February 27, 2013

Gold Rush

There are bigger topics in Wahooze Land - namely, today's announcement by 2014 five-star safety überrecruit Quin "Pretty Ricky" Blanding, presumably in favor of the Hoos, and the pending BIGGEST GAME OF THE SEASON in basketball, at home against Dook late tomorrow night - but neither of those tasty tidbits is what this post is about.

Nope, this piece is about something else entirely.  This thread is about Virginia Football's Gold Rush.

Wiki, take us away...

The discovery of gold nuggets in the Sacramento Valley in early 1848 sparked the Gold Rush, arguably one of the most significant events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century. As news spread of the discovery, thousands of prospective gold miners traveled by sea or over land to San Francisco and the surrounding area; by the end of 1849, the non-native population of the California territory was some 100,000 (compared with the pre-1848 figure of less than 1,000). A total of $2 billion worth of precious metal was extracted from the area during the Gold Rush, which peaked in 1852.

Okay, so the history lesson is over, now it's time to connect the dots with how this relates to Virginia Football.  It's pretty simple: HOLY CRAP, WE ARE ABOUT TO START PLAYING A LOT OF WESTERN FOOTBALL POWERS!  We're headed out West in search of money, fame, and fortune, right, so it's kind of like a gold rush, see?  Screw it, I thought it was clever.  (Excuse my incredibly long, awkward, clumsy, clunky intro and transition.  I appreciate your dedication and patience, dear reader.)

Anyway, news broke on Monday that we have hammered out a home-and-home series with Boise State to be played in 2015 (in Charlottesville) and 2017 (in Boise).

Add that to the loco-crazy games against Oregon in 2013 (CVille) and 2016 (Eugene).

Add that to the 2013 (CVille) and 2014 (Provo) series against BYU, the 2014 (CVille) and 2015 (LA) series against UCLA, and the 2017 (home) and 2018 (away) series against Stanford.

That's a whopping FOUR home-and-home battles we'll be waging against Western powers in the coming six seasons as part of our out-of-conference schedule.  Eight games against West Coast teams.

Why are we doing this?

I'm not entirely sure, but I do kind of like the idea of UVA repping the best coast against these left coast turdmongers.  I also like the idea of playing against strong academic institutions in UCLA and Stanford.  We already talked about how we like (or dislike) the Oregon game in aspiration of playing "big boy football" instead of snacking on cupcakes.  Whether or not we're able to MAN UP remains to be seen, but we'll be generating a lot more cash with these games than we would in gimme games against the dregs of the Sun Belt and MAC, hence the term "gold rush."  Go west, get paid.  Let's do it.

By the way, you can always see our upcoming schedule, HERE.  Clicksmack that site early and often.  It's awesome.

Meanwhile, since we're already on the topic of OOC scheduling and partnering up with West Coast programs... why are we leaving the most obvious angle of all sitting there on the table?  Why don't we forge an annual rivalry against California, and set up a yearly battle between the two best public universities in the free world?  Too obvious?  I think it's a perfect fit.  A slam dunk, a grand slam, a hole in one, a hat trick, a first round knockout.

Paging Mr. Oliver.  Make it happen, bruh.  UVA/Cal, annual rivalry.  Cook it up, mi amigo.


If you have a better annual rival to suggest, deposit it into the comments section, below.  Who should be UVA's play-'em-every-season, hated, out-of-conference rival?  I say Cal.  Who do you say?

February 25, 2013

2013 Schedule Scoop!

Sorry to bump Mike's post down the list so quickly, but I got this about two hours ahead of the curve, and needed to share.  Here is our 2013 football schedule:

8/31 - BYU
9/7 - Oregon
9/14 - BYE
9/21 - VMI
9/28 - @ Pittsburgh
10/5 - Ball State
10/12 - @ Maryland
10/19 - Duke
10/26 - Georgia Tech
11/2 - Clemson
11/9 - @ UNC
11/16 - BYE
11/23 - @ Miami
11/30 - Virginia Tech

Instant analysis: 
  • It's imperative we start 1-1 and not 0-2, though the bye on 9/14 allows us time to regroup after what is sure to be a shellacking at the hands of Oregon.
  • I wish VMI weren't the first game after the bye week, however.  That's a wasted opportunity.
  • I like the trip to Pitt so early in the season -- I wonder if we'll be their first ACC game?  That'd be kind of cool.  Though maybe not, as they'll likely be pretty fired up for that.
  • Gotta go at least 3-1 in October to have any hope for a decent season.  All four are winnable games.
  • Love Clemson in early November.  That's classic Clemson lull time, right there.  It's a longshot, but maybe we can catch the Tigers napping in that one.
  • We're looking at the good possibility of an 0-4 end to the season.  That doesn't bode well for Coach London, as a 5-7 finish after a 5-3 start is the kind of thing that gets coaches fired.
  • I'm calling it now: 6-6.  The wins: BYU, VMI, Ball State, @ UMD, Duke, GT, VT.  Whelp, I just listed seven wins.  I guess I'm calling it 7-5.  UN-A-BASHED-HO-MER-clap-clap-clapclapclap
  • With eight freaking home games, we better scrape together a winning season.  Shit.

Arms Race

The Hoos swept the Toledo Rockets this weekend in their first home weekend set of the season. THE story of this weekend was the pitching, specifically the pitching of freshman Brandon Waddell, who has burst onto the scene this year with two impressive outings. Waddell threw 6 shutout innings Friday night while racking up 15 strikeouts, the most by a freshman since a fellow you may remember named Danny Hultzen. This Waddell kid is no joke. We've long stated the young pitching will be the key to the ultimate success of the Hoos this season, and Waddell has certainly risen to that challenge. Veterans Scott Silverstein and Whit Mayberry combined to blank the Rockets on Saturday, combining for 8 strikeouts and only 5 hits allowed. This veteran  combo will help provide stability for the essential Saturday game if they keep their performances up. On Sunday, sophomore Nick Howard started with 4 shutout innings en route to a 6-3 Wahoos victory. In the Sunday game, freshman Josh Sborz earned his first save throwing 1 2/3rds innings and only allowing one hit.

Freshman Nate Kirby, responsible for the only runs given up during the series, continues to struggle. However this kid has a world of potential, and this staff is still proven to be able to develop arms. I think we will see Kirby turn it around.

The HooBats continued their smoking hot start. Fisher, Downes, King, and Towns all homered as the Hoos pushed in 21 runs over the series. The top of the lineup continues to get on base ahead of the big bats. Cogswell scored 5 runs at the top of the lineup. This offense continues to smoke, which is essential as they ease the young pitchers into the rigors of college baseball.

The Hoos host a midweek game against George Washington on Tuesday, and then a three-team round robin with Harvard and Bucknell this weekend at Davenport.

Go Hoos!

February 20, 2013

Hoos Come Out Swinging

Basketball is leaving everyone pretty heartbroken right now after a hard fought loss last night. However, yesterday was not a total loss for the athletic department.

The UVA baseball team improved to 4-0 last night with an 11-2 drubbing of Bill and Mary. Nick Howard turned in a remarkably efficient scattering of 5 hits over 6 innings to earn the win. The Hoos are now averaging 11.75 runs per game versus only 4 allowed, and if you remove the Saturday tilt with ECU, in which the staff labored and gave up 9 runs, that number is reduced to 2.3. The Hoos are on fire, almost to the point of an embarrassment of riches. I never thought I would see a lineup close to the 2009 squad, but we may have that on our hands, maybe not this year, but definitely in the future. Let's take a look at the bright spots

Kenny Towns: Kenny is leading the team with 3 homers and 10 RBI. He started off the season on absolute fire with 2 grand slams in the first game.

Branden Cogswell: Anyone still worried about a leadoff man? Cogswell is batting at an insane .538 with 5 walks over the first 4 games, and is 2 for 2 on steals so far. Having a solid guy getting on base at the top of this lineup is critical for success this season, and the steal success is just a bonus, and give BOC another weapon in his arsenal.

Reed Gragnani: Replacing Keith Werman is going to be tough on anyone, but Reed has played very well this young season. He is currently sporting a .438/.500/.688 triple slash (Average / On Base % / Slugging %). Those are some great numbers.

Freshman Pitchers: All the freshman have pitched well, except uber-recruit Nate Kirby who struggled in relief on Saturday and didn't seem to be totally comfortable last night. Brandon Waddell and Josh Sborz both pitched well in the season opener combining for 11 strikeouts and 3 earned runs over 8 innings. Additionally, Trey Oest turned in a masterful 1 hit, 4 strikeout performance against St. Peter's on Monday in his first start. The freshman pitchers will be THE key to this season, so it's good to see them get off to a good start.

There have also been some things that need improvement this season. Nothing major to be concerned about, but there is room for improvement.

Fielding: UVA has given up 4 unearned runs this season and has committed 6 errors. Come on now. Errors played a big factor in the ECU games being as close as they were.

Saturday's Pitching: Fielding definitely didn't help, but the HooStaff gave up 15 hits and 9 runs (7 earned) with only 6 strikeouts. Nate Kirby had an especially rough outing closing out the game giving up 5 earned on 7 hits in 1 and 1/3 innings of work. The HooBats definitely bailed the pitchers out in this game.

Derek Fisher: Derek will turn it around, but he is starting relatively slow out of the gate. With a .235/.350/.412 triple slash, he is certainly not living up to the (albeit unfairly astronomical) expectations we had for him this season. He does however lead the team in getting hit by pitches with 3, so there's a plus. And he does have a homer and 7 RBI this season. He will get it on track, as hitting is in fact contagious.

This season has really started with a bang, and HooFans have reasons to be excited. If the freshman pitching can hold up throughout the season, and this lineup continues to produce, look out.

Hoos host Toledo this weekend. Sunday it is supposed to be Sunny and 52 degrees. Game starts at 1. Come on out!

February 19, 2013

Will UVA Get a Bye in the ACCT?

If any of the Wahooze faithful don't frequent the fantastic UVA sports blog that is Streaking The Lawn, make sure you check out this great recent post of theirs:

ACC Standings Update: Will UVA get an ACC Tournament bye?

In it, you'll find that UVA shapes up well vs UNC and NCSU in the tiebreakers used for seeding the tournament. Basically, if we beat who we should beat in the next few weeks, things look good for a top 4 finish. Tonight, of course, would go a long way to an even better result. GO HOOS

American Cornhole Association

It exists.  Click HERE to see all of the glory.

February 16, 2013

UVAMBB Power Rankings -- 2/16/13

Previous editions:

At regular intervals during basketball season, I will unveil the power rankings for all of the players on the basketball team. This is essentially a relative measure of how they've been performing in recent games, coupled with an in-order listing of each player's value to the team moving forward with the season. On with it...

(It's probably asinine to do this right before the UNC game today, but this is the first suitable chunk of time, inspiration, and energy I've been able to find this week.  The UVAMBB stars aligned!)

#1 Joe Harris (previous rank: #1)
Joey Buckets has the top spot on lock for the rest of the season, for obvious reasons.  So in this space, we can spend some time considering some interesting questions:
  • Is Harris an All-ACC First Teamer this season?  It'd burn me up to see Erick Green make the First Team ahead of Joe.  Green scores a ton, but which player makes their team better?  Which team is any good at all?
  • Would you trade Joe Harris for another year of Mike Scott right now?  The fact that you even have to hesitate to consider this one speaks volumes about Joe's play right now.
  • By the time he graduates, will Joe Harris be one of the top ten UVA players of all time?  Top five?

#2 Akil Mitchell (previous rank: #2)
With Atkins and Tobey out, BIG FUNDAMENTAL is holding down the fort inside, and he's doing quite well with it.  Dealing with Carolina's bigs will be a tall task this afternoon, but with some help from Justin Anderson, Big Fun should be up to it.  In any case, Mitchell is an indispensable player for us right now.  Can't win without him.

#3 Justin Anderson (previous rank: #5)
He's arrived, and I think he's here to stay.  Last time, I called him "the straw that stirs the drink," and now I'm ready to declare JA as the liquor that makes the drink stiff.  (Go ahead and ponder that metaphor for a while.)  Virginia Basketball: Potent Potable.

#4 Jontel Evans (previous rank: #7)
Begrudgingly, I rank him here.  The thing is, he's just an important piece to the puzzle... especially if he can keep making those contested quasi-layups off the tippy top of the backboard when he dribble-drives.  Also, it's ugly, but 8 assists is 8 assists.

#5 Paul Jesperson (previous rank: #4)
He plays D and now he's making shots.  Second half shots.  Big shots.  I love it when he takes it to the hole, also.  Drive the lane more often, Jespy -- you're a surprisingly good finisher.

#6 Evan Nolte (previous rank: #6)
He can shoot it, but lately his shot's not falling with as much regularity (9-for-24 from 3 over the last five games, still a good .375 from downtown, but nowhere near the 50% he was shooting earlier in the season).  Nolte lost his starting spot to Anderson, but still offers a nice offensive weapon off the bench.

#7 Darion Atkins (previous rank: #8)
You get the sense that he'll be back from his shin splint soon, hopefully today.  It's been a concentrated month of healing, and he crept back into the rotation against Maryland and Virginia Tech.  We could really, really use him down the stretch as we make this NCAA Tournament push, and Akil Mitchell badly needs - and deserves - a break.

#8 Teven Jones (previous rank: #10)
Still seems to be in the doghouse, but he's averaging 9 minutes per game in Evans relief over the course of the last three games.  He's part of the rotation, and has a chance to solidify a role.

#9 Taylor Barnette (not previously ranked)
He's back to seeing some minutes, and he's bagging some 3s when he's in there.

#10 Mike Tobey (previous rank: #3)
Mono?  Are you effing kidding me?  Only at UVA.  I'll be surprised if we see Tobey again this season.  Can't risk popping his spleen.

#11 Doug Browman (previous rank: #9)
It looks like Tony Bennett finally wised up and is going with Teven Jones as the backup point guard.  I love Dougie, I love Kate Upton doing the Dougie, but the player has serious limitations.

HUGE game at UNC today.  A win does a lot of work toward helping our bubble status.  A loss wouldn't kill us, but it certainly won't help.  We need this one, guys.


February 14, 2013

Bubble Watch, 2/14

From ESPN's Eamonn Brennan:

Virginia [18-6 (8-3), RPI: 72, SOS: 198] This is still one of the weirdest at-large profiles in recent memory. I mean, 6-0 against the top 100? A win at Wisconsin? What's not to like? Unfortunately lots: six sub-100 losses, 0-3 against the awful CAA, a bad RPI, a worse SOS, an even worse nonconference SOS of 320 (one game in Madison does not a noncon schedule make). You'd like to see UVa handle UNC in Chapel Hill Saturday, give Duke a run in its own building Feb. 28, and above all avoid more bad losses down the stretch.

See the entire Bubble Watch piece, HERE.

Stay tuned for a Bubble Rooting Guide to appear in this space, soon.  (Here's an example of what to expect, from last year.)

February 12, 2013

2013 Wahooze Baseball Preview

Greetings baseball fans. It's that time of year again. Snow is pummeling the northeast, Virginia basketball is marching toward the Tournament, signing day has football optimism at new heights. What better time to start BASEBALL SEASON!!! Believe it or not, we open at ECU on Friday. The Hoos return a significant portion of their roster this season, and excitement is starting to build at Davenport Field. This season the we will boast a mix of fresh faces and returning vets from a season that left all Hoofans wanting more. Expectations are high this season, as the Hoos have proven over the Brian O'Connor (BOC) years to be a consistent threat in the ACC. UVA starts the season ranked 25th, but that could change as questions get answered.

The Lineup:
The Hoos strength this season will be at the plate. This lineup is loaded and packs quite a bit of pop. It also represents what could be a drastic change in the way UVA scores, and that all stems from the departure of Keith Werman. For all his shortcomings in the power department, Werman provided a valuable piece of the puzzle for BOC. Werman was able to do most anything BOC asked (with the exception of a home run). Not having that bridge in the 9 hole will make this team much more predicated on hitting the ball into the gaps, and running. Luckily for the Hoos, they have the sticks and legs to do that. Here's a quick look:

C-Nate Irving
1B-Jared King
2B-Reed Gragnani
SS-Brandon Cogswell
3B-Nick Howard
LF-Derek Fisher
CF-Brandon Downes
RF-Colin Harrington

To say the least: That lineup oozes potential. It also doesn't include contributors in Mike Papi and Kenny Towns, in addition to talented newcomers Joe McCarthy and George Ragsdale. The Hoos are going to mash. It won't really even be funny at some point. Screw gap to gap, some of these guys can hit lightpole to lightpole. If competition breeds success, we should be in for an offensive treat.

The Rotation:
This is going to be a huge question mark. UVA brought in a ton of arms in the freshman class, some of which will be forced into instant action. Pitching is going to be the key to this season, and you should fully expect a ton of guys to get shots on the hill. If I had to guess now, I think our rotation will eventually shake out like this:

Friday-Kyle Crockett
Saturday-Whit Mayberry
Sunday-Nate Kirby
Weekday- Brett Lisle

Artie Lewicki is the huge wildcard here. BOC has stated that he expects Lewicki, who emerged last season as a force on the bump, to return to the mound this season. If he can return to form, it really changes the landscape of this team. A fully healthy Artie Lewicki would bump everyone back a spot as he would become our Friday night starter. The other player that could open some eyes is Nate Kirby. This kid is a stud, and has the stuff to start on Fridays, and he has that stuff right now. I think if he has a good start, he will be the Friday night guy by the end of the season. Brett Lisle is another player I am excited to see. I am very bullish on the 6-9 lefty and think, if anything, he will intimidate our midweek opponents, which I think is a real advantage you can exploit. I think Lisle has a huge ceiling though and would not be surprised to see him challenge for the weekend. Other young arms to challenge include Josh Sborz and Brandon Waddell, who put in very solid fall seasons.

The Bullpen:
The beauty of having a huge competition for starting spots is that we are going to have a ton of solid arms in the bullpen. It will be a knockdown, dragout fight for innings out of the pen. I think Silverstein has a lock on the long relief role, considering he is limited in what he can do. Returning guys like Nate Abel, Austin Young, Barret O'Neill, and Nick Howard will be pushed by quality newcomers Josh Sborz and Brandon Wadell. I would think that Nick Howard will get the first shot at closing, especially since we can slide John LaPrise in at short and slide Cogswell or Grags to third. I think Josh Sborz has the stuff to be a dominant force in the closer role if given the chance, one that I hope comes.

Key Player:
Nate Irving is the key to this season. Last season we discussed the need for a veteran presence at catcher, and the trust that pitchers and catchers must have to succeed. Irving is ready to be that guy this season. With such potential fluidity on the mound, it will be important to have an experienced catcher behind the plate to keep everyone on the same page.

Breakout Star:
We all know Derek Fisher is good. But this is the season where Derek Fisher will be GREAT. If King can protect him in the lineup, Fisher will emerge as potentially one of the best players in the entire country. Kid can HIT HIT HIT, and it should get everyone at Davenport very excited.

What in the world is going on with Mike Papi? He went from freshman sensation to doghouse and out of the lineup last season. The kid has a world of talent, and if he can work his way back onto the field, he could be a great addition.

If we follow the recent patterns, the Hoos should be bound for Omaha this season. That being said, that is a long way away. This team has amazing potential, but until the pitching is worked out, it will not be able to reach it. Once we figure it out though, the sky is the limit. If not being able to pick from all your talent is your problem, you have a great problem. This will get sorted out, and the Hoos will come together and make a late charge to Omaha. That is my expectation, and it should be yours as well.

February 11, 2013

2013 Wahooze Lacrosse Preview

The men's lacrosse team starts their 2013 campaign against Drexel this Saturday at 1pm at home. Being the perennial powerhouse that they are, expectations are high for the Wahoos, despite losing one of the best players in program history. Here's how we at Wahooze see the season shaping up for the guys:

Firstly, this is all I'm going to say about last season: Craptastic. That about covers it.

Moving on.

UVA lacrosse is certainly the type of program we Hoo fans want the football and basketball programs to become. That is, we don't rebuild, we reload. Graduating the Stanwicks and Bocklets over the years has never been reason to think the team won't be competing for the ACC and NCAA titles each season. However, such lofty expectations lead to bitter disappointment at anything less than dominant victories (see: last year's recap). This season, the team finds itself ranked 9th in most of the preseason polls - a fairly high ranking for most sports and teams, until you consider it's behind Maryland, Duke, and UNC (but ahead of Syracuse! Hah! Suck it, Cuse!). So the Hoos face stiff competition in this year's battle for national prominence, but that's nothing new. What is new? Glad you asked:

New Goalie! Everyone loves to forget about the goalkeeper until he starts letting too many balls get by him - but Hoofans will have to wait to see which pair of sweatpants to cheer/curse this season. My money's on uber-recruit freshman Dan Marion (LACES OUT).

Are you intimidated? I'm intimidated.

New Rules! No more stall warning when a team with the lead is dillydallying with the ball for too long. Instead, when the refs arbitrarily decide they've seen enough dawdling, they'll call for the imaginary 30 second shot clock. The team will then have 30 seconds (again, subject to start when the refs feel like it) to take an ON GOAL shot. This means the shot must hit the goalie, cage, or go in for the shot clock to end. If the shot hits a post or goalie and the offense maintains possession, the count doesn't start again until the refs see them screwing around some more. Interestingly, UVA has a reputation historically as a run-and-gun, high-flying offensive scoring machine, as well as a team that stalls too much when we get the lead. Look for the new rules to only benefit the Wahoos, as it fits our style and we have the best coach in the country so all new rules will be to our benefit by default. No word still on how officials will exactly determine if a team is like totally not trying hard enough.

New Scoring Threats! Well Steele Stanwick has left us to go pursue his destiny as a international man of mystery, so who's going to put the ball in the back of the net? Look no further than the familiar names of Matt White, Mark Cockerton, and Owen Van Arsdale. Matt White is my best guess for future team leader in goals, only because I think he's the most skilled at the task. But as we saw last year, Matt could play a lot in the midfield, which, as Dom puts it, presents a serious matchup problem. Might that keep the goal tallies down? Doubt it.
Bucknell knows who Matt White is. You should too.

New Star! Ok so let us assume we've got Stanwick's scoring made up for now that he's fighting al-Queda and Chinese hackers. Who is going to step into his role as STAR PLAYER? The best bet here is easily Chris LaPierre. Why? Because Thor the God of Thunder didn't create Chris LaPierre to be the supporting actor in his final dance. (The more mixed-metaphors, the more impressive the accolades, so said my high school band director). Need a refresher on who LaPierre is? Check it:

LaPierre wont fill up the stat sheet outside of asses-kicked and clears-single-handed, but he's got star potential and should be celebrated as such. He's also UVA's only member of the pre-season All-American team, so the sportswriters have my back here.

What about the midfield? Defense? Both units here should possess a nice mix of youth and veteran play, with Rob Emery and Ryan Tucker returning as middies and Scott McWilliams being the best returning longstick. Considering the potential faster pace of play, plus the offense needing to find a new identity, the Hoos will definitely be relying on solid defensive play from the outset this year - something that could easily be the strength of a team in transition, or could just as easily look dismal like we do against Duke every year.

What's the Bottom Line? Tough roads ahead, great potential, I demand victory. Nothing short of victory. And scooters. Victory and scooters.

February 10, 2013

Virginia 80, Maryland 69

Great win.  Important win.  A few thoughts...

  • Justin Anderson played like a MAN.  He must have been fired up to play Maryland, and those hostile fans probably fueled his fire.  (Power rankings spoiler: I now think JA is our third-best player.)
  • Out-rebounding that Maryland team with all of their talented bigs is a huge accomplishment.  We had Akil Mitchell nursing foul trouble and a still-hobbled Darion Atkins nursing a shin splint, and that was all we had on the inside.  Swarming is working, Coach!
  • How about Jespy's four 3s drained in the second half?  Huge.  If he can knock down those perimeter shots, he instantly becomes a huge asset to the team.
  • Anyone else think Joe Harris could make the All-ACC First Team?  Mason Plumlee is a lock, but after him?  C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, Seth Curry, and Durand Scott are all strong candidates.  But I think Joe is right there with those guys in the second tier.  What about the nation's leading scorer, Virginia Tech's Erick Green?  The Hokies are the worst team in the ACC.  Second Team for Green.  Probably second team for Joe, also... but that's pacism.
  • I still want his scholarship earmaked for a 2014 big man recruit, but Taylor Barnette is coming back from the dead.  He's shooting 71% from downtown in these last three games.  If he can keep it up above 40% in 3-5 minutes off the bench, I'll absolutely advocate a role for him off the bench.
  • Our starting point guard doesn't help us beat the press, and he's disastrous from the free throw line.  If we had a real point guard, we'd be a top-10 team.  (See also: next season.)
  • Why are we committing so many fouls lately?  The last four games or so, we've been fouling like crazy.  Also, the defense hasn't been super-stellar.  Need to shore these areas up before they bite us on the ass.
  • I'm ready to declare a "magic number" of wins we need down the stretch in order to make the Big Dance: FIVE.  Our schedule:
    • 2/12 - Virginia Tech
    • 2/16 - @ North Carolina
    • 2/19 - @ Miami
    • 2/24 - Georgia Tech
    • 2/28 - Duke
    • 3/3 - @ Boston College
    • 3/7 - @ Florida State
    • 3/10 - Maryland
Seems doable, right?  Calling the shot, we win exactly five: VT, GT, Duke, @ BC, Maryland.  That's right, Duke.  Pass the freaking kool-aid!

February 8, 2013

Meet the Recruit: George Adeosun

We've saved the best for last. George Adeosun is truly one of the most interesting stories of anyone this year, well except maybe Alex Collins. If Eric Smith really improved himself after his senior film, I'm not entirely sure how to describe what happened with George Adeosun. Adeosun is a 6-foot-6, 296-pound offensive tackle from Alpharetta, Georgia, who was committed to William and Mary, until the following happened:

January 18: UVA hosts "secret visitor" with the rest of the commits on official visits. Visitor confirmed to be Bill and Mary commit George Adeosun, who is offered by UVA

January 23: Adeosun offered by Oklahoma (Hoofans slightly concerned)

January 24: Adeosun offered by Missouri, Kentucky, and Purdue

January 25: Adeosun officially decommits from Bill and Mary (Man's game) and takes official visit to Oklahoma

January 29: Adeosun offered by Georgia Tech (Hoofans start to worry)

February 1: Adeosun offered by Georgia (Hoofans start to PANIC)

During this time, Adeosun has also jumped from unrated/1-star to 4-star in the 247 rankings. Over two weeks this kid went from a 1-AA commit to a big time D-1 recruit. A meteoric rise. That Iranian monkey didn't even rise this fast (BOOM, TOPICAL!) But in the end this worked out well for the Hoos. Now on to the important stuff. Adeosun is a stud. He has all the measurables to be a big-time player. He also is an exceptionally bright kid who will do as much mentally on the field as he does physically. He will be a quick learn, and I think will end up winning the RT job his redshirt freshman season.

UVA Projection: This kid is going to be good. I know I JUST said in the Smith writeup that it is hard to predict success for lineman, but I have a hard time not seeing Adeosun do well. Good head on his shoulders, prototypical size, good feet, good athletic ability - he's a cornerstone type of player. In fact, I would not be surprised to see him keep Whitmire on the right side. Yup. He's that good. Left tackle good.

ALSO: You should give him a follow. He's @realwords. You will not be disappointed.

Meet the Recruit: Eric Smith

Eric Smith is a 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive tackle out of Columbia, Georgia. Smith flew relatively under the radar until his senior film came in, and then became the source of an interesting recruiting situation. After his film was evaluated, Smith was being pursued by both UVA and UNC. As Smith's stock continued to rise, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would be offered by both. However, following the firing of Jim Reid, UNC stole Brad Henson from the Cavaliers in their typical super-shady, backdoor, dark alley, scumbag ways. This however became an opportunity for the Hoos to move on Smith, as UNC was now full on the offensive line. UVA pounced on the opportunity and secured Smith, basically completing a trade of Smith for Henson. This is a trade we all liked, especially considering this one piece of logic: It is much easier to slide a tackle inside to play guard, than it is to bump a guard outside to play tackle. Smith could turn out to be a steal at tackle, literally.

UVA Projection: Smith probably has the best shot of anyone to play his freshman season, but I don't think I see that happening, barring some sort of disaster. A redshirt season will allow him to bulk up and be ready to compete for a spot at right tackle in his RS Freshman season. It's difficult to project the success of offensive lineman so early, but if I had to guess, I think he'll be a good one. He's got a physical nature that translates well at RT.

Meet the Recruit: Jack English

"He has a motor that won't quit."  Of all the annoying, played-out football scouting clichés, this one is probably the most annoying and played out.  But... like it or not, this cliché is what you'll hear whenever anyone wants to describe the best part about Jack English's game.  You know what that means, so I won't elaborate for you.  English is a try-hard guy.  We get it.  247 rated him a high 2-star and Rivals a low 3-star, so there's a bit of a consensus -- maybe Jack English is a nice football player, but his athletic ability is relatively limited and his ceiling is probably pretty low.  He has a good arsenal of pass rush moves, and the size (6-6, 250) to play inside if need be.  He also has some upside at tight end, as an in-line blocker.  But his position at UVA will likely be defensive end.  It's not difficult to see a little Brennan Schmidt in Jack English.  One thing I want to say is this: Gotta have kids like this to round out every recruiting class, and you need them on your roster to keep driving and pushing the more talented players forward.  Also, when we go fishing for these 2-star type players to flesh out the recruiting effort, I want them to be from Virginia, like English.

UVA Projection:  I just mentioned Schmidt, and that's probably the dream career for Jack English.  But unlike Schmidt, English isn't stepping into a situation at UVA where he'll be required to play early.  A 2013 redshirt is definitely in order.  After that, I assume we'll see English on the two-deep, and playing solid football whenever he sees the field.  I could see him figuring into the succession plan to replace Jake Snyder at LDE in 2014, though Mike Moore will certainly get first crack at that honor.  The best thing Jack English will likely do at UVA is light a fire under the asses of guys like Courtnye Wynn and Diamonte Bailey.  Match English's work ethic and effort level, or lose your opportunity for playing time.  I rather like that impact English could make.

Meet the Recruit: Brendan Marshall

Once upon a time (back when I was part of Team Cupcake), I said that in the wake of Al Groh's negligent handling of the quarterback position, we'd need to shift into the mode of "throwing numbers against the wall to see what sticks."  Mike London has done exactly that, recruiting Mike Rocco, Michael Strauss, Jake McGee, and Miles Gooch in 2010, David Watford in 2011, Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns in 2012, accepting the transfer of Phillip Sims, and recruiting Corwin Cutler and Brendan Marshall in 2013.  You already know that I'm high on Lambert, hold out hope for Sims, see Johns as a darkhorse in the race, and am really high on Cutler.  So what does Marshall add to the mix?  Well, for one, he's tall.  6-5, to be exact.  He's got great touch on the short-to-intermediate throws.  He also helped us secure his Good Counsel teammates - Andre Levrone and Kirk Garner - so there's that.  And as the first commitment in the 2013 class, he opened the floodgates for us.  But beyond all that, this 3-star prospect doesn't bring anything really remarkable to the table.  But you know what?  Neither did Matt Schaub, and he ended up being one of our best quarterbacks ever.  We've now got six scholarships tied up at the QB position, which is a lot... probably two too many.  Marshall isn't the kind of talent that will grab you and capture your imagination, but he might be a number that sticks to the wall as we sort the roster out.

UVA Projection:  I realize I just damned Marshall with faint praise, but being completely honest, I don't think he'll ever be more than a backup and potential transfer victim at UVA.  He doesn't have any special skills or abilities, and he's got some mechanical issues that need to be ironed out.  I just don't see much upside in his game, and I think he's facing a serious uphill climb.  In terms of pure potential, I'd rank him 6th out of the six QBs we'll have on the roster in 2013.  I hate to utter the word "clipboard"... but there it was.

(Again, I'd love to be proven dead wrong and eat a healthy plate of crow on some of these less-positive Meet the Recruit pieces, but I'm here to share my honest opinion on these guys.)

Meet the Recruit: Micah Kiser

With Steve Greer graduating and attempting to ply his wares at the next level, we're left with a 376-tackle hole in the heart of our defense.  Now, I remain bullish on Kwontie Moore as our Ray Lewis, and I like Henry Coley enough to feel comfortable with him at the Mike if that's what it comes to.  But the key to being a really good college football team is stacking up talent at key positions, and no matter how you slice it, middle linebacker is absolutely a key position in a 4-3 defense.  Enter Micah Kiser, a 4-star linebacker recruit (according to 247, he's a high 3-star on Rivals) earmarked for the Mike position.  Kiser is not the biggest linebacker prospect, at just 6-2, 215, but he's got the speed, movement skills, and relentlessness in pursuit that can add up to a pretty special sum.  He's an athletic guy, who adds some desperately-needed depth at the linebacker position.  In my mind, Kiser is one of the key recruits in this class.

UVA Projection:  Assuming a 2013 redshirt, there will be two seasons of spacing between Moore and Kiser.  Therefore, I project Kiser to get on the field in sub packages and special teams as a redshirt freshman (2014) and sophomore (2015) before taking over the Mike spot for 2016 and '17.  And during those two seasons, I fully expect Kiser to emerge as a star, and a Sunday player by the time he leaves Charlottesville.  I really like this kid and his potential.  (Kiser reminds me of Odell Thurman, if any of you are Georgia or Cincinnati Bengals fans.)

We looked like freaking Phi Slamma Jamma last night.

February 7, 2013

Meet the Recruit: Jack McDonald

Jack McDonald is a 6-foot-5, 275 pound guard from Boston, Mass. One of the trio of our Massachusetts targets going into this recruiting cycle, McDonald was the only one to come out for the good guys. McDonald projects as a guard at UVA, but will also get some reps at center during practice. A very smart kid, I think center may be where he ends up long term, though with his height, maybe not. Jack is one of a very strong recruiting class for the UVA o-line and should develop into a starter before his time at UVA is up. His mobility and nose for blocking is what projects him to guard, which should be good when pulling for runs for our dynamic backfield.

UVA Projection: Jack will redshirt next season. With the core of the interior line returning there will be no reason to burn his redshirt season. After a year in the conditioning program Jack should be able to challenge for one of the vacated interior line spots in the fall of 2014.

Meet the Recruit: Max Valles

Max Valles originally committed to the Hoos with the class of 2012. Forced to attend Fork Union for a prep season, Valles has grown into a significant threat at tight end. At 6-foot-5, 208 pounds he has the frame to grow into a prototypical tight end, and will most likely be used in blocking situations. Valles is very athletic  but also very raw at this position. TOB will be able to coach him up and possibly turn him into a starting tight end by his career's end. Valles is very unheralded coming out of FUMA, but has a chance to become a solid contributor, depending on how the tight end position is viewed in this offense moving forward.

UVA Projection: Valles is not going to be the next superstar tight end for this team. However he does have the chance to carve out a nice role as a blocking tight end that can also catch the ball on the goalline. Think of him as a potential secret weapon on a PA stretch play. Should definitely redshirt for the upcoming season.

Meet the Recruit: Eric Tetlow

Not including the 2013 draft class, we project to have seven scholarship offensive linemen on the roster at the conclusion of the 2013 season and the exhaustion of eligibility for Morgan Moses, Luke Bowanko, and Sean Cascarano.  Seven is approximately HALF of what a serious FBS-level program needs along the OL. Therefore, recruiting big uglies had to be a primary focus with the 2013 class.  We did well to land Sadiq Olanrewaju, Jack McDonald, and then Eric Smith, but it still wasn't enough.  I don't know if many UVA fans were panicked about the situation, but I was.  And it seems like Tom O'Brien was too, because one of his first orders of business was to nudge Coach London in the direction of bringing in a few more OL recruits in this class.  Cue the aggressive pursuit of George Adeosun, and the Signing Day flip-flop of Eric Tetlow from his Wake Forest commitment to join the Wahoos.  Tetlow is a rock-solid 6-6, 295 pound prospect who reeled in 3-star status from 247 and Rivals.  Along with Virginia and Wake Forest, he was pursued by Arizona State, Boston College, Maryland, Pitt, Purdue, and USF.  That's not a stunning offer sheet, but it does tell you that Tetlow was held in fairly high regard as prospect.  He's already "up to size," which means he doesn't need to add much more mass to his frame, which means he could be ready to play pretty early in his college career.  Where he'll play could be a bit of a question, though it seems like he's probably destined for the right tackle position at UVA.

UVA Projection:  Redshirting in 2013 opens up the opportunity for Tetlow to serve as a rare four-year starter at right tackle, beginning in 2014.  I think that's possible, but he'll need to fend off Sean Karl, Mike Mooney, and Eric Smith (I like Whitmire, Olanrewaju, and Adeosun at left tackle).  At worst, Tetlow is another big body we can move around the depth chart at any position on the line -- I think he's more than capable of a Cascarano-esque move inside to guard.  Really, having numbers is the most important thing at the OL positions, and Tetlow gives us another highly capable number.

February 6, 2013

Meet the Recruit: LaChaston Smith

Described as a "heat-seeking missile," LaChaston Smith is a run-and-hit linebacker prospect who earned mid/high 3-star status from both 247 and Rivals.  Two special things about Smith: 1) He's a power conference recruit from North Carolina, typically a tough draw for Virginia, and 2) He's a good student who enrolled at UVA in January and is set to participate in spring practice with the Hoos.  He's already here, and he's already preparing to play.  But where exactly he might play is still in question.  At 6-0, 205, he's admittedly a little bit small for linebacker.  Since he was a record-breaking running back in high school, he has requested the chance to practice and compete at that position this spring, an has been allowed his fair chance to do so.  I have mixed feelings about this, mostly because we specifically recruited him to play a position of great need in this recruiting class (linebacker), and because I think he should be focused on bulking up and learning the nuances of that position, not moonlighting at running back.  I think we have to assume he'll end up back at linebacker before too long, however -- running back is a very CROWDED position for us right now.  At linebacker, Smith's lack of height could haunt him, but he's got pretty special speed and hitting ability.

UVA Projection:  I think we're looking at a future core special teams player here, with some amount of upside to crack the two-deep at linebacker by his 3rd or 4th season in the program.  I think the Tenuta pressure scheme plays to Smith's specific strengths, so he could be a sub-package player earlier in his career, given how his skills translate to good ability to blitz and attack.  I don't think he'll ever be a star at UVA, but he brings some good, unique traits to the table as a career role player.  You need talented kids like this on your depth chart if you want to be a good team.  He's definitely talented, and a proven winner.

Meet the Recruit: Tyrell Chavis

At long last, Tyrell Chavis will arrive at UVA. A 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle, Chavis was forced to prep a year at Fork Union after failing to qualify out of Varina in RVA last season. Now fully qualified, Chavis is ready to step in and become a monster in the DT rotation. Chavis has quick hands and feet, and really burst onto the scene this season at FUMA. In the wake of Jim Reid's firing, Chavis was pursued heavily by Virginia Tech. But in meeting with John Tenuta, Chavis decided that Charlottesville was the place for him. Chavis is going to step into a big role at a position of need and, paired with Wilkins, could help develop the defensive line as a strength of this team.

UVA Projection: Chavis could be part of the rotation from Day 1, especially given the departure of Chris Brathwaite. He and Wilkins will (not might or could) become a monster twosome up front for the Hoos. Chavis is a very important piece in the development of an SEC-style two-deep Mike London wants on the defensive line. Yeah, Chavis could be that good.  SEC good.

Meet the Recruit: Zach Bradshaw

Zach Bradshaw is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound athlete from Damascus, Maryland. Virginia landed Bradshaw after he decommitted from Penn State in the wake of the sanctions handed down from the NCAA. Slotted to play linebacker, Bradshaw has tremendous speed for his position. Bradshaw projects as a solid weakside linebacker. At Damascus, Bradshaw was a stud on special teams, a task in which he should also excel at UVA. Bradshaw returned punts and kicks, as well as working at receiver and linebacker. He possess a tremendous football IQ, which will translate well at linebacker, especially when he needs to drop into coverage and blanket a slot receiver or a tight end. Bradshaw has tremendous ball skills and solid top-end speed. He will need to gain weight to play, but should become a contributor to the base defense by the end of his career.

UVA Analysis: Bradshaw needs to pack on some pounds. If he gets to 225-230 he will be a nightmare. I think he will redshirt this season, but if Coach Lewis sees something in him, he may not. I think he will be starting and a solid contributor before his career is out, and will grow into a special teams maven.

Meet the Recruit: Connor Wingo-Reeves

All you really need to know about Connor Wingo-Reeves is what 247's UVA recruiting guru Jamie Oakes said about him today: "I see Wingo-Reeves as the steal of this class because of the value he brings at a position of need."  BOOM.  The value?  Prototypical fullback size (220 pounds and still adding beef) with functional fullback speed (4.75 in the 40) and a fullback-style sense of aggression.  (Said Wingo Reeves: "I play with a lot of passion and I'm a very physical football player.  I think I use my hands well and read things well in coverage and study the game. And I just like hitting people.")  The need?  The fullback position, where all we've had so far during the Mike London era is an ensemble cast of retreads and misfits.  We got CWR to flip from an earlier commitment to Temple, and we traded off the services of 3-star cornerback Hipolito Corporan in order to land Wingo-Reeves.  (Corporan's scholarship was stripped away when he chose to visit Utah, in order to create space for CWR's commitment in this class.)  Wingo-Reeves was recruited to play linebacker and/or fullback -- I believe his offer from Navy was to play fullback in that throwback wishbone triple-option offense.  Personally, I'm just glad we can end the trend of moving jumbo-type athletes who fail at their first position to the fullback position here at UVA.  Max Milien (RB), LoVante' Battle (S), Terence Fells-Danzer (LB), Ryan Cobb (LB), and now Zach Swanson (TE) and Vincent Croce (DT) all started out at different positions at UVA, then segued to fullback mid-career.  While Wingo-Reeves also played linebacker and tight end in high school, he's coming to Virginia to play fullback, to focus on developing as a fullback.  He's a fullback, all the way.  He's just a 2-star recruit (according to both 247 and Rivals), and he's the lowest-rated recruit in our 2013 class... but I agree with Jamie in that CWR is the coup of the class.  I look forward to seeing him split blocks and blow open holes as a featured component of a Tom O'Brien-style power running game in that not-too-distant future.

UVA Projection:  I'm going to be bold with this one.  Croce is a full-time fullback since he can't keep the weight he needs in order to play defensive tackle, so with him and now CWR and a few priority walk-ons at fullback, Zach Swanson (who was always too tall to play fullback position, anyway) is free to move back to tight end, where the numbers are perilously thin.  Wingo-Reeves could redshirt this season, but with Swanson out of the way, I see CWR as a four-year starter at fullback and as a core special teams player.

CWR's commitment to this class could essentially improve two positions, including ending a bad revolving door situation at FB.  All in all, pretty good for a lowly 2-star recruit.

Meet the Recruit: Keeon Johnson

Keeon Johnson is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver from Kannapolis, North Carolina. A rare blend of size and speed, the Hoos held off Miami, Notre Dame, and UNC (among others) to secure Johnson's services. With a wide frame and solid height and leaping abilities, Johnson projects as a redzone nightmare. Pairing Johnson with fellow big bodies Canaan Severin, Mario Nixon, and Jake McGee, UVA could develop into a lethal redzone offense. Showing great strength at the point of attack, Johnson will be a matchup nightmare in the slot, either manhandling a nickel corner, or blowing past a slower linebacker. He brings the size and strength that this offense really lacked at receiver outside of Severin this past season. Johnson played in the Carolina Shrine Bowl with fellow Wahoo LaChaston Smith and excelled. Johnson represents the spreading influence of the Hoos into North Carolina, an influence which is sure to increase with the additions of TOB and Jon Tenuta.

UVA Projection: The true value of having a big receiver lies in the running game, and in the redzone. I think Johnson will redshirt this season, but immediately become part of the heavy/redzone package in his redshirt freshman season. With the proper development he could become a huge, sure-handed target over the middle for years to come.

It's Signing Day!

Follow the action, HERE.

And don't forget the Signing Day Celebration at JPJ Arena this evening at 6:00 PM.  I'm going to try to make it out, but family duties may block my best efforts.  Anyway, it's a pretty fun event, free food, prizes, and it's good for the kids.

Charlottesville, Va. - Virginia head football coach Mike London and his staff will announce the Cavaliers' 2013 recruiting class at a National Signing Day celebration to be held at John Paul Jones Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 6. The event is free of charge and open to the public. Parking in the arena's main (west lot) is also complimentary.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the 90-minute event. Fans will have the opportunity to interact, take photos and get autographs with the coaches and members of the 2013 Cavalier football team on the arena floor for 40 minutes before the start of the program.

London and his coaching staff will then provide commentary and coaching insights about the recruiting class accompanied by highlights on the large video screens in JPJ.

All fans attending the event will receive a voucher good for a hot dog or slice of Domino's pizza and a Pepsi product courtesy of the Virginia athletics department.

Fans in attendance will also receive raffle tickets and have the opportunity to win a pair of season tickets, pairs of single-game tickets for each home game, a television from Crutchfield, a signed Virginia football helmet and other special prizes.

Roster cards featuring information on each signee, along with other promotional items, will be distributed by the Virginia cheerleaders and Cavman to fans as they enter JPJ.

The Cavalier Team Shop will also be open and feature special sale merchandise during the evening.

WINA radio (1070 AM) will broadcast its popular "Best Seat in the House" show live from the event and the Charlottesville Newsplex stations will also provide coverage of the activities.

February 5, 2013

Meet the Recruit: Andre Levrone

One of the things Mike London has done since he was named Virginia's head coach is recruit wide receivers, and lots of 'em.  E.J. Scott, Miles Gooch, Darius Jennings, Dominique Terrell, Adrian Gamble, Canaan Severin, Mario Nixon, Kyle Dockins, and Jamall Brown in the 2010-12 classes, and Zack Jones, Keeon Johnson, and Andre Levrone in 2013 adds up to a pretty nice stockpiled hoard of receivers.  Levrone is a nice prospect as a possession-type receiver with good-enough (4.57) speed, fairly good (albeit streaky) hands, and nice size (6-2, 193).  His best asset is probably his strength and physical nature at the receiver position -- a fairly unique thing to see.  He struggles with "slumps" catching the ball, like he sometimes gets a case of the dropsies for no good reason.  His prep career suffered through injury-related fits and starts, along with being overshadowed by Stefon Diggs and Kendall Fuller at Good Counsel.  Luckily, he showed enough on the camp circuit to draw scholarship offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, and USC.  Still, Levrone flew a bit below the national radar, and enters the Virginia program as a bit of a darkhorse-type recruit.  Fine by me, as he clearly has BCS conference talent, and could be a steal for the Hoos.  Expectations should be relatively low (I'd say there's a pretty good chance he ends up being "just a guy" due to his lack of top-end speed and inconsistent hands), but it's okay to allow hopes to soar with this kid -- the frame and the strength could add up to a special possession receiver at some point down the line.

UVA Projection: Levrone needs to stay healthy, develop some downfield blocking chops, and learn to run good routes and catch the ball consistently at the college level (otherwise known as natural development for an ACC-caliber flanker).  If he does those things, he could end up being one of the late-blooming gems of this recruiting class.  No doubt he'll have a chance to muddle through the crowded depth chart at receiver and find some playing time once Jennings and Terrell exhaust their eligibility after the 2014 season.  He's not an instant impact player, and I expect to see him redshirt in 2013 and struggle to crack the rotation in 2014.  But as an upperclassman, he could break out.  I see Michael McGrew / Kris Burd upside here.  Hopefully he embraces special teams work as a younger player, as that could be his quickest path to serious playing time.

Meet the Recruit: Kirk Garner

I like tall, physical cornerbacks who can run and hit.  I also like slick, speedy, athletic cornerbacks who can shut down opposing receivers in coverage.  But my favorite type of cornerbacks are the ones who work hard to hone their craft, play like real battlers on the field, and beat you with strong technique and the elimination of mistakes.  Strong, tough WORKERS.  Kirk Garner is my favorite type of cornerback.  At 5-11, 180, he doesn't wow you with his size.  Running a 4.55, he doesn't wow you with his speed.  But he wows everyone who sees him play with a tenacity and a technical know-how that is truly unique to players at his position at this age.  247 gave Garner a high 3-star rating, just on the verge of 4-star status.  Rivals liked him enough to go ahead and give him that fourth star.  For my money, he's a better cornerback recruit than Tim Harris, and that's really saying something.  (Harris is a stud.)

UVA Projection: No doubt, he should redshirt his true freshman season, but if none of the redshirt freshmen (C.J. Moore, Divante Walker, Kelvin Rainey) are ready for spots in the two-deep in 2013, my money is on Garner to beat our Harris for a crack at some playing time as a true freshman.  For his UVA career, I think Garner projects to be a solid 2- or 3-year starter, with decent NFL aspirations after his senior season.  Players like him are unique, and I'm excited to see what he can do against receivers who rely too much on their raw athleticism at the college level.  In any case, between Harris and Garner, we have done an excellent job of addressing the cornerback position in the 2013 recruiting class.