Sunday, September 13, 2009

i have the urge to poke things listlessly with a stick

It might prove a better offensive strategy.

Let me set the stage for you a bit here. Yesterday both Michigan and UVA were on at the same time, which is obnoxious whenever that happens. The solution was to Tivo UVA and watch Michigan live, then go back and watch the Hoos do whatever they did. And don't ever say I don't do nothin' for you guys, because go back and watch the Hoos is exactly what I did, knowing the score and everything.

Certain impressions jumped out at me from following the game on the ticker and then checking the box score before firing up the Tivo, not all of which survived the actual viewing of the game. The major one stayed put, though: we got efficiently and pretty thoroughly machined by a better team, and it was not a surprise. It was positively depressing and life-out-of-you-sucking and I don't recall a loss even remotely like it last year. Last year the early season losses were blowouts that left you desperately hoping for next week to come ASAP because ok that team was a lot better than we thought but next week is Duke and they suck and we can finally get this season back on track. And then the late-season losses came as crushing disappointments because in all four of them you could point to mistakes that you know we shouldn't have made that just made you go "aggghhh stupid stupid stupid stupid" and bang your forehead. And then next week couldn't come soon enough because there was something to play for every week: the bowl eligibility that never came.

This time around it's just ugghhhhh. Next week can take its sweet time coming, thanks.


I haven't got much to say about the defense. Once again they didn't embarrass themselves, and they sorta kept us in the game until it was pretty clear the offense wasn't doing its share in that department. In fact if the offense had shown even the slightest hint of life and we had even one measly touchdown by halftime, the crowd would have been roaring and thinking upset. The defense is adequate, for now. It'll keep us in games.

The offense. One of those impressions I mentioned that didn't survive actual viewing of the game was this: "Jameel Sewell gets one more game and if it looks like that again, then turn the reins over to Marc Verica." False: Sewell was not the problem. It's worse than that. Way worse. How much worse? Here goes - Heather Dinich was right: the wide receivers are garbage. Sewell officially carried the ball 21 times, and I didn't keep track, but probably at least eight or ten of those were because the receivers weren't open and he had to scramble and/or eat a sack.

That's problem #1. I suppose we should have seen that one coming. Problem #2 was the pass protection. I refuse to take any blame for not foreseeing that one. I mean, are you serious? The one thing this entire team did consistently well from start to finish in 2008 and that's what breaks down spectacularly when we can least afford it? Isaac Cain in particular had a really brutal day, and come to think of it, not just in pass protection either.

Third and final major problem: Pretty much the whole offensive philosophy. The CavsCorner analysis summarizes basically as "throw the ball downfield more" which I agree with but it's not the whole story. Predictability is the problem. TCU knew exactly what we were going to do, and we kept on doing it. And I've seen this movie before. I kept thinking it was a different show because the personnel was different, but nope: just like Michigan in 2008, it's "Attack of the Unimaginative Spread Offense Part 2." I don't know how many times I saw Michigan run the same zone read on third and 8 that they ran twice before that got them to third and eight in the first place. There's less zone read in this offense but c'mon man: it's a playbook, not a playpage. Open it up past Chapter 1, please.

The final score was 30-14 but don't be fooled by either number. The offense's 14 points were meaningless and the 30 points allowed by the defense would have been fewer if the offense could convert the occasional third down.


There are positives, even so. The running game was functional. The box score sure doesn't show it, but we were able, at times, to move the ball on the ground. If there were a passing game, there'd be a running game and then whoa look out there'd be a whole offense. Of course, you've gotta fix the wide receivers, the offensive line, and the playcalling, which are three very-not-insignificant pieces of a passing game. But still.

Here's your second serving of sunny-side up: winning three of the next four is not inconceivable. Southern Miss kinda sucks. Indiana really sucks, and so does Maryland. (Forget about UNC, it ain't happening this year.) We suck too, of course, and all three of them will be looking at us as a perfect chance to pad their records and inch closer to bowl eligibility. So I'll probably come back and choke on these words when we're 1-5 and waiting for Georgia Tech to roll into town, but whatever - three of the next four is doable. If that happens, we're 3-3 and clinging to our bowl hopes. Anything less and that's the season.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heck! This ole UVa66 guy would attack your blog if it didn't, by golly, make so much damn good reasonable sense!
I'm ready to eat your words and remain in my dream world optimizm. But right now, I feel like the team must feel: like I was smack in the middle of, what did we used to call that "I'm dying" illness? Oh, yeah, the "kissing disease."