November 4, 2012

Sweet Nectar

Good golly miss molly did we need that win.  Wow.  We really, really needed it.  And the way I feel about it this morning lends absolute credence to the notion that you cannot savor the flavor of sweetness until you've had bitter and sour in your mouth.  Six game losing streak, bitter.  Hoos 33, NC State 6... sweet.

Of course, there's lingering frustration about losing those six games when it's now clear we're capable of playing better and could should have notched a few wins during that stretch.  3-6 is not good.  4-5 or 5-4 would have set us up to make a hard charge at a bowl game.  Oh well.  Does anyone believe we were so far away from beating LaTech, Maryland, and Wake and sitting pretty at 6-3 right now?

That's the sell the coaching staff will be giving recruits, and yesterday's watershed win gives them that ability.  I don't know how many games we'll win down the stretch... probably none, I guess.  But if we play like we did yesterday, we could win any of the three.  Miami looks pretty good, but I'd put them about on par with NC State.  UNC has its issues, as seen when they crapped the bed against Duke.  And Virginia Tech?  Well, let's just say they are ripe for the picking as low-hanging fruit right now.  (Of course, their coaching staff will convince them Mike London and the Godfather and the Street Agents have put a bounty on their heads or some other such nonsense, and they'll roll into that game looking to kill somebody.  They'll surely be looking to pluck more pubes for their idiotic lunchbox.  But I digress.)  The Hokies are beatable, even with the mysterious edge they hold against us.

Things I liked from yesterday's game:

-- The first drive of the game.  We attacked the perimeter ruthlessly, the o-line looked good, and the drive was great and ended in 7 points.  Mission accomplished.  The O got a bit sputtery after that first drive, and we saw our typical fits and starts, but we didn't cough up our typical phlegm-wad of turnovers.

-- Our defense, top to bottom, inside to out.  It's gone from secretly solid, to super effective, to an absolute strength.  And now it's generating turnovers.  All of this with a ton of youngsters peppered in the two-deep and playing key roles.

-- Winning the turnover battle.  I tweeted about it pre-game ("Win the turnover battle, give ourselves a chance to win the game.  It's a tired axiom, but it's so very true.")  And I knew we'd need to stop hemorrhaging turnovers and start finding ways to generate takeaways if we wanted to stat winning games.  Job well done on all counts.

-- Trick plays.  Welcome back to the offense.  We missed you, and we sorely needed you.

-- Jake Snyder, Chris Brathwaite, Will Hill, and Eli Harold gelling into an effective defensive line, with Brent Urban and Mike Moore registering some nice plays in wave roles.  I think we're about to dawn upon a new era of d-line excellence here at UVA.

-- The secondary: rock solid.

-- The running game came alive a little bit.  Credit the offensive line and the playcalling, along with the backs.  State's defense isn't bad, so it was really nice to see us establish the run.

-- We came out of the bye week ready to play, equipped with a cohesive plan, and looking extremely well-prepared.  That's coaching.  And it allayed a lot of the fears that had been popping up during the losing streak about London's ability to lead a program.  I still have specific beef with Dex and Lazor (one game cannot cure all ills), but I'm back to having faith in Coach London, and that's a really good feeling.

-- A win.  A freaking win, man.  Hallelujah.  I feel like a choking asthma victim who just drew some fresh oxygen into his lungs.

Things I didn't like from yesterday's game:

-- Rotating QBs, I guess.  Lots of fans will be talking about that, but honestly, I don't really care.  Other than the fact that it's a time-proven recipe for disaster, it doesn't bother me too much.  Benching Rocco in the Penn State game and allowing him to "watch the game" was positively reinforced, so maybe that's the thinking here -- give both guys a chance to spend some time watching from the sideline. Sims has obviously been pressing these last three weeks, and frankly, he hasn't been playing well. Yesterday, with the rotating QBs, it seemed to relieve him of a little bit of the pressure he was putting on himself.  Plus, with two QBs you can kind of split the playbook in half, and allow Sims to focus on running a smaller package of plays, ones in which he is more comfortable.  If we had lost, of course we'd all hate the rotation. But we didn't lose. The idea - however harebrained - worked.  But now it's time to go back to a one-QB system, right?  Right?  (Of course, we won't... and OF COURSE, it'll end up costing us.)

-- What the hell was that punt coverage failure when the entire team over-ran the play?  Jeez.

-- Kicking.  How in the hell do you miss that chip shot right before halftime?

-- Jake McGee at the line of scrimmage.  Calm down, young buck.  Also, learn the snap count.

-- Drops.  We just can't seem to shake 'em.

-- Only one throw down the field.  We still need to open 'er up a little bit when Sims is in the game.

-- Why does Mike Rocco throw behind his receivers so often?

Anyway, it was a win.  A great, great win.  On to the Miami game, where a win would put serious delusions of a 4-win rally to a bowl game into our heads.


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