defense seemed porous to me.  Can Marc Verica take advantage?  Is Mike London a better coach than Lane Kiffin?  Maybe, and... YES.  Playing at home, I might be tempted to pick Virginia to win... but on the road, playing a night game in LA... I don't think we really have a chance.  This point spread, however, will be beaten.  38-22, USC

September 5, 2010

Virginia 34, Richmond 13

Great opening season win last night.  I don't have much time to post all of my thoughts (I'm being swept away by Labor Day plans), but here's a quick list of the guys who really impressed me last night:
  • Keith Payne -- Obviously, 114 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns is impressive.  But it was his pile-driving, tackler-carrying pair of 15 yard runs in the 3rd quarter that sold me.  The Payne Train was rumbling through the station last night.
  • LaRoy Reynolds -- If you saw the game, surely you noticed #9 flying all over the field.  I think this guy is going to be a star... and that's going to happen sooner than later.
  • Kris Burd -- Rock solid in catching seven passes for 122 yards and a TD.  His routes were clean and crisp, he consistently got open, and he consistently caught the ball when it came to him.  I really think his star will be born this season.
  • Chase Minnifield -- He acquitted himself well as the #1 corner with Ras-I out of the game.  His INT in the end zone sealed the win.
  • Marc Verica -- He was very Kyle Orton / Trent Dilfer-esque in leading the team and limiting his mistakes.  His TD:INT ratio is 1:0 after one game.  If he can keep this ratio on the good side, I think we'll all be happy with our senior signal-caller.
  • Perry Jones -- He ceded much of the work to the "hot hand" in Keith Payne, but his 74 yards on nine carries (8+ yards per carry) were a sneaky-important part of the offensive engine.
  • Cam Johnson -- Sack #1, and counting...
  • Bill Lazor -- 488 yards of offense and five TDs under his playcalling.  'Nuff said.

September 4, 2010

GO HOOS!

I had a couple more things planned for the blog prior to the UR game, but I ran out of time... so instead, let's just keep it simple...

GO HOOS!

STOMP THE SPIDERS!


September 1, 2010

Wahooze ACC Picks -- Week One

"F-L-O-R-I-D-A-S-T-A-T-E, Florida State, Florida State, woooooooooooo!"


(Point spreads courtesy of Caesar's Palace / Harrah's / Rio.)

Presbyterian @ Wake Forest (no line)
Presbyterian?  The "Blue Hose*?"  This team went 0-11 last year, in a lower division of college football.  Wake in a walk.  49-3, Wake

Florida A&M @ Miami (-39.0)
The U trounced the Rattlers last year, 48-16.  I see more of the same this year... which is (again) not enough to beat that monstrous spread.  48-16, Miami

Samford @ Florida State (-33.0)
Yet another early season tune-up game for an ACC powerhouse.  Samford gave UCF a battle in last year's season opener, and the 'Noles notoriously play down to their competition in these sorts of games.  But still... it's Florida State.  The two chicks pictured above are worth 14 points, each.  And don't forget --- this is Jimbo Fisher's first game at the helm.  He'll want to make a statement.  65-10, FSU

South Carolina State @ Georgia Tech (-30.0)
I'm beginning to feel a little bit embarassed for the ACC's "glamor" teams on opening weekend.  Talk about cupcakes.  At least Virginia Tech is playing a marquee game this weekend.  As for Bulldogs vs. Yellow Jackets... I hope that stupid GT 3-4 defense falls flat.  But it won't.  It'll look great.  And GT will roll.  38-17, GT

Weber State @ Boston College (-22.5)
Grrrrrrr.  34-7, BC

North Texas @ Clemson (-22.0)
At least North Texas is an FBS school.  This game shouldn't be close, as Kyle Parker should easily gun Clem's son to a win.  33-6, Clemson

Western Carolina @ NC State (-30.5)
Guys like Christian Ponder and Tyrod Taylor get the hype, but I like Russell Wilson just as much.  He'll pace State along in this early season bloodletting.  53-13, State

Richmond @ Virginia (-6.0)
6 point favorites in a season opener against a FCS team.  Pretty embarassing.  But hey, Richmond is a pretty damn good FCS team.  This game will be a battle.  I said it back in June and I'll stick by it:  24-16, Virginia

Elon @ Duke (-7.5)
This is a very interesting line to me.  Elon has a pretty good team, and Duke is trying to move forward without Thaddeus Lewis at QB.  I actually like the Phoenix to beat the spread here.  28-24, Duke

LSU (-4.5) vs. North Carolina
Finally, a big game to kick off the ACC season.  These are two schitzophrenic teams -- LSU is up and down under Les Miles and UNC wins the offseason but sputters a bit when the rubber hits the road.  I love the Tarhole defense this year, but LSU always puts superior athletes on the field... on both sides of the ball.  Carolina has a ton of talent (much of it likely to be suspended for academic fraud and/or dabbling with agents), but I just don't see them beating a good SEC team at this point.  34-18, LSU

Navy (-7.0) vs. Maryland
Die Twerps!  I love that Navy is favored in this game.  I'm sure the neutral site helps the spread a little bit, but I honestly think Maryland will end up being the worst team in the conference this season.  Navy, meanwhile, is primed for another 9+ win season.  24-13, Navy

Boise State (-2.5) vs. Virginia Tech
It'll be a veritable home game for the Hokies, but don't forget that Boise returns 21 starters on a team that went 14-0 last season.  Tech's running game will be amazing, and Tirerod will be effective, and that defense is never bad.  This game could be decided on special teams, where VT gets the hype, but where Boise boasts the most success in recent history.  All of my logic tells me to pick the Broncos... but my gut (not to be confused with, but probably associated with my IBS) tells me Tech will win this game.  Yes, picking the Hokies can sometimes give me indigestion.  31-28, VT


* "Blue Hose???"  What the hell?  Of course, I did some internet research.  Apparently, according to the team's media guide, "A Blue Hose is a fierce Scotch-Irish warrior. If you have ever seen the movie Braveheart, you have seen a true Blue Hose."  Gotcha.

No.



Yes.


The line must be drawn HERE.  Go Blue Hose!

Ten for '10


Rodney McLeod: The true key to defensive success in 2010?


A year ago, I presented a list of the ten most important players for the 2009 football team.  That list included some guys who "hit" (Matt Conrath, Rodney McLeod, Robert Randolph, Ras-I Dowling), and some guys who didn't (Torrey Mack, Jared Green, Vic Hall).

Anyway, this is basically my quick take on who the ten most important players are on this year's team.  These are the guys who will ultimately decide if this team is successful on the field.  They are essentially the make or break players for this season.

#10 Joe Torchia -- This team will need safety valves to emerge at the receiver positions.  Kris Burd certainly fits that bill, as does the two-headed fullback of Max Milien and Terence Fells-Danzer.  But an effective tight end is always a QB's best friend, and Torchia has the potential to have a big season.

#9 Nick Jenkins -- He's the stabilizing influence on the d-line, and that probably trickles down to the entire defense.  If Jenkins stays healthy and plays his standard, steady game, the D will be built on a terrific foundation up front.  Low ceiling / high floor players like this are the key to piecing together a consistently effective football team.

#8 Robert Randolph -- I hate placing kickers on this list, but let's face it --- the offense will sputter at times, and games will be won or lost on the leg of the placekicker.  When you're building an offense around a power running Pro-I, there will be times when it gets bogged down in the red zone.  Randolph must deliver on a high percentage of his 3-point tries.  (He connected on 17 of his 19 attempts last season, good for 90%... and plenty good enough for this season as well, if he can duplicate the feat.)

#7 Oday Aboushi -- He's the new starter at right tackle, and might be the best overall talent on the first unit offensive line.  The power run game usually tilts toward the right side of the field, and if 'Boushi is doing work, we will be much more likely to succeed in our primary offensive objective: running the football.

#6 Kris Burd -- I'm coming around on the idea that Burd is our best overall receiver.  As such, he will need to generate some big plays in the passing game if this team is going to overachieve in 2010.  His smarts and great hands will serve him well in that regard.  There are no other wideouts on the team that appear ready to take on the "go-to" role, so it might be Kris Burd or bust.

#5 Raynard Horne -- This is a leap of faith, especially ranking him this high on the list.  That said, the fate of the offense will be heaped upon one of the bellcow-style ballcarriers.  Perry Jones is a change-of-pace guy, so it won't be him.  Horne has (so far) beaten out Dominique Wallace and Keith Payne, so he's on my list of ten.  We'll need one of these backs to grind out games between the tackles, and it looks like the staff favors Horne in that role... for now at least.

#4 Cam Johnson -- The 4-3 defense is predicated on being able to generate a pass rush from the front four.  Cam Johnson is our best pure pass rusher.  Do the math --- if Cam isn't terrorizing QBs, who will?  And if opposing QBs aren't under pressure, the defense will likely crumble.

#3 Rodney McLeod -- He's reportedly coming on as one of the real impact players on the defense. If he can take that next step up and become a star, our secondary could be truly nasty for opposing passing games. Teams won't want to throw at us, and will game plan to keep the ball on the ground, which would allow us to start sliding Corey Mosely up into the box in run support (where he truly excels). It would keep scores low and make games shorter, and it would give us a chance to win some games that maybe we shouldn't be able to win. Thus, McLeod might be the key to unlocking the entire defense's potential. Not just that, but he might be the key to unlocking the entire team's potential.

#2 Marc Verica -- QB1 always will (and should) have a place near the top of the list.  Considering the fact that only FRESHMEN are behind him on the depth chart, you'll likely be able to draw pretty strong and obvious parallels between Verica's success in 2010 and the team's success in 2010.  If he goes belly-up, so will the team.

#1 Ras-I Dowling -- He's our best player by a country mile, so of course he's at the top of the list.  If Ras-I can put together a good season and earn a 1st round draft pick in April, he will help calm the notion that UVA's talent level is down and that the program is flatlined.  He's the one player on the team that I can honestly say is a star player at this point... and that means he has to produce on the field this fall.