July 30, 2012

Bowling & Burgers, 3rd Frame: Special Teams

Third Frame... third phase of the game.  Hot damn, I'm on a roll!  Ha!  "Roll!"  Bowling-themed thing, and I just naturally say "roll."  Do you understand how lucky you are to be able to bask in this brilliance?

The special teams tweet for Nathan:

Special teams were bad last year, but there's renewed focus on the 3rd phase now. New kicker, punter, punt returner = lots of uncertainty.

Let's roll...

  • Finally, FINALLY, we're not stupidly burning scholarships by dangling them to lure kickers to our school.  Of all the things Al Groh did wrong, recruiting kickers with scholarships out of high school was my biggest pet peeve.  Invite a guy to walk on and earn a job, and then offer him a mid-career scholie if he kicks well and deserves it.  That's fine, I have no problem with that.  But feeling the need to burn a scholarship to recruit a kicker out of high school?  Asinine.  Flasha little charisma and sell a guy on the chance to kick for a BCS conference school with the chance to earn a scholarship down the road.  That's what Mike London is doing, and it's the correct way to do it.  Just take a look at the story of [incoming freshman preferred walk-on] Willem Van Reesema's recruitment and the story of [incoming freshman preferred walk-on] Dylan Sims' recruitment.  That's the way recruiting kickers is supposed to play out!  Okay, rant over.
  • Another true freshman, punting prospect Nick Conte, learned how to punt by watching videos on YouTube.  I think that's awesome.
  • In total, we have four "recruited walk-on" true freshman specialists arriving at camp this summer -- Van Reesema, Sims, Conte, and maybe the best of the bunch, punting prospect James Coleman.  Like in the secondary, this looks like a "throw numbers against the wall" situation.  Best of all, none of these guys required scholarships in order to come to UVA.  What a breath of fresh air.  (Dead horse, are you sufficiently beaten?)
  • Obviously, we'll have a lot of legs in training camp, trying to win these jobs.  I like the fact that there is competition.  Hopefully, that means the guys who end up with the jobs will at least be somewhat battle-tested and will have flashed the ability to kick well when it counts the most.  Or... maybe we'll simply be choosing the lesser of a few evils.
  • Ian Frye - the early favorite to win the placekicking job - is a redshirt freshman with a long, powerful, whip-like leg.  At 6-foot-6, he'd be the tallest starting kicker in the entire country.  I like the freak show potential there.  Also, if Frye can take control of the job, we could be looking at a four-year starter.  That'll be a big deal when we need to drill clutch long kicks to win games in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.  I'd really like to see him start down that path this season.
  • It looks like we'll be starting a completely unknown quantity at punter in sophomore Alec Vozenilek.  That said, I've heard that while he doesn't boom his punts, he does at least get them off quickly.   Slow delivery was a problem that plagued Jimmy Howell throughout his career, so it will be nice to see a change in that area.  I'm okay with a pop-gun punting leg, as long as the delivery is quick and compact, and the placement is good.  Booming punts looks pretty, but I'd take a smart coffin corner or sideline hitter any day.  Will Brice excelled at those, and he was the best punter in UVA history.  Anyway, Vozenilek is a different kind of punter than what we've seen from Jimmy Howell, so get ready for a lot of 30-35 yard punts that don't sail past the coverage.
  • I didn't notice any real problems with the snapping or holding operation last season, which means those guys were all doing their jobs well.  Matt Fortin and Jacob Hodges are back for more of the same this season.  Keep the machine quietly purring, gents.
  • Say what you will about his kicking performance, but Robert Randolph's set-up, sashay, and delivery were embarrassing.  I won't miss any of that runway model bullshit.
  • Khalek Sherpherd is a good enough tailback to get some burn in the base offense, but he's stuck behind Perry Jones, Kevin Parks, and Clifton Richardson.  So his best chance to shine is returning kicks... and he's a real weapon in that role, as exhibited last season.  As a sophomore, I'm expecting him to enter Marquis Weeks "run from the cops" territory.
  • Darius Jennings returned a lot of kicks last season, but now he's being asked to assume a much bigger role on offense as a starting wide receiver.  So if he cedes some return work to another young guy, that'd be a good thing (paging a now-healthy E.J. Scott).  That being said, if DJ does return kicks again this season, at least we know he's pretty darn good at doing it.  If it's E.J. Scott that ends up in the spot beside Shepherd, I'm pretty confident in him after he showed great promise prior to his injury last season.

  • New kicker, new punter, likely new punt returner(s)... that's a lot of turnover.  But this unit was not good last year, so I'm okay with the new faces.  The meek shall inherit the earth on this one, but in my mind this earth was scorched and needed inheriting and a little TLC.  Hopefully Frye and Vozenilek can shore things up as brash youngsters.
  • Special teams has been a bugaboo for the program ever since Mike London took charge.  I'd like to think that this is the year things get solidified, but until I see it, I have a hard time believing it.
  • I don't like the way Drew Jarrett bailed out on the program after he failed to win a kicking job, and is now trying to come back.  I won't say I'm pulling against the guy... but I am pulling for other guys over him.  Once a quitter, always a quitter, and we need kickers with some fortitude for, you know, clutch situations.
  • Not sure who will handle kickoffs.  Frye could do it, or he could be asked to focus on field goals, with true freshman Dylan Sims handling kickoff duties.  I list this as a "gutter" because of the uncertainty, but I'm sure either of these two kids can do a great job, especially considering the lame new kickoff rules.  
  • On paper, Dominique Terrell looks like he should be a tremendous weapon on punt returns, with his quickness and change-of-direction skills.  But functionally, he was pretty horrible in the role in 2011.  He was shaky-handed and seemingly unable to make a good decision on when to call a fair catch, when to catch and run, and when to get the heck away from the damn thing.  Hopefully he'll improve dramatically or be replaced in 2012.
  • The fact that our most important offensive weapon, Perry Jones, had to shag punts in key situations is a testament to how bad the punt return operation was last year.  If Superman has to return punts this season, it means something has gone terribly wrong... again.  We can't have him back there risking injury.
  • Our coverage units were very, very pedestrian last season.  That's my nice way of saying they were not good, and only slightly north of bad.  We need to see major improvement in that area this season, as well.
  • Can we please start watching for trick plays run against us on special teams?
  • I'm a little bit sad that my Ras-I Dowling jersey is now an Ian Frye jersey.  #19 belongs on a cornerback, dammit!  Rhonde, Ras-I... Frye?!?  Sonofabitch.

Projected Depth Chart
K) #19 Ian Frye (RS Fr.), #11 Drew Jarrett (Jr.), Willem Van Reesema (Fr.), Dylan Sims (Fr.)
P) #30 Alec Vozenilek (So.), James Coleman (Fr.), Nick Conte (Fr.), Dylan Sims (Fr.)
Holder) #27 Jacob Hodges (Sr.)
KOS) #19 Ian Frye (RS Fr.), Dylan Sims (Fr.)
LS) #45 Matt Fortin (So.), #31 Blake Blaze (So.), #59 Charlie Richards (RS Fr.)
KR) #38 Khalek Shepherd (So.), #6 Darius Jennings (So.), #84 E.J. Scott (So.), Maurice Canady (Fr.), Adrian Gamble (Fr.)
PR) #2 Dominique Terrell (So.), #33 Perry Jones (Sr.), Anthony Cooper (Fr.), Maurice Canady (Fr.), Adrian Gamble (Fr.)


Pierce: The special teams unit is a Filet-o-Fish. It's never looked appealing to me, I don't know anyone who truly supports it, and in terms of being a burger, it needs a lot of work. Who knows, maybe with a new focus, restructuring, and a dedication to improvement, this season's special teams unit will actually have some beef - but I'm not ordering it without proof.

Mike: Special teams is a farty, smelly turdburger. I will believe it is good when I see it. Let Cooper return punts and Shepherd return kicks and hope for the best.

Kendall: Ha, ha, "turdburger."  I like the Filet-o-Fish reference too, and will probably use that as the picture for this section (see above.)  Can't beat either one of those, so I won't even try.  Great job, guys.

Score for the Frame:
Okay, look, our Special Teams unit has not been good.  But as the certain offseason focus, I actually have hope that it will improve this season... just like the defense improved last season after being the point of emphasis.  As far as the already-stretched-thin bowling metaphor, this has to be another open frame.  First roll: 3 pins, thanks to three new kickers!  Second roll: 3 more pins, because I love Khalek Shepherd!  Only 6 for the frame, terrible.  We need to step it up if we want to even break 100!

Score Thru 3 Frames: 30

Bowling & Burgers, 2nd Frame: The Secondary

Second frame... secondary.  Makes sense, right?

The tweet for Nathan:

It's Tra Nicholson and a whole lot of WHO KNOWS??? in the 2012 secondary. There's talent, but it's woefully inexperienced. Toast, anyone?

Now it's time for bowling and burgers!

  • There is a lot of uncertainty in the secondary heading into this season, but one thing is certain -- Tra Nicholson will start at cornerback, and he'll be an impact player for us.  He's only a sophomore, can he be a leader amongst the young defensive backs?  That remains to be seen.  I really like what Pre-Snap Read's Paul Myerberg had to say about Tra:
Is Demetrious Nicholson (60 tackles, 2 interceptions) ready? Is he ready to assume the mantle? Is he next, following in the footsteps of Ras-I Dowling and Chase Minniefield, the program’s most recent stoppers at cornerback? U.Va. hopes so – prays, actually, that Nicholson can play beyond his youth and give this defense the all-A.C.C. cornerback it needs on the outside. My only issue with Nicholson isn’t with his talent, because he most certainly has all-conference ability; I’m just worried that as a true sophomore, he’s not quite ready for taking on every team’s top receiver. 
One thing you know: Nicholson is going to get better every week.
  • The secondary is the "talent dump" area on the team.  What I mean by that is that it seems like the coaching staff is content to recruit a lot of lower-rated, darkhorse type of talent, raw speed/athleticism athletes with no set position, and simply slot those guys in the secondary.  Our staff is throwing numbers at the wall to see what sticks.  I list this as a positive, because I like the approach --- if you're athletic and can run, and if you're willing tom work hard and hone your craft, you can have a future as a defensive back.  Guys like Maurice Canady, Pablo Alvarez, Demeitre Brim, Divante Walker, and Wil Wahee were all relatively positionless coming out of high school, yet all are athletic and can run.  Not all will stick, but enough will.  And heck, maybe some of them will even emerge as stars at some point in the future.
  • I'm bullish on Ant Harris this season.  I think he'll quickly put one of the starting safety spots in a stranglehold this summer, and give us an instant upgrade over Corey Mosley in 2012.
  • I'm also a bit bullish on Rijo Walker.  I don't think he's really a safety, and I wish we had the experienced depth to slot him as the nickel specialist, but I think he's got ability and I think he'll be a plus-level centerfielder-type cover safety... something we've lacked for a few years here at UVA.
  • Speaking of nickel specialist, that's the role I predict for Brandon Phelps this season.  I think he'll excel in that sort of role, where he's free to focus on a few specific situations and assignments while he continues to learn the nuances of playing in the defensive secondary.
  • I have a good gut feeling about Mason Thomas.  Not sure why.  Maybe it's just wishful thinking and optimism.  I did like what I saw from him in the Spring Game.  Seems like a solid, no-frills, blue collar guy.
  • We added a couple of under-the-radar true cornerbacks in the 2012 recruiting class -- Kelvin Rainey and C.J. Moore.  I like the "talent dump" approach in the secondary, but I also like recruiting a few guys who know the cornerback position already and expect to play there.  Raw athletes tend to develop faster / better at safety.

  • As good as Tra is, he's still a small guy at just 5-11, 165.  Bigger receivers will be able to post him up, and with such a small frame, Tra could be injury-prone if he's asked to play too many snaps.  Not a great situation for your only vaguely known commodity in the secondary.
  • The inexperience we have in the secondary scares me.  If we can't establish a consistent pass rush - a very distinct possibility - I fear we'll be seeing a lot of young guys blowing coverage and yielding big plays on the reg.  That shit costs you games.  The passing offenses of Louisiana Tech and Duke specifically could give us problems in games we should otherwise win.
  • Two former walk-ons - Drequan Hoskey and Brendan Morgan - figure to have prominent roles in the rotation this season.  I'm not a talent snob, not by any means, but Hoskey is a track guy learning the cornerback position on the fly and Morgan came from out of nowhere.  The fact that they are both expected to crack the two-deep speaks volumes about where we are right now in this area of the field.
  • Some true freshmen are going to have to play this season.  You'd like to be able to redshirt all of these raw athletes, but that's not a luxury we can afford right now.  Some will 'shirt, but some will have to play.  Not ideal.
  • There is a lot of smoke around Kameron Mack right now.  Is he a potential transfer?  That would be a shame, because I really like the kid's size (6-5, 205) in the strong safety role.  Stay tuned on this one...

Projected Depth Chart
CB) #1 Demetrious "Tra" Nicholson (So.), #23 Brendan Morgan (So.), Maurice Canady (Fr.), C.J. Moore (Fr.)
FS) #27 Rijo Walker (Jr.), #41 Pablo Alvarez (So.), #43 Kameron Mack (So.)
SS) #28 Anthony Harris (So.), #46 Mason Thomas (RS Fr.), #31 Kyrrel Latimer (RS Fr.), Demeitre Brim (Fr.)
CB) #22 Drequan Hoskey (So.), #21 Brandon Phelps (So.), Divante Walker (Fr.), Wil Wahee (Fr.), Kelvin Rainey (Fr.)


Pierce: Going into this season, the secondary is like ordering a burger at a hole in the wall place in the middle of nowhere. You've been driving all day, you don't know exactly where you are, and you don't know exactly what to expect except for one thing: it'll be beef between two buns and probably greasy. The Hoos know the basic parts will be there, but with the youth and inexperience, no one can be sure of the quality. This burger might be a fantastic hidden gem - a unheralded family recipe that stacks up with the famous and delicious Five Guys - or you could get stuck with a weeks-frozen poorly-prepared plate of garbage. 

Mike: Our 2012 secondary is a Boylan Heights burger. Initially you think it sucks, but with some work and putting the right ingredients together it becomes tolerable. Tra is the extra $3 avacado on top, and the rest is a total crap shoot. It could be great. Or the bun could be terrible and the burger could be burnt. But regardless, like a Boylan burger, it will be overpriced (or "over-scrutinized" for purposes of this metaphor.)

Kendall: A thin, hard-fried burger, slightly charred, between two pieces of toast.  Tra Nicholson is the delicious chipotle mayo and bacon draped on the top that make this thing taste pretty good, but at the end of the day this burger is unfortunately burned.

Score for the Frame:
Tra has to represent a solid 7 pins on the first roll.  He's a good player and should get better... rapidly.  But the second roll is a gutterball, due the inexperience across the entire secondary.  Ant Harris, Rijo Walker, Drequan Hoskey, and Brandon Phelps could each be good players and solid starters, but how likely is it that all four will be?  And how likely is it that they'll all be good this season, in their first taste of extended action?  Those odds are long, and realistically, this ball is clunking into the gutter as one or more of those guys prove themselves not quite ready for primetime and holes open up along our secondary.  Some of these guys will be good, some will be pedestrian, we just don't know who.  And if injury hits... the depth is even more green.  Sorry everyone, but the secondary is a real area of concern in 2012.

Score Thru 2 Frames: 24

July 27, 2012

Bowling & Burgers, 1st Frame: The O-Line

Hey, it all starts up front, right?

But before we begin with dissecting the offensive line for this upcoming season, here's the tweet for Nathan:

Left to right across the starting o-line: A-, C, C, C+, A. It's a good line, but needs to demonstrate some power up the middle.

Okay, on to the bowling and burgers!

  • First and foremost, [starting left tackle] Oday Aboushi and [starting right tackle] Morgan Moses are both beasts who will eventually be playing on Sundays.  Big Mo, especially, and especially if he sticks at RT and is drafted as such.  The line is beyond fine at the bookends, as we potentially have the best pair of starting tackles in the ACC.
  • The depth chart is back to being fully stocked after taking a dangerous dip at the end of the Al Groh era.  Names like Jay Whitmire, Kelby Johnson, Cody Wallace, Ross Burbank, Conner Davis, Andre Miles-Redmond, Mike Mooney, Sean Karl, and Ryan Doull will battle for spots in the two-deep this season, and they will battle for starting jobs later in their UVA careers.  I finally feel like we have an adequate pipeline of OL talent flowing into the program.
  • Luke Bowanko gives us an interesting swingman talent on the interior of the offensive line.  He was the starter at right guard last season, but is getting a long look at center this offseason.  I met Luke's parents at least year's Spring Game, great people.  I'm thus a big Luke Bowanko fan, and I think he gives us the ability to get out in space to offer a very nice pulling option, which in turn unlocks a world of playcalling in the run game.  Look back at last year's Miami game and all the times #70 was 10, 15, 20 yards downfield throwing himself around -- he helped spring two long touchdowns in that game, and it's the kind of thing you need from your linemen in order to break those big plays.
  • Kelby Johnson is a reserve I will be paying an extra bit of attention to this training camp and when he gets into game this fall.  With Oday graduating and Mo very likely headed to the NFL, we'll need to be replacing both starting tackles next season.  Kelby Johnson is a big part of that succession plan.

  • As good as Oday Aboushi is and as much as he's a "complete" OL talent and a legit pro prospect, I feel like he's a little bit ordinary when it comes to pass pro.  His feet are not quite quick enough to grade out as an elite-level pass blocker, and that's what will push his stock down into the late-middle rounds next April.
  • We'll have some untested players filling key roles on the interior, especially [projected starting left guard] Sean Cascarano and [projected starting center] Matt Mihalik.  We need these guys to step up, and we need them to play NASTY despite their inexperience.  Can they provide a real push in crunch time?  That, to me, is the big question this offensive line faces.
  • Last year, the line was good, but wilted against the better defensive lines of Virginia Tech and Auburn.  Can our current unit step up and deliver the push we'll need in order to be able to run against those types of opponents in 2012?  If we can't run the ball against those sorts of teams, the whole offense will fall apart.
  • Beyond Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses, we don't have any 4- or 5-star recruits along the offensive line.  Plenty of bedrock-type talent and lots of high 3-star guys, but no elite prospects.  This doesn't matter a whole lot on the offensive line (where player development and skill is generally more important than raw talent), but you still would like to see a top-tier talent or two (or three, or four) along the offensive front if you're hoping to take the step up to Big Boy Football and be able to blow defensive lines off the line line of scrimmage.
  • If Mo goes pro after this season, we'll only have two returning starters - Cascarano and Bowanko - along the o-line in 2013.  Not ideal.

Projected Depth Chart
LT) #72 Oday Aboushi (Sr.), #75 Kelby Johnson (So.)
LG) #79 Sean Cascarano (Jr.), #61 Cody Wallace (So.)
C) #71 Matt Mihalik (Sr.), #65 Ross Burbank (RS Fr.)
RG) #70 Luke Bowanko (Jr.), #74 Conner Davis (So.), #69 Tim Cwalina (RS Fr.)
RT) #78 Morgan Moses (Jr.), #77 Jay Whitmire (RS Fr.)


Pierce: If the offensive line were a burger, then the tackles would, at first glance, be the buns. This metaphor makes sense in a spacial reasoning sort of comparison: the tackles sit on either end of the line, book-ending the entire group, much like the buns hold together the burger and its toppings. However, the tackles are clearly the most important part of the OLine, and as such, are actually the ground meat patties of the OLineburger. Our patties are top notch, cooked perfectly with the right amount of seasoning (experience!). Damnit this metaphor makes little sense but now I'm hungry. Moses and Aboushi could start for any team in the country and now it's lunch time.

Mike: O-line is a Riverside Burger. Always good, Always delicious, easily best in town, but doesn't quite fill you up when you really need it to. See last two games of the season. The OL is our most talented unit but seems to fall on its face in big spots. I'd still eat the shit out of it though. That sounds odd and now I am hungry.

Kendall: To me, this year's o-line is like the burger you'd buy in a fancy French hotel.  Served on the most delicious, crusty baguette you've ever tasted, it's still lacking a little beef - and personality - on the inside.  The meat is there, but it's not particularly flavorful.  Luke Bowanko is a little blast of mustard to help make things a bit more zippy.

Score for the Frame:
Spare!  The tackles are great, the interior is a bit of a question mark.  Nice talent top to bottom on this unit, but much of it is untested and all of it is just a shade below elite.  Can the young guys step up in training camp and solidify things?  Or is this a unit that will - like last year - make hay against the bad/mediocre/middling teams and struggle against the good teams?  The offensive line is not an area of worry for me this season, but I also don't think it's one of those strengths that can elevate us beyond the 6-7-8 win plateau.

Score Thru 1 Frame: 10

July 25, 2012

Season Preview - Penn State

Wahooze 2012 Season Preview moves right along this week to Virginia's second home game of the season against the visiting...oh god damnit. Really? What in the hell am I supposed to say here?

Saturday, September 8th

Well...this is awkward.

I'm not really going to get into my thoughts or feelings on the whole Penn State disaster here, as I'm sure everyone's read enough about it. But go ahead a mark me down in the "not feeling sorry for rapists and those who cover up such atrocities" camp. By all means, feel free to argue with me in the comments. But for now, let's discuss the Nittany Lions football team (or what potentially will be left of it).

Penn State's roster could undergo some serious changes in the upcoming weeks, as every player is immediately eligible to transfer without penalty. That could lead to an exodus of talent, particularly from those with plenty of remaining eligibility. However, star running back Silas Redd has already decided to remain in Happy Valley before the NFL, so if others follow his lead, the team may remain as competitive as it was before the sanctions. This won't last, but I'd expect this year's PSU team to win plenty of games. Will one of those games be in Charlottesville? That will depend on the following:

New Head Coach Bill O'Brien inherits a team with plenty of both talent and holes in the depth chart and, of course, the effects of the scandal and subsequent sanctions. Assuming most of the star players remain on the team, Silas Redd leads an offense with a loaded crew of running backs, including Redd, Curtis Dukes, and Bill Belton. Look for O'Brien to rely heavily on the tight ends as well, as the roster includes plenty of good ones, including Kevin Haplea, Garry Gilliam, and incoming recruit/Virginia target Brent Wilkerson. O'Brien used tight ends heavily last year in New England, but he also had Tom Brady throwing the ball to them. Penn State's biggest weakness on offense this year may be at quarterback, as former-walk-on Matt McGloin is no Tom Brady. He's no Mike Rocco, even. The tight end position might be more important to O'Brien this year, as they're going to need to block for whichever subpar QB starts, open space for the running backs, as well as play safety net in the receiving corps.

On defense, the Lions will rely on an experienced and talented group at linebacker, led by Michael Mauti and Khairi Fortt. The defensive line is thin and inexperienced and the secondary is in even worse shape. Yes, the team recruited very well last year, so potential young star players might arise this summer in camp, but it would be an extreme leap of faith, especially considering the possible attrition, to assume the PSU D will be anything but mediocre early in the season. O'Brien is an offense guy, their holdover from the previous administration, Larry Johnson, is a recruiter more than d-line coach, and the new coordinator is Ted (Former Duke Head Coach) Roof. I don't see this being a good year for Linebacker U on defense. That being said, the namesake position is stocked, so there is potential for decent play. Hopefully, Virginia's offense is clicking as well as it did at times last season and the Hoos can light it up at home.

Though before the sanctions most pundits were probably going to give the edge to PSU, I think the distraction and attrition from the scandal will be enough to swing most predictions towards UVA. That being said, this is definitely a loseable game for the Hoos. The offense must be sharp, regardless of who's starting at QB and the young defense will need to step up their play after only having one game against FCS for experience. The game will probably be more of an indication of where UVA is as a team than PSU: If Virginia is in solid shape by early September, they should win. If they don't, we're looking at a very disappointing season.

Early Prediction: Hoos 23 Lions 20

July 24, 2012

Pre-Snap Read's Virginia Football Preview

Juicy link for you today, courtesy of the fantastic college football blog, Pre-Snap Read:

A little lip-whetting teaser...
Here’s one thing to love about Mike London: he’s not intimidated by expectations. When told that most expected Virginia to finish last in the Coastal division heading into 2010, London replied, “We’ve got ‘em right where we want ‘em.” Throughout last season, as the Cavaliers added narrow upon narrow win to reach bowl play, London never seemed surprised by his team’s success; it was merely part of the “process,” which is one of his favorite words. This process continues in 2012, with a slight change. Instead of sneaking up on the A.C.C., Virginia will be expected to battle Virginia Tech for not only in-state supremacy but also a spot in the conference title game. The Al Groh-era teams, based on history, would have failed to reach these lofty expectations. Even if it’s too early to anoint Virginia as the league’s next in line, we can say one thing with certainty about these Cavaliers: they won’t shy away from the challenge.

July 19, 2012

Wahooze Roundtable: QB Controversy?

You're not new to the internet or reading about sports, you know how these things work.

The question:

Mike Rocco / Phillip Sims / David Watford... How should Coach London approach and attack the decision on how to distribute playing time at the quarterback position in 2012, and what are the specific implications of his decision(s)?

Pierce: Well it wouldn't be a UVA offseason if we didn't have a three-man QB controversy. All three deserve a fair shot. But Watford might be the first to be named "definite backup." So you're looking at the coaches having to provide Rocco (1st) and Sims (2nd) with enough time and practice with the first team personnel to (hopefully) determine a clear starter by kickoff on Sept 1st. That's the best-case scenario, but one that's unlikely to happen.

Kendall: I disagree that all three deserve a fair shot. I think David Watford deserves a redshirt. Frankly, I wouldn't be heartbroken if he transferred out in search for more playing time. I'd dislike the thought that we recruited over him and I'd hate to see that Hampton bridge burned, but (IMHO) the guy does not have the passing skills OR the running ability to be an impact player at this level. That said, he was a true freshman last season, so he could develop. I just didn't see the raw tools last season, or in the spring game.

Sorry so harsh. But if we want to play Big Boy Football, we can't carry so many marginal talents on the 85-scholarship roster. Especially at a quarterback position that now has five players, with two more arriving in 2013.

Anyway, we should be focusing on Rocco and Sims right now. At best, Watford is the 3rd stringer, ideally a redshirt candidate to help set him up for his one season as the potential starter, in 2015.

Mike: Agreed. I think the best move for Watford is to transfer to ODU and usher that program into the FBS. In fact, I would love to see that. The kid deserves a shot, he just got swept up in all this Phillip Sims business. It really comes down to better talent coming in. I don't think pushing Watford to the bench burns the Hampton bridge necessarily, who knew Sims would transfer in here? This is a conversation London needs to have with Watford to determine what's best for him, which quite frankly is the kind of conversation that makes parents trust Coach London with their sons.

However our starting QB is going to be Sims by the end of the season. I like Mike Rocco, but if we want to put on our big boy pants we need a blue chip QB. Sims is a blue chip QB. I think once he gets the playbook down the job becomes his, mostly based on how Rocco played when he was looking over his shoulder at Watford last season. I could be (and really hope) I am wrong on this, but to me it looked like Rocco played amazingly better when he knew the job was just his. Having Sims as his backup will either make Rocco rise to the occasion, or cripple him.

Pierce: The implications of London's decision are potentially massive, both in terms of team chemistry / leadership and the performance on the field. If there's any perceived slighting of Rocco among his teammates, you can bet that'll affect those player's attitudes, performance, and Sims' ability to gain the team's trust. On the other hand, if Rocco starts and falters in any way, fans are going to be calling nonstop for Sims. But all team / fan / coaching drama aside, the biggest implication to come from this decision at the quarterback decision is how many wins the team will gain from it. Win games, it all falls into place.

Kendall: You made a great point, Pierce -- as Rocco emerged as the starting quarterback last season, his teammates bought in to his ability and leadership. Phillip Sims won't be able to stack up his recruiting hype and blue chip status against Rock's sway in the locker room, and at the end of the day, leadership is a core responsibility of the quarterback position.

Sims has to learn the playbook - albeit not a terribly difficult proposition, given the pro-style system he worked within at Alabama - and he also has to out-play Rocco (and I mean clearly out-play him) in training camp. He also has to win over his teammates. And he has just this summer to accomplish those things. No small feat.

That's why the smart money is on Rocco starting the season opener against Richmond. And if you believe - as I do - that Watford is running third in this race, the situation will essentially boil down to how and when Coach London finds playing time for Sims, and how quickly he comes with the hook if/when Rocco struggles.

What do you guys think are reasonable substitution patterns, given this situation?

Mike: They absolutely cannot do a repeat of last year. If Rocco is the guy, he needs to be the guy. They need to use Sims like a typical back-up QB, and have him come in for mop up duty, or if Rocco is playing terrible. We saw the problems last year with Watford playing at random points, and that is a movie I don't need to see again. If I had to guess I would think that we will see Sims first appear in the TCU game, and depending on how he plays, he will take over completely at some point. That four game chunk in the middle third of the season (Louisiana Tech, @ Duke, Maryland, Wake) are games we HAVE to win if we want to get to a bowl, and if Rocco struggles during that stretch, that's when the full-time switch to Sims will occur.

Pierce: Mike is spot on. In no way would it be beneficial to have a repeat of last year's QB shuffling. Whoever's named the starter should play as such and the backup can come in for garbage time or an injury. Yes, there will be times where we'll want to see what Sims can do, if he's the back up, but doing the whole rotation thing is idiotic. Hopefully our coaches think the same way.

Kendall: I don't think our coaches think the same way, and honestly, our starting QB shouldn't be so fragile that he can't cede a scripted possession or two to his backup who possesses a different skill set. I don't think you guys give Rock enough credit. Once he took the reins fully and Watford took his rightful seat on the bench, Mike Rocco was forever changed. He's become confident in himself and his abilities, and to borrow an AI Grohism, he has experienced demonstrated performance. I have confidence in Mike Rocco now, and I think he has confidence in himself. Therefore, I think a scripted set rotation can - and will! - work for us this season.

Mike London knows you can't very well uncork a full-blown quarterback battle if the starter is two years entrenched and the challenger hasn't played in three years. [Barring injury to Rocco] if Phillip Sims is going to be our starting quarterback at any point before the 2014 season, it has to be through beating out Rocco in training camp this summer (not freaking likely) or by taking the job from him during the season. He can't take the job from Rocco in any sort of fairness if Rock gets the hook in a game in which he struggles. To me, that just stinks of pre-ordainment, and that's the kind of thing that would create a rift among the current players and give our enemies traction in their claims that Coach London has a 757 bias.

Pierce: Absolutely, Mike Rocco is a better and more confident quarterback than he was the first half of last year - but I think the fact that he improved so much after the rotation was shelved is a clear indication of how detrimental the rotation was. Was it ever necessary? Probably not. I'm not saying a rotation is going to see Rocco revert back to his early form, or even revert at all, but it's not going to help. It wouldn't help Sims either. The one thing the coaches need to do is determine a QB1 early and stick with it. Unless performance dictates a change, don't make one in the middle of the game.

I think there will be enough practice time to know which guy is the best guy to put out there - and it's entirely possible, even likely, that will start out as Mike Rocco and eventually become Phillip Sims - but let that get hashed out during practice, not during the 2nd quarter of a game.

Kendall: The fans are going to demand Phillip Sims.  If the decision is Mike Rocco, will Coach London be able to stick to his guns?  What if we start out 1-3 after dropping games to Penn State, Georgia Tech, and TCU?  I don't want to see Mike Rocco shelved for losing a battle to defend his job in training camp, but I also don't want to see him booed off the field forever.

In the end, I really like what David Teel said. "Mike Rocco is empowered by incumbency." I couldn't agree more. Phillip Sims is the better talent, but Mike Rocco might be the better quarterback for the University of Virginia... at least for right now.

My guess is that Rock leads us to a win over Penn State and narrow losses at Georgia Tech and TCU.  He hangs on to his job - barely - and then makes hay during that four-game stretch Mike mentioned.  Once he takes the team to a 5-3 or 6-2 start, the job will be his through the rest of his career.

The pivotal game is the second game of the season, home against Penn State.  If Rocco beats the Nits, my guess is that he's our starter through 2013.  If he loses that game, the hook is coming at some point against GT or TCO, and the Sims era begins in earnest.

July 16, 2012

Syracuse to the ACC... soon!

In 11.5 months...

In 50 weeks...

In 350 days...

Syracuse will - officially - join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

From ESPN: Syracuse to bolt for ACC next July.

This means a similar timeframe will likely be in place for Pittsburgh, once they wade through their ongoing litigation with the Big East.

The Cuse is joining the Atlantic Division, with FSU, Clemson, NC State, Maryland, Wake, and BC.  Pitt is joining us, along with VT, UNC, Duke, Miami, and GT in the Coastal.

This impacts Virginia because it means we're picking up a game against the Panthers in 2013 (and every season thereafter), and the inter-division conference scheduling rhythm is disturbed.

This was our conference schedule prior to the addition of the two new schools:

2013 -- Home: Clemson, GT, Duke, VT; Away: Maryland, Wake, UNC, Miami
2014 -- Home: Maryland, BC, UNC, Miami; Away: Clemson, GT, Duke, VT
2015 -- Home: FSU, GT, Duke, VT; Away: Maryland, BC, UNC, Miami

Go ahead and erase all of that, or at least the games against the Atlantic division teams that I noted in bold.  We were scheduled to have Wake Forest on the schedule in 2013, Clemson in 2013 and 2014, Boston College in 2014 and 2015, and Florida State in 2015.  Now, who knows?  Syracuse has to have a spot in that inter-division rotation.  With the ACC expanding its regular season to nine conference games instead of eight, there will still be two spots for that rotation, after the six intra-division games (for us, VT, UNC, Duke, GT, Miami, Pitt) and the inter-division rivalry game (Maryland).  So we'll play two of Syracuse, Florida State, Wake Forest, NC State, Clemson, and Boston College every season, on some sort of rotation.

ACC Scheduling Gods, hear me!  Keep FSU and Clemson the hell away from us in 2013.  That's our best chance for a real breakthrough (read: 10+ win) campaign, and it'd help if we got relative cupcakes in Wake, Syracuse, or BC, as opposed to the Seminoles and/or Tigers.  Swap Clemson out for Syracuse in our originally-planned 2013 schedule, and I promise I'll go to church more often.

(Note: We're already scheduled to play @ Penn State, vs. Ball State, vs. UTSA, and vs. VMI in 2013.  I'm guessing the VMI game drops off of that schedule to accomodate the nine-game ACC slate.)

July 14, 2012

Mike Scott's first summer league game...

...was a sputtering, inconsistent, shaky, up-and-down, 7-point, 6-rebound, 6-foul, 5-turnover performance in 27 minutes of action in a 102-82 win for the Hawks over the Wizards.

In the game, I learned that...

...NBA summer league games are nearly unwatchable. Really, really ugly.

...Mike Scott was really, REALLY jacked up for his first summer league game, and thus got frustrated quickly by a lack of touches.

...he's short for an interior role, and will need to move better without the ball and on defense to match up with these superior athletes.  His body looks more like a big 3 than a 4, but he's just not a wing player in terms of athletic ability.

...he seems desperate to prove his worth to his new employer. That's easy to understand.  First game, you're over-eager to impress.

...he can in fact hang with this level of competition.  It wasn't a good game, but it wasn't all bad.

...Keith Benson and John Jenkins will be playing in the NBA this season.

...for my money, John Jenkins > Bradley Beal. Jenkins isn't the athlete Beal is, but he's a better shooter and frankly a better player. Athleticism translates to the pro game, but the NBA wildly overvalues upside and potential, in my opinion. Give me Jenkins - a guy who can already do what Beal aspires to - any day.

...the Hawks have some decent young talent (Benson, Jenkins, Scott, Brad Wanamaker, Frank Hassell, and Elijah Millsap all looked good), and beyond Beal and Chris Singleton, the Wizards do not.

Knowing Mike like we do, I think it's a safe assumption that his second game will be light years better than his first game, which was a struggle due to obvious pressing.  He has a unique game, and I'm still sold on his ability as a pick and pop specialist at the NBA level.  The problem is that he'll have to make the team based on his work in the summer league, and these summer league games are every-man-for-himself free-for-alls more than they are team basketball.  Mike's game and skill set revolve around the team concept... so I'm a little bit nervous about his fate right now.  Still confident that he'll show enough, and that the Hawks need him, but this wasn't a very good start to his crusade to make their roster.

Box Score and Videos: Hawks 102, Wizards 82

Poke it HERE for the (surprisingly good) NBA Summer League website.  Check out the "Rookie Ladder" for a really interesting, compelling way the league is presenting the relative success or failure of the rookies in summer league action.  (John Jenkins is currently ranked #7 while Bradley Beal is #9.  Just sayin'.)

July 13, 2012

'Tough Decisions' at Quarterback

Here's a good piece from David Teel on what the Phillip Sims addition means to the team and how it could impact the depth chart at quarterback.

Teel Time: With Sims eligible this season, UVa coach London faces 'tough decisions' at quarterback

I'd encourage reading that column, as it contains a lot of quotes from Coach London, from which we will riff as we break down the Sims implications in a point/counterpoint forum-style post we're working on here at Wahooze.  Stay tuned...

July 12, 2012

It is so !@#$%&ing on...

From ESPN, UVA's Phillip Sims Granted Waiver:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Quarterback Phillip Sims has been granted a waiver to play at Virginia this season.

The school says it was informed by the NCAA of the decision Wednesday.
Sims played in eight games as a redshirt freshman at Alabama in 2011, then transferred to Virginia in May. When he left Alabama, Sims issued a statement saying he needed to be closer to home to support his family.
He was among the highest rated quarterbacks in the country coming out of Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake in 2010. He had a 48-4 record and set state records with 10,725 yards passing and 119 touchdown passes.
Coach Mike London says he is pleased to have the matter resolved. Sims is expected to be able to compete for the starting job against incumbent Michael Rocco and sophomore dual-threat David Watford.
Sims has three years of eligibility remaining.

Now, I could see this playing out in one of three basic ways:

1) Via more experience and mastery of Bill Lazor's playbook, Mike Rocco beats Sims out for the starting job in training camp but Sims emerges as the top backup.  Watford - with no clear path to playing time until his 5th year senior season in 2015 - transfers.  Rock goes on to have another very good season, with Sims excelling in mop-up duty to force an all-out quarterback competition in the spring.

2) Mike Rocco beats Sims out for the starting job in training camp but Sims emerges as the top backup.  Watford - with no clear path to playing time until his 5th year senior season in 2015 - transfers.  Whenever Rock throws an interception, fans hem and haw for Sims.  Looking over his shoulder like he did during the first half of the 2011 season, Rocco struggles, and Sims takes the job sometime around midseason, never to relinquish it until his eligibility is exhausted.

3) Sims beats out Rocco for the starting job in training camp.  Rocco - not wanting to be a career backup after starting all of last season - transfers.  For better or worse, we sink or swim with an inexperienced Phillip Sims under center to start the season.  After playing through some hiccups against Richmond, Sims settles in and guides us to a win over Penn State and a run of unparalleled success over the next three seasons.

All that matters right now is this: Phillip Sims is the most talented quarterback we've had on roster since at least Aaron Brooks, and maybe since Shawn Moore.  The cream will rise to the top.  But how Mike London handles this situation will go a long way toward determining the coach's ultimate success or failure at UVA.

July 11, 2012

2012's Mixed Metaphor

In 2009, the mixed metaphor was football and boxing, with the wildly popular and successful Fight Card series.

In 2010, the mixed metaphor was football and horse racing, with the unbelievably awesome Trifecta Box series.

In 2011, the mixed metaphor was football and Monopoly, with the incredible and inspiring Monopoly Properties series.

2012's mixed metaphor for our mind-numbingly brilliant position-by-position football preview is going to be last-year's top vote-getter -- BOWLING!

Rookie, Nathan, and Paulie, you wish is my command... albeit 12 months later.

The format will actually be "Bowling and Burgers," and will feature the following segments for each position:

  • Frame
  • Tweet for Nathan -- call this the Cliff's Notes version, 140 character summary of the position
  • 1st Roll -- the starter(s)
  • 2nd Roll -- the depth chart
  • Score for the Frame
  • Burgers! -- as provided by commentary by Mike and Pierce, with a burger-themed grade for the relative quality of that position group
  • Handicap -- a quick look at the position group projecting to 2013

Still gotta let this marinate a little bit, but it's taking shape rapidly.

Get excited, Wahooze Nation.  We're about to uncork something stinky.

July 9, 2012

Season Preview - University of Richmond

Hello there, friends. It may be hard to believe it, but we are less than two months from opening kickoff in Charlottesville. We here at Wahooze are getting ready to roll out a ton of preview content in the coming weeks including our expectations/guesses for the team, position-specific looks, our wishlist for the season, and a few other surprises - but today, we dive into team previews for this season's opponents. Up first - the University of Richmond Spiders.

Saturday, September 1st

Ah, the esteemed tradition of beginning the year with a Division 1AA FCS opponent. UVa has recently moved passed the era of "We Should Be Concerned Because We Could Lose This Game" when scheduling FCS teams, but is still squarely in "This is a Smart First Game" territory. Frankly, as excited people are about this year's team coming off a surprising 8-win season, there a whole lot of things to work out if the Hoos are going to challenge for the Coastal Division title again. We'll detail these at length soon, but for now, know that this team is going to benefit in a big way from beginning the year with four quarters of game action against an opponent with which they should have no trouble.

Mike London's former team is coming off a 3-8 (0-8 in conference) year in the tougher-than-you-may-think Colonial Athletic Association. While they couldn't handle the likes of ODU and William and Mary, the Spiders did start last year with a W over Duke. That result, combined with Virginia's too-recent habit of playing poorly against inferior opponents, should have Mike London & Co. taking the U of R quite seriously. That being said, Richmond was not a good team last year and while I do think they'll improve under new HC Danny Rocco (formerly of Liberty - current uncle of QB Mike Rocco) the first game of their year will be their toughest to win.

Coach Rocco's team includes senior stars RB Kendall Gaskins and LB Darius McMillan, but is looking to replace Aaron Corp at QB, as well as eight other starters. At captain, the Spiders have a veteran back-up QB in John Laub and former Georgia Tech starter Cooper Taylor at DB. There is some talent on both sides of the ball and Danny Rocco is an enormous upgrade in the head coaching spot from Latrell Scott, but this should be a one-sided game for the Cavs. If Phillip Sims does get the ok from the NCAA to play, look for the Hoos to use the game as a gradual warm up to the playbook for the new QB, but if Mike Rocco's under center, the score could get out of hand early. Richmond simply doesn't have the size or speed to keep up with the talent on Virginia's roster, so Mike London's squad should get four quarters of live game experience to prepare for Penn State.

Early Prediction: Hoos 38 Spiders 7

July 6, 2012

Mike Scott and the Hawks

As you probably know by now (shame on you if you missed it), Mike Scott was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 43rd selection in last Thursday's NBA draft.

The 2nd round pick doesn't give Mike a guaranteed contract; he'll have to make the team this summer in order to get paid.  But with the Hawks in salary-dump mode right now, blowing up their middling roster in attempt to free up cap space for a hard charge at the 2013 free agent class, Mike finds himself as one of the Hawks' few playable assets heading into the 2012-13 season.  Take a look at their current roster, post Joe Johnson trade to the Nets and Marvin Williams trade to the Jazz:

PG) Devin Harris, Jeff Teague
SG) Anthony Morrow, John Jenkins
SF) DeShawn Stevenson
PF) Josh Smith, Jordan Williams, Mike Scott, Ivan Johnson
C) Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, Johan Petro

No doubt this roster remains in flux, but one thing jumps off the screen at me: A GIANT, SUCKING HOLE AT SMALL FORWARD.  DeShawn Stevenson is pretty much worthless, and while Josh Smith might be able to log some minutes as a big 3, and/or the team could go with a three-guard look with Teague and Harris both on the floor together, I still see this roster as being very wing-poor.  The question then becomes: Can Mike Scott - an NBA "tweener" at the 3/4 position - grab some meaningful minutes off the wing in his typical stretch 4 role and make an impact?

Going into the draft process, I imagined Mike would land somewhere where he'd be expected to come off the bench at the 4 as an offensive-minded reserve, maybe as a 9th or 10th man in a rotation.  A pick and pop weapon who could snare some rebounds, nothing more.  But now I'm not so sure he won't get an opportunity to show that his shooting range can extend beyond 17 feet and that his floor game can grow past  simple catch and shoot or moves in the post.


Meanwhile, here's what Bret Lagree from the really good TrueHoop Network Hawks site Hoopinion had to say about the Mike Scott draft pick:

Regardless of identity, it is unreasonable to expect anything from the 43rd pick in the draft. Mike Scott does not figure to challenge that precept. Successful as a fifth-year senior at Virginia, Scott turns 24 in a couple of weeks. He's just two years younger than Marvin Williams and Al Horford. There's little precedent of a power forward draftee of any age succeeding in the NBA with the poor athleticism markers evident in the stats from Scott's excellent senior season. Scott averaged just one blocked shot and 1.4 steals per 100 on-court defensive possessions. He rebounded less than ten percent of Virginia's misses.

It's difficult to find recent comparisons to Scott's numbers. Best I can come up with are Luke Harangody without demonstrating college three-point range, a less efficient Tyler Hansbrough, or Gary Wilkinson, who went undrafted out of Utah State and currently stars in the Australian league. All three of those guys turned the ball over significantly less than Scott in their final college seasons so even the best comparisons for Scott break down eventually and not in his favor.

Furthermore, it's puzzling to comprehend how Scott fits on a roster with Ivan Johnson. Were Scott younger, it might make more sense to carry him as fifth big man (sure to be sixth once the Hawks sign a franchise-defining third-string center) in the hopes he develops into a rotation player. With Johnson yet to receive a qualifying offer, the suspicion lurks that the Hawks may be comfortable replacing him with an inferior, younger (but not young) player, in order to save about $500,000.

(Read more from that "Draft Dissent" post, HERE.)

Not a glowing endorsement.

I tend to disagree with that piece, and I think it was just an axe-grinding session that really stemmed from frustration over the John Jenkins pick when more naturally-talented players were still on the board.  (I happen to LOVE John Jenkins -- best pure shooter I've seen in college in a long, long time.  I think he's Ray Allen-esque.  Or at least Michael Redd-esque.)

As for Mike Scott, jury's out.  I've already gone on record saying that I think he has the best chance of NBA success of any UVA players from the last decade-plus (Sean Singletary was too small, and I didn't think Roger Mason had enough athleticism) because of one simple yet vitally important trait: the ability to shoot the basketball, especially off of pick and pop plays, and especially with that deadly 17-foot fadeaway.

(From Wikipedia: The pick and pop is an offensive play that is a derivative of the classic pick and roll. Instead of rolling toward the basket, however, the player setting the pick moves to an open area of the court to receive a pass from the ballhandler and "pops" a jump shot. The "pop" in pick and pop refers to the player that screens when they "pop" out for the pass as opposed to rolling to the basket in a pick and roll. The premise between the two plays is the same: a ballhandler uses a teammate's pick to attract the attention of two defensive players to free his teammate for a scoring opportunity. A successful pick and pop relies on a ballhandler who demands constant defensive attention and a teammate with an accurate jumpshot.)

Mike Scott has that accurate jumper and he has tremendous pick and pop potential.  Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki - albeit a bigger guy and a better perimeter shooter - has forged a pretty decent NBA career shooting that mid-range fadeaway as a "big."

Mike Scott: Poor Man's Dirk Nowitzki.  You heard it here first.

He'll be an asset for the Hawks,
and a long-time role player in the NBA,
I feel it in my bones.

But will he stick with the Hawks, and is this the right team for him?

All of that remains to be seen.  However, it does sound like big things are happening in Atlanta, and a bench scorer and spot rebounder like Mike Scott would be an invaluable part of a rotation featuring Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, ala Udonis Haslem with the Heat.  Mike will have this upcoming season of transition to prove his worth to the Hawks before they go fishing for the BIG ONES next summer.

As far as landing spots go, I think this is a pretty good one for Mike.  It's a team that straight-up needs warm bodies, and it needs guys with good intangibles who are willing to take and embrace specific roles.  I think Danny Ferry was smart to draft John Jenkins and Mike Scott as complimentary pieces to the puzzle he's assembling with the Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams trades to free up future cap space.

But first... let's not get ahead of ourselves... Mike has to make the team first.  That fight happens this summer, and we'll keep you posted on his progress.

July 4, 2012

The Beautiful Ballad of Devon Hall

Point guard, Bennett's bugaboo,
Player most hard to land;
Tony is very picky at the one,
Wahoo Nation must understand

Recruiting misses everywhere,
'Round the nation, far and wide;
Robinson, Felix, Gessel, Paige,
Can't say Tony never tried

Finally from the dark gray mists,
Of hopelessness and despair;
Steps a warrior poet named Devon Hall,
To Virginia's point guard position repair

Tall and quick, an athletic whip,
Handles, D, IQ;
Has a shot, attacks the rim,
Slick passes to the crew

Playmaker of elite regard,
Creates, distributes, leads;
No Duke flop nor Carolina chop,
Shall halt his mighty deeds

Jontel Evans shall hand the reins
Over to Mister Hall;
'12-'13 is Evans,
But in '13-'14 we'll ball

A complete point guard has always been
The token "missing piece;"
Now we have one, so look ahead,
Our consternation's decease

Understand how HUGE this is,
The jigsaw clicks in place;
This is all we've ever needed,
A player to excel in space

Wing scorers we already have in spades,
The bigs will develop too;
But running the point we now have a star,
Goodbye, Tony's bugaboo!

Virginia lands Blue-Chip Point Guard, Streaking the Lawn

Virginia lands elite point guard prospect Devon Hall, The Daily Progress

Hall Drawing Comparisons to [Kendall] MarshallThe Daily Progress

July 3, 2012

ACC + Orange Bowl 4eva

Big news for the ACC.  I would have probably preferred this being a game in Charlotte or DC (for obvious travel-related reasons), but Miami makes sense.  The really interesting thing will come in a later announcement, when we find out who the opponent and broadcast partners are -- I'm hoping for Notre Dame, hoping against the Big East, and don't really care which network we're on, other than the fact that it makes sense to have EVERYTHING on ESPN.

Anyway, here's the announcement...

ACC and Orange Bowl Committee Announce Future Discover Orange Bowl Partnership
Game will be played at 1:00 pm on New Year’s Day

GREENSBORO, NC – The Atlantic Coast Conference and the Orange Bowl Committee announced today a 12-year agreement that will annually feature the ACC Champion in the Discover Orange Bowl to be played on New Year’s Day at 1:00 pm beginning after the 2014 season.

As part of the new postseason college football arrangement recently announced by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, the ACC has selected the Discover Orange Bowl as its annual contract bowl partner, to serve as the home of the ACC Champion. If the ACC Champion is identified as one of the top four teams by the Bowl Championship Series selection committee, then the ACC Champion will participate in the national semifinals and a replacement team from the ACC would participate in the Discover Orange Bowl.

In addition to the partnership between the ACC and the Discover Orange Bowl, it’s anticipated that the Orange Bowl will host at least four semifinal games in the new recently announced arrangement by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee. In the years that the Orange Bowl serves as a semifinal host, the ACC Champion would then participate in one of the three host bowls that will be established as per the direction of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.

Details on both the opponent and broadcast partner will be forthcoming.

“The ACC and Discover Orange Bowl have a terrific relationship and, as we look ahead to the future of postseason college football, this will further an already beneficial partnership for both organizations,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “The Discover Orange Bowl has a rich history of prestige, is located within the league’s footprint and is a great destination for our student-athletes, alumni and fans. In addition to our continued partnership, we are very pleased to be playing annually on New Year’s Day.”

“The Orange Bowl is extremely pleased to continue its relationship with the Atlantic Coast Conference,” said O. Ford Gibson, president and chair, Orange Bowl Committee. “We are looking forward to entering this new era of postseason collegiate football with a valued partner and its historically successful member institutions.”

The Discover Orange Bowl has been the home of the ACC Champion since 2006 and in the first seven years of partnership, five different ACC teams have competed. Throughout the 78 year history, nine of the current ACC institutions have played in at least one Orange Bowl.

About the Atlantic Coast Conference
The Atlantic Coast Conference is now in its 60th year of competition, the ACC has long enjoyed the reputation as one of the strongest and most competitive intercollegiate conferences in the nation. Since the league’s inception in 1953, ACC schools have captured 127 national championships, including 67 in women’s competition and 60 in men’s. In addition, NCAA individual titles have gone to ACC student-athletes 145 times in men’s competition and 104 times in women’s action. For more information, visit theACC.com.

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 348-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. The Orange Bowl Festival features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Discover Orange Bowl on January 1, 2013 and the Discover BCS National Championship on January 7, 2013. Other Orange Bowl core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by Sports Authority, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series and Orange Bowl Paddle Championships. For more information on the 2012-13 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program, log on to www.orangebowl.org.

July 2, 2012