Thursday, July 31, 2008

season preview: Duke

Continuing with the season previews. Florida State will run tomorrow morning, then tomorrow afternoon we'll take another look at that recruiting list and update it with the week's news.


8/30: James Madison
9/6: Northwestern
9/13: Navy
9/27: Virginia
10/4: @Georgia Tech
10/18: Miami
10/25: @Vanderbilt
11/1: @Wake Forest
11/8: North Carolina State
11/15: @Clemson
11/22: @Virginia Tech
11/29: North Carolina

Skip: Maryland, Boston College, Florida State

Projected starters:

QB: Thaddeus Lewis (Jr.)
RB: Re’Quan Boyette (Sr.)
FB: Clifford Harris (Sr.)
WR: Eron Riley (Sr.)
WR: Sheldon Bell (rSo.)
TE: Tielor Robinson (6Sr.)
LT: Cameron Goldberg (5Sr.)
LG: Jarrod Holt (Jr.)
C: Bryan Morgan (So.)
RG: Rob Schirmann (5Sr.)
RT: Fred Roland (5Sr.)

DE: Ayanga Okpokoworuk (rJr.)
DT: Vince Oghobaase (rJr.)
NG: Clifford Respress (Sr.)
DE: Wesley Oglesby (rSo.)
WLB: Vincent Rey (Jr.)
MLB: Michael Tauliili (Sr.)
SLB: Marcus Jones (Sr.)
CB: Leon Wright (Jr.)
SS: Adrian Aye-Darko (5Sr.)
FS: Catron Gainey (Jr.)
CB: Jabari Marshall (5Sr.)

K: ???
P: Kevin Jones (So.)

Coach: David Cutcliffe (1st season)

(Italics indicate new starter.)

Media prediction: 6th, Coastal Division

All-ACC selections:

2007 1st team: Uh. It’s Duke. So, zero.
2007 2nd team: WR Eron Riley
2007 HM: None
2008 preseason: Still Duke, man.

The Ted Roof era was an unmitigated disaster, even by just-you-wait-til-basketball-season Duke standards. Not that the Carl Franks era was remarkably better – Franks did manage to win one extra game – but the Roof era was awful. Bad enough that an actual sitting judge with law schoolin’ and everything bought the “Duke Sucks” argument and allowed the school to get out of a contract with Louisville on the argument that “team of similar stature” includes everyone, including presumably various I-AA teams, and nunneries. Roof’s firing surprised nobody; his replacement, David Cutcliffe, turned some heads, because David Cutcliffe is a real coach with actual coaching credentials and wins and stuff. Cutcliffe’s only previous head coaching gig was at Ole Miss, where he was pretty successful until the Ole Miss brass stupidly fired him. As Ed Orgeron proved, winning at Ole Miss is not exactly the easy button; Cutcliffe is legit.


Any time there’s a new coach trying to fit a slightly strange new scheme into the old personnel, there will be some depth chart weirdness, and you can double that when the personnel really aren’t that good and are getting shuffled in and out. Start at quarterback, where Thaddeus Lewis is more or less the man, but the coaches want to find a role for Zack Asack, who lost his job two years ago when he was suspended by the school for plagiarism. Asack appeared in six games last year and could do so again. Lewis, however, will be hard to unseat, sporting a very respectable 21/10 TD/INT ratio last year.

Cutcliffe also employs a “B-back”, a sort of hybrid fullback-tight end, and the above-mentioned Tielor Robinson should see time pulling this duty along with TE Brandon King. For now the results will likely be mixed, until Cutcliffe can recruit guys with the necessary talent set instead of having to pick guys who are as close a match as he can find.

There is a bright spot at wide receiver, where Eron Riley returns as a senior. Riley is as dangerous a deep threat as any in the ACC; despite being tied for 22nd in the conference in receptions in 2007, he was 5th in yardage, leading to a conference-best 20.8 yards per reception. He was also good for 9 receiving touchdowns, second in the ACC. On his other side, Sheldon Bell and Austin Kelly are neck-and-neck for the other starting spot; Bell may have had a slightly better spring but Kelly was the more productive player last year.

The running game is the real area of concern. Duke’s passing offense was middle-of-the-road in the conference last year, but the running game was pathetic, producing just 64 yards per game in ’07. Re’Quan Boyette and his backfield-mate Justin Boyle admittedly did not get many carries; when you’re consistently down by double digits at halftime, typically the running game loses emphasis, rapidly. Boyette actually had a decent 4.2 yards per carry in ’07. Not spectacular, but not so bad that we should lose all hope for the Blue Devils’ running game. The offensive line is bookended by 5th year seniors and is experienced overall. Unfortunately they’ve also given Thad Lewis a lot of experience at picking himself up off the grass – nearly 4 sacks allowed per game last year.


Poor Marcus Jones. With a defense full of way cool names like Oghobaase, Tauliili, and Aye-Darko, it’s hard to stand out. At least he’s one of the few who’ll always have his name pronounced correctly by TV announcers, if they ever subject viewers to Duke football.
Duke returns a lot of their starters. The standard joke is whether that’s a good thing on a team that gave up 33 points a game and 40+ in half their games. (Actually, “Duke football” is the standard joke, but whatever.) The Blue Devils’ defense is led by linebackers Michael Tauliili and Vincent Rey, who return as starters from last season and bring their 100+ tackles with them. Vince Oghobaase can be a disruptive force in the middle of the defensive line, leading the team in sacks and TFL in ’07. Oghobaase was the star recruit of the ’05 class and picked Duke over Oklahoma, Miami, and Texas A&M.

Glenn Williams is a name to watch for in the defensive backfield; though he’s not projected as a starter at any position, he plays them all. He started 10 games at corner last year and picked off three passes, tied for the team lead with Tauliili. The coaching staff wants to use him all over the field, so he will see time at corner, safety, and nickel back.

So really, the pieces are there (if a bit scattered around the field) for Duke to be much improved on defense. Experience, of course, helps tremendously, and Duke is not short on that. Cutcliffe’s expertise is on the offensive side of the ball, not the defense, so he will have to lean on DC Mike MacIntyre; unfortunately for Duke, MacIntyre has never been a DC at any level higher than I-AA. (And still hasn’t! Haw!) It will take a very renewed effort on defense for the Blue Devils to compete. Expect the defense to be the focal point of Cutcliffe’s revival efforts at Duke.


Short and sweet –they stink. CB Jabari Marshall averaged a middling 24.6 yards per kick return in ’07; CB Leon Wright averaged a measly 5.7 yards on punt returns. Sophomore punter Kevin Jones gained copious experience in his freshman year, as is typical of bad football teams, but couldn’t reach 40 yards a kick and put only one of every five inside the 20.

But the real horrorshow was the kicking game. K Joe Surgan missed three field goals in the Virginia game, including a 26-yarder in the 2nd quarter. Make them, and Duke leads 19-17 going into the 4th. Surgan missed another against Navy and was promptly yanked from field goal duties. Duke did not attempt another field goal for four games, at which point Nick Maggio took over the kicking duties and finished 2-for-5 – though he made all 13 of his extra points. Surgan missed two. Maggio and Surgan will battle with incoming freshman Paul Asack for kicking duties this fall. Regardless of the outcome, Duke fans will be covering their eyes whenever the kicker trots onto the field.


Duke cannot possibly be as bad as they were the last three seasons – period. Win two games, and they’ll match the win total over that time frame. They could very well start the season right off with those two wins – perhaps even three, as they fought Navy close last year, and Navy is probably trending downwards this season. Even better for Dookies, all three games are at home. Potentially riding a three-game winning streak and a wave of newfound confidence could make them quite a dangerous opponent by the time the ‘Hoos roll into Durham for both teams’ first ACC clash. Duke has been an automatic ACC win these three years; their last conference win was against Clemson in November 2004. Nobody will mistake Duke for a bowl team this year, but that winless streak in the conference should end this year; most likely against either UVA, UNC, or NC State.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the hate post

Hate is the new love. ESPN decided to do a whole day's worth of talky-talk about it, and it spawned some interesting discussions on message boards far and wide. ESPN semi-arbitrarily decided on 10 teams that fans love to hate, and that not being quite enough hate for one day, had all their conference "bloggers" do a list for their respective conference. The ACC's list can be found here. (Ms. Dinich has also declared UVA-VT the conference's second bitterest (actual word?) rivalry, which is kind of cool.)

Anyway, I have given myself this here soapbox, and damn if I ain't gonna use it. Here are the top ten teams I hate, and yes, they're in order. Keep in mind as you read: I grew up a Michigan fan and still am. Many of these teams are because of that. I'm one better than ESPN, so you get 11 instead of 10. Oh, and we're gonna count down, because it's what the cool kids are doing these days.

11. USC
This is kind of a mild hatred, more of a strong distaste. Growing up these guys fell into the category populated with once-proud and mighty teams that had fallen back with the pack, like Alabama is now. So it was kind of cool to see them rise again. That got old pretty quick though, especially once they became the media's little darlings. And you just know that they're playing faster and looser with the rules than most teams do.

10. Florida
How the mighty have fallen. Florida used to be pretty high on this list, back when the Ol' Bawlcoach was pacing the sidelines and dropping 82 points on hapless teams like Central Michigan just because he felt like it. Spurrier is no longer at Florida, but they're still reasonably obnoxious nonetheless.

9. Michigan State
A fairly innocuous and semi-likable team to outside observers. MSU has a very respectable and classy basketball coach, a pretty campus, and a football team that likes to do this to their fans, every single year. So they'd seem like a strange candidate for anyone's hate list, you might think. Not this one, bucko. Michigan State fans are some of the worst in all of football. Spartans fans also have to put up with the Detroit Lions, which means three months of weekend-ruining football games on both Saturday and Sunday, and it's made them awful bitter. Spartans fans primarily devote themselves not to rooting for their own team, but rooting against Michigan. It fulfills them. Makes them happy. A Michigan loss is the same as a Michigan State win - nay, better.

8. Nebraska
Lingering bitterness over 1997 when the coaches poll gave Tom Osborne a going-away present and took half of Michigan's national championship away. Yes, their Missouri game that year was won on an illegally kicked ball, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Nebraska also was one of those teams that liked hanging 70s on teams and didn't mind scheduling the Pacifics of the world to do it. Running up the score, never a classy move.

7. Tennessee
This one's the result of a hundred little things. For starters, Phil Fulmer is such a stern disciplinarian that EDSBS named after him the imaginary award that goes to the team with the most offseason problems with the lawman. My own teams never seem to do well against Tennessee when it counts, which is annoying; a humiliating Citrus Bowl loss some years back that blotches an otherwise excellent Michigan record against the SEC comes to mind. The tournament game in 2006 follows right after. UT fans have never let it go that Peyton Manning was the second-best college football player his senior year. Charles Woodson won the Heisman, Vols. Suck it up. Completely unsubstantiated rumor has it that Fulmer sent in his coaches ballot after the '97 season with Michigan ranked sixth, so bitter was he over the loss of the Heisman. I don't know if that's true and I don't care, I like the story because I hate Tennessee.

6. Miami
The HurriCons have actually dropped a notch or two ever since that 48-0 smackdown last year that always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling whenever I think about it. Still, you don't come into the OB, baby!

5. Notre Dame
Here we're getting into the real rivalry stuff. Notre Dame has some cool stuff about them. Touchdown Jesus and all that. They got some tradition. Most teams have some tradition. Most teams don't shove that tradition in your face like Notre Dame does. Most teams also don't have their prize recruit arrive at the College Football Hall of Fame in a Hummer limousine, wearing a white fur coat and more rings than Vince Lombardi, to announce their commitment.

4. Virginia Tech
True story, and I don't care if you don't believe it because it'll keep on being true, and you'll be wrong: It was 1999 and I was deciding where to apply to college. I had a list, and I was thinking, you know, I want to be an architect, and I have this and that criteria for where I want to go, and I like Virginia and all, and I got Georgia Tech on the list too, and if you combine the two you get Virginia Tech, which seems to fit what I'm looking for and is a Tech school besides which should be good for architecture, right? So I started thinking about applying to Tech.

Three seconds later I was done with that idea. Bleargh.

Two Vick brothers later, it seems I made the right call.

3. Maryland
Two things. I used to think Maryland fans couldn't be all bad. See, they were always pretty damn obnoxious when they came to town for football games. But that's just a small sampling, right? I mean, most people who travel to enemy territory for a game don't do it with the intention of hiding their colors. So it's just a thing. Then I went to the 2006 C****s S****s Bowl in Orlando. My brother is a Purdue grad so we were going to cheer on the Boilermakers. Turns out every Maryland fan, everywhere, male or female, 18 or 58, whether you're in the motel parking lot, outside the stadium gate, or in the seats, wants to start something. It's like a gang initiation: before you get your Twerp fan card, you have to try and start a fight with an opposing fan. Any fan'll do, even and especially a Naval Academy midshipman. (The two teams have a little bit of a history.) Remember I said MSU fans were among the worst in college football? Maryland fans are what keep them from reaching the top.

Second thing. I swear I would have links to back this up because it's really interesting reading, but for some reason the Cavalier Daily's website is down. So no linky. Take my word for the story, and I'll see if they don't bring the site up sometime soon so I can link to it. Anyway. Back in 2003, Maryland's president C.D. Mote spouted off in response to UVA's usual supremely high spot in the U.S. News and World Report rankings. Since I can't get to the story, I don't have all the exact quotes, but this one stands out, if perhaps a bit paraphrased: "Out-of-state students don't know any better than to go to UVA." Remember again where I grew up? So I took that personal, as did a number of friends of mine who also did not hail from Virginia. The jerk.

2. Ohio State
Oh How I Hate Ohio State. (It's what OHIO spells out if you skip some words, like if it were one of those network-acronym signs made for the sole purpose of getting on TV.) You knew this was coming, didn't you? It's not only tradition, it's required. The whole state sucks. State troopers will pull your ass over on the Turnpike for the dual crimes of driving 66 in a 65 zone and having a Michigan license plate. (Can you blame us? The endless soybean fields are enough to drive anyone crazy.) The hatred is intensified because they got rid of John Cooper and he took his Lose To Michigan All The Time ball and went home, and they replaced him with this sweater-vested robot that we Michigan fans just know is having boosters make his players millionaires and take all their tests for them. Ugh. It's not like he's entirely without blemishes on his record (few coaches are, to be honest), but, he is in the Buckeye fan record books, because Maurice Clarett is like the Buckeye Corollary to Godwin's Law: mention the name and you lose the argument. And thus the Holy Sweater Vest remains untarnished. Michigan hasn't beaten them much lately, which obviously makes things worse, so we've taken to poking fun at Terrelle Pryor's decision to attend the "University of Ohio State". Not because Pryor is a mush-head who doesn't even know the proper name of his own school. Because OSU fans love that "THE" that they annoyingly put in front of the school name: THE Ohio State University. As if we were going to confuse it with that other Ohio state university in Columbus that wears scarlet and gray and awards their players stickers with tiny marijuana leaves.

P.S., in case those of you clicking through from Buckeye Planet aren't yet totally offended: Brutus Buckeye is the ugliest mascot this side of that thing Western Kentucky thinks is a good idea to represent the school with. So there :P

1. Florida State
Ah, finally we come to it. How, you wonder, does a Michigan fan come to hate Ohio State less than some other school? It's a matter of respect. Plain and simple. With Ohio State there is an ever-burning, seething hatred, but there is a respect that's equally strong, and the knowledge that somewhere, entwined in the lore that makes both schools truly among the football greats, is the other school.

There is none of that with Florida State. Derogatory nicknames follow the school around and fit like a glove. Criminoles. Free Shoes U. Scandals abound: The massive cheating incident in 2007. Peter Warrick at Dillards in 1996. Free shoes from Foot Locker in 1993. Adrian McPherson's blank checks and possible gambling in 2002. Things like this happen at colleges every now and again. It's part of the game. They don't happen at the same college, like clockwork, every few years. These are just the major things - the minor things that make a headline once then disappear forever are a yearly thing at Florida State. Players getting suspended for things like carrying guns, assault, and theft.

And it's not the occurrences themselves. If there were ever a school that has completely lost insitutional control, it's Florida State, yet the NCAA has never seen fit to punish the school beyond the occasional lost scholarship. Bobby Bowden is hailed as one of the game's legends. No legend ever did this to the game. Florida State is obnoxious (see: band playing tomahawk chop song every. gotdamned. play.), guilty as anyone of running up the score, cowardly (who else would face up to suspensions by scheduling Western Carolina and Chattanooga?), and they win, or used to win, way too damn much. That adds up to some pretty solid hate. Now add the scandal parade, and it's not hard to tell why fans of every ACC school are unanimous in their hatred of the Seminoles.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

season preview: Clemson


8/30: Alabama
9/6: The Citadel
9/13: North Carolina State
9/20: South Carolina State
9/27: Maryland
10/9: @Wake Forest (Th.)
10/18: Georgia Tech
10/1: @Boston College
10/8: @Florida State
10/15: Duke
10/22: @Virginia
10/29: South Carolina

Skip: Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina

Projected starters:

QB: Cullen Harper (5Sr.)
RB: James Davis (Sr.)/C.J. Spiller (Jr.)
WR: Aaron Kelly (5Sr.)
WR: Tyler Grisham (Sr.)
WR: Jacoby Ford (Jr.)
TE: Michael Palmer (Jr.)
LT: Cory Lambert (rJr.)
LG: Jamarcus Grant (rJr.)
C: Thomas Austin (rJr.)
RG: Barry Humphries (rJr.)
RT: Chris Hairston (rSo.)

DE: Kevin Alexander (Jr.)
NG: Dorell Scott (5Sr.)
DT: Rashaad Jackson (5Sr.)
DE: Ricky Sapp (Jr.)
SLB: Scotty Cooper (So.)
MLB: Brandon Maye (rFr.)
WLB: Kavell Conner (rJr.)
CB: Chris Chancellor (rJr.)
SS: Michael Hamlin (5Sr.)
FS: Chris Clemons (5Sr.)
CB: Crezdon Butler (Jr.)

K: Mark Buchholz (5Sr.)
P: Jimmy Maners (5Sr.)

Coach: Tommy Bowden (10th season)

Media prediction: 1st, Atlantic Division

All-ACC selections:
2007 1st team: RB James Davis, WR Aaron Kelly, OT Barry Richardson (graduated), OG Chris McDuffie (graduated)
2007 2nd team: QB Cullen Harper, S Michael Hamlin
2007 HM: DE Philip Merling (graduated), DT Dorell Scott, KR-PR C.J. Spiller
2008 preseason: QB Cullen Harper, RB James Davis, RB Aaron Kelly, S Michael Hamlin

It’s a sign of how the ACC is viewed across the country that Clemson is the near unanimous pick to be celebrating in Tampa as ACC champions, yet is never mentioned when the conversation turns to the crystal football. Indeed, most media-types agree that This Is Clemson’s Year; they return their entire offensive skill set, entire secondary, and most of the defensive line. The feeling is that if Tommy Bowden can’t get it done this year, he may never.


Cullen Harper is the preseason selection as ACC player of the year with just barely half the votes – but that’s OK for Clemson, because gobbling up most of the rest are RBs James Davis and C.J. Spiller. Of the 64 votes, only 10 did not go to one of the Tigers’ trio. Harper has all his weapons lined up to throw at as well, especially fellow preseason all-ACCer Aaron Kelly, last year’s ACC leader in receiving yards.

Clemson probably has the ACC’s best quarterback and stable of running backs and receivers, so it’s easy to see why they’re such a popular pick for the Orange Bowl. But if the rebuilt offensive line doesn’t hold, they’re going to have a tough time against teams with front sevens capable of making a mess of backfields. Gone are all-conference Barry Richardson and Chris McDuffie; Richardson held down the all-important left tackle spot, protecting Harper’s blindside. Thomas Austin is solid at center, but he and the other returnee Barry Humphries switched positions last year; Austin was recruited as a guard. The three new starters aren’t completely without experience, but the line is still in flux and may see changes even as the season goes on. It’s the biggest question mark on the team, and if Clemson doesn’t live up to expectations, Bowden will take the heat but the offensive line will likely be at the root of the problem.


On defense it’s not the bevy of returning starters that has Clemson fired up. Sure, they’ve got a rock-solid core of 5th-year senior defensive tackles in Dorell Scott and Rashaad Jackson. And sure, the middle of the secondary is the same way; in particular, all-conference strong safety Michael Hamlin, the leading returning tackler. It’s not the seniors, but a freshman, that has Clemson fans excited. Recruiting services don’t always agree on much but they agree on this: DaQuan Bowers is the shit. Rated no lower than #2 in the entire nation at any position by the scouting services, Bowers is not atop the depth chart at DE just yet – that is junior Kevin Alexander right now – but Bowers, an early enrollee who took part in spring practice, is in his rearview mirror. Bowers wears the #93 that was once the property of fourth-overall draft choice Gaines Adams.

Like the offense, however, there’s a crucial unit full of question marks. The Tigers graduated two starting linebackers and booted the third for DUI and, I dunno, not being sorry enough maybe. Thusly spring practice saw what coaches call an opportunity for different players to step up and what fans call “oh god we have no linebackers.” Linebacker is the only place where Clemson currently figures to start anyone less experienced than a third-year player; Scotty Cooper is a true sophomore and Brandon Maye is a redshirt freshman. Even so there’s nothing laid in stone. Unintentionally, Clemson DC Vic Koenning is a funny, funny man:

"Right now, I feel like we're more productive at linebacker than I can remember us being in a while," said Koenning, in his fourth season as coordinator.

Either Koenning said that in the middle of last season, or he’s certifiable. Last year’s starting linebackers were 1st, 4th, and 6th on the team in tackles, and none of them are still on the team.


P Jimmy Maners and K Mark Buchholz add to the bevy of 5th-year seniors littering Clemson’s lineup. Maners is solid, averaging nearly 43 yards a kick. Buchholz is not NFL material at only 6-of-17 outside 39 yards, but he’s reasonably dependable, not missing on any extra points in 2007. Spiller and Ford will continue to handle the return duties; both are dangerous, especially Spiller who brought two kicks back to the end zone in ’07.


Clemson is not a hard team to figure. They are hogging all the conference talent at the offensive skill positions and are very, very experienced at most defensive spots. The linebackers are an issue, but not the kind that will make or break a season. It’s all very simple: If the offensive line can gel as a unit, open up holes for Davis and Spiller, and keep Harper’s nice orange uniform clean, Clemson will go to the Orange Bowl. Boosters will open the checkbooks, Tommy Bowden will carry on the family legacy of being allowed to coach well after senility has set in, the fatted calf will be slaughtered, and yea there will be rejoicing in Death Valley such as has not been seen since the warriors from Florida State invaded ACC-land. If not? Then Clemson will go bowling in Florida, oh yes, but to Orlando instead of Miami, to play in the Rodney Dangerfield Bowl against the Big Ten; two conferences that don’t get no respect. Rejoicing will be replaced by wailing and gnashing of teeth. And it might be Tommy’s turn to swing from a tree in effigy.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Will Barker arrested

Alcohol and 'Hoos aren't mixing well these days. Projected starting lineman Will Barker and reserve Dave Roberts were arrested this weekend for stealing beer and in the case of Roberts - you guessed it - minor in possession. This coming no more than a week after Lalich's court case for the same, minus the theft.

Barker and Roberts, I think, are not likely to be dismissed outright from the team, but this has been something of a pattern this offseason, guys getting in trouble. At least FSU was smart enough to schedule a couple of weeniecakes to suspend their players for. Barker may well miss all or part of the USC game.

season preview: Boston College

Season's Greetings! (In this case, the season is summer.) As promised, we begin our tour of the ACC. Over the next couple weeks we'll look at each team in turn, intermixed with regular blogging activities. First in the alphabet, and thus, the series, are the Eagles of Boston College.

8/30: @Kent State
9/6: Georgia Tech
9/20: Central Florida
9/27: Rhode Island
10/4: @North Carolina State
10/18: Virginia Tech
10/25: @North Carolina
11/1: Clemson
11/8: Notre Dame
11/15: @Florida State
11/22: @Wake Forest
11/29: Maryland

Skip: Virginia, Duke, Miami

Projected starters:

QB: Chris Crane (5Sr.)
RB: Josh Haden (Fr.)
FB: James McCluskey (RSo.)
WR: Brandon Robinson (5Sr.)
WR: Rich Gunnell (RJr.)
TE: Ryan Purvis (5Sr.)
LT: Anthony Castonzo (So.)
LG: Clif Ramsey (5Sr.)
C: Matt Tennant (RJr.)
RG: Thomas Claiborne (RSo.)
RT: Rich Lapham (RSo.)

LDE: Alex Albright (Jr.)
LDT: Ron Brace (5Sr.)
RDT: B.J. Raji (5Sr.)
RDE: Jim Ramella (RJr.)
SLB: Mark Herzlich (Jr.)
MLB: Mike McLaughlin (RJr.)
WLB: Brian Toal (5Sr.)
SS: Paul Anderson (Sr.)
FS: Marty Bowman (RJr.)
CB: Roderick Rollins (Jr.)
CB: DeLeon Gause (So.)

K: Steve Aponovicius (Sr.)
P: Ryan Quigley (Fr.)

Coach: Jeff Jagodzinski (2nd season)

(Italics indicate new starter.)

Media prediction: 4th place, Atlantic Division

All ACC selections:
2007 1st team: QB Matt Ryan (graduated), TE Ryan Purvis, S Jamie Silva (graduated)
2007 2nd team: RB Andre Callender (graduated), OT Gosder Cherilus (graduated), LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (graduated), CB DeJuan Tribble (graduated)
2007 HM: WR Brandon Robinson, DE Alex Albright, DT Ron Brace
2008 preseason: TE Ryan Purvis, DT Ron Brace, LB Brian Toal

Boston College got their 2007 season off to a roaring start at 7-0. A look at their schedule, and it might seem they have a chance at repeating that feat. Up until November and the beginning of the hellacious part of the Eagles’ schedule, the only really fearsome roadblock to a repeat 7-0 start is Virginia Tech.

Oh! And the BC offense.

Last year’s offense was led by near-unanimous All-ACC ballchucker Matt Ryan and the extremely versatile Andre Callender, who led the team in both carries and receptions. This year’s offense will not be, and neither will they have OT Gosder Cherilus, who was a first-round pick of the Detroit Lions, to pave the way. BC’s defense will be looking to pick up the slack for the offense, which is a nice way of saying the BC defense might not want to put down their helmets when they leave the field.


Chris Crane is the guy under the microscope. For better or for worse, he’s the guy. The head honcho, the Quarterback, the BMOC. 5th-year-senior Crane is the only quarterback on the BC roster who’s thrown a college pass, and the backup is redshirt freshman Dominique Davis, more mobile but without Crane’s arm. Crane has seen some action but entirely against the likes of Buffalo, Army, Ball State, and their ilk – he has yet to see ACC game time except against Duke, which doesn’t count.

Crane’s major problem (and truthfully, Boston College’s) is not a lack of experience or targets, it is this: Last year the team netted 1,416 yards on the ground, and returns exactly six of them. Fullback James McCluskey picked up a total of 14 yards on the season, though his value is not measured in yardage, as he was a reliable goal-line presence. The only other returning players on the rushing stat sheet are Crane and WR Billy Flutie, who lost four each. Callender is gone, as is L.V. Whitworth, who gave the Eagles four very solid years. BC’s coaches have pinned their hopes to early enrollee freshman Josh Haden, who is speedy, sporting Callender’s #1, and going to get hurt if they think he’s good for 25 carries a game. McCluskey figures to get more carries than the eight that he racked up last year. Next up on the tailback depth chart in the spring were a converted safety (Dan Mulrooney) and a walk-on (John Siravo); BC will be hoping at least one of their crop of entering freshman RB’s makes a name in fall practice.

At least Crane will have someone to throw to, if not hand off to. Callender and Kevin Challenger are gone, but Crane will have three of last year’s top four receivers back in all-ACC TE Ryan Purvis, and WRs Rich Gunnell and Brandon Robinson; additionally, redshirt-junior Clarence Megwa can fill in the hole left by Challenger with little trouble. The loss of versatility that Callender brought by catching passes out of the backfield will hurt, but truth be told his running game will be what the Eagles miss. As thin as they are at RB, they are that deep in targets for Crane.

The offensive line loses ACC second-teamer Gosder Cherilus, but three of last year’s five return, including budding star Anthony Castonzo protecting Crane’s blind side at left tackle. Castonzo started all 14 games last year as a true freshman.


The running game will be a very tricky spot for BC this year; stopping the run, fortunately for them, is a completely different affair. BC took some hits on defense, but mostly in the secondary, where All-ACCers S Jamie Silva and CB DeJuan Tribble depart and take their combined 12 picks with them, as well as Tribble’s counterpart Taji Morris. That leaves FS Paul Anderson and three position battles. DeLeon Gause and Roderick Rollins have the lead and some experience at corner, but freshman Donnie Fletcher enrolled early and should get a look at nickel back and possibly push one or the other for time.

The defensive line was all set to bring back four returning starters. DE Alex Albright was an ’07 all-ACC honorable mention, DT Ron Brace is a preseason all-ACCer, and DT B.J. Raji returns from academic issues after an ’06 season that earned him second-team all-conference honors. All Brady Smith had to do was not get charged with rape and breaking and entering; at this he failed, and was kicked off the team in late April. So three out of four, but it’s a potent three. And they’re backed up by some linebackers who know what they’re doing. The two leading returning tacklers are Mark Herzlich (97 tackles) and Mike McLaughlin (64); they’re joined by Brian Toal, who is BC’s third preseason all-ACC selection. Getting Toal back from the shoulder injury that forced him to miss all of last year should make up for the loss of Jo-Lonn Dunbar and his 90 tackles.


Steve Aponavicius returns for his senior season; BC fans may not be too jazzed about that, as he honked a third of his FG attempts last year. 5 of his 6 misses were in the 30-39 range where kickers make their money (metaphorically speaking). The Eagles don’t even list a punter on the spring depth chart, so the spot is open.


Time for Jeff Jagodzinski to earn his keep. Last year he pushed the Matt Ryan button and it spit out an 11-3 season, complete with ACC championship game appearance and bowl game win. 11 wins is a successful season no matter how you slice it. This year, the complete and utter absence of a proven running game is going to test him. The front seven alone should make BC a bowl team; the light and frosty nonconference schedule (Notre Dame notwithstanding) should put them halfway there. Three or four wins in eight ACC games is doable, but more than that may be asking a bit much unless Jags is as good a coach or better as 11 wins say he is.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

laroy reynolds commits to uva

No sooner do I bother getting a recruiting list up, than someone takes themself off it. Fortunately it's in a good way: Safety Laroy Reynolds committed to UVA today. More on Reynolds when "the recruit" series catches up to him. For now, content yourself with knowing that ESPN and Scout think he's a WR (and here I thought Scout was doing better than the rest at correctly labeling players' positions) but Reynolds' recruiter is Bob Pruett, which should tell you something about which side of the ball he'll be on.

Updated recruit list, minus Reynolds:

RB Tavon Austin
- Pitt, Md, WVU, Tenn, S.Car, UGA, others
RB De'Antwan Williams
- Bama, VT, BC, Md., Rutgers, WVU
RB Antone Exum
- lots, but definitely VT
WR Justin Brown
- PSU, VT, NCSt., S.Car, UNC
WR Sean Farr
- Md., WVU, Akron
WR Timothy Smith
- L'ville, S.Car, WVU, BC
WR Rex Burkhead
- plenty
TE Arthur Fontaine
- UGA, BC, Md.
TE Logan Thomas
- VT, Clemson, WVU, UNC, Wake, Tenn.
OT Nick Kindler
- BC, WVU, Ill., Rutgers
OT Morgan Moses
- pretty much everyone east of the Mississippi
OT Patrick Ward
- about 20 schools
OT Brennan Williams
- BC, Mich., Duke, Md., Wake
C Sam Simpson
- Bama, UK, Tenn., Vandy
DE Duan Perez-Means
- Md., VT, ECU, WVU, Cuse, UConn
DE Michael Buchanan
- Purdue, Ill., Cal, Vandy, KU
DE Lanford Collins
- VT, PSU, Tenn., WVU, Md., NCSt., UNC, BC, Ill.
DE Garry Gilliam
- UConn, PSU, Temple, Pitt, Akron
DE Will Hill
- UConn, Md., Mich., UNC, S.Car
DE Anthony LaLota
- BC, UF, Mich., ND, PSU, Rutgers
DE Bernardo Nunez
- lots
DE DeAntre Rhodes
- VT, Md., Clemson, Tenn.
ILB Austin Moss
- also lots
OLB Tariq Edwards
- Ill., Md., NCSt., S.Car, Vandy, VT, Wake
OLB Jelani Jenkins
- everyone and their aunt
CB Ross Cockrell
- Duke, Liberty
CB Travis Hawkins
- who isn't interested?
S Theron Norman
- Cuse, VT, UConn, Md.
S Javanti Sparrow
- many
DB Joshua Evans
- 28 other schools. for real.

Friday, July 25, 2008

some attempt at a recruiting list

Having jumped into the game a bit late, I don't have my own very special recruiting database, and therefore, only sporadic updates on the highest-profile recruits have graced these pages. (Or just "page".) With 18 recruits in the fold already, there are only about five, maybe six open slots, so the chance to join the hunt follow the recruiting like greyhounds after a mechanical rabbit is mostly gone. That said, who cares? This is a blog, bloggery involves caring very, very deeply about the whims of a bunch of excitable teenagers, and so we will do a little of that here.
This, then, is a shortish list, not to be taken as all-inclusive, of said excitable teenagers who are contemplating spending the next four years at our beloved UVA. This is nothing fancy. Position, name, and competing schools (in no particular order, usually) are what you will see. Just a list of players to keep an eye on.

RB Tavon Austin
- Pitt, Md, WVU, Tenn, S.Car, UGA, others
RB De'Antwan Williams
- Bama, VT, BC, Md., Rutgers, WVU
RB Antone Exum
- lots, but definitely VT
WR Justin Brown
- PSU, VT, NCSt., S.Car, UNC
WR Sean Farr
- Md., WVU, Akron
WR Timothy Smith
- L'ville, S.Car, WVU, BC
WR Rex Burkhead
- plenty
TE Arthur Fontaine
- UGA, BC, Md.
TE Logan Thomas
- VT, Clemson, WVU, UNC, Wake, Tenn.
OT Nick Kindler
- BC, WVU, Ill., Rutgers
OT Morgan Moses
- pretty much everyone east of the Mississippi
OT Patrick Ward
- about 20 schools
OT Brennan Williams
- BC, Mich., Duke, Md., Wake
C Sam Simpson
- Bama, UK, Tenn., Vandy
DE Duan Perez-Means
- Md., VT, ECU, WVU, Cuse, UConn
DE Michael Buchanan
- Purdue, Ill., Cal, Vandy, KU
DE Lanford Collins
- VT, PSU, Tenn., WVU, Md., NCSt., UNC, BC, Ill.
DE Garry Gilliam
- UConn, PSU, Temple, Pitt, Akron
DE Will Hill
- UConn, Md., Mich., UNC, S.Car
DE Anthony LaLota
- BC, UF, Mich., ND, PSU, Rutgers
DE Bernardo Nunez
- lots
DE DeAntre Rhodes
- VT, Md., Clemson, Tenn.
ILB Austin Moss
- also lots
OLB Tariq Edwards
- Ill., Md., NCSt., S.Car, Vandy, VT, Wake
OLB Jelani Jenkins
- everyone and their aunt
CB Ross Cockrell
- Duke, Liberty
CB Travis Hawkins
- who isn't interested?
S Laroy Reynolds
- UConn, NCSt., Cuse, L'ville
S Theron Norman
- Cuse, VT, UConn, Md.
S Javanti Sparrow
- many
DB Joshua Evans
- 28 other schools. for real.

By no means should you think we have an equal shot at all of these guys. This list definitely represents varying degrees of interest; for example, Logan Thomas and Anthony LaLota have UVA in a definite top 7. Nick Kindler has us in the top 5 but not the top 3. He's listed because he mentioned us, but he's likely to go elsewhere.

Anyway, these are the players FOV will have it's eyes on for the rest of the recruiting season, which unlike actual football season is all year, all the time.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

the recruit: perry jones

We're going to make Perry wait juuuuust a little bit here while some other news is covered. First, the Preseason All-ACC team is out - Eugene Monroe and Clint Sintim represent Virginia. I don't have any thoughts on this other than "yay 'Hoos."

Quick breakdown of the schools by number of players on the list:

Clemson: 4
FSU: 4
Wake: 4
BC: 3
GT: 3
UNC: 2
UVA: 2
VT: 2
Md.: 1
Miami: 0 (!!)
NCSt.: 0
Duke: 0

Second, we have a Tate Forcier update. Earlier indications were disappointing yet hopeful; remove hopeful and you now have the current state of affairs. Forcier has a "solid six" of six non-UVA schools. UVA is still listed as a "school of interest" on Tate's website but that is now less recent than the above interview.

Now, Perry Jones gets his day in the sun:

Name: Perry Jones
Position: S (or so he will be at UVA)
Hometown: Chesapeake
School: Oscar Smith
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 178
40: 4.4

ESPN: 74
Rivals: 5.1, two stars, unranked at RB, #21 in state of VA
Scout: two stars, #102 safety

First of all what the hell. Pretty much most indications are in agreement here: Jones is small (correction: "lacks ideal size") and is something of a lost-in-the-shuffle recruit. Almost all the numbers are decidedly meh. So is the offer list: Jones had 'em from Boston College and Navy.

So what's with this "#21 recruit in the state" stuff? Everyone below him has three stars from Rivals, except one: number twenty-eight, Theron Norman, has four. Star rankings: they mean everything, until they don't. Ai yi yi. Let's go look at some film.

Jones lines up at fullback (which is why Rivals lists him at RB), linebacker (which is why ESPN calls him ATH) and will play safety at UVA (which is why Scout gets it right, again, and lists him there.) Why safety? ESPN has this to say: "Would need to be employed in a system that covers him up and allows him to ball-hawk." Groh's linebackers do not get "covered up", not in the 3-4, so safety it is. Besides, the five interceptions are none too shabby.

The film shows two things: a linebacker who likes to go into the pile, and a fullback who likes to run over people. At 6'3", 230, this can be really spectacular to watch; at 5'8", 180, there is nothing spectacular but it is impressive nonetheless. When blitzing, Jones prefers to crash into the quarterback rather than tackle him; this is fun to watch no matter what. Again: hence the move to safety. College tight ends and fullbacks will gobble up 5'8" linebackers. At linebacker, the desire to crash into people is sometimes known as "undisciplined play"; at safety, it is a cherished talent.

Worth mentioning: Jones had 141 tackles last year, which works out to something like bazillions per game, and 24 TFL including 14 sacks. The man knows what he's doing on defense.

Finally, Jones is a teammate of WR Timothy Smith, and Jones will be working on him to pledge his services to the 'Hoos. Smith has plans for an official visit in October. We wish Perry Jones the very best of luck in this endeavor.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

fov rakes the muck

It seems so minor, I almost hesitate to put it up. But what the hell. Peter Lalich is in a teeny bit of trouble with the law. Lalich's crime is possession of alcohol and Not Yet Being 21. He will get off with a $71 fine if he doesn't do it again for a year. To be more specific, "The case against Lalich was continued until July 21, 2009, at which point charges will be dropped if there is no recurrence."

Lalich turns 21 on May 18, 2009. What do you want to bet he did not tell the judge this?

Frankly, I'm rather shocked about the whole thing. Not because I can't believe our little boy would do such a thing, no. I'm shocked that the police gave a shit. Had to have been the C-ville police that picked him up. University police are damn near apologetic if they ever ask you to keep the noise down at the party, and it's probably because they do it so little they have forgotten how. One of the many benefits of being a student at UVA instead of some other school is the complete and utter lack of dickitude shown by UVA police.

Enough muckraking. There is also this on how Al Groh is happy to have USC as the opening game. Read: "This year, when we're blown out of the water in the opener, it won't result in Groh Must Go on Beta Bridge, so yay for that." No doubt the painters will wait til the East Carolina game.

The article also makes a small note about Mike Brown - there was some consternation when he was left off the updated roster on Groh is waiting for his legal status to play out. My guess: Brown is probably guilty of the marijuana possession and larceny that he's charged with - they tend not to make arrests for small-fry crimes like that unless they know they got their man. And if the mere charges were enough to bar him from spring practice, a finding of guilty by the courts is not gonna be the trigger to bring him back.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

lalota down to seven

As I told you last week, highly-highly recruited, mega-coveted defensive end Anthony LaLota has cut his list to seven schools, and as I told you last week, UVA is on the list. His top seven, in no order:

Boston College
Notre Dame
Penn State

I said no order, but actually it's the order that he listed them in.

why the acc is not such a bad place

Without too much surfwebbing or poking into dark corners of the Internet, you can find a general consensus among college football pundits when talking about ACC football as a whole: It stinks.

Continuing with a look at reactions from the ACC Football Kickoff, here is a column from Gregg Doyel at

Forget subtraction by addition, ACC troubles deeper

Doyel did not go to the Kickoff to give us fluff pieces on Clint Sintim and John Phillips. If you skim the article, the first thing you may notice is this: The first thing Doyel mentions is the free food, drinks, cigars, and golf to be had at the Kickoff. So we have a pretty good idea of what Doyel did go to the Kickoff for. Another thing he did not apparently do much of is talk to the players, except to glean a throwaway quote that he can mock after having bravely proven his point.

The premise of Doyel's article is that the ACC started to suck right around the time the conference expanded, only he goes on to say that it wasn't the fault of expansion. Fair enough; the expansion teams have filled 3 of the 6 slots in the ACC CG so far. Doyel does blame a number of factors, which I don't need to repeat verbatim as you can pretty easily read the article yourself.

He even gets a few things right. ACC quarterbacks do tend to stink. Georgia Tech fans suffered through four years of watching Reggie Ball ignore wide-open receivers (especially Calvin Johnson) in order to throw into double coverage. So they can attest.

Doyel also mentions the fall of Florida State as a factor. More on this later. Miami, too, hasn't been the stalwart they were supposed to be.

On the face of it, then, the premises appear sound. But the statistics and other claims fall apart under scrutiny.

First claim: In the four years before expansion, the ACC was 14-10 in bowl games. In the four years since, the ACC was 14-17. So there were seven "extra" bowls, and the ACC lost them all.

Here is the actual rundown. The records listed are: first, the ACC record before expansion (2000-2003) and second, after expansion: 2004-2007. These are the top four bowls the ACC plays in and they're the only ones the ACC has been affiliated with in all eight years.

BCS: 0-4, 1-3
Gator: 3-1, 2-2
Peach: 3-1, 1-3
C****s S****s: 2-2, 3-1

8-8 before, 7-9 after. A very, very slight decrease. This is not enough to proclaim the downfall of the ACC. That means in the remaining games, the ACC was 6-2, followed by 7-8 after expansion. This is significant. Only eight teams represented the ACC in not-these bowls before expansion; nearly twice that many after expansion. Two things: one, the ranks of the bowls have swelled considerable. Two, we're pretty obviously sending worse teams to bowls than before. As expansion grows the top of the league, the teams that were there and were always mediocre are being pushed to the bottom - but they get to keep going to bowls.

Second claim: The rise of the Big East. This is hysterically funny. The Big East has had a better bowl record than the ACC in the past four years; this is supposed to highlight the "fall" of the ACC. Except when you look at how they've fared head to head in bowl games in the years since the ACC bogarted all their good teams:

Florida State 30, West Virginia 18
Boston College 37, North Carolina 24
Georgia Tech 51, Syracuse 14
Virginia Tech 35, Louisville 24
NC State 14, South Florida 0
Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13
West Virginia 38, Georgia Tech 35
Wake Forest 24, UConn 10

That's ACC 5, Big East 3. But! One of those three is Boston College. I checked, and they seem to have moved to the ACC. Rise of the Big East, indeed.

Third claim: FSU once ruled all, but there were challengers. There are no such challengers any more. Doyel presents Exhibits A, B, and C: UNC's two year run of going 21-3, GT's 10-2 season in '98, and Maryland's three-year record of 31-8. As if there haven't been similar seasons in the expansion era. We'll call VT the new conference hegemon, replacing FSU, so pretend I didn't mention their 42-11 record since joining. Wake Forest had an 11-3 season. Miami had a two-year 18-6 run. Boston College went 30-9 over a three-year span. So we can match this run for run.

The idea this all adds up to is supposedly that ACC football was very good football before and is lousy football now.


What did change? Perceptions. Why the perception change?

Florida State.

Florida State, upon joining, towered over the conference. From 1992 to 2000 they were conference champs or co-champs; from '92 to 2005 they failed to win only twice. They have multiple national championships in that time and played for several more. FSU was a machine. They are no longer. There is more parity in the ACC; expansion combined with Bobby Bowden's mummification has caused there to be two or three teams in the hunt each year rather than one massively dominant, love-to-hate-'em football machine. In fact it was partly the ACC's mediocrity which allowed this; there were other such machines around the NCAA, such as Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, etc. Despite long runs as national title contenders, they don't have nearly the streak FSU does as conference champs; why? Because their conferences gave them more competition, obviously. Tennessee was 10-2 in 1996 and lost the SEC championship to national champ Florida. Michigan was 10-2 in 1999; the conference champ was Wisconsin. That never happened in the ACC; 10-2 was always good enough for a share the title, if any team could have reached it.

Florida State is no longer a machine. It has been replaced by good but flawed teams. The rest of the conference is the same as it ever was.

ACC football is as mediocre now as it was in the past. Only the perception has changed. The ACC's muddled middle (UVA, NC State, Maryland, GT, Clemson) has not gotten particularly better or worse. UVA is maybe a little better than before. Clemson is somewhat better. NC State and Maryland are somewhat worse. Whatever. These things rise and fall, but once you get past second place in the conference, only the names change; the quality does not.

Rather than bash the conference for the fall of Florida State, I celebrate this. It is not any more fun to watch Virginia Tech win a title than FSU, but the season in general is far better knowing there's no longer one dominant (and very unlikeable) team lording it over the the peons. Watching several good teams race to the top is much, much preferable to watching a bunch of mediocre ones race to second.

Monday, July 21, 2008

detroit fluff city

The ACC Football Kickoff was held this past weekend, in which players from each school are made available for the media to toss beachballs at and write nice fluff stories about, and just in time too because those editors are getting a bit suspicious about those trips to the local golf course's 19th hole "just to see if some of the fifth-year seniors are hanging around."

Hold off on that stuff for a bit though, because the CDP manages to outfluff the fluffers ( write a better article, without even mentioning the media thingy.

Groh dusts off his old playbook

That's a reference to the fact that no matter who wins the starting job, he will not run around all the time like we're used to seeing from Marques Hagans and Jameel Sewell.

Some quotes of note:

“The Schaub to Heath Miller plays went into a particular folder,” Groh said. “They didn’t get thrown away — they just sat for a while. So, a lot of this is going back to a style of play that fit that type of quarterback and which our present quarterbacks are more like that.”

I believe that was the "Win" folder. Those plays generally worked nicely.

This, however, is the quote that kind of makes me go uh-oh:

With that fact alone, Groh believes that the best approach for Virginia’s quarterback system this year could be the same one as last season: a two-quarterback system.

“I can see the possibility that for a while it might take two quarterbacks for the position to play as well as it needs to,” Groh said. “If it takes two, we’ll use two. Sometimes in Major League Baseball, it takes two guys to pitch the game.”
Uh, here's the problem. Groh has twice used a two-quarterback system in his tenure. Last year, he did it for a few reasons: one, Lalich and Sewell have entirely different playing styles and a change of pace is not bad, and two, Groh saw Sewell's academic problems on the horizon and his wrist injury in the rearview mirror and thought he'd better get Lalich up to speed, pronto. Before that we had the Matt Schaub-Bryson Spinner platoon, which worked as follows: A starts, then sucks and B finishes the game. B then starts the next game, sucks, and A finishes. A starts, then sucks get the picture.

In both systems, there was a drop-back guy, and a runner. Or a runner, then a drop-back guy. This is why they have two-QB systems. You can even have it with two runners, maybe one is a lefty and one's a righty. Two drop-back passers do nothing for the confuse-the-defense aspect of it. In this case, "two-quarterback system" is 5-and-7-season-speak for "the third guy sucks way worse." If we have a "two-quarterback system," chances are the offense is looking bad.

This, by the way, is possible. Remember when we thought we'd be OK because both Christian Olsen and Kevin McCabe couldn't possibly both suck? Yeah. Ordinarily, if you have a senior and two sophomores, you have a starting quarterback that's a senior. In this case the senior has been a career clipboard stand, and one of the sophomores is a bonus baby who hasn't yet distanced himself from the two-star recruits. That's the half-empty view. The half-full view is "gosh, if the coaching staff can develop no-names (Schaub) and wide receivers (Hagans) into perfectly good quarterbacks, I can't wait for Lalich!" Neither is exactly wrong or exactly right. The unfair thing is, whoever wins the job gets to strut his stuff in front of the USC defense, which is a little like getting your drivers' license at 16 then being told Jeff Gordon broke his foot and can't drive the Daytona 500 and you're it kid, have fun out there and try not to wreck your teammate.

Now that I've gotten that quarterback stuff out of my system, here's a little bit of bloggery and linkery:

The Virginian-Pilot went to the ACC Football Kickoff and came away with a nice little piece on Clint Sintim.

The Roanoke Times went to the ACC Football Kickoff and came away with a nice little piece on John Phillips. Phillips, by the way, is a fourth-year junior and a co-captain, marking the second season in a row that a tight end has held that honor. (Last year, Tom Santi.) You watching, Logan Thomas?

So one for Sintim, one for Phillips, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the tie-breaker, and it's.......Phillips. (And VPISU's Orion Martin.)

The RTD frets a little about Phillips' as-yet-mostly-unproven pass-catching ability:

For the past three years, Phillips' duties focused mostly on blocking, so he'll have to prove he can be a receiving threat like Santi, Stupar and Heath Miller before them. Phillips caught 17 passes last year, compared to 40 for Santi and 36 for Stupar. In his first three seasons, Phillips has just 21 catches. Santi had 61 in his first three seasons, Stupar 40.

As a personal editorial, I'm not worried. Phillips has NFL size and very good hands. Whether or not he gets 50 catches this year will be more dependent on the quarterback(s) than Phillips.

Friday, July 18, 2008

jontel evans now a wahoo

Straightforward and simple. We have our first basketball commitment of 2009: Jontel Evans, the recruit mentioned earlier this week, committed to UVA this afternoon.

It is a basketball-only commitment. Evans is currently (mostly) un-evaluated by Rivals and ESPN, and the #22 PG in the nation according to Scout.

the recruit: brent urban

Before you hear all about our north-of-the-border-and-I-don't-mean-the-Potomac recruit, I point you in this direction: where Rivals has listed the top 30 players in the state of Virginia. #'s 8, 10, 15, 27, and 30 are UVA commits - so far. Last year? One signing.

'Nuff babbling. On with the show.

Name: Brent Urban
Position: DE
Hometown: Mississauga, ON
School: Lorne Park Secondary
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 266
40: 4.9

ESPN: 77
Rivals: hasn't bothered
Scout: ditto

Not going to see a whole lot of recruiting-service evaluation on this kid - that ON, in case you don't know your postal codes, stands for Ontario, as in Canada, as in the land of moose, mounties, hockey, and weird football rules. Even just looking at his highlight video is weird: Canadian defensive linemen are required to line up a yard off the line of scrimmage. Thus Urban's highlights show very little contact - he runs around blockers, not through them. Urban is also used by his football team on punt coverage, a decent display of either his quickness or a small football team, I don't know which.

ESPN did have a real nice little piece on Urban as part of a larger newsbits type article, and damn if I can find it any more. What it said was essentially, "this kid's good, and yay Al Groh for digging up a diamond in the rough." The praise for Groh's ability to go weird places and find talent is nice to read but a little overstated: Urban was getting letters from a lot of the big dogs like USC, Ohio State, and Notre Dame (he even visited South Bend) and ended up with a fair set of offers from the likes of Maryland and Louisville. UVA, on the other hand, made an actual offer as early as last fall.

UVA does actually have a little something of a connection in Canada, which helps explain why two years in a row now we have a commitment out of Ontario. TE coach Bob Price, who recruited Urban, coached in the CFL for six years. (No head coaching gigs though.)

Bottom line, then: Urban is a primo candidate for a redshirt during his freshman year. Naturally there is always a jump in talent from high school to college that freshmen must adjust to; Urban's will be much bigger than normal. Not only the talent level, but probably the coaching too, and definitely the rules - and most especially that crazy deal where you get to line up right on the line of scrimmage. Once he's adjusted to the American game, it could well be that the sky is the limit.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

we're going places

And according to Sitemeter, some of those places are ones like Belgium, Germany, and Mexico. I have not been to any of those places and I am jealous of my own blog. But those are not the places the title means. No, the title is there to assure you, the reader, that I have a Plan and am not just vomiting words onto my keyboard all the time.

July 28, I will commence the official FOV season countdown. This is not quite as dramatic as it sounds. July 28 is simply the day on which the first ACC team preview will appear. There will be team previews of every ACC team and each non-conference team appearing on our schedule. An ACC breakdown follows. Then I'll preview our offense and defense on successive days, and it will lead up to the regular feature of a game preview on August 28. And in between I'll vomit words onto my keyboard as appropriate.

Speaking of game previews, you can expect these every Thursday before a Saturday game. This is a hobby and moneymaking time is set aside before 4 PM each weekday - therefore I rarely post in the middle of the day, and Thursday previews give you all day Friday.

And why you ask do you have to wait all the way til like four days before the season starts to hear about our team? Cause I kind of like to know who's actually gonna be playing, that's why. I'd sure love to assume we have a drop-back passer for the season only to have Groh announce that Riko Smalls will be under center for USC.

(Digression: I hope it is not Scott Deke just so I don't have to hear Mark Tirico say "Scott Deek" 100 times. The linebacker's name is Copper, not Cooper, OK, Mark? Somebody slip that man a media guide. Anyone who watched last year's Maryland games knows what I'm talking about.)

So without further ado, here's your content for the day:

First up, more fluff from the Daily Progress: a catch-up article with Ryan Pettinella, who is looking to play in Italy and probably make a career out of it. (Charlottesville, in case you were wondering, is a fantastic lovely town but it is not a place where Things Happen, so the CDP is rather adept and prolific at churning out these excellent what-they-doing-now sort of articles. That's why you get these so much.)

On YouTube there is a nice and long (though of typical YouTube visual quality) highlight video of our last win over Tech. I have very fond memories of this, as it was my last game at Scott as a student.

The Orlando Sentinel has an article, inspired by Heather Dinich's ranking of ACC stadiums, which in turn was inspired by ESPN's national ranking of stadiums, that does the same thing. Seems ranking the stadiums is the thing to do. (I will avoid doing this for the simple reason that I've only been to two ACC stadiums.) So instead, here is somebody else's view of Scott Stadium:

Sorry, North Carolina fans, but this is the most picturesque place in the conference to spend a Saturday afternoon. The architecture is beautiful, the hill is unique and the surroundings gorgeous.
I saved probably the most interesting for last. The dates and times for the ACC Wipes The Floor With The Big Ten Challenge:

Mon., Dec. 1:
Wisconsin @ Virginia Tech, 7 PM, ESPN
Tue., Dec. 2:
Ohio State @ Miami, 7 PM, ESPN
Iowa @ Boston College, 7 PM, ESPNU
Clemson @ Illinois, 7:30 PM, ESPN2
Duke @ Purdue, 9 PM, ESPN
Virginia @ Minnesota, 9:30 PM, ESPN2
Wed., Dec. 3:
Indiana @ Wake Forest, 7:15 PM, ESPN
Penn State @ Georgia Tech, 7:30 PM, ESPN2
Michigan @ Maryland, 7:30 PM, ESPNU
North Carolina @ Michigan State (at Ford Field), 9:15 PM, ESPN
Florida State @ Northwestern, 9:30 PM, ESPN2

Opinion: This could have been much worse. Though we're on ESPN2 competing with Duke for viewers, we are not 1) competing with UNC/MSU at a big-ass football stadium for viewers and 2) not relegated to ESPNU. And we're on the first day for once (not counting the day of one game only) instead of the second day when nobody cares because it's long been decided that once again the Big Ten loses the Challenge. Given that we're not widely considered a threat to make much of a postseason splash again this year, I think the schedulers did alright by us.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Here's an article. It's from the RTD, and I'm going to use a bunch of letters and words in this post telling you about it.

Bastaball. Jontel Evans is a basketball/football player from Hampton and a potential Cavalier. In need of a point guard (which Evans does rather well), Leitao has offered him a scholarship, and may even hear from him by the end of the month. But will he play football or basketball, O blogger? Evans himself is not yet sure. He's getting interest from some pretty good schools around the region, but has precious few offers. NC State is the only DI-A school to offer as a running back (link is like a month old but still perfectly up-to-date). Local I-AA schools have offered too. But Evans also has the offer in hand from UVA to play basketball, and, notably, Marquette.

Lacrosse. Yes, I'll be touching on this sport occasionally. I watched precisely two UVA lacrosse games this season. Up until May I lived in the state of Washington, in which UVA lacrosse does not garner high ratings. Hell, UVA football does not garner high ratings. (It's all Huskies this and Apple Cup that.)

Even without the sharply trained eye of even a casual viewer, I could tell one thing: god did we suck at faceoffs. Somewhere in the middle of the UMBC playoff game I began dreading them. Maryland slaughtered us in this department - against them we were 28-of-65 last season, including 3 of 12 in that awful first half in the playoff game. The RTD article you were supposed to click on up there offers hope in the form of a guy who is mediocre at them. Chad Gaudet will join the UVA team for one year after finishing his undergrad degree at Dartmouth, and brings with him a faceoff record that includes 11-for-21 against us. For the record, we were almost exactly .500 on faceoffs last year, but that's inflated somewhat by being much better than crummy teams like VMI and Vermont. Against the big dogs, we stunk.

Ryan Benincasa is the other nugget of hope from the article. Here the Greenwich Post of Greenwich, CT has things to say about him. To summarize: Benincasa's Greenwich High beat Darien High, the lacrosse power in the state of Connecticut sometime in May, and Benincasa was 11-of-18 on faceoffs and scored at least two goals.

Foobow. Meet the Team Day is on August 10 starting at 2 PM. So that should be fun. Also, in case you've been ignoring:

- Every other newspaper in the state of Virginia
- About 10 different threads at TheSabre
- This blog

Retro day is against Richmond and the 1989 team will be honored etc. etc. etc. Good scoop, Richmond Times-Dispatch! Good scoop.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

humble clarification

Catching up the news that I said wasn't there yesterday, only was:

Tucker Windle was not the first out-of-state commitment as mentioned yesterday; he simply was the first to stick. Caleb Porzel was the first. Porzel, a running back from Maryland, decommitted in April when he decided he wasn't keen on playing wide receiver like Al Groh wanted him to do. Porzel is now a Terp.

Also, a little bit of day-old basketball fluffy-fluff on incoming freshman John Brandenburg, from the CDP. Highlights:

- Brandenburg is tall. (6'11" as a matter of fact, though if they don't find an excuse to squeeze an extra inch in there somewhere just to look good on game programs, I'll be mildly surprised.)
- He is also athletic.
- Tunji Soroye is still waiting for that medical redshirt./
- Did we mention this Brandenburg kid is tall?

Lastly some today stuff. There is a little bit of news out of New Jersey, which is important as the home of sooper-dooper-alleyooper defensive end Anthony LaLota, who the Hoos have been recruiting heavily. We're not alone. LaLota has over 40 offers, and they read like a Who's Who list of college football teams: Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Penn State, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU. The list goes on. Rivals calls LaLota the 6th best DE in the country but whatever; when 1/3 of I-A schools have offered you and the other 2/3 would probably make room if you, say, called up North Texas and said, "I really want to be a Mean Green....uh....thing", that's when rankings cease to matter. LaLota is the real deal. Anyway, enough blabbing, here is the update. It's just tantalizing enough. LaLota has taken zero action to narrow down that hefty list, but plans to, very soon. Will UVA make the short list? Well, that's the wrong question, son, who do I look like, Anthony LaLota? Do I think UVA will make the short list? Better. And yes. UVA was one of the first to offer, along with Rutgers, back in February right around Signing Day. LaLota has always spoken highly of UVA and has made repeated trips already. So along with Logan Thomas, I like our chances here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

the recruit: tucker windle

Lucky Michigan bloggers. From the Rich Rodriguez saga to new uniforms to the Chucknorrisesque Mike Barwis to the Big Ten Network, there is no shortage of news to keep them and their readers occupied. Hell, there's even news about the guys who didn't get hired as coach, let alone the supernova of drama that surrounds the guy that did. They even have a hockey team which is worth a post or two each week. We don't have a hockey team. I want a hockey team. A varsity one, playing in U-Hall.

Michigan fans (and I should know, I am one, having grown up in those parts) are mostly sick and tired of this and want the stupid football season to begin so there can stop being so much damn news. Virginia fans (and I should know, I am one, having gone to school in those parts) are also tired of this and want the stupid football season to begin so there can start being some damn news.

But me whining about having nothing to write doesn't make it happen. So, having made it my business to write, I can either blab on or I can give you another section of The Recruit.

So let's talk about Tucker Windle.

Name: Tucker Windle
Position: TE/OLB
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
School: Charlotte Catholic
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 221
40: 4.7

ESPN: 150 Watch List
Rivals: 5.6, three stars, #21 TE
Scout: three stars, #28 SLB

Windle was the first out of state commit brought in by Groh and Co., but this is a kid whose Virginia connections are just as deep as any Virginian - his dad is Al Windle, a former UVA linebacker. Ah, but there was competition: both parents have a degree from Wake Forest. And indeed, throughout his recruitment, UVA and Wake led every step of the way. Windle had a fairly impressive offer list: besides the two legacies, he had offers from Wisconsin, NC State, Duke, and VT, and UGA was showing some major interest.

So what are we getting here? A pretty darn good tight end prospect, actually. The recruiting services are generally in agreement: decent speed, very good hands, decent blocker, etc. Windle looks like a good bet to maintain the excellent Al Groh legacy of tight ends in the fine tradition of Heath Miller, Tom Santi, and......sccccreeeeeeeccccchhhhh fzzzzzzzzzzzzttt......

Back up the tape.

Check out the links again (if you subscribe to Rivals.) Here's one that you can read free.

Over the weekend, rising senior Tucker Windle, from Charlotte Catholic (N.C.), picked Virginia over three other ACC schools and Wisconsin, electing to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Cavalier linebacker.

“Virginia has tradition,” Windle said. “They have been doing it for so long and since my dad went there and played linebacker, I thought it would be special if I went there and played that same position.”

That's right.....Windle was recruited to play linebacker, despite that he's listed as a tight end in most places. Rivals, ESPN, RecruitingPlanet, you name it. Scout, which is usually the laziest of the recruiting services, is the only one listing him as a linebacker.

Sadly, the linebacker highlights are not terribly revealing, except for one thing: maybe his coverage skills are a bit lacking? There's only one coverage highlight to go by, so that's not entirely fair. The highlight is supposed to show us what terrific speed Windle has, chasing down a receiver who's caught a pass and is thinking wheeeeeeeeeee touchdown. The catch: Windle was covering the man and let him slip behind coverage. Maybe it was zone coverage? Could be, but essentially, Tucker was cheating and looking in the backfield, which should have told him not to break off coverage because nobody was coming out of it. The blitz-and-sack highlights are fun, but don't tell us anything because they're the result of some poor sap of an offensive tackle getting confused, trying to block two people at once and blocking nobody at all.

The obvious caveat here is that I'm basically breaking down four plays out of a whole season.

So.....ignore the tight end highlights? Maybe. An Al Groh recruiting class is never without a TE or two, and there have been some pretty good ones lately: Joe Torchia in '06, Andrew Devlin in '07, Colter Phillips in '08. There is never any shortage of competition for TE spots, and in an Al Groh offense, no shortage of uses for a TE. If Logan Thomas joins up then the likelihood of seeing Tucker Windle exclusively at linebacker goes way up. However, the coaches did also speak of lining him up at H-back in certain situations, goal line drills, what have you. (This is where we saw Torchia last year.) Not that it would surprise anyone if Groh decided to bring out the never-yet-seen 8-TE formation for a goal line play.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

the recruit: luke bowanko

Promised yesterday, you get it today. Close enough. You oughta just be happy I do this on the weekends.

Anyway, Luke Bowanko is commit #6, and commit #6 from the state of Virginia at that. Bowanko's recruitment and commitment was about as completely devoid of drama as it's possible to be in the chaos that is football recruiting. Not even four days passed between offer and commitment - Bowanko was offered on a Monday evening and made the happy phone call Thursday afternoon.

Name: Luke Bowanko
Position: OT
Hometown: Clifton
School: Centreville
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 260
40: 4.8

ESPN: 77
Rivals: 5.6, three stars, #47 OT
Scout: hasn't bothered

Bowanko can be added to the list of fans of our rivals that jumped on board with us anyway: he is, or perhaps was, a Maryland fan.

Analysis, then. Bowanko is an offensive tackle, and at 260 pounds, that's not going to change. For Centreville he plays the right side and I suspect that's not going to change either. "Athletic" is the label they've stuck Bowanko with, and that does begin to do him justice; "blazing frickin' fast" would be a better one. That 4.8 40 is ugly if Bowanko's job involved the ball in his hand, but he is a lineman, and a sub-5 40 for a lineman is crazy, even if at 260 Bowanko is a teeny bit undersized. (Another label.) In fact Rivals lists just seven offensive tackles faster than Luke. Add that to the good footwork and agility that ESPN speaks of and you have a prototypical offensive tackle.

On film, Bowanko's highlights consist mainly of his run-blocking exploits. (Side note: O-lineman highlights are often hilarious. This happens whenever the highlit lineman pancakes some poor undersized defensive end but it doesn't matter because the other side of the blocking scheme collapsed miserably. I chuckle.) My first thought was "dude needs to get lower." ESPN agrees. He plays high, and the highlights show him succeeding at this by simply outmuscling the daylights out of the kid across from him. Bowanko is probably due for some weight gain at just 260 pounds - maybe gravity alone will assist in the play-low department after that second pint of Ben and Jerry's.

What of the offer list, that favorite of recruiting measuring sticks? Rivals shows offers from FSU and BC, and this would be exciting if I could find any article, anywhere, ever, to back it up. As mentioned, Bowanko jumped on the UVA offer not even 72 hours after it came, so the process was short and sweet. There was interest, however, from most of the usual regional suspects: UNC, Tech, Md., etc. Tech lost out because of their little bitty class; Bowanko was not going to get an offer from them until their camp, which is going on this weekend. Again: Morgan Moses, and saving room for. (Moses is not camping either, however.)

So, final word? Bowanko looks good for a couple years down the road. He also looks like a great candidate for a redshirt, depending on how the depth chart shakes out. Before he sees action on an ACC field, he needs to bulk up a bit and learn to play down. Once he does, though, his athleticism should take him far, and defensive ends far out of the play.

Friday, July 11, 2008

the wayback machine

The football team has got themselves one, and they're dialing up 1989. OK, the stated purpose is to celebrate the years from 1984-1993, but they're honoring the 1989 ACC championship team and selling tickets at 1989 prices. So think Like A Prayer. Think Milli Vanilli. Actually, don't. That's some bad music right there and we're not even up to the New Kids on the Block era yet.

What's this mean?

- One, the team is probably having trouble getting people out to the Richmond game. Jeez, lemme see, I can go to the USC game which is the week before, or I can go to the Maryland game (the next home game) and throw donuts at Fatty the Coach, or I can go watch the part of the schedule In Which A Respectable Team Emulates One From The SEC and drops half a division to I-AA for a week. (If we were Florida State? Two weeks.) Tough choice there. Thus, $16 tickets.
- Two, orange uniforms! The team will be wearing the orange jerseys, white pants, and weirdly-two-striped white helmet of the day.
- On the plus side, Astroturf will not be part of the show.

The one distinctly non-1989 aspect of the game: the opponent. No, we didn't play Richmond in 1989. Nor in 1988, or fact this will be the first time Richmond ever sees the two-stripe helmet. The era we're throwing back to? Never played Richmond in that time.

Heather Dinich at ESPN has been blogging her little hands off today, and here are the results. Actually, lemme rephrase that. Heather Dinich has spent all day writing bits and pieces of columns. Sorry, when you write for a major outlet like ESPN, you don't "blog", you "go to work, type some stuff, send to the editor, and go home." The plus side is you get money and health benefits for doing that, and you get to eliminate the part of the sports journalism gig that's actually tricky, like interviewing a coach who is a man and is 40. The downside is, um.....huh.

Well anyway, here's what she had to say on the subject of your Virginia Cavaliers:

Under "Toughest Stadiums in the ACC":
6. Virginia, Scott Stadium (51,500) -- Despite the open press box (which I always seem to forget on the coldest of Saturdays), this place is gorgeous. The columns on the hill and the architecture make this one of my favorite fall road trips.

Thats: 61,500, Ms. Dinich. I didn't think "gorgeous" and "favorite fall road trips" are what people look for in a tough place to play. And given that UNC's Kenan (Ivory Wayans) Stadium made #4 on the list with its "picturesque pine trees" I can't help but wonder which criteria Heather was using. Tough to play at Kenan? Have you noticed who you actually play when you get there?

Under "ACC in the 2009 NFL draft":

1. Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia: This hulking 315-pound left tackle might be the best offensive lineman in the ACC and should be a first-round pick.

Under "ACC position rankings: Quarterbacks":

10. Peter Lalich, Virginia: These last three are a toss-up, really. Who knows if these guys will even wind up being the starters? Lalich, you would think, has the edge because he played in eight games and threw the ball 61 times.

I wish I could argue, but Lalich needs to show a little something first.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

it's tomorrow now

And as promised, news.

Logan Thomas did indeed select a top 7, and the 'Hoos did indeed make the cut, along with the aforementioned Tech and Clemson and, as predicted, Tennessee. UNC, Wake, and WVU round out the list.

Thomas will be a TE in college - all the coaches tell him so. Thusly he is looking for a school that regularly employs their TEs. Oh, and good academics. Gotta have good academics, all the kids are wanting that. Someone get that man the videotape of every Al Groh season at UVA, ever.

ESPN's Blue Ribbon review of the team is posted, and it's worth a read. If you don't have their Insider, then you can read it here.

Tomorrow - I take on a challenge with the next in The Recruit series: Luke Bowanko? Why challenge? Offensive tackle, that's why.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

the sun will come out

tomorrow, as the song goes. Or at least, there will be some interesting things to read, so even if it's cloudy and nasty outside, your computer screen will be chock full-o-sunshine. But only if you read the blog, you see.

So what's the big deal? First, ESPN's Blue Ribbon Preview of UVA will run tomorrow.....if you have ESPN Insider. Oh, there's theoretically a one-in-six chance that ours will be the free preview to entice you to pay up and read everyone else's, too, but I'll bet you it's either Tech or Miami, as they're doing the Coastal Division. Today, the Atlantic Division, and if you care to you can go read Clemson's.

Logan Thomas, the much-wanted, nationally ranked, zoicks-he's-good athlete recruit out of Lynchburg, will announce his narrowed-down list tomorrow, ("five or seven schools") and Virginians wait with bated breath to find out who. Actually, half of Virginians. Thomas couldn't help himself and let a few out of the bag early: Clemson and Tech have already made the cut. (Rivals $). Smart money says Tennessee hears their name called tomorrow too. (Rivals $, again.)
So really, out of 16 offers including WVU, SCar., Auburn, Colorado, OU, and most of the rest of the ACC, two to four are yet to be named. I figure we're good for one of those spots, even if only to keep the people off his back who don't want him to cross off an in-state school.

And it is not, by the way, a bad thing that he lists Tech as a contender. Tech, remember, intends to sign just 10, maybe 12, recruits to their class. They've got 7 commits right now. (And they are not, how you say, stellar. The only ESPN watch list guy on their list is the kicker.) So they're going to be keeping a few spots open for guys like Thomas, Morgan Moses, what have you. This ties up their recruiting somewhat (more) and leaves UVA open to slide in and nab a few of these mid-level-to-good instate prospects that otherwise might head to Blacksburg. How do you think we got Quintin Hunter?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

they say those are serious

And now we know it's true. FSU OL Evan Bellamy is out for the season thanks to a blood clot in his leg. It's the medication actually that will keep him out; blood clots mean blood-thinning meds. Either way it's not the news the Noles wanted. They already have no seniors on the line; losing Bellamy makes them even more inexperienced, as Bellamy's backup has zero game time.

Here's what I don't get, though. This is Orson Swindle's line, he of EDSBS fame:

This takes ten starts off the line’s overall experience tally, thins out an already scanty Seminole line decimated by suspensions for the first three games of the season...

Aaaaaaaand link. Oh, and I'm not picking on Orson - ESPN's article linked above mentions it too.

So what? Reminder: FSU's first two games are Western Carolina and Chattanooga. These are not just I-AA teams, they are terrible I-AA teams. It's been harped on by many before me, but can we be spared the talk of FSU's ever-so-thin lineup against the double-decker preseason cupcake they've set up for themselves? The culture of academic and legal shenanigans that gave them the Free Shoes U. moniker has not gone away; proof positive is the who-cares three game suspensions handed out by the school knowing full well they're not exactly missing the Miami game.

Monday, July 7, 2008

cat in a tree! call the FBI

Yeah, it's that kind of a slow news day.....week. It's the dog days of summer. Prospect camp is over, spring practice was like three months ago, the season is close enough to be counted down to but far enough away so that you want to punch the countdown clock. The Washington Post UVA section still has "Syracuse Stuns Virginia" as the second-from-top headline in its UVA section. Rivals has some stuff about dudes liking their trips to Charlottesville, which is cool and all, but the next time you see a headline saying "Prospect Fricking Hated His Visit, Never Wants To Go Again Except To Beat The Pants Off Those Sorry-Ass Punks, Commits To Hated Rival Instantly" will be the first.

In other words, if we were your Local 4 News, our lead story today would be "HYDROGEN IN YOUR DRINKING WATER! IS IT POISONING YOUR KIDS? STORY AT 11!" But we're not, so I'm just gonna babble a little bit. A good football blog would have a good little story about EA's NCAA 09, but I have no such thing. They do, though. You might want to read it. I could do another of "the recruit" series, but I just did two this past weekend and the Ross Metheny one is pretty good. That sound you hear is my horn, and I'm blowing it. Go ahead though, read it, I like it, it's a nice little piece of bloggery.

You might notice there's a banner now; in fact if you're really astute you might have noticed the old one and that this one's a bit different. I'm kind of having fun experimenting with it, but my Photoshop skills are like my cheap Photoshop-esque program: bad imitation of the real thing. If you like it, say so. If not, definitely say so, then I have an excuse to go play Photoshop Ranger some more.

Further on up the road, I've got a few projects in mind; I listed a few of them earlier. I hope to work on something of a recruiting board so that they're easy to keep track of. Also you should find in this space in the not-too-distant future a better list of links.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

the recruit: corey lillard

Wide receivers coach Wayne Lineburg is officially listed as Corey Lillard's primary recruiter. This is technically true. Lillard might disagree, however.

Lillard, a junior, made the decision following the Cavaliers' spring game, where he sat with Virginia commits Quintin Hunter (Orange), Dominique Wallace (Chancellor) and Ross Metheny (Sherando).

Lillard and Hunter were AAU basketball teammates and friends before the recruiting process began.

"They were definitely a part of [my decision]," Lillard said of his friends. "They kept saying: 'When are you going to pull the trigger? Why are you sitting there waiting?' I told them to let me think about it."

Upon committing themselves, Hunter, Wallace, and Metheny all stated their intention to make sure Lillard joined them in the UVA class of '09, so it didn't come as a huge surprise when Lillard agreed.

Name: Corey Lillard
Position: S
Hometown: Bealeton
School: Liberty
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 195
40: 4.55

ESPN: 77
Rivals: 5.6, three stars, #55 safety
Scout: three stars, #84 safety

It is not worth worrying about the thirty-spot difference between Rivals and Scout's rankings. Safety rankings are some of the biggest toss-ups in the toss-up world of recruiting rankings. The two players on either side of Lillard according to Rivals are Jay Fullam (#53), Charlie Thomas (#54), Nathan Fellner (#56) and Jray Galea'i (#57); Scout considers them "not ranked", #45, #52, and #15 respectively. So what to make of these position rankings? Nothing, that's what. "Three stars" is about as accurate as you're likely to get.

Further muddling things is the video. He's a safety. Safeties don't make spectactular catches, spectacular throws, spectacular leapfrog runs, or spectacular pancake blocks. About the only spectacular anything safeties do is hit, which Lillard receives praise from his high school coach for doing. That and tackling.

So as usual, we fall back to our old standby: actual offers. Lillard received a number of them, 8 being that number. Besides UVA (well, actually, including UVA) it's a solid list of mostly good-but-not-great programs: Arkansas, BC, Duke, UNC, NCSt, Rutgers, WVU, Wake. Tech? Interested, but were probably never going to offer; they're going to have a small class. (Rivals $). Even without a VPISU offer, it's a good list. Given that, I'm inclined to lean a little more towards believing the ESPN and Rivals evaluations.