September 9, 2012

Virginia 17, Penn State 16

Did it last week, will probably do it every week after a game.

I was laid up with a 102-degree fever and missed the game, but watched it on TV and then again on DVR, so I have some pretty well-developed thoughts.


-- A win is a win is a win is a win is a win.  Always and forever.  It's infinitely better to learn from an ugly win than from a loss.  It's always nice to beat a BCS team from a power conference.  And it's always good to [further] humble a program that likes to prey on recruits from your natural recruiting footprint.

-- As Mike already covered so well, Jake McGee is a revelation.

-- I think Darius Jennings is a bit of a revelation, too.  Kid looks really good out there.  Hungry.

-- Dare I say it: Kevin Parks is our best running back.  That's not intended to be a slight on Perry Jones, just an accolade to KP.  There was precious little running room, but KP carved out 31 rushing yards and fought for every inch.

-- The run defense.  We gave up 121 rushing yards... but on 42 carries.  That's 2.9 per attempt, which is pretty good against a B1G team like PSU.

-- Defensive conditioning.  We lost the time of possession battle, and the Nits ran a whopping 85 plays.  With that big o-line bearing down on them, our front seven stayed lively all game.  Kudos.

-- Steve Greer on the delayed blitz.  A beautiful sight.  Keep dialing that up, Coach Reid!

-- Ausar Walcott bending the edge.  It looks like he finally found the place where he belongs: defensive end and rush specialist.

-- Tra Nicholson's plays on the ball.  Impeccable.  He's still a bit raw in coverage, but his reaction speed is insane, and he's got the goods when he comes together with the receiver and the ball.  He's winning those battles, which is all we can ask for.  (Well, I'll start asking for some interceptions, eventually.)

-- Henry Coley's blocked PAT, and the special teams in general.  I see great improvement, mostly in the area of simple controlled aggression.

-- Anthony Harris, tackle machine in the making.

-- The defense in general.  Say what you will about Penn State's depleted roster or the missed field goals, but the fact of the matter is that our D held our opponent to 16 points despite 10 different drives into our side of the field.  The Orange Crush acquitted itself well.

-- And despite the blown coverage on PSU's second touchdown, the secondary acquitted itself well, too.  For the second game in a row.  Turns out that area of concern might not be the area that damns us this season.

-- Tackling.  We're suddenly very good at the "ball and chain" tackle.  Greer, especially.

-- Alex Vozenilek's 42.5 yard punt average.  Solid.

-- Drew Jarrett's 46-yarder.  Drilled.  I appreciate two long kicks, absolutely nailed in the first two games.

-- 7-for-9 on 3rd down conversions in the second half.  Not bad at all.

-- The game-winning drive.  That was some clutch shit.

-- Speaking of the last drive, McGee and DJ made the plays, but Mike Rocco made the throws, too.  Don't overlook that fact.  He is now 10-5 as our starting quarterback, and more than one of those wins have been via dramatic late drives orchestrated by Rocco.


1) The offensive line.  Woeful is an understatement.  I get that Jordan Hill is an all-world talent and the PSU front seven is still B1G-worthy.  But our o-line was pitiful yesterday, and needs to get fixed, fast.  No doubt it's the focus for this week, as we head toward the Georgia Tech game.

2) The questionable coaching decision to insert Phillip Sims into the game in the 3rd quarter.  Rocco hadn't played particularly well, but he was under constant duress and his receivers were dropping balls left and right.

3) UVA fans daring to be indignant about this win.  It wasn't pretty, but it was a win.  We're not choosers yet, guys.  We're still beggars.  You take what you can get, when you can get it.  The program's building, not built.  To complain about this win is to show your true colors as a prick with a sense of entitlement.

Okay, now on to the regular stuff...


-- I watched the game on TV, so maybe this was because of where the mics were located, but the Penn State fans sure seemed louder than the UVA fans.  WHY???  Were my missing 500 decibels really that big of a deal?

-- Okay, I already talked about the o-line troubles and the running game is a direct product of the offensive line, but... the running game.  It didn't exist.

-- Four turnovers.  Ugh.  Paul Freedman's fumble was the most irritating to me.  He's got to secure that football after a nice catch on a nice play call.  The interception on the screen pass was a fluke.  Low throw by Rock, tremendous play by Jordan Hill to make that catch.  The botched snap is completely on Rocco.  Unforgivable.  But just as unforgivable was Sims' fumble.  He's got to feel that pressure and have better ball security.  Two turnovers, okay, I can live with that.  But four?  Shit, man.

-- Dominique Terrell.  Time for him to start ceding minutes to E.J. Scott.

-- The dropsies.  C'mon guys, CATCH THE DAMN BALL.

-- What happened to Tim Smith?  Did he get hurt?

-- What happened to Billy Schautz?  Did he get hurt?

-- 295 yards of offense.  Terrible.

-- It wasn't clear that we were the better team.  We won on the scoreboard, but the eyeball test says we lost, or at best this game was a draw.  I still think we're closer to that 6-6 trajectory than an 8+ win trajectory.

-- Orange over blue over orange.  I thought I'd like it, but it turns out we just looked like Illinois... or Syracuse...  And now it's time to give the orange helmets a rest for a while.

-- Mike Patrick.  He can eat shit and die.  I was praying that the fever would claim my hearing so I wouldn't have to listen to the guy blather any further with a jibbering, sloppy mouthful of Nittany Lion jism.

-- The fact that the Penn State players didn't run out on the field and dismember Sam Ficken after he missed that last kick.  I would have liked to have seen that.  A good ol' fashioned drawing and quartering.  At the very least, I hope Ficken's still busy hitchhiking back to Unhappy Valley.  Schadenfreude, motherfucker!

-- My wife (who went to the game with my son) let me know that the stadium stunk bad, like BO.  "Penn State fans," I said.  She said, "no, UVA fans too."  C'mon guys!  Deodorize!
What are we?  Hokies?


  1. I'll complain about this win plenty, thank you very much. To know we are still a team in rebuilding mode, or to appreciate any W no matter what, is not to let the displays of inept coaching/playmaking go lightly.

    In fact, I think part of the football cultural issue for Hoo fans is that too many are resigned to being "pretty-okay" even when we have the potential for a great team. Greatness should be the expectation. Does greatness have to mean regular championships? That'd be unrealistic - but it'd still be the direction to work towards.

    Yes, everyone should keep a rational reference to the awful state in which Groh left the program - but things like continuing a poorly timed QB carousal, dropped passes, hellish OLine play, and unforced turnovers shouldn't be brushed aside by the final score (which was absolutely the luckiest victory we've had under London).

    Yes, the most important thing is getting the W, but we owe to the team to have a fan culture that doesn't accept such a performance. Support the team? Obviously. Move on to next week? Yep. Demand better? Absolutely.

  2. Good reply, Pierce. Plain and simple, message board posters were pissing me off.

    Also, the expectation of greatness is an unfair burden until year five of this ongoing rebuilding project. That's how bad Groh left things. The expectation of competency, however, is always appropriate.

  3. Four Points:

    1) Neither team deserved to win the game, but each for their own reasons. I'm with Kendall, sometimes you just take the win and get out alive.

    2) I had to watch the game on my DVR late Saturday night, all whilst doing the "don't tell me the score" dance at work and on my phone ... brutal.

    3) Mike Patrick is the devil.

    4) Jake McGee is an angel.


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