April 29, 2013

The View from 515: Breakout Star - Anthony Harris

As we enter Mike London's fourth season at the helm of the Virginia program it's time to start ramping up expectations for players from his heralded recruiting classes. While the oldest kids in his first true recruiting class are only true juniors, thanks to Al Groh's impressively terrible management of recruiting towards the end of his tenure, they will be the backbone of the team this season. There are already the obvious stars on the field this season. Kevin Parks should have a great year running the ball. I expect Morgan Moses to have a good season on the left side. And Demetrious Nicholson should flourish in this new scheme. But those are players you already know. In this series of the Wahooze exclusive The View from 515 (that was for you John King) we're going to profile some players that you don't know as stars yet, but that we think are going to have a big season.

Meet Anthony Harris. A 6-foot-1, 185-pound hitting machine from Chesterfield, VA. Harris started at free safety for the Hoos in 2012 and recorded 87 tackles with one pick. IMPRESSED?! Well admittedly those are not eye popping stats, but 87 tackles was actually good for third on the team behind senior tackling machines Steve Greer and LaRoy Reynolds. However the one pick from a free safety was something that caused most Hoofans to groan (or attempt to break a plastic water bottle across a metal railing, looking at you Kendall). That stat most likely also cost Jim Reid his job. But why would the third leading tackler be considered a "breakout star" for 2013?

Enter John Tenuta, and more importantly his hyper-aggressive style. There are certain players that will benefit from the switch to the new scheme, but none may benefit more than Harris. I've long thought Phelps and Harris were playing the wrong positions at safety. Phelps, a damn good corner in high school, has the ball skills to be a ballhawk at free safety, but not necessarily the nose for hitting that that position required. That's why I was thrilled when John Tenuta announced that Phelps and Harris would be swapping spots, turning a confusing alignment into a potentially great one. (It also puts what is probably the most annoying message board debate to rest, as there is zero chance Rijo Walker can beat out either safety at their respective positions now.)

But back to Harris. This kid has always been one of my favorites, and will quickly become one of yours. Growing up, my favorite player was Sean Taylor, so I have an affinity for watching safeties lay people out. And while Harris will never have the complete game Taylor did, he will become a ferocious hitter at the point of attack this season. Harris will be spending a ton of time near or behind the line of scrimmage this season, and hopefully will see a massive spike in sacks, especially considering he had zero last season. That being said, it will be the bone-crushing hits he will get against running backs and receivers coming across the middle that will get him a special place in all our hearts this season. I'm very VERY bullish on the safeties this season given the new scheme, but I am at another level of optimism for Harris.

More of this, please.

April 28, 2013

WaHiatus! (Plus the Post-Spring Depth Chart)

Okay, so I'm pretty much completely swamped with trying to get the family moved to Richmond, and don't have any free time for writing, so I'll need to take a short leave of absence from Wahooze.  Maybe a week or so in addition to the spotty posting of the last few weeks, nothing extreme.

But before I go, here is the post-spring depth chart, released this past Monday.  Some concentrated thoughts generated from perusal:

-- More >OR< at quarterback.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  For the record, my preference is officially Greyson Lambert, with a specific wildcat-type package for David Watford.  My guess for what will actually happen is that Watford ends up starting the BYU game while Sims transfers away.  While still on the record, I'll say that is probably a pretty good way for this to shake out, as Watford's elusiveness could help a potentially shaky o-line, and the removal of Sims sets up a more natural system of succession at the position... if Lambert can accept the QB2 role.

-- Clifton Richardson is third in the pecking order at running back.  A lot of people are up in arms over that one.  I am not.  Richardson can't stay healthy, and Shepherd (listed second on the depth chart) brings more speed and natural receiving ability to the conversation.  None of this probably matters, as [incoming freshman] Smoke Mizzell will be demanding touches in some sort of capacity this fall.

-- Luke Bowanko is kicking out from center to left guard, but will still make the line calls.  This is a good deal all-around, as LuBo is a better guard than center.  In fact, this sort of solidifies what looked like a problem area all spring (and frankly, all last season).

-- Coming from out of left field to take LuBo's vacated spot at center is redshirt freshman walk-on Jackson Matteo.  (Read this piece from Jeff White on Matteo.)  If Matteo is a legit starting center as a redshirt freshman, then it solves A LOT of problems.  It's almost too good to be true, which is why the jury has to be out until the ammunition is live.  But just imagine a four-year starter at center.  That would be a good thing.  And if Lambert wins the QB job, we could have a four-year starter receiving Matteo's snaps, also a very good thing.  Anyway, London has always said the goal is to put the five best linemen on the field together, and if Matteo is one of those five, then I am excited about it.  Slightly skeptical, but excited.

-- Sean Cascarano is back at guard... and we really need him to step up now.  He's been toiling as a below-average blocker for a while now.  Time for him to settle in as a senior.  If he can, our line could be pretty good.

-- Game, set, match, Jay Whitmire is now our starting right tackle.  I wasn't impressed with him in the spring game, but I know he's got talent and that the staff is pretty high on his potential.

-- The sum of the parts on the o-line still looks below-average to me.  Every position other than left guard (if Bowanko doesn't have to move back to center) has question marks.  If the 2013 season goes poorly, this will be the most likely culprit.

-- Cody Wallace has moved out to right tackle to back up Whitmire.  Not sure how I feel about that, other than to say that he and Conner Davis need to figure things out fast, or they'll never again be starters on the Virginia o-line.

-- I suddenly feel pretty good about our tight end position.  We know Jake McGee is a weapon, and Zach Swanson tasted extensive action at fullback and has had time to become vetted in the program.  Add Rob Burns' physical presence to the mix, and I think we're cooking with gas. But yeah, that >OR< is kind of bullshit.  McGee is the guy.  Right?

-- Depth chart is as expected at wide receiver.  I'll still be looking for #19 to take over #2's spot in the slot (despite this puff pastry piece from Jeff White), and for #80 to push his way into increased playing time.  Canaan Severin seems like an obvious mid-career redshirt candidate to me, as well.

-- Depth at defensive tackle seems dangerously thin... until you consider the arrival of Tyrell Chavis and Donta Wilkins this summer.  Both true frosh are ready to play and make an impact in the rotation.

-- No real surprises at defensive end or linebacker, and things seem to be settling in for the defensive front seven.  My expectations are growing...

-- Fan favorite Wil Wahee has moved from safety to corner, and he seems to be ahead of C.J. Moore and Divante Walker in the pecking order.  This will be an interesting development to monitor, as the #4 corner figures to see some playing time this season.  Wahee is a hitter, not sure how good his cover skills really are.

-- It drives some people batty that Rijo Walker can't get past Brandon Phelps at free safety.  It doesn't bother me, as I think Phelps has real upside in the Tenuta defense.  Upside that Walker maybe lacks.

-- Kelvin Rainey has moved from corner to safety, and is listed as the primary backup to Ant Harris.  Interesting.  I need to see more from Rainey before I can form an opinion on this, but I suspect Walker is the first safety off the bench at either position.

-- I'm pulling hard fro Anthony Cooper, but he seems to be buried on the depth chart right now.  I think the kid can play and deserves a chance at some playing time.  He might need to earn it on special teams.

So there you have it.  Other than Matteo, nothing terribly earth-shattering.

No on with the hiatus...

April 23, 2013

ACCpocalypse, Averted

Huge news on the REALIGNMAGEDDON front yesterday, as fans of the ACC can finally relax a little bit with the conference's 15 members (including Pitt, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Louisville and excluding Maryland) announcing a Grant of Media Rights.

Here is the announcement:

The Atlantic Coast Conference Council of Presidents announced today that each of the current and future 15-member institutions has signed a grant of media rights, effective immediately.

"This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions," said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. "The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in insuring the ACC is extremely well positioned with unlimited potential."

"The ACC has long been a leader in intercollegiate athletics, both academically and athletically," said the collective ACC Council of Presidents. "Collectively, we all agree the grant of rights further positions the ACC and its current and future member schools as one of the nation's premier conferences."

The ACC's current and future 15-member institutions include:
Boston College
Clemson University
Duke University
Florida State University
Georgia Institute of Technology
University of Louisville
University of Miami
University of North Carolina
North Carolina State University
University of Notre Dame
University of Pittsburgh
Syracuse University
University of Virginia
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Wake Forest University

About the Atlantic Coast Conference:
The Atlantic Coast Conference, now in its 60th year of competition, has long enjoyed the reputation as one of the strongest and most competitive intercollegiate conferences in the nation. Since the league’s inception in 1953, ACC schools have captured 127 national championships, including 67 in women’s competition and 60 in men’s. In addition, NCAA individual titles have gone to ACC student-athletes 146 times in men’s competition and 102 times in women’s action. For more information, visit theACC.com.

What does a Grant of Media Rights mean for the conference?  Well, in a nutshell, it means the ACC is now protected from seeing other leagues - the Big Ten and Big XII, specifically - poach its teams.  For the next few decades, no teams will be able to leave the ACC without sacrificing their media rights, hence giving those schools no value to the leagues looking to expand.  So in essence, the ACC has effectively circled its wagons!

The wagon on fire is Wake Forest.

Read more about the Grant and its implications on SI.com, HERE and here:

April 22, 2013

Hoos Reach New Heights

Pretty awesome piece from Jeff White, following up a pretty awesome homestand sweep against Florida State.  Crack it open and take a look.

Some numbers that really stand out to me:
  • 4,980 fans in attendance for the Sunday sweepclencher.  That's a great college baseball crowd.  Easily one of the top draws in the nation.
  • Brian O'Connor just turned 42.  He's got another 20-25 years doing this, easily.  We need to open up the checkbook and make damn well sure that those two decades are spent at UVA.
  • Oak's career record at UVA: 446-155-2.  Like, holy shit.  That's a .742 win percentage.  Wow.
  • This was our 1st-ever sweep of Florida State.
  • 13,890 fans made it out to Davenport this weekend.  That's more than a typical basketball game can draw.  I love how Charlottesville has embraced this program.  That'll be a huge component to continued success.
  • Brandon Waddell, our bulldog freshman Friday starter (usually the spot reserved for the staff ace), went a strong 6 innings in game 1 of the series.  He was battling through some recent ups and downs against ACC competition, but it looks lime he's righted the ship.
  • Scott Silverstein went 7 strong innings on Saturday.  I had expressed concern over his injury history and often ineffective pitching last season, but in 2013 he has been fantastic. A real asset to our rotation.  I'm happy and proud to eat crow on this one.
  • We are now 35-6 overall, 16-5 in the ACC.  We are cruising toward a top-8 national seed and hosting privileges for the NCAA regional and super regional (if we make it that far).
  • 9 saves for Kyle Crockett so far this season.  He has settled into the closer's role, and might be the best in the entire nation in handling 9th inning work.
Tuesday vs. Richmond and Wednesday vs. JMU.  Need to go handle business in those games before laying siege to Blacksburg this coming weekend.


April 19, 2013

Notre Dame @ UVA, 2015

This pretty much says it all.


Now we just need to make sure we have a team that's good enough to win that game.

Meanwhile, in case you give a crap*, here's Notre Dame's schedule as they tiptoe into this five-games-a-year arrangement with the ACC:

North Carolina
Wake Forest
@ Florida State
@ Syracuse (in MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands)

Boston College
Georgia Tech
@ Clemson
@ Pittsburgh
@ Virginia

Virginia Tech
@ NC State
@ Syracuse (in MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands)

* And you should give a crap, because it just might be the thing that saves the conference from oblivion.

I'm glad to see a true rotation here, and not some BS arrangement where ND keeps it's "traditional" rivalries with BC and GT/Miami on an annual basis, with the other ACC teams rotating into the free 2-3 spots each season.  That said, it might have been better for the conference to sort of force more marquee matchups featuring Notre Dame... more games against FSU, namely.

But it's cool, I'm happy.  We are going to see Virginia take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Scott Stadium in just two years.  Incredible.  If you're any sort of college football fan, there's no way you can avoid being totally PUMPED about this.

April 15, 2013

Jespy Says Goodbye

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia men’s basketball head coach Tony Bennett announced Monday (April 15) that sophomore guard Paul Jesperson (Merrill, Wis.) is leaving the Cavaliers’ program.

“Paul has decided to leave the Virginia basketball program and transfer to another school,” Bennett said. “We’d like to thank him for the past two seasons and wish him well in the future.”

The 6-6 Jesperson averaged 3.5 points and 1.7 rebounds in 56 career games at Virginia. He started 33 of 35 games in 2012-13, averaging 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Jesperson tallied a career-high 12 points in Virginia’s 80-69 win at Maryland on Feb. 10.

“I would really like to thank my coaches, teammates and all of my supporters for the opportunity I had at UVa,” Jesperson said. “They made my time here unforgettable and I’m extremely grateful for that. I wish them the best and I’m looking forward to continuing my college career at my new school.”

Jespy earned solid playing time (25.7 minutes per game) this past season, but the writing was on the wall that he was soon going to see more time on the bench in favor of Brogdon and the two freshmen point guards.  So, in light of an obviously shrinking role, he opted to cut and run.  I don't begrudge him that at all.  In fact, I'm gracious for what he did give us in two seasons of work, and I'm glad he's opening up this scholarship for us to pursue a big man as part of the 2014 class.

I really have two main highlights from Jesperson's time at UVA:

1) His lockdown defensive effort on Scott Wood when we beat NC State in the JPJ this season.

2) His 4-for-4 performance from 3 in our road win over Maryland.  (In fact, did you know that Jespy hit at least one triple in each of our last 12 games prior to the NIT?  He wasn't a good shooter in terms of how the shot looked or how big of an impact he made from a points-per-game perspective, but he dialed up a .370 clip from deep this season.  That's not horrible.  His 4.7 points per game in almost 26 minutes of playing time was pretty horrible.)

Anyway, I wish Paul Jesperson the best of luck in his continued adventures.

Now... what to do with this spare scholarship that just opened up?  

2014 big man recruit, Paschal Chukwu.  He's 7-foot-2.

April 12, 2013

More Spring Game


Hungry for more info about UVA's Spring Game?

Our friends at Streaking the Lawn did a pretty great two-part piece this week.  You are officially encouraged to read it.

You are also officially encouraged to purchase a Streaking the Lawn tee-shirt.

Meanwhile, after a week of reflection on the Spring Game, I have a few more broad thoughts:
  • The defense is going to be good.  Probably the best we've fielded under Mike London.  As long as the young linebackers hold up, we'll have a top-5 unit in the ACC, and the D will win us a few football games this season.
  • Thanks to Tom O'Brien's presence, we will in fact pick a quarterback and stick with him.  That quarterback will have his warts, for sure.  But continuity from series to series and week to week and game to game will yield a pretty good QB by season's end.
  • If there's one unit that will short-circuit our season, it's not the QBs, but the offensive line.  I am officially VERY worried about the OL this fall.  When you start wondering if any of the incoming freshmen can help on the o-line, it's a really bad sign.
  • We'll start giving Adrian Gamble and E.J. Scott more playing time over Dominique Terrell and Darius Jennings.  We have to.  We just have to.
  • The following players will ensure that this is a successful* season: Tim Smith, Jake Snyder, Eli Harold, Smoke Mizzell, KP, Jake McGee, Tra Nicholson, Ant Harris, Morgan Moses, Voz, Brent Urban, and Henry Coley.  I have a lot of faith in those 12 guys.

* "Successful" being 6-6 and a bowl appearance.

April 11, 2013

Road to Omaha: Hits a Speedbump

The UVA baseball team dropped only its 4th game of the season last night, 9-8 to Radford when a 9th inning rally fell short. However all is not lost as the Hoos are now 30-4 on the season and ranked 4th in the country. Radford is also a very good team, improving to 20-11. Is this the time to panic? Of course not. That being said, there is something that we should all become very aware of.

It was pointed out on the Wahoos247 message board that Friday night ace Brandon Waddell seems to be hitting some sort of freshman wall. While this is not the end of the world, it is certainly something to pay attention to moving forward. The freshman wall is a real thing everybody, you need to prepare to be able to deal with it. Just like the basketball team would leave you with befuddlingly bad performances this past season, occasionally you are going to see the baseball team do the same. However, the pure talent on the staff should be able to overcome what could turn out just to be a speedbump, rather than a wall.

It's not all bad news though! Kyle Crockett has emerged as a force at the back end of the bullpen. Artie Lewicki is back (though he got roughed up)! Josh Sborz continues to impress. And Nate Kirby continues to show great improvement. This team has a plethora of arms, and is built to handle these kinds of issues. Silverstein and Howard have been rock solid on Saturday and Sunday. And of course the offense continues to surge.

This is the season where Oak earns his money. Having too much talent can often make it difficult to manage. However Coach Oak is handling this beautifully. I suspect you might see attempts to get other pitchers stretched out just in case Waddell continues to struggle, but one thing is certain. This loss to Radford is nothing more than a speedbump on the road to Omaha.

April 10, 2013

The View from 515: What's the Deal with the QBs?

In some recent conversations I've had, it's stuck out to me that our off-season football coverage could use a little beginner's-level information to break down some of the broader topics surrounding the team and the upcoming season for those who don't scour the internet for deeper info/analysis in all UVA sports. As a result, so begins our "The View from 515" series. These will be a little more introductory towards important topics facing the football team next year - a perfect starter's guide for a fan looking to care a little deeper about what's going on on the gridiron. Don't worry, diehards, there will be plenty of nerding out in other articles to come as well. You can get musings on UVA sports anywhere, but only at Wahooze will we literally write about anything you request.

So! Let's take a look at one of the bigger issues facing the football team this offseason, which will almost certainly play the biggest role in the team's success next year: The Quarterbacks.

Putting it simply, the dual-quarterback rotation that Mike London and Bill Lazor employed in previous seasons has resulted in some terrible performances. Cycling quarterbacks with little plan/warning does a disservice to the whole team, not to mention affecting the confidence of those targeted players. Now, we did win 8 games in one of those years, but I think most would agree that was largely in spite of quarterback play (or at least the QB rotating). Now, could Mike Rocco have secured the position for the rest of his career by playing better? Let's hope/assume yes. So one ENORMOUS goal for London and his new staff (including new offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild and associate head coach/offensive mentor Tom O'Brien) is to stop the insanity and name a starting quarterback for the upcoming season. Woefully, no one sticks out after spring practice as the clear guy for the job, so we likely wont know who it will be until later in the fall.

So, who's the race between? In bulleted digestible format, in order of familiarity:

Phillip Sims

  • Junior, from Chesapeake
  • Held in VERY HIGH regard in the 757, owns records, god-like status
  • Transferred from Alabama, after committing there as the #1 QB recruit in the country out of high school
  • Played some behind Rocco last year, did not do anything to convince the coaches that he's the man for the job
  • Probably the best arm of the QB group, also probably spends the least amount of time training/studying film (this is some wide-spread hearsay, so take it however you want)
  • Currently 3rd on the depth chart. 2 new coaches in charge of the offense looking at all 3 guys with a clean slate, something stuck out in Sims' performance to put him currently clearly 3rd in the race.

David Watford

  • Sophomore, from Hampton
  • 757 guy from a school that rarely sends players to UVA
  • Redshirted last year, after cycling with Rocco throughout his freshman year
  • Mobile QB with less-than-good accuracy (at least during his 1st year). Gives the offense a boost with his speed, plus can make up for other weaknesses/broken plays with his scrambling
  • Can he make the throws needed in a pro-style offense? Accuracy wasn't the best in the Spring Game, but neither of the other QBs were better
  • Seems to be slightly ahead in the race, likely tied with Greyson Lambert as the future starter 

Greyson Lambert

  • Redshirt Freshman from Georgia
  • Highly regarded recruit, obviously born to break records at UVA, lord all over grounds - his name is freakin Greyson Lambert. Look at that picture and tell me it doesn't scream STAR QB. He's Lance in Varsity Blues before the injury (spoiler alert).
  • Good arm, good accuracy. Some say he doesn't look comfortable in the pocket. Do any of the QBs?
  • No game experience yet from which to judge
  • Not as mobile as Watford, but probably better suited for the intermediate throws that will steady this offense
So there are your choices. Each with risks/benefits. I see no clear answer, and like most fans, just want to see the coaches pick someone and stick with him, no matter who. That said, I'd put my wishlist most likely in reverse order of above. Again, I'll be happy with whoever wins (as long as they play well). Who do you think should start vs BYU?

April 8, 2013

7:00 on the U

Yes, I know the national championship game is tonight, but you should instead tune in for the baseball series-ender at Wake Forest, 7:00 PM on ESPNU.


April 6, 2013

Spring Game Blitz

Yep, Mike Papi hit a grand salami in the top of the 9th with two outs to bring us back from a 6-3 deficit to a 7-6 lead, then Kyle Crockett (say hello to your Wahoo lockdown closer) struck out the Wake Forest side to slam the door shut.  That was pretty awesome.

But football pays the bills around here, so I will now empty my Spring Game notebook for your perusal.

See that?  That's a plate of sweet and sour chicken.  And that's the same flavor I had in my mouth-hole as I walked back to my car after watching today's Spring Game.

Sweet -- It was a beautiful day for spring football.  We've been lucky with the weather for a couple of years in a row now, ever since that weird hailstorm hit the stadium and lacrosse game in 2011.


If Tom O'Brien and Steve Fairchild can't save him from himself, Mike London's failure to find a legit quarterback and field a competent offensive line will cost him his dream job.

(I made that really big because it's the single most important point I'll make in this long, winding narrative.)

Sweet -- Defensive front seven.  Specifically, depth along the defensive front seven.  Specifically, the quality of depth along the defensive front seven, and the linebacker blitzes Jon Tenuta dials up in order to supercharge the front seven's effectiveness.  By all accounts, this was a vanilla gameplan today, yet the overload blitzes were flowing, and they were successfully overloading the blocking unit.

-- Wake up at 12:45 PM on a Saturday, get out of bed, and walk across the street to watch some football.  Is that too much to ask?  For current UVA students, apparently it is.  I hope you fail your History of Jazz midterm, you fucking eggheads.

-- Offensive pacing seems to be pretty good under Fairchild.  Remember Lazor's pacing?  Get to the line, watch numerous receivers go in motion pointlessly, watch the play clock grind along lazily, then eventually the snap comes?  Maybe?  Well in the Fairchild system, it seems a bit more streamlined and straightforward.  Get to the line and run the fucking play, with no bullshit.  When it's pro-form and nothing fancy, I like the elimination of meaningless frills.  (I'd still prefer an honest-to-God high octane college spread offense, but that's neither here nor there.)

Sour -- Can we please recruit some receivers who are BOTH fast AND can catch?  It seems like we have a lot of agonizing either/or in those two departments.

Sweet -- I've always liked how the London Regime wasn't bashful about moving players around from position to position until they found something that sticks.  Rob Burns at tight end and Vincent Croce at fullback look like winning moves.  Pawns from e2 to e4.  (That was a chess reference, dumbass.)


Sweet -- We threw a lot of slants today.  God bless America.  As Pierce said, that's how you win video game football.

Sour -- The defenses clearly outplayed the offenses today.

Sweet -- The defenses clearly outplayed the offenses today.  (Confounded you vs. yourself scrimmage format!)

Sour -- We're facing our toughest schedule in a long , long time, maybe ever, and I'm tasting sweet and sour after the Spring Game.  Not good.

Enough of this.  Here are my player-specific notes from the scrimmage, and the real reason you tune in to this bad channel.  I'll present them in numerical order of jersey number, just because.

#2, WR Dominique Terrell -- He played today, but I never really noticed him.  He was summarily outshined by other, less-talented, less-hyped players.  I'm getting toward the end of my rope with him and Jennings, two so-called playmakers who struggle to make plays.

#5, QB David Watford -- He was the buzzy quarterback from the early spring practices that were open to the media, but  after this game I think the buzz has more or less fizzled.  He can run a little bit, and he looked really good on the scripted QB keepers - a nice read option, a fun rollout pass, and a tidy little bootleg.  This running ability is a dimension you cannot overlook.  But passing the ball was a different story.  He ranged from woeful to mediocre on his accuracy, and that's not good.  He's got the arm strength and he's cleaned up a lot of his wasted motion in the pocket, but I just think his throws are way too chancy to have him working as our QB1.  It's impossible to have confidence in Watford throwing the football.  He's very Jameel Sewell-esque.

#6, WR Darius Jennings -- I'm not going to say much, other than to acknowledge his obviously immense physical gifts while simultaneously suggesting that he should ride the fucking pine until he learns how to catch the fucking football.  Way too many egregious drops in the scrimmage today.  Way, way, way too many.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

#7, DE Eli Harold -- He's still too small, and had a quiet day.  But he'll be fine, no worries.

#8, S Anthony Harris -- He's getting better and better out there.  He made a really nice play to break up a pass in the end zone at the end of the game.

#10, RB Clifton Richardson -- You get the sense that this guy can get hurt getting out of bed in the morning.  Today, he ripped off two stellar, rumbling, Marshawn Lynchian runs, but got up gimpy after his second carry.  Is bubble wrap legal football padding?  All joking aside, Richardson looked like a star on most of his touches today.  Some things I wrote about him:

  • "Beast.  Fucking beast."
  • "He's a GD load."
  • "Fucking beast."  (I seriously wrote this twice.)
  • "Makes your balls ache when he runs."  (Use your imagination for that one.)
  • "People are going to love this guy if he can stay on the field."

#11, QB Greyson Lambert -- Today, he looked tall and strong-armed, decisive with the football, put nice zip on his intermediate throws, spun a beautiful spiral, and looked every bit the part of a future star QB.  The problem is, it's not the future, not yet.  It's the present.  And the present Lambert (at least what I saw today) was prone to overthrowing his receivers and was guilty of locking on to his first read.  Aka, shit that will lead to backbreaking interceptions in a baptism-by-fire season if he's the pick for QB1.  Still, in the battle to be the lesser of three evils, I think I champion the idea of rolling the dice on Lambert's upside over the x-factor of Watford's legs and Phillip Sims' howitzer arm.

#13, LB Daquan Romero -- He's clearly one of our three best linebackers, and looked totally competent and fluid dropping back into coverage today.

#14, QB Phillip Sims -- He has a potbelly and looked about the same as you remember him: huge arm, nothing else of note.  He hasn't progressed since the end of last season.  It's clear to me that he's not a very good option to be our starting quarterback.  He made some impressive throws today (he can still flick it a country mile), but the energy level just seemed to be down and suppressed whenever he was in the game.  Can't have a QB1 with a black cloud floating over his head.  Looks like he's third in the pecking order for a reason.

#17, WR Miles Gooch -- Gotta love the Gooch.  Problem is, it looks like he might have bulked up too much at this point.  He still runs like a broken robot, but now his body looks like a tight end's (or H-back's) body.  He's a plus-plus blocker, and he's sure-handed, but his movement skills are simply lacking.

#19, WR E.J. Scott -- He's not big, he's not really fast, but dammit he's one of our best wide receivers.  He gets open and he catches the ball.  Don't get cute, coaching staff.  Don't overthink it.  Just play the guys who actually make plays.  E.J. Scott is one of those guys, and true to form, he made plays today.  (I especially like E.J. in the slot, where he saw a lot of action today. Screw Dom Terrell.)

#20, WR Tim Smith -- Smitty looked really, really good today.  Like he's poised for a huge senior season.  Fingers crossed that he can stay healthy for a change.

#23, RB Khalek Shepherd -- I've always liked Khalek as a runner, and today he was quick and squirted nimbly through holes.  I think he's a really good #2 running back, and it blows my mind that he might be our #4 or #5 guy in the backfield.  Wow.  Now why in the hell was he working behind Kye Morgan in the pecking order today?

#25, RB Kevin Parks -- KP is about to be thrown under the wheel by everyone jumping over each other to climb aboard the Ricahrdson bandwagon.  But for my money, I like Parks running behind a shaky o-line, as his cutback ability and knack for getting low and running behind his pads will more often yield positive yards over Richardson's bulldozing style.  In the Spring Game, KP looked really decisive in his cutbacks and lane selection, no dancing whatsoever, and I liked what I saw.  Low to the ground, surprising power.  He is - and should be - our starter at running back.

#28, S Wil Wahee -- He might be a career backup and special teams maven, but I thought he looked quick and active playing safety in today's scrimmage.  I liked what I saw.

#30, CB C.J. Moore -- He looked pretty good in coverage today.  Fluid.  Natural.

#30, P Alec Vozenilek -- I'm not going to say something stupid like "a punter is our best player," but Voz looks like the kind of punter who can give us a real edge in football games.  He was crushing his punts today, and made a wonderfully athletic play in squeezing off a punt after a bad snap into the end zone.  He had a great day, and could be a real weapon for us, coupled with what looks like a pretty good defense.

#34, LB Kwontie Moore -- He's big and can really hit.  He was involved in an encouraging number of positive plays this afternoon, though I still think he trails Coley by a large margin in the race to be the starter at MLB.

#36, RB Kye Morgan -- For some reason, he got totes ahead of Khalek Shepherd.  Sadly, I wasn't impressed with Morgan.  At all.  He looked like "just a guy."

#42, LB Demeitre Brim -- Did you know it's pronounced "breem?"  Yeah, it blew my mind, too.  Tenuta blitzed him a lot, and he looked good in that role.  In fact, he looked good in general.  Zero worries about this new starter at OLB.

#43, DE Trent Corney -- We've found ourselves a dandy little edge rusher here, folks.  You can tell he's still really raw, but you can also tell that he's a physical marvel and a nightmare for slow-footed or weak-armed blockers.  I think he'll be a pleasant surprise this season as a wave player at end.  The guy is explosive.

#44, LB Henry Coley -- I'm a fan.  Today, he looked really big, and really ready to be our guy at mike... though Kwontie Moore also had a nice day with the 2s.

#59, LB Mark Hall -- He's on the second team defense, but he looked big and active to me today.  I was impressed.

#64, DT David Dean -- Another guy with whom I came away impressed.  He's short, stocky, squat, stumpy, however you want to call it.  But he's also clearly quite powerful, and did a lot of good work by simply gaining favorable leverage today.

#78, OT Morgan Moses -- Big Mo wasn't perfect today, but he was better than I expected as an unconventionally enormous left tackle.  He was lively all afternoon, and seemed dialed in.  It looks like he is accepting a leadership role with this team.  I hope for the best here, but still fear the worst.  Today did nothing to make the situation seem less murky.  It could be pretty good, it could be okay, it could be really bad.  The good news is that Mo generally got the best of Eli Harold today.  (Or maybe that's just bad news for Eli?  Damn the befuddling nature of an us vs. ourselves Spring Game!)

#80, WR Adrian Gamble -- He's going to be a good one, I think.  Today he flashed a great size/speed target, and showed off some decent hands.  He made a nice adjustment on a severely underthrown Lambert bomb, and that impressed me.  We need receivers who can get the ball, and Gamble might be that type of guy at some point down the line.  We took a lot of deep shots today, and at least half were directed at #80, so the staff must be drinking the Gamble kool-aid.

#83, TE Jake McGee -- He was quiet until late in the game, but I saw nothing to dispel the notion that he's our best receiving option.  I just love the guy.

#86, WR Jamall Brown -- I don't think he'll play this season, but he did make a really nice diving catch late in the game, wearing a defender like a cape.

#87, WR Kyle Dockins -- I thought he'd look like a small tight end miscast as a wide receiver, but he didn't.  They split him out wide at flanker, and I thought he looked really good.  He's a possession guy, big, rangy, great hands.  But maybe big dudes with good hands are what we need.  He moved around like a wide receiver, not like a tight end.  Another season of polish and he could be a real player.  We might see him in spurts this fall, and I wouldn't be shocked to see him show some flashes of brilliance on the field... especially if he works his way into the red zone offense.  I really like what's coming into focus with this kid.

#92, TE Rob Burns -- He's huge, tough, rugged, and looks like a thumper at the tight end position.  A throwback type.  He struggled a little bit with the in-line blocking today (timing and footwork issues, I think), but was a shockingly great receiver.  His run after catch was captivating, as he was a terror for the defenders trying to bring him down on two separate occasions.  He's clearly developed quickly after the position switch from defensive end, and if he can keep this pace of improvement up, he'll be a really pleasant surprise this fall.  Seriously, the play of #92 was one of the biggest reasons to smile after the Spring Game.

#99, DT Brent Urban -- Stud.  Seriously.  Mark my words, we'll all recognize him as a stud at the end of the 2013 season.  Today, he was simply fantastic in all phases of the game.  That might have been because of shoddy blocking up front, but I don't buy that.  Urban looked legit, like a bigger, stronger, more confident Matt Conrath.

There you go.  Sorry I didn't have more notes on the o-line, but I spent most of my time watching the quarterbacks.  Anyway, there's more football stuff coming here on Wahooze, so stay tuned.

Links for Tori

Had lunch with my good friend Tori yesterday, and these two pieces came up. T-Bone, here are the links you requested.  Great seeing you, girl.  Thanks again for the help getting football tickets for the group!

Really, these should be required reading for anyone who enjoys this blog.  So if you haven't seen them before this, please crack them open and take a peek.

This Bubble Will Burst: How Greed Will Bring Down Modern Amateur Athletics
Something smells rotten in the state of amateur athletics. All this talk of TV contracts, TV markets, and TV valuations in the latest round of conference realignment has made me feel all, well, bubbly.

Pat Haden was the first to say it publicly. That doesn't mean he was the only one thinking it. When the USC athletic director told SI.com's Stewart Mandel that his fellow ADs and other school leaders need to think long and hard about the potential repercussions of an NCAA loss in the antitrust lawsuit originally filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, Haden echoed the thoughts of dozens of his colleagues.

Spring Game notes coming soon...

April 3, 2013

Reading the Spring Football Tea Leaves

Short post today.  Sorry guys, been really busy.

Anyway, here are a few quick nugs that might just surprise you if you haven't already been following the Spring storylines coming from Virginia Football...

-- David Watford is currently running with the 1s, and seems to have a laserlock on the QB1 job this fall.  Greyson Lambert is giving chase.  Phillip Sims is running a distant third.  Word out of spring practice is that Watford put his redshirt year to good use, and has emerged as a take-the-reins type of team leader.  His accuracy has also improved (which is a good damn thing.)

-- Clifton Richardson looks better than he ever has, and seems poised for a big season running the football.  Kevin Parks could face a tough challenge holding off Richardson and Smoke Mizzell this fall.  Crowded backfield: a VERY good problem to have.

-- Morgan Moses has moved to left tackle, full time.  He's apparently improved a lot.  It still scares the crap out of me.

-- Mo's vacated right tackle position appears to be a problem, with neither Jay Whitmire nor Sean Cascarano being able to step up and generate a sense of security.

-- An avalanche of accolades have buried Vincent Croce, who moved from defensive tackle to fullback prior to spring practice.  Croce couldn't keep the weight on at DT, but appears to be using his tight end skills (played that position in HS) and defensive mentality in making a noticeable impact at fullback.

-- The defensive line rotation is being firmed up.  Eli Harold and Jake Snyder at end, with Mike Moore off the bench, and Brent Urban and David Dean at tackle, with Justin Renfrow off the bench.  All reports have been positive with this unit, and especially David Dean.  Good news, as we attempt to move forward without Chris Brathwaite.

-- Henry Coley is taking hold at mike linebacker.  This has met with some disdain on the message boards, with the high expectations surrounding Kwontie Moore seeming to not be met (so far).

-- Lots of general buzziness around both Daquan Romero and Demeitre Brim at outside linebacker.  We might just have two above-average - albeit inexperienced - starters in those roles.  Blitzing in the Tenuta scheme seems to fit both players to a tee.

-- The secondary has also gotten a lot of positive attention, from top to bottom.  Specifically, Maurice Canady, Anthony Harris, and Anthony Cooper have received accolades.

-- Overall, practices have been much more physical this spring.  Lots of live tackling, hitting, physicality.  Jon Tenuta and Tom O'Brien are largely credited for that change.  Hopefully the philosophy shift bears fruit this fall in the way of a tougher, grittier team.

-- It's spring practice.  Most of what you hear will be positive.  I'll see it with my own two eyes on Saturday at the spring game, and will provide you with a full report.

Also in the "coming soon" department, for all of you hoopheads:

  • Slicing the 200 Minute Pie, 2013-14 Edition -- It's a rite of passage at the end of every basketball season.  This edition is taking me longer to put together because we'll run a legit 13 deep and the exercise of slicing up the pie is freaking difficult!
  • A Look Around the ACC -- Who's leaving, who's back, and who's coming in for each of the 15 ACC basketball teams?  What's the pecking order for next season's ACC basketball season?  (Hint: Virginia just might be in the top three of the conference!)
  • What the Final Four Tells Me We Need -- I'll break down what the teams in this year's Final Four have that we lack.  Pretty straightforward.

Stay tuned!