September 30, 2012

No Meltdown

Not today, sorry to disappoint.

Confession: I had my epic meltdown post about halfway written, BEFORE yesterday's game even kicked off.  I thought I knew exactly what I'd want to bitch about if we lost to LaTech, and so I figured I could get a jump start on the process.

But after being out there, absorbing the loss, stewing on it, considering things carefully, and then sleeping on it... I decided to scrap that epic meltdown post and instead give you these thoughts.

-- I've been using way to much profanity and especially too many F-bombs on Wahooze lately.  Gonna try to clean it up a little bit.  Gonna try.

-- Despite the outcome of yesterday's game, I still had a helluva lot of fun.  Tailgating with family and friends, and a day devoted almost entirely to something I really love - football.  And specifically, college football.  And specifically, Virginia Football.  I am taking a step back and appreciating that on it's most basic level.

-- I think this LaTech game is going to serve an important function in the progression of Virginia Football.  Which is to say, this game marks the day that the 5-star quarterback on our bench rose up to push our 2-star incumbent out of the way to take the reins of the program.

-- On the flip side, I think this LaTech game potentially did a lot of near-irreparable damage.  How many fans left Scott Stadium yesterday wondering if Mike London is truly the right man for the job?  Once that doubt creeps in the door, it's hard to shoo it out of the house.  I do know that you'll see a lot of keyboard warriors trying to be provocative by now openly questioning our head coach's mettle and ultimate "fit" for this job.  (I'll admit, I considered that angle myself.)

-- I came into yesterday's game holding Louisiana Tech in fairly high regard as a mid-major program that I liked and would pull for after our game was played.  I left the game holding the Bulldogs among my list of teams that I now hate.  Not because they beat us, but because of the bush league crap they pulled after the whistle.  Constantly.  I can understand the little guy playing with a chip on its shoulder and trying to find and maintain that edge, but the constant baiting and extracurricular stuff was just ugly and dirty.  Like Casey Pachall, I now wish nothing but bad things on the LT program.  Karma will swing for you, young Bulldogs.  And when it does, I expect your comeuppance to be swift and complete.

-- I don't really want to talk about [what was essentially] the last play of the game.  For one, I don't fully understand the rules that govern that situation.  Secondly, Coach London was absolutely livid after the game, claiming the officials didn't grant us a fair chance to switch personnel on the field.  I choose to trust our coach and use the refs' awful performance in that game to assume it was just another screw job.  Those officials were horrendous.

-- We are now 2-3, with seven games left to correct some of our problems and find four wins to get bowl eligible.  I think this mission is imperative --- a losing record will represent regression in the eyes of recruits.  We are currently selling program sex appeal and forward momentum.  If that momentum is halted...  Well... We'll have to start swimming upstream on the recruiting trail.

...and that's when the bears get you!

-- It's a point you'll see elsewhere, but I want to illustrate it again because I think it is extremely important:  Our current underclassmen are from Al Groh's underwhelming 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes.  Two classes which were also carpet bombed by attrition.  The 2010 class - current juniors or redshirt sophomores - were part of the salvage mission from the transition from Groh to London.  That's a three-year talent dip that a coaching staff who doesn't really beat you with Xs and Os or innovative/gimmicky schemes will struggle to overcome.  Mike London will be a better coach when he is putting more talent on the field.  That starts in 2013 and 2014, when the 2011 and '12 classes are seeing a majority of the playing time.

-- Year three of a five-year rebuilding process.  Patience is key.

Now for some thoughts on specific players and the team.

-- Mike Rocco's first INT should have been a catch that [predictably] doinked off of Dominique Terrell's hands.  The second INT was a poor decision on a late throw on an out route, and that's on Rocco.  And the third interception must have been a botched timing route that never should have been thrown.  I'm thinking that's the last pass Rock will throw as our starting quarterback.  At least he can say it was a touchdown pass.  (Sorry, low blow.)

-- I was extremely happy to see E.J. Scott's expanded role on offense.  I think the guy is a player.

AND, he has displayed clear chemistry with Phillip Sims

-- Like Scott, Khalek Shepherd has earned more burn.  Despite Perry Jones' accomplishments, Shep is our most dangerous receiving back.

-- We're still seeing some bad drops from the receivers.  But yesterday, they also made some nice catches.  Kudos to freshman Adrian Gamble for that touchdown "snatch" late in the game. Great play by a young player.

-- I'm troubled by our inability to generate turnovers.  Punch out the ball, pop a fumble, jump a route, SOMETHING.  ANYTHING!  Gotta find a way to get some takeaways.

-- 625 yards of offense in a loss.  That's particularly difficult to fathom, and tough to swallow.

-- True freshman weakside linebacker Demeitre Brim played a lot, and I think he played well.  Between he and D.J. Hill, I think the Will linebacking spot is in good hands moving forward.  (Not sure when LaRoy Reynolds will be able to return.)

-- I still like what Anthony Harris is doing.  He just seems like a battler to me, and I really appreciate that.

-- I continue to believe that our defense is almost completely devoid of playmakers.  We need some guys on D who are capable of making game-changing plays.  We're not getting any of those impact plays, at all.  Stops, yes.  But no game-turning big defensive plays.

-- Welcome back, Superman.  Missed you, buddy.

No more Clark Kent.

-- KP struggled to get any traction in yesterday's game.  Sad to see.

-- Time for a shuffle on the offensive line.  Move Mo inside, and get Jay Whitmire in at right tackle.  Take the chance to improve two spots on the line.  Missed downfield blocks from our pulling guards (namely Cody Wallace) short-circuited our chance to pop several big plays.

-- I believe with all my heart that if we had gotten the ball back with 1:45 to play, Phillip Sims would have gunned us down the field for the game-winning touchdown.  Tragic that he didn't get that chance and really frustrating that we didn't get to see if he could do it.  Exciting that we now have a quarterback in play who inspires that kind of confidence.

The future is NOW.

Duke's up next.  It's a big game for both teams, as we try to salvage the season and Duke (at 4-1) tries to inch its way toward bowl eligibility.  Sims has to start that game, right?  Can't wait to see what he looks like with a full week to prepare as the starting QB, with all of the first team reps.  And make no mistake: a loss to Duke means our season is over, in no uncertain terms.  Look at the schedule and do the math.

1 comment:

  1. I'm hoping the switch to Sims opens the door to a more critical look at the entire roster. Whitmire needs to start. Whichever lineman tried to cut down a safety on a screen in the third corner needs to find some bench. That's absurd. London needs to be given more time. For Pete's sake Al Groh got 10 years. Bet money London never throws away the last subsitution advantage again. The players are learning but so are the coaches.

    Besides we can hire Dooley when he gets shitcanned after this season anyway.