Reminiscing on upsets past and joyous times of yore has a way of clouding the in-between. With Florida State in town, talk was of 1995 and 2005, and that was fun. In between those two big wins, of course, I graduated junior high, high school, and college, and FSU visited Charlottesville four other times and handed our ass to us with parsley and tartar sauce. Hooray, another one for the pile.
Any illusion that the offense can be consistently functional againt a bowl-worthy defense should be shattered about now, and abandoned in the way that one day you realize you're not growing up to play baseball in the majors. In two games against defenses worth a damn, the offense has scored exactly two touchdowns when those defenses were actually trying, only one of which was the result of an actual drive. Florida State brainfarted on defense, and Marc Verica and Kris Burd smartly took advantage. After that, Verica's inner Interception Man appeared and finished what FSU started.
UVA did, by the way, almost nothing I thought they should do in the preview. Never to say that that stuff would have worked, but their way didn't, either. To wit:
- John-Kevin Dolce, all 250 pounds of him, was consistently on the field on running downs and consistently ended up 5 yards downfield before the running back was at the line of scrimmage. The man is at his best when given a step of space where he can use his athleticism, like on the pass rush - he doesn't otherwise have the beef for DT and the FSU running game took full advantage.
- Rather than punt at the sidelines, or rugby kick, or do something different than a straight up boom at the sky, UVA allowed Greg Reid to field everything he could get near. And FSU's field position benefitted beautifully from it.
- The FSU linebackers were allowed the luxury of keying on the run game, and they made every stop. There was very little play-action and tight end involvement to keep the linebackers busy and very few draw plays, too. Result: 2.9 yards per carry for the tailbacks.
Fact is, Florida State has more talent everywhere you look, at every single position on the field except for possibly cornerback, and this last is also hard to defend given the play of those backups. (More on that later.) That is probably one of the only really complete teams in the ACC.
On that note, the optimism: that is probably one of the only really complete teams in the ACC. Except for those that expected to hoist the crystal in January, there isn't a 2-2 team anywhere that thinks their season is over. Two more losses like that might change my perspective a little, but take a look at what Georgia Tech and UNC have accomplished this season and see if you don't think they're beatable. Watch that Duke-Maryland game again and see if you don't really like what you see. There's still plenty to look forward to this season, which is all you can ask for, really.
Stuff that didn't fit:
- My God, Devin Wallace had a really bad day. At least three, if not all four, of FSU's touchdowns can be more or less directly attributed to something he didn't do very well, be it tackle or cover. Wallace and Dom Joseph have been fairly solid in their careers, but neither of them would ever want to repeat their Saturday performances.
- It absolutely is not time to replace Marc Verica. I've always said his performance on the season shouldn't be judged until halfway through, and I'm sticking with that even if he throws five picks against GT. One, there are still bowl hopes, and not gumdrop rainbow ones either. Two, Metheny looked pretty good but FSU had their second string out and was hardly trying. And three, the people ready to throw Verica under the bus will probably be the same people ready to do the same to Metheny or Rocco in 2012 and '13. There's a certain breed of fan that just is never satisfied with what they're getting. They're rooting for the laundry, frankly. I happen to think that rooting for the team also means rooting for the players, and it's hard not to root for a guy who worked hard, gained the starting job, lost it, worked some more, got it back, and is looked to for leadership by the whole team.
I said it long before the season, repeatedly, and I'll say it again: that's a discussion we should have after the FSU-GT-UNC stretch, and only if we really look well out of bowl contention and Verica has been totally ineffective. If UVA wins just one of the next two, they'll be 3-3 going on 4-3. That'd be no time for a change at the helm.
- On the other hand, there are some depth chart changes that I'd either really like to see or wouldn't be surprised to. Like I said earlier, JKD should revert to his pass-rush role; he's getting blown up against the run. GT will exploit that mercilessly. And the O-line is hopefully still an evaluation in progress. I'd also like to replace the blank spots on the depth chart behind the two-deep at defensive back with actual scholarship players, but we can't have everything.