September 30, 2013

Dear Steve Fairchild

You don't know me, but you might not really get to know anyone at UVA at the rate you are going. I just thought I'd leave a few suggestions here for you.

That's all. I hope you have a great day dreaming up different formations from which to run bubble screens and running back swing passes. Most people think multiple plays out of one set makes an offense dynamic, but you're far too forward thinking, you know the real secrets of playcalling.

September 29, 2013

Woke Up this Morning...

...expecting to be calmed down and not so reactionary to yesterday's game.


I now know beyond any shadow of a doubt that:

a. Mike London is a great dude, but is not the head coach who is going to take us to where we want to go as a football program.

b. David Watford is a great kid, but is not the quarterback who is going to take us to where we want to go as a football program.

c. My stance as a die-hard fan of Virginia Football and as a fan blogger is that any time spent with these two individuals continuing in their current positions is time wasted.  The page can be turned right now, as opposed to delaying it A YEAR AND A HALF to the end of the 2014 season.  This is 2008 all over again.  Do we really want 2014 to be another 2009?

d. I don't care if Quin Blanding and Andrew Brown (or any/all other recruits for that matter) feel the need to jump ship if London gets axed.  He's not the guy.  No amount of individual 5-star talent is going to change that.  Besides, these two guys play defense, and neither is a quarterback.

Incredibly frustrated and depressed right now.  A night to decompress didn't help.  In fact, it just made it worse.  Worse, but with crystal-clear clarity.  London must go.

Sorry, coach.  I pulled for you as hard as I could,
but yesterday you lost me.

September 28, 2013

First Game of Basketball Season:

Friday, November 8th, 7:00 PM, home against JMU.  Just 41 days away...

It's Time

After three weeks to prepare the offense to play against a mediocre Pitt defense, we scored three points... and looked HORRENDOUS doing it. The defense was phenomenal, but sadly, that effort was wasted. Overall, today's performance was unacceptable.

The official stance of the Wahooze blog team: Fire Mike London. Don't waste any more time figuring out that he's not the guy, because, clearly, he's not the guy.

Furthermore, if we had any better options it would be time to Bench David Watford.

And Dominique Terrell should have his scholarship revoked. Luckily for him, we have two bigger fish to fry.

Very frustrated right now. Very frustrated. Three weeks to get ready to go to Pittsburgh and shit the bed.

It's over, coach.  We've turned.

One Quick Point...

...and then a discussion about uniforms.

First, the quick point.  I tweeted it, and also said it on the Wahoos24/7 message board, but I'll echo it here.

With three weeks (+ a glorified scrimmage) to prepare, we better win this game against Pitt. Otherwise, I have to begin seriously questioning our coaching staff.

It's true, you know.  If we can't put together enough offense to secure a win in this game, then it isn't going to happen at all this season.  And if it doesn't happen at all this season, in Year Four of the London era... well... I don't want to cross that bridge 'til we get to it.  So let's just beat Pitt today, shall we?

Meanwhile, let's talk uniforms.

Today against Pitt, Virginia will wear orange helmets, white jerseys, and orange pants for the first time.

Here's the tweet from UVA Equipment ...

For the first time in the @CoachMikeLondon era @UVa_Football will be wearing Orange/White/Orange uni combo #GoHoos #wahoowa

Using Syracuse, here's an example of something similar to what our unis might look like today:

I like it, but it's not really an original look.  Syracuse uses it often, as does Florida, as does Bowling Green.  But it's new to us, so I'm excited to see it.

Meanwhile, if you want to go full-blown UVA uniform geek, I have to strongly recommend THIS POST from the fantastic blog, From Old Virginia.

Maybe someday, I'll unleash my own rankings of our 18 different possible uniform combinations.  But for now, know that I pine for a white helmet, more / different  throwbacks, alternate design with some crazy changes, and a glorious return for these two awesome throwbacks:

September 22, 2013

Who the HELL is Daniel Hamm?

Not many people saw it, but those in attendance at yesterday's 49-0 ass-whupping of VMI laid witness.

Daniel Hamm, true freshman running back, walk-on from Fort Chiswell, 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, 21 carries for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Keydets.

"Yeah, but it was against VMI," you'll say, with an arrogant skeptical tone.  While that's true, if you were there to see #22 run, you saw exactly what I saw: nice speed, good balance, deceptive power, the ability to find the hole and hit it hard... and best of all, devastating cutback ability.

My friends, I think we have found ourselves a player here.  Yesterday, Hamm was everything I hoped Smoke Mizzell would be.  With Smoke (and also Khalek Shepherd) missing the game with "mild ankle sprains," it was Hamm who answered the bell as Kevin Parks' understudy, and Hamm was the man who handled the workload once the score of the game got out of hand for VMI.

The newsbeat has taken notice.

Maybe this was the best game of his career, and maybe we never hear from this kid again.  But Hamm passed the eyeball test, and then some.  He got carries over [scholarship running back] Kye Morgan, and frankly, looked much better than Morgan out there on the field.

At the very least, Hamm has earned futrure considerations.  And this morning, if I'm Kye Morgan, I might just be thinking about transferring.

Meanwhile, about a week ago I offered up a list of things I wanted to see against VMI.  Let's revisit that list.

-- A win.  CHECK.

-- A win by 40+ points.  CHECK.  49-0 final score.

-- 250+ yards rushing.  CHECK.  We finished with 357 rushing yards, and looked good getting there.

-- 500+ yards of total offense.  CHECK.  580 total.

-- A competent-looking David Watford, playing loose and fast (and turnover-free) in a confidence-building performance. And I'm not talking about his confidence, I'm talking about our confidence. If the fans turn on him, bad news.  Nope.  I think Watford looked fairly bad against lesser competition.  18-for-25 for 206 yards (8.2 avg per completion) and two touchdowns is a fine stat line.  But two interceptions is horrendous.  The first one he threw, by trying to force the ball to Miles Gooch, was especially unnecessary.  Jury's still out on Watford, but I've got a bad feeling growing in the pit of my stomach.

-- Smoke looking like the Smoke we expected.  He didn't play.  But Hamm fit the bill.

-- Less than 50 rushing yards for VMI.  CHECK.  We held them to 41.  Exxxxxcellent.

-- Less than 175 yards of total offense for the Keydets. Our D needs to dominate this game.  CHECK.  The Orange Crush absolutely dominated this game, holding them to 79 total yards and zero points.

-- Zero turnovers for us, 3+ turnovers for VMI. Show me we can generate those big, game-changing plays on D while protecting the ball on offense. That's our only recipe for success this season.  Nope.  Two turnovers for each team.  Not good enough, guys.  We need to protect the ball, and we need more takeaways.

-- More tackles for Harris and Romero. I'm greedy.  8 tackles for Harris, just 2 for Romero.  But to be fair, the first team defense wasn't needed for the second half of the game.

-- Sacks for Eli Harold. Sacks. Plural.  Just one.

-- KP up over 100 yards rushing, and up over 5 ypc.  CHECK.  135 yards on 17 carries, 7.9 ypc.  But if you take away his 61-yard breakaway, it's 74 yards on 16 carries, 4.6 ypc.  We'll still take it!

-- Darius Jennings asserting himself as our best wideout and go-to guy in the deep/intermediate passing game.  The deep/intermediate passing game wasn't used and wasn't needed.  DJ finished with 2 catches for 17 yards.

-- A deep/intermediate passing game, period.  Nope.

-- A completely and totally empty student section, so we can just go ahead and drop the facade and quit pretending we actually have student fans. UVA students suck at football. (Those 500 kids at the Godwin game were better than our student fans, no shit.)  CHECK.  Our student fans are pathetic.

-- Jake McGee dominance, and some obvious chemistry with Watford ('specially on rollouts).  3 catches for 19 yards and a touchdown.  We're still criminally under-utilizing this weapon in our offense. 

-- Pick six for Brandon Phelps, see above. I'm holding you to this, 21.  Nope.  Bring on Quin Blanding.

-- A win. A big, glorious, magnificent, blowout win.  CHECK.

September 21, 2013

The Dream Conference: Alternate Answer

The Dream Conference:
Alternate Answer
Notre Dame

It's all the best academic schools playing major D-1A college football.  USC, Wake Forest, UNC, Boston College, and Georgia Tech just barely miss the cut.

If these 10 schools somehow clumped together to form this conference, the TV money would absolutely be there.  Blee'dat.

The Dream Conference

If I had my pick, and in a vacuum could assemble my dream athletic conference for UVA, here's what I'd come up with...

But first!  Some disclaimers!

-- I am putting this together free and clear of any consideration for other conferences and without regard to the competition between conferences.  For example, I won't choose Alabama just to try to hurt the SEC.  I won't choose Texas just to hamstring the Big XII.

-- I won't just assemble the best conference possible.  I want to give Virginia a chance to be competitive in both football and basketball, which is to say, I want us to have a path to compete for conference championships when our programs get good.

-- I'm paying close attention to academic and cultural fits, but that's not the end-all, be-all.

-- I'm building this conference to be realistically and reasonably competitive, in terms of TV money.  For example, I won't choose Vanderbilt over Tennessee just because Vandy is a better cultural fit.  The TV money matters.

-- There are certain games I want to see played on an annual basis, and certain games I don't give two shits about.  Those preferences are weighed heavily.

-- I went back and forth on this for a while: How big will this Dream Conference be?  The standard 12 or 14?  Maybe jump up to Superconference level with 16?  Or go hog wild with 24, or 32 and form a de facto league?  In the end, I decided to say screw a conference championship game, and opted for a 10-team conference, where a perfect round-robin schedule is possible.  Everybody plays everybody else.  Every year.  And everybody plays everybody else twice in basketball, home and away.  The most fun I've ever had as a UVA fan was in the 1990s, when the true round robin made the ACC really special, and I want to get back to that.

-- Just like in real-life REALIGNMAGEDDON, geography doesn't matter a whole lot to me.  However, I feel like Virginia is a southeastern school with a southeastern feel, so I'll work to keep things regional.  Sorry Midwest and West Coast, your teams need not apply.

Okay, let's get to it.

Virginia is the first team in our 10-team dream conference.  We now need to find nine more.  Let's start with looking at the current ACC, and choosing which teams to nix.

I don't give a shit about Commonwealth of Virginia politics, Virginia Tech can pound sand.  (Though I am happy to keep playing an annual nonconference rivalry game against the Hokies.  Maryland, you are not so lucky.  You can just eat shit and die.)

Boston College, you're fucking out.

Sorry Syracuse, but you're a little bit too northeast for my tastes.

Pittsburgh... no.

Maryland, hell no.

Louisville, I love you in the real-life ACC, and your athletic department is one of the hottest - if not the hottest - in the country.  But your academics are abysmal and your history is dented and scratched.  Sorry Cardinals, no rose for you.

Miami, sorry, I just hate you.  You're not really bringing much to the table right now, either.  Your half-full football stadium is a major turnoff, when I'm considering which schools I need to properly complement my beloved Hoos.  Sorry.  Just being honest.

Your weakness is crippling, Wake Forest.  At this point, you're just filler in the real-life ACC.  No need for you in the super-streamlined Dream Conference.

I like everything other than your damning inferiority complex, NC State.  Get your shit together and maybe you'd be considered.  But not right now.

Florida State, I love you, I appreciate you, but I'm replacing you with better schools that are just as good at football.  Sorry, guys.

And finally, Duke, kiss my ass.  We'll find a way to field an elite basketball conference without you.

That leaves Clemson, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina making the cut.  We have to keep UNC, the South's Oldest Rivalry and their overall athletic brand is too powerful to exclude.  Clemson and GT just sort of sneak in the back door, I have no really compelling reason why.  Both have great football potential, and GT has a history of good basketball.  Plus, they just feel like home to me.  I don't know.  Might double back and bump either one as this exercise plays out.

Oh, and one other ACC team makes the cut.  Notre Dame.  That's our first big move as a Dream Conference: sealing the deal with the Irish as a fully-fledged, card-carrying, all-sports member.  The national needle is moved, and our conference is only halfway constructed!

Dream Conference at the Halfway Point
North Carolina
Georgia Tech
Notre Dame

The next logical step is to look at the SEC, right?  I'll just go ahead and make a big cut by refusing to consider teams that are more than two states removed from the Atlantic Ocean (Indiana is an outlier in that rule, but you make concessions for Notre Dame.)  Missouri, Ole Miss, Mississippi State (fuck you), Texas A&M, LSU, and Arkansas, you're all cut.

Alabama and Auburn, you're just two states removed... but no.  Still too far away from the flavor of what I'm building.  Sorry guys.  Plus, Bama scares the crap out of me in football.  I feel like we'd never win the conference with the Crimson Tide knocking heads.

Okay, so that leaves six SEC teams for consideration: Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt.

I'll go ahead and lift the velvet rope for Georgia.  Really good school, excellent football, sleeping giant in basketball.

But now we need more juice for basketball!  Welcome aboard, Kentucky!

Also, come on in, Gators.  Your dual-sport excellence is a no-brainer addition.  Florida is in the Dream Conference.

Vanderbilt, the ceiling is too low.

South Carolina, all you know how to do is underachieve.

Tennessee, your people and fans are too dumb, and your school is too terrible.

Dream Conference, Almost Complete
North Carolina
Georgia Tech
Notre Dame

That leaves two spots to be filled.

West Virginia is a big fat HELL NO.  Obvious reasons apply.

Does the BigTen have anything worth poaching?  Well, yeah.  How about Penn State?  Hmmmmm.  Maybe a little too northernly.  Maybe too iffy at basketball.  Let me think on this for a second.

I'm kind of regretting giving FSU the axe.  I'll put them back under consideration.

Was I dumb to dump Louisville?  Probably.  They're back in consideration.

Am I missing any darkhorse contenders?

Rutgers?  Fuck no.

Nothing from the new AAC.  Cincinnati, USF, UConn... naaaaaah.  Anything not attractive enough for the real-life ACC can't cut the muster for me.  So the MAC, Sun Belt, C*USA, nope, sorry.

Big XII teams are too far West.  Pac-12 and MWC, too.  Obv.

So I'm on Penn State and doubling back around to FSU and Louisville.

Louisville is in for basketball history and up-and-coming stature across the board.

Which of FSU and Penn State offers the highest ceiling for football?  The highest floor?  The better basketball?  It's the Seminoles on all three counts.  Welcome to the Dream Conference, Florida State.

And that's it!

The Dream Conference
North Carolina
Georgia Tech
Florida State
Notre Dame

The thing I really like about this is that there are some really great hard-wired rivalries already in place.  UVA/UNC, UGA/GT. UF/FSU, UK/UL.  Basketball is great, and football is even better.  Baseball is quite strong, as well.  I love this conference.  Love everything about it.

Now, I challenge Mike and Pierce to offer up their own Dream Conference picks!

And thanks to Anonymous for the awesome idea for a post!  I greatly enjoyed this late night stream-of-consciousness exercise.

September 20, 2013

Promised Post: The Dream Conference

I'm suffering through some major REALIGNMEGEDDON withdrawals.  Can't eat, can't sleep, can't concentrate, and I have the jitters.  Then, like a beacon from the heavens drops this lovely comment into our Anonymous Feedback Form (look to your right, under "GIVE A YELL.")

How about having Kendall tell everyone what his dream conference for UVA would be?

God bless you, anonymous feedback.  This post is coming soon, probably tomorrow.

September 18, 2013

Bennett Makes his International Debut

The UVA basketball team picked up a commitment from Jack Salt, a 6-10, 230-pound power forward / center from New Zealand. Not much outside of measurables is known about Salt, but he caught Tony Bennett's eye during the U19 World Championships this summer. Most people assumed this tournament would pay huge dividends for the development of Mike Tobey, but it also was a chance for Tony Bennett to dip his toes into international waters and find Tobey's eventual replacement.

Scouring the internet the only real highlights of Salt we could find was of him playing Volleyball, and blocking a ton of shots. While this is initially a little disappointing for those of us looking for basketball highlights, it sets up an interesting player comparison for Salt. That player is Jeff Withey, formerly of Kansas, currently of the New Orleans Jazz Hornets Pelicans in the NBA. Withey came to Kansas as a raw prospect who made a name for himself blocking shots in, you guessed it, volleyball. Withey developed into one of the most prolific shotblockers of the past few years. Salt's experience in Volleyball should help him tremendously on the defensive end while he develops as a post player.

Not much else is know about Salt, but given his size and the staff's ability to develop bigs (see Fundamental, Big and Meyinsse, Jerome) you have to love the prospects of having Salt in the fold. The staff also cancelled a visit with Martin Geben, a highly touted big man in his own right, once they knew Salt was all but locked up. All signs point to this kid being a good one.

Kendall Adds his $0.02:  Tony Bennett's best basketball teams as a head coach were those Washington State teams he took deep into the tournament.  Those teams had Robbie Cowgill at power forward, serving the pogo-stick role (ala Akil Mitchell and incoming recruit Isaiah Wilkins - stepson of Dominique), and they had Australian big man Aaron Baynes at the 5.  I think Salt is cut in the Baynes mold more than he is the Withey or Mike Tobey mold.  Like Baynes, Salt is a big block of clay that Bennett will enjoy molding into what he wants in the low post.  I'm excited about this commitment, and I'm excited about this recruiting class... which I'm sure we'll cover in a future Wahooze post, but no promises!

September 12, 2013

A Weekend of Football

Last Friday night, I took my 5-year old son to a high school football game (Monacan @ Godwin).  We had a great time, probably the best father-son bonding event the two of us have ever shared.  And in the process, I was reminded of all the reasons I love football.

I don't want to use this space on a Virginia fan blog to gush any more about the experience, but I will say that just being there with my boy, being easy, forgetting the day, and just absorbing a football game - the basic strategies, the playcalling, the execution, the desire the players showed - made it a really great evening.

It was simple.  It was fun.

Saturday's game in Scott Stadium against the Oregon Ducks was a really weird juxtaposition from the high school game from the night before.  Instead of a cool evening, it was a hot day.  Instead of breezy night air, it was jabbing rays of sunlight stabbing my eyes.  Instead of a loose, easy, fun experience, it was tense and uncomfortable, sad and sobering.  Comfortable simplicity gave way to the angst-twisted consideration of football politics.  Why were we playing this game?

I'm never going to love Mills Godwin as much as I love UVA, and I'll never be a fan of the Godwin Eagles more than I'm a fan of the Hoos.  But Saturday was painful.  And confusing.  And if I'm being honest, I did not have fun at that game.  And if I'm being even more honest, the fact that I didn't have fun really pisses me off.  I've elevated the importance of Virginia Football in my life to a point where failure is pain and stupidity is agony.

Here it is: Playing Oregon was stupid.  It was bullshit.  It was a clumsy money grab, at the expense of the fragile confidence the team is trying to build, at the expense of the flimsy pride UVA fans are trying to cultivate.  We whored out a certain loss to the highest bidder, and we didn't even notch a sellout (58,502 announced for a 62K capacity, and at least 12K were nouveau riche Quack Attack fans; we had an announced attendance of 64,947 against USC in 2008).  Really, our stadium was only about 90% full.  This has to be considered an epic-level backfire by the administration.

I hate that we played Oregon.  And no matter how much I try to tell myself that playing the Ducks will harden our team and help us get ready to ascend to the big-time, while showing recruits that we have real gridiron ambition, the courage to play against the best, and a desire to join the national elite... that candy coating just won't stick to this log of shit Jon Oliver is asking me to eat.

This ain't no candy apple.

After a Sunday spent watching NFL opening weekend football, fretting over the Pink Nightmare (my fantasy football team), and staying up way too late watching the Sunday and Monday night games (including the late-late Texans @ Chargers game on Monday night), I'm feeling a bit of football overload.  Like, a little too much of a good thing.  Toothache after a candy apple.  Still, I feel the need to circle back to Saturday's cashgrab bloodbath and share with Wahooze Nation my impressions and interpretations.  Godwin Football is my new Friday relaxation technique, Virginia Football is my lifelong heated obsession.  It's a jarring juxtaposition, but I'm comfortable with it for now.

Pop open the season stats, and let's break it down by position.

David Watford... well... so far, he sucks.  The good news here is that Greyson Lambert looked even worse than Watford when he came in late.  That was a relief (we don't need a QB controversy!), but it was also a bit unsettling.  (Maybe Watford won the job because the competition was just wretched?  Like, the lesser of the two evils instead of truly winning the job.)  But look, the elite-level defenses BYU and Oregon threw at us would have made any young QB look terrible.  I still have hope in Watford, but he needs to calm the fuck down.  And the gameplan and playcalling need to do him some favors by guiding him out of the pocket and by demanding the ball go a bit further down the field.  3.75 yards per passing attempt is a joke.  Also, knowing that Watford has some speed, I want to see some smart, scripted runs.  1 yard per carry is putrid.  Our good-enough-and-maybe-better-than-expected 1-1 start will give way to a 3-9 record quickly, if we don't get more from our quarterback.  After three weeks to prep for Pitt, I'm expecting to see much better results.

Running Back
Where to start?  KP is getting ~20 carries/game so far.  That's good.  But other than his late 13-yard touchdown run against BYU, his carries haven't been anything better than ho-hum (3.2 ypc).  This would be a huge problem, if all of the other backs weren't struggling in the same way.  So I bullishly credit the BYU and Oregon defenses here.  Khalek Shepherd has actually looked pretty good as the #2 guy, even if you take away the 45-yard TD against the Ducks.  Smoke remains a bit of a disappointment.  I thought he'd have more speed, quickness, and wiggle than what he's showing, and I thought we'd target him in the passing game more than the 6-or-so passes he's seen.  Facing weaker defenses, this trio should be able to step up and provide the offense with a bit of a backbone --- it's clear we're going to be - and going to NEED to be - a run-first offense this season.  These guys need to produce.

Billy Skrobacz (Skrobags!) is the smallest "fullback" I have ever seen.  That is all.  Oh, wait, one more thing: Put Connor Wingo-Reeves on the field!  We're burning his redshirt, let's let him play from scrimmage, see what he can do.  If our offense is going to be predicated on power running, get our best lead blocker on the field at the fullback position.  I have no reason to doubt that guy is CWR.

Wide Receiver
It's a frustrating group, but with so little going downfield, it's hard to judge.  Nobody on the team has more than 64 yards receiving, total, after two games.  The stats aren't there, but DJ has passed the eyeball test so far, and I'm expecting pretty big things from him now as he assumes WR1 duties.  Tim Smith caught the deadly Dominique Terrell Type-2 Stonehandsius Dropsies virus, but it looks like Dom has been vaccinated and healed his hands.  We'll see.  All of these guys are small, and quicker than fast, so the ceiling is somewhat low.  But until the passing and playcalling get out of the 1940s, the receivers will be stuck to the floor, anyway.  I definitely want to see more of E.J. Scott and Adrian Gamble.  Scott can catch, and Gamble offers a size/speed combo the three starters lack.  But with less than 4 yards per passing attempt, the receiving personnel is a non-factor.

Tight End
Zack 'Black Swan' Swanson has been a mini-revelation so far.  Homeboy looks like he belongs as a starter at this level.  Jake McGee is trying to get on track, and he made some Anquan Boldin-style angry-looking catches against Oregon.  This unit should emerge as a strength of the team in short order.  I just want to see them catching more than the occasional "oh shit" dumpoffs.  (Again, credit BYU and Oregon.)  I also want to see a bit more of Rob Burns.  That big dude running around throwing blocks and catching passes would be a real menace to defenses.  Also fits in the power running scheme, right?

Offensive Line
Pass pro has been slightly better than expected, run blocking has been [obviously] horrendous against two fast, aggressive, attacking defenses.  Admittedly, I haven't spent much time focused on watching the OL, but KP doesn't average less than 4 yards per carry if there are holes to run through.  If the book on us becomes "these bozos want to run, but can't block run blitzes and can't/won't throw deep," then we are fooked.  Double-o, fooked.

Defensive Line
These guys have been impressive.  Beyond impressive, even.  Überimpressive.  Eli Harold was a whirling dervish against the Cougars, and Urban Legend has been big and powerful in both games.  David Dean and Jake Snyder have played their supporting roles well, and with a mean streak I certainly appreciate.  I still worry about a lack of depth, but as long as this group can eat blocks and still generate pressure in the backfield, the defense has a chance to be very good.  I do want to see more Trent Corney, and I suspect I'll get my wish against the Keydets.  Likewise, we need to be putting Mike Moore on the field as much as possible, to get him ready for his greatly increased role in 2015, when it's really going to be shit-or-get-off-the-pot time for Coach London.  (One early stat line to highlight: Eli Harold's 2 sacks, 3.5 tiffles, a forced fumble, and 12 total tackles.  He's a stud.)

I want to start with Daquan Romero.  He's flashing some serious star power as a tackle machine.  Working behind our d-line, I really like him in the hard-hitting cleanup role.  Henry Coley has looked fast and effective, but he gets himself out of position a little bit too often (Oregon's speed and misdirection makes many Mike backers look stupid).  Brim has kind of disappeared from my consciousness so far, and his three total tackles in two games would explain why.  That's 13th on the team, by the way... behind the entire rest of the starting defense and the nickel corner.  Yikes.  I'm not sure if the Sam backer has a huge role in Tenuta's scheme, but this seems like a sucking lack of production from the position.  Especially when you consider Romero's 20 tackles and Coley's 15 tackles.  Brim needs to step up.  I want to see more of Mark Hall and Kwontie Moore moving forward, as well.

Anthony Harris was named national defensive player of the week in week 1.  'Nuff said.  He won that BYU game for us.  And then all he did against Oregon was deliver 7 tackles and a pass defensed.  He's a baller, no ifs, no buts, no coconuts.  Propers to Mike for calling Ant's star turn this season, even though the whole thing was my idea.  But between Harris and Romero, we have a pair of new stars on our defense.  The starting free safety, Brandon Phelps... is a slightly different story.  A badly blown assignment by Phelps (I think) led directly to Oregon's first touchdown, that fun 71-yard Marcus Mariota romp through the middle of our defense.  Calling for Rijo Walker is the cool thing for UVA fans to do, and I'm close to joining the in-crowd on this one.  Phelps needs to show us something against VMI and Pitt.  PICK SIX OR BUST!

I don't really have much to say about these guys, other than they've done some solid work so far.  Neither BYU nor Oregon really tested us downfield a whole lot, so jury's out.  But I have nothing but faith in the Nicholson/Hoskey/Canady trio over the long haul.

Special Teams
Other than one shank and one blocked, Voz has been great.  He's north of 40 ypp, even with the two gaffes.  He's been great placing the ball inside the 20 (heck, inside the 10) so far, as well.  Ian Frye, meanwhile, hasn't missed a kick.  His connection on the 53-yarder to end the first half against BYU was clutch cargo.  Frye's kickoffs have been fine.  The coverage units have also been fine.  20 yards/kick, 8 yards/punt, totally fine.  All I care about is zero touchdowns allowed.  And finally, our own return units... well... not bad, but not really good either.  Larry Lewis is obviously working wonders for the third phase, but I want to see more big returns to set up the offense on a short field.  Oh, and Khalek Shepherd, HANG ON TO THE FUCKING BALL.

In Closing
While I wish we had been a bit more aggressive offensively, we were never not going to get stomped by Oregon.  It's fine.  What's also fine is that we just played against the two best defenses we'll see all year.  I truly believe that.  All I care about is getting to six wins, somehow, some way.  BOWL GAME OR BUST.  That's the official stance of Wahooze for this season.

What I want to see against VMI:

-- A win.

-- A win by 40+ points.

-- 250+ yards rushing.

-- 500+ yards of total offense.

-- A competent-looking David Watford, playing loose and fast (and turnover-free) in a confidence-building performance.  And I'm not talking about his confidence, I'm talking about our confidence.  If the fans turn on him, bad news.

-- Smoke looking like the Smoke we expected.

-- Less than 50 rushing yards for VMI.

-- Less than 175 yards of total offense for the Keydets.  Our D needs to dominate this game.

-- Zero turnovers for us, 3+ turnovers for VMI.  Show me we can generate those big, game-changing plays on D while protecting the ball on offense.  That's our only recipe for success this season.

-- More tackles for Harris and Romero.  I'm greedy.

-- Sacks for Eli Harold.  Sacks.  Plural.

-- KP up over 100 yards rushing, and up over 5 ypc.

-- Darius Jennings asserting himself as our best wideout and go-to guy in the deep/intermediate passing game.

-- A deep/intermediate passing game, period.

-- A completely and totally empty student section, so we can just go ahead and drop the facade and quit pretending we actually have student fans.  UVA students suck at football.  (Those 500 kids at the Godwin game were better than our student fans, no shit.)

-- Jake McGee dominance, and some obvious chemistry with Watford ('specially on rollouts).

-- Pick six for Brandon Phelps, see above.  I'm holding you to this, 21.

-- A win.  A big, glorious, magnificent, blowout win.

Wanna see what happened the last time we played VMI?  BOOM.


September 11, 2013

Wahooze Podcast - Bye Week Ramblings

Your Wahooze heroes are back - talking about all sorts of things as the football team has a bye week this week. Tune in for scheduling hopes and dreams, bye week practice thoughts, and even some basketball preview.

Leave comments below!

September 6, 2013

Ranked in Order of Difficulty...

On the eve of the Nike-sponsored Oregon invasion of Scott Stadium, and still looking back at the wet, wild, and wonderful win over the Fightin' Polygamists in week 1, I thought it might be coolio to offer some context for the two specific games.  Below are my rankings on the degree of difficulty of our 12 games this season, listed in order from easiest game to most difficult.

12th-Most Difficult Game: Sept. 21 vs. VMI
Chance of a Virginia Win: 99.99%
I won't give us 100% chance of winning this game, because I've been a Virginia fan for too long to think there's ever any such thing as a gimme.

11th-Most Difficult Game: Oct. 19 vs. Duke
Chance of a Virginia Win: 78%
I'm feeling confident about this one this season, even though Duke has had our number recently.  (Ugggggghhhhhh, Duke has had our number recently.)

10th-Most Difficult Game: Oct. 5 vs. Ball State
Chance of a Virginia Win: 65%
Ball State is quality, but we need to win this kind of game at home if we're serious about saying Mike London is not on the hot seat.  A head coach can't lose this game in Year Four without losing his job, in my very humble opinion.  So I feign confidence.

9th-Most Difficult Game: Oct. 12 @ Maryland
Chance of a Virginia Win: 50%
Just out of pure hatred and spite, I say we roll into College Park and lay waste to that shithole.

8th-Most Difficult Game: Sept. 28 @ Pittsburgh
Chance of a Virginia Win: 45%
I'm feeling much more confident about this game after seeing them play against FSU.  I was not impressed, not even early when they were looking good.  It's a winnable game for UVA, is all I'm saying.

7th-Most Difficult Game: Aug. 31 vs. BYU
Chance of a Virginia Win: 40%
We got this one already, but I wasn't confident in it even being a coin-toss type of game.  Glad I was wrong, but we need to win at least one more of these (and avoid shitting the bed against a lesser opponent) to go to a bowl game this year.

6th-Most Difficult Game: Oct. 26 vs. Georgia Tech
Chance of a Virginia Win: 35%
Revenge could play a factor, as could having that sixth win clearly in the sights.  The timing of the game works in our favor, but we'll still be home 'dogs in Vegas.

5th-Most Difficult Game: Nov. 30 vs. Virginia Tech
Chance of a Virginia Win: 33.33%
I'll believe that we can beat Tech when I see it, but this season figures to be our best chance in quite a while.  We'll see.

4th-Most Difficult Game: Nov. 9th @ North Carolina
Chance of a Virginia Win: 25%
We can move the ball against their defense, but can we stop their offense?

3rd-Most Difficult Game: Nov. 23 @ Miami
Chance of a Virginia Win: 20%
This is 20% and not 7% only because we sort of own them right now.

2nd-Most Difficult Game: Nov. 2 vs. Clemson
Chance of a Virginia Win: 2%
We will get drubbed.  Don't kid yourself, we will get drubbed.

Most Difficult Game: Sept. 7 vs. Oregon
Chance of a Virginia Win: 00.01%
Oregon : Virginia :: Virginia : VMI

Just for craps and laughs, I used a random number generator to tell me if we win or lose each game based on my percentages.  Here's how our season plays out:

Oregon - L
@ Pitt - L
Ball St. - W
@ UMD - W
Duke - W
GT - L
Clemson - L
@ UNC - L
@ Miami - W
VT - L

6-6, I will take it!

September 5, 2013

Kendall's NFL Picks

I want to put pen to paper and get this posted before the season kicks off tonight.  It's self-explanatory, so I'll not waste time, energy, or bandwidth on a lengthy intro.  Diving in...

*(Playoff teams marked with an asterisk.)

NFC East
*1 - Giants (9-7) -- Any of the four teams in this division could win it, but my money is on the only sure thing at quarterback, and that's Eli.  Quarterback + weapons = wins.
3 - Cowboys (9-7) -- Gut feeling that they'll be better this season, but still not quite good enough.  (Romo is on the move for 2014 as Jerruh blows up the Boys, and some QB-needy team will land a guy who is actually pretty damn good.  I'll admit it, I'm a Tony Romo fan.)
2 - Redskins (8-8) -- Last year was a little bit fluky, and I'm expecting some regression in year two of the RG3 era.  But I'll admit, this team could finish anywhere from 4-12 to 12-4.
4 - Eagles (6-10) -- Can't wait to see Chip Kelly's offense in the NFL, but there'll be fits and starts in the first season (once Ron Mexico finally goes down for the count.)

NFC North
*1 - Bears (11-5) -- It happens every year, a team rises up and shocks the world.  The Bears won 10 games last season, so this isn't a ninja-in-the-dark-of-midnight type of pick, but who else is thinking Chicago is a Super Bowl contender?  Well, I am!  Buying hard on Jay Cutler proving he's a great quarterback.
2 - Packers (10-6) -- I think defensive woes and roster erosion at wide receiver ultimately unravels the Packers this season.
3 - Lions (8-8) -- I like the Lions this season, but I don't love them.  Reggie Bush will be broken by week 6, and Matt Stafford will be broken by week 10 -- too many dropbacks, not enough protection.
4 - Vikings (6-10) -- The Purple Jesus can't overcome all of Christian Ponder's shortcomings again this season, can he?

NFC South
*1 - Saints (12-4) -- Loving me some Saints this season.  I fully expect to see some scores being run up, as Sean Payton flexes nuts in his return to the sideline.
*2 - Falcons (10-6) -- That defense is going to hold them back, mark my words.
3 - Panthers (8-8) -- Improvement, but still only baby steps forward.  Cam improves as a passer as his supporting cast deteriorates around him.  Rivera gets shitcanned at the end of the season, and Steve Smith finally loses a step.
4 - Buccaneers (4-12) -- No good reason, but I'm feeling a bit of doomsday for this team right now.  No faith in Schiano.

NFC West
*1 - Seahawks (11-5) -- I'm on the bandwagon, riding shotgun.  It's the defense, it's Russell Wilson, and it's the nastiness they play with.
*2 - Rams (10-6) -- Boom, shocked you.  The D was already good, and now the O is catching up.  Big season for Bradford, big jump for the Rams.
3 - 49ers (9-7) -- I was on Kaepernick before anyone else was on Kaepernick.  But now I'm going to stay ahead of the crowd by being the first one OFF of Kaepernick.  Not enough weapons here, especially if Frank Gore finally goes kerplunk.
4 - Cardinals (3-13) -- They've got a good defense, but Carson Palmer is like franchise rot incarnate.  I'd rather have John Skelton as my starting QB.  Plus, Carson Palmer + shaky o-line = unmitigated disaster.  Go ahead and get warmed up now, Drew Stanton.  You too, Lindley.

AFC East
*1 - Patriots (12-4) -- The weapons are new, and the weapons look good.  The D is solid.  Legit Super Bowl aspirations yet again in Foxboro.
2 - Bills (7-9) -- I'm liking E.J. Manuel, but sticking by my grim reaper prognostications for C.J. Spiller.  Without Spiller, who scares defenses?
3 - Dolphins (7-9) -- Mike Wallace was a bold move, but it wasn't enough.
4 - Jets (2-14) -- Worst team in the NFL.

AFC North
*1 - Bengals (11-5) -- I'm nothing if not a homer.  But on paper and assuming good health, this is the best Bungles team since 1990.  If Cincy fails to win the division and at least one playoff game, I'll be sorely disappointed.
*2 - Ravens (10-6) -- The D will actually be better, but I'm a believer in the Super Bowl hangover.  The Ratbirds have a throbbing headache, but at least they're not bent over the toilet like the Niners.
3 - Steelers (8-8) -- Who cares?
4 - Browns (7-9) -- They'll be better, and 2013 Jordan Cameron = 2011 Jimmy Graham.  But still, there's a long way to go before the Browns matter.

AFC South
*1 - Texans (11-5) -- They're no longer exciting, but they're still really good.  Nuke Hopkins will be the shot in the arm they need on offense.
2 - Colts (9-7) -- Regression is expected, especially as they go into the hyperconservative shell of Pep Hamilton's offense.  #FreeAndrewLuck!
3 - Titans (6-10) -- No change from last season, but the losses will be prettier.
4 - Jaguars (3-13) -- The Jags look around, and thank the Jets and Raiders for making the floor so damn low in the AFC.

AFC West
*1 - Broncos (13-3) -- I'm buying it, all of it.  I'm buying it all.  I'm eating it up.  I'm drinking the kool-aid on Peyton Manning, on Wes Welker, on Montee Ball (not really), on everything.
*2 - Chiefs (9-7) -- I weirdly believe in Andy Reid and Alex Smith.  No idea why.
3 - Chargers (6-10) -- Turns out, they actually suck and need to blow it all up and start over.  Philip Rivers joins Tony Romo and Josh Freeman on the great quarterback carousel of 2014.
4 - Raiders (2-14) -- Sunday, December 8th: Raiders @ Jets.  Circle it on your calendar.

Wildcard Round
Seahawks over Rams
Falcons over Giants
Texans over Chiefs
Bengals over Ravens

Divisional Round
Bears over Seahawks
Saints over Falcons
Broncos over Bengals
Patriots over Texans

Conference Championships
Bears over Saints
Broncos over Patriots

Super Bowl XLVIII
Broncos over Bears

Coaches Shitcanned After the 2013 Season
Ron Rivera
Jason Garrett (Jerruh decides to scorch the earth)
Joe Philbin (Fins getting impatient)
Leslie Frazier
Rex Ryan (mercy kill)
Dennis Allen
Greg Schiano (won't survive the implosion)
Mike Munchak

That's it.  Care to add your own $0.02 to the pot?  Post in the comments, fool.

Wahooze Podcast - 9/4/2013

Back by popular demand: our second go at podcasting! This week, we discuss our changing predictions for the football team following the BYU win, our thoughts about scheduling Oregon, and even some bonus NFL talk. Apparently none of us was satisfied with the week one performance - feel free to argue with us in the comments! RSS feed is here until podbean tells us we owe them money:

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Very excited for Saturday's game. Though none of us is predicting a miracle upset - I think it'll be hard to have a bad time (with managed expectations).

Again, thanks for listening, ignore our terrible microphone etiquette, and leave some comments below: 

September 3, 2013

Promised Posts

Yesterday, I got this piece of anonymous feedback via our anonymous feedback form (look to your right!)

I would like to see more of your promised posts actually happen. If that means keeping a list of post ideas, or delegating posts, so be it. Otherwise, keep up the good work!!

First of all, let me say... thanks for reading!  Specifically, thanks for reading closely enough to notice when I promise future posts, and following the blog closely enough to notice when those promised posts don't appear.

Secondly, I have no good defense for why those posts don't ever happen.  All I can say is that this is just a fan blog, and despite all my best intentions, sometimes real life gets in my way.  I have a full-time job and a family, and those things have to come first, as much as I'd like to make Wahooze the priority more often!

Thirdly -- and this is just me being blunt and honest -- sometimes I just run out of steam on certain pieces / posts / articles / angles.  So instead of going through the motions and mailing it in just to give you what I promised I'd give you, I just let it slide.  Proper inspiration is important for: a) me to enjoy creating the blog post, and b) the blog post to achieve a level of quality that meets my standards.  I always wanted Wahooze to be something different than what you can find in the newspapers, or on the pay sites, or on other blogs.  To deliver those goods, I have to be properly inspired to write what I'm writing.  (Or just drunk and pissed and venting after another miserable Virginia loss.)  Anyway, I care about what I'm producing here, and I don't like the idea of writing something just to be able to say that I wrote it, minus any of that Wahooze magic.

Fourth, I'm not sure Mike or Pierce would appreciate me trying to delegate post ideas to them.  I'll let them chime in via the comments section to let us know.  Meanwhile, we do maintain a comprehensive Google Doc containing tons of ideas for posts.  The problem for me is that in most cases, premeditation murders energy, flow, and enthusiasm for the writing.  And without those things, the post ends up sucking.

Fifth, I'll go ahead and eat this one now: I'm sitting on a 70%-completed offensive line preview that parallels our 2013 o-line to the Big Lebowski*.  Sounds great, doesn't it?  Problem is, it didn't come together like I wanted it to, and I'm struggling to go back to it and resurrect the effort, especially now that the season has started.  So I'll probably end up scrapping it, and I'll also never even get to the defensive side of the ball (where I was going to parallel the front seven to Boogie Nights, the secondary to Office Space, and the special teams to Superbad.)  I just ran out of steam on them, guys.  I'm sorry.  But the ideas were awesome, I'm not too modest to say that!

Sixth, and lastly, a bit of a solution to this problem moving forward: More stand-alone posts, fewer series of posts, and less of me promising stuff that is upcoming.  I'll do my best to keep the blog more spontaneous, because it just works better that way, and I just work better that way.

Thanks again for the feedback!  This was something I needed to hear, and it gave me a great actionable talking point, so THANKS!

September 2, 2013

UVA 19, BYU 16 -- Picking Over the Box Score

I wanted to say a lot more Sunday morning, but I ran out of time before Labor Day travels had to begin... and now I've kind of lost my train of thought.

But cracking open the box score and poring over some numbers yields the following nuggets:

-- 7-62-1, that's WR1 territory for Darius Jennings.  He made two particularly great catches in the game, including the clutch toe-drag touchdown in the 3rd quarter.  I'm back to drinking the DJ kool-aid.

-- 18-for-32 for 114 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 INT.  The numbers weren't horrible for David Watford in his first game as our unquestioned starter... especially when you consider the weather, the top-5 defense he was facing, and the gameplan (which was obviously to grind it out with the run come hell or high water, and there WAS high water).  Watford was certainly better than the 5-for-26 for 59 yards and an INT that Logan Thomas hung on Alabama.  Boom.

-- D-Wat's 3.6 average yards per pass attempt is pretty putrid, though.  It's also indicative of a gameplan so vanilla it made regular Breyer's vanilla with the little black dots in it seem super exotic, like some sort of sexy supersonic grape kool-aid sorbet.  So sexy there's a thingie above the e in sorbét.  Anyway, we'll need to trust the downfield game a lot more moving forward... and I'm sure we will.

-- 7 carries for 16 yards represented what was, to me, a disappointing debut for Smoke Mizzell.  He also didn't register a catch in the game.  It was a debut so clunky I want to put the two dots above the u in debut.  Debüt.  Wait, that might make it sound good.  Anyway, I'd like to see a bit more from Smoke in the coming days... and I'm sure we will.

-- 3 catches for 21 yards, solid work for Zach Swanson.  That said, get him off the field and get #83 out there, dammit!

-- 2 drops.  C'mon Tim Smith, your senior year's a-wastin'!  But at least you didn't get hurt.  Ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!

-- 20 carries for KP.  Found out that his new nickname is "The Incredible Hulk," by the way.  Gotta love that.  But yeah, 20 carries, that's what I like.  Feed the Hulk.

-- Speaking of feeding, where the hell are the targets for E.J. Scott?  C'mon coaches, FEED THE SQUIRREL.  #FeedTheSquirrel

-- BYU punted 11 times, and we fielded 10 of them.  I'm not keen of fielding punts inside the 8 yard line, but credit to Dom Terrell for not committing the doomsday muff we all expected in the wet weather.

-- 537 yards.  That's the punting yardage produced by Voz.  That also includes four punts downed inside the 20.  That also includes the clean fielding of one bad snap and another truly awful snap, that would have gone way up over the head of a punter who was a mere mortal.  But, you know, the Voz is the Voz.

-- It's hard to figure out exactly how many, but I know our defense registered a big ol' pile of TFLs.  At one point, HooVision said 22 tiffles.  That couldn't be right, could it?

-- We gave up 362 yards, but 52 of those came on the last play of the game, the desperation heave that was caught 30 yards from the end zone.  We also game up 77 yards of offense on BYU's in-rhythm 92-yard drive to take the lead at around the 7:00 minute mark.  Again, I think our defense - by and large - was pretty damn impressive.  Especially Eli Harold, and of course Anthony Harris.

-- Propers also to the "Urbanator" Brent Urban.  Two big swats at the LOS.  Dikembe Mutombo type shit.

"Urbanator" is cool, but face it:
"Urban Legend" is a better nickname.
-- I can't take credit for "Urban Legend," by the way.  It was one of the members of our group, but for the life of me I can't remember who.  Mike?  Rookie?  Sparkle?  It was a long day.

-- Double-digit tackles for Canady, Romero, Harold, Harris, and Coley.  My takeaway from this is that our defense, as a unit, seemed more sure-tackling than in recent memory.  I hope that's true and not just a mirage.

-- 53,310 was the announced attendance.  Nothing to be proud of there.  However, I am proud of the Virginia fans that stuck it out 'til the end of the game.  We made it loud when it needed to be loud.

-- Watch it again.  Go ahead.  Treat yourself!

That's about it.  What a great win.  Really, an awesome way to get the season started.  Hopefully David Watford is watching Jameis Winston right now and finding inspiration.

September 1, 2013

UVA 19, BYU 16 -- Instant Impressions

Longest. Gameday. Ever.  Tailgating through sweltering heat, long walk to the game, quick 1st quarter, two-hour-ten-minute lightning delay, quick 2nd quarter, 10-minute halftime (praise Jesus), torrential downpour, loooooooooooooooongest 3rd quarter in the history of football, überawesome 4th quarter, long walk back to the car, long drive home.  In all, it was a 13-hour odyssey from portal to portal... AND I WOULD NOT CHANGE A SINGLE THING.

Wow, what a win.  What a win against a darn good defesnive team.

Hockey-style, three stars from the game:

  • Eli Harold -- 11 total tackles, 2 sacks, 4 TFLs (tackles for loss, or tiffles if you're phonically-inclined).  Great pressure all game.  Stepped up as the fiery tone-setter for the defense.
  • Anthony Harris -- 11 tackles, a blocked punt, and the most enormous interception in recent memory.  It was the game of his life.
  • Alec Vozenilek -- many, many key punts.  We don't win that game without him.

Hey-hey, aaaaaeeeeeyyyy, it's the Voz!

A few quick off-the-cuff instant takeaways:

-- Our defense is awesome.  Love the pressure.

-- David Watford showed some flashes, but was mostly too jumpy and inconsistent.  I know the BYU defense is super-legit, but D-Wat didn't look like a guy who is stepping up and taking the reins.  Jury's still out.

-- Not enough targets for Jake McGee.

-- Khalek Shepherd, you're fired.  (But you did throw a nice block in blitz pickup at one point.)  That fumbled KO return is unacceptable, especially so late in the game.

-- We needed to throw a few deep.  Hard to run against a 9-man box.

-- KP's touchdown run to take the lead was a thing of beauty.

-- Did I mention our defense is awesome?  God bless you, Jon Tenuta.

-- Ian Frye's booming 53-yard field goal.  Manna from heaven.

I'm out of time for now.  More later.