Most lessons from yesterday's game are pretty obvious and you don't need me to tell you them and I'm not going to insult your intelligence by doing so. "We Suck" is the general gist of all of them, and you can get that from the media and everyone else. One thing ESPN won't mention, though, is the page from the textbook on How To Get Yourself Fired As Head Coach that we got to see written afresh yesterday. It's a huge book, by the way. Massive. Coaches are writing new entries every year. Dennis Franchione has a whole chapter. Al Groh's new entry was on display on 3rd and 9 near midfield.
Now, mind you, normally I refrain from nitpicking Groh's decisions. Lord knows you can go to almost any ol' website devoted to UVA football and find more than enough of that. I happen to like Al Groh and so I keep my fat mouth shut - often on purpose, just to try and balance out the tsunami of vitriol that cascades from on high everywhere else. There's plenty else to yak about. But - rrrrggghh. I'm not lying when I say that when I saw Cam Johnson streaking toward the line of scrimmage at the snap of the aforementioned play, I did not like what I saw one bit, and naturally would continue hating everything I saw for the rest of the game.
Want to know how to get yourself fired as head coach, then? Keep certain facts in mind. We had six sacks and all of them were spread among the three defensive linemen: Dolce, Parr, and Collins. No blitzing linebackers had gotten to the quarterback all day. Thaddeus Lewis had, at least twice already in my recollection, burned us by throwing directly at the blitz and picking up huge yardage. There were four minutes left in the game, or just under; a fourth down would not have guaranteed an attempt to go for it. Not with nine yards to pick up. Many coaches would have punted. Indeed, given our own offensive brilliance, if I were Cutcliffe, punt is exactly what I'd have done on 4th and 9 from the 42. So the way to get yourself fired as head coach of UVA is to dial up a big ol' blitz on 3rd and 9 that leaves practically no help at all for the cornerbacks in man coverage. ARGH.
This whole thing has been weird for me to write, by the way, because if there's one concept I hate in all of football it's the prevent defense. In this case, though? A nice standard, non-prevent, non-blitz, four-man rush would have sufficed. When our linemen are eating theirs for lunch all day, I like our chances. That blitz was the last thing I wanted to see, except for what happened next.
So there go the bowl hopes, and there goes Al Groh. Hell, I've already got the official farewell post half written. We're probably not going to win another game all year. We won't see a worse defense than Duke all year, so don't expect to see us score any more than the 17 points we just managed, because we cannot pass and can barely run. Not unless the defense and special teams help out, and the latter won't, because we have no clue how to return a kick.
If you ask me, it's time now to forget all about Miami, BC, and Clemson. Punt the season. Practice, for the next four weeks, exclusively against VPI. If you can't beat William & Mary at home, and you can't beat Duke at home, you can't go to a bowl game, and at the end of the day there's no difference between 5-7 and 0-12. So, might as well put all our chips on the only game that matters any more. Practice a few new looks and don't use any of 'em in the next three games. Riko Smalls is Tyrod Taylor from now til November 28. Pull out all the stops and try to end this season with a bang.
Meantime, I'm going to see if I can get my money back for this weekend. UVA loses to Duke, Michigan loses to Illinois, the Lions lose to the Rams, and both my fantasy teams get crushed. I hate football.