Okay, so I'm geared up to watch the Bengals tonight (WHO DEY!), then waking up at the crack tomorrow morning to get on a plane to take the family to see my grandparents in Florida, so I'll be away from the blog for at least a week.
Big basketball game against UNC tomorrow night, and it sounds like Jontel Evans will be back at something close to 100%, so that's good. It's a huge game for us, as we really need the W to buoy our flagging RPI and make amends for the ODU debacle. I'm not sure if we're a Tournament team this year, but a home loss to Carolina kind of seals our fate. But this post is not about basketball!
This post is about football. Specifically, all of the little nuts and bolts of the operation that I think will be better under the new and improved coaching staff. Let's take a quick look.
Offense, In General
Let's play a quick numbers game --- Count the names I'm about to list. Lazor, Wachenheim, Faragalli, Moore. How many is that? Four? Now count the names: Lazor, Wachenheim, Hagans, Banks, O'Brien. How many is that? Five? Good, good. You're good at this. Now do this math: 2+17+9+0. 28, right? That's 28 years of combined prior D-1A/FBS-level experience among our former offensive staff. Now this: 2+17+0+9+34. That's 62 years of combined prior D-1A/FBS-level experience among our new offensive staff. That's over twice as much experience. Think our offense, in general, might be improved via this level of experience? Competency, here we come!
The Offensive Line, in Particular
Tom O'Brien spent 21 years coaching the offensive line at Navy and at Virginia. His role as the Tight Ends coach and Assistant Head Coach for Offense allows him ample freedom to pitch in with the o-line. In fact, I bet he and Wach kind of double-team the OL/TE coaching. If there's one area of the team that I think will be markedly improved because of these coaching changes, it is the OL.
In Jeff Banks, we have our first dedicated special teams mastermind since I've been following Virginia Football. I said it a while ago -- make the ST a coaching priority, make it a priority for the team, and it'll become a strength and quickly ingrained in the fabric of the program's identity. That's what happened at Tech when Frankie took the reins of the ST units. That'll happen here under Banks, just like it happened at UTEP... under Banks.
Punting and Kicking, Specifically
Jeff Banks is a former punter. There are not many former kickers in the football coaching profession, but we have one on our staff now. This guy knows how to pick and choose kicking talent, and he knows how to develop those legs. That's a fairly big deal for a program that figures to play a style that leads directly to close games.
Ending the QB Carousel
TOB is interested in quality control on the offensive side of the ball, and that means ending the maddening and messy QB carousel and choosing a starter, and then sticking with that starter through thick and thin. How many QBs with 5-star tools did TOB have to work with at BC and NC State? True or false: he sent (or is sending) those guys to the NFL after stellar college careers? You know what? Phillip Sims was a 5-star QB coming out of high school, and Greyson Lambert displayed 5-star goods. Corwin "Turtle" Cutler did as well. Time to sit back and reap these rewards under center...
|Stop this ride! I'm getting sick!|
This has kind of been swept under the carpet a little bit in the shuffle of the big-news coaching hires, but Mike London will personally take over coaching the defensive line. This is similar to Beamer coaching ST. So our version of "Beamerball" figures to become d-line play! At the very least, it communicates to all DL recruits that UVA views its tackles and ends as being the "sexy" positions to come play for this team. I like that we're sending that message, and I am beyond confident in London's ability to coach 'em up on the DL.
Jon Tenuta blitzes. Early, and often. Actually, he blitzes on pretty much every play. Amen and Hallelujah.
Generating Turnovers and Game-Changing Defensive Plays
See also: Blitzing, and Tenuta, Jon.
Giving the Offense a Short Field
See also: Blitzing, and Tenuta, Jon, and Generating Turnovers and Game-Changing Defensive Plays.
The Tight Ends
Our new Tight Ends coach is one of the best coaches we've ever had patrolling the sidelines at Virginia, and he's a guy who has gone 8-2 in bowl games as a head coach. Yeah, the guy can coach. Our tights ends will benefit.
Big Corners in Press Coverage
It's part of the Tenuta scheme. He likes his corners big and mean, and he likes them jamming receivers. I am half-erect just thinking about the merciful end to 8-10 yard cushions.
A Commitment to the Run
Have you ever seen an O'Brien-coached team play? They don't get away from the running game unless absolutely, positively necessary. God bless you, Baby Jesus. I think TOB and Lazor jive with the dink and dunk stuff, but TOB will help keep Lazor dialed in on running the football. Kevin Parks, Clifton Richardson, Smoke Mizzell, Kye Morgan, and Khalek Shepherd say hello.
So here's what a Virginia football team looks like under this new coaching staff:
Ball control offense, very run-heavy, doesn't make mistakes, errs on the side of being conservative; solid quarterbacking, lots of screens to the backs, lots of short/quick passes to the flat, lots of looks for the tight ends, the occasional play action bomb. Relentless, "push the envelope," attacking-style defense; blitzes on every play, overload blitzes that are difficult to prepare for and difficult to stop without very experienced QBs and RBs; press coverage, regularly burned by big plays deep, regularly gashed by runs/passes away from the overloaded side, lots of turnovers generated, more than a few penalties of aggression (late hits, personal fouls, roughing the passers), game-changing plays generated by the D; absolutely crushing less-talented teams and/or teams with shaky QB play. Competent special teams, ST swagger, starters playing on ST, confidence in the kicking game as earned through demonstrated performance. A team that wins the games it's supposed to win and who poses a "tough out" for elite-level opposition. A team that exploits the opposition's weaknesses. A team that may occasionally beat itself, but only by way of being "too aggressive" defensively.
I'll take it.
Hell yes, I'll take it.
Have a great week, everyone.