November 7, 2016

Random Musings at 2-7

Bad o-line.

Sputtering, skittish, mistake-plagued QB having a bad game.

General lack of speed/dynamism at WR.

Inexperience all over the field.

It limits what you can do.

In my humble opinion, Saturday's loss was 100% on the fumble and two picks.

Wake has a good defense, and they're in year three of their rebuild.

Right now, I'm most interested in seeing what changes are made now that a bowl game is off the table. I think it's time to bench some seniors and really use these last three games to develop Benkert by putting the ball in the air 40+ times per game.

I think it's also important to remember how close we are.

Handle our shit against an FCS team.

Successfully kick a chip-shot 20-yard field goal.

Get a finger on that 4th down pass by Lamar Jackson.

Avoid coughing up those three turnovers against Wake.

We'd be 6-3 right now.

However, those bounces did not go our way, and we are what our record says we are.  We're 2-7.  We're a bad football team.

It's definitely been tough.

I came into the season fully expecting six wins and a bowl game; fully expecting at least one win during our three-game homestand; fully expecting Bronco to deliver a signature win by this point in the season. 2-7 is tough to swallow.

BUT, there are three things I still think I know:

1) If Bronco Mendenhall can't do it, nobody can do it. If Bronco can't win at Virginia, then Virginia Football is a lost cause.

2) This is year one in what is going to be a 3- or 4-year rebuilding process. Both lines and the quarterback position must be rebuilt from scratch. Playmakers must be found and developed on both sides of the ball. Most importantly, the "whipped dog" psyche surrounding the program must be overcome.

3) Nobody is going to want to hear this, but the schedule is soft in the next two seasons. 2017: W&M, Indiana, UConn, @ Boise, Boston College; 2018: Richmond, @ Indiana, Ohio U, ODU, @ NC State. I think that if we haven't seen improvement in terms of win/loss record and bowl appearances by the end of the 2018 season, we'll know.


  1. Wait a minute. Are you using the same "we are so close" excuse that Mike london fans used. Lets be real. There are no excuses for this team being 2-7.Please help me realize why you have so much faith in Bronco Mendenhall. Stop looking at his record at Byu because that record lies. He was playing with guys who were 23, 24 and sometimes 25 years old, playing against teams like utah state and other Mountain west conference teams. He is a very average coach and he is proving it right now. They refuse to make adjustments needed on offense. As far as Kurt Benkert goes, they do not need to throw the ball 40 times. That's the problem now. If Benkurt is struggling why not give him easier throws like screen passes, and when the run game is going well, why do we go away from it and throw the ball so much. I just don't get it and im sick of it. Lets cut our loses and fire Mendenhall right now and get a coach that will run a balanced pro style offense because the air raid DOES NOT WORK.

  2. A couple things:

    I hope this season has cooled you off on the Air Raid a little bit. It's pretty clear that for us, the all-out hurry up Air Raid approach will be a failure for a while. We need time in the system sure, but also a system that our defense to get a rest instead of running back out after another 37 second 3 and out.

    Our best performance this year (Louisville) showed how valuable a commitment to the run game is. Even if it was okay at best, the running game allowed us to chew some clock, establish a rhythm, and settle down our offense. For a developing and young offensive line (which we will be even more so in the next 3 years), hitting some blocks and being aggressive in the run game helps with confidence and mindset, much more than a little 2 punch reactive pass-blocking will do. The best teams slow down their tempo enough or have enough talented depth on defense to deal with the lack of rest that can come from a tempo offense.

    The good news is I think our coaches have the long-term view of using a quarterback who can hit the throws we need in the quick passing game, but really be more of a threat on the ground. It's pretty clear Benkert has deep field-awareness issues that are not going to be fixed by another year in the system. We get or develop a true dual-threat (Devante Cross? the 2018 kid from Ohio?) and this offense will be more diverse and dangerous, and reach Anae's maximum potential. With this team, O-line, and quarterback I understand a 2/3 to 1/3 split in the pass-run playcalling, but it will be beneficial in the future when we can run the ball more. I guess this is what you would call the "smashmouth Air Raid", but I'm thinking 50-50 pass-run wouldn't qualify as Air Raid. Unless you are Mike Leach, no one in a P5 school has proven the ability to win consistently on a full-blown Air Raid offense (maybe Cal could get there). Fast teams that have won consistently can use the running game (ex. Oregon, Baylor).

    Also, it’s pretty clear that recruiting will take a while to get on track. We are probably only going to have a better class than Cuse, Wake, and BC talent-wise. I am excited about our recent commits (Peacock, Nelson, Owusu) and really hope we can get Becton, but to be a consistent 7-9 win team (that’s our goal right?) in the ACC those mid 3-star 85 rating guys need to be the core, not the highlight of our class. We are about to watch our best talent leave in the next couple years (Mizzell, Blanding, Brown, Kiser) and the pipeline needs to fill up from the inside out. I am impressed with the enthusiasm of the new staff, but a little lukewarm on their ability to get the guys we need. I know it’s the first year so we’ll know a lot more after the 2018 class. But the improvement needs to be big, because Tech and Miami have hit the ground running, and UNC and Duke(!) are getting higher level kids as well. You cannot win without at least a handful of high 3-star or 4 stars every year (high 80s and up). This year we will hopefully have 2 (Crowell and Becton), but we will need at least 5 a year to stay competitive. Again, I know this is first year and new relationships and everything, but for the turnaround to happen we need a big improvement there or we’ll be maxing out at 6-6. I'm not convinced this staff is that much better X-Os-wise to have the 6th best talent in the Coastal. The schedule says we should go bowling in the next couple of years, I hope the talent drop off (can you imagine our offense this year without Mizzell or our defense without Kiser and Blanding?) doesn’t ruin that.

    The kicker commit is going to be huge for us next year.

    1. Fantastic comments. Would you mind if I used them in a larger blog post?


      1) It takes longer than 10 months (nine games) to fully and properly install the Air Raid. Look at Dykes at Cal, Leach at Wazzu.

      2) I don't know what you'd call this offense Anae is running at UVA right now, but it's not the Air Raid.

    2. Yea sure take 'em. I'm just glad someone is still able to care enough about UVa football to have an active blog.

      I wasn't referring to this year's offense as much as from what I recall your mindset of being super in favor towards pass-happy Air Raid offenses. I believe I'm recalling this from the last of your "The List" posts for a new head coach. All I'm saying is I believe that more balance is better on offense, and that I hope we can get a QB after Benkert who can run enough to achieve that balance, not having to rely on a stud passing QB who can pass effectively 50x a game.

    3. I'm pretty (85%) sure that Mendenhall/Anae are building a spread-to-run scheme at UVA, and not a pure Air Raid. Hopefully that eases your fears?

    4. Yes I am hopeful the next QB we start will facilitate that transition to a spread-to-run, as it doesn't look like it will happen under Benkert.