Sunday, November 14, 2010

might as well go for the record

On a day when UVA gave back, through penalties, almost 40% of the yards they gained, surely you can muster just a twinge of disappointment they didn't get just a couple more so you could witness history? According to the announcers, the UVA record is 17 penalties in one game; the 16 committed against Maryland is an infuriating number for two reasons. It should have been:

1) a lot fewer
2) just a little more

Either one would've made me happier. Why half-ass it? False starting was a favorite pastime of the linemen; weren't they good for just one more twitch before the snap? Couldn't Marc Verica have let the play clock run to zero just once, for shits and giggles? Surely we can do better than this. If you're going to blow a perfectly winnable game against ferchrissake Maryland with something as stupid as penalties, at least make it one for the record books.

Here, for edification purposes, is a list of every penalty committed by your intrepid Hoos in yesterday's game:

1. False start, 5 yards, Colter Phillips
2. Pass interference, 15 yards, Chase Minnifield
3. Roughing the passer, 6 yards (half the distance), Matt Conrath
4. Defensive holding, 10 yards, Minnifield
5. False start, 5 yards, B.J. Cabbell
6. False start, 5 yards, Sean Cascarano
7. False start, 5 yards, Max Milien
8. Block in the back, 10 yards, LoVante' Battle
9. Holding, 10 yards, Anthony Mihota
10. Holding, 10 yards, Ray Keys
11. False start, 5 yards, Phillips
12. Face mask, 15 yards, Laroy Reynolds
13. Block in the back, 10 yards, Connor McCartin
14. Holding, 10 yards, Cabbell
15. Pass interference, 15 yards, Devin Wallace
16. Personal foul, 15 yards, Mike Parker


Nobody had more than two penalties. I'm not even mad. I'm amazed. No, wait. That's just a bullshit movie quote. I'm actually pretty pissed about that. Rabble rabble unacceptable and all that. Normally when I get all pissed off about penalties there's a particular culprit upon which to vent my rage. The Lions once had a very forgettable lineman named Larry Tharpe - we're talking early Barry Sanders era here - whose uniform number is still etched into my mind because of the number of times I heard "False start, #71 offense." Google-search for images of Bryant Westbrook - another Lions favorite - and literally all the pictures of the actual Bryant Westbrook in a Lions uniform show him committing pass interference. What do you do when the whole team takes yellow-flag sightseeing to a whole new level? Your best FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU- impression, I guess.

The truly frustrating thing is that the team played a good game in nearly all facets of the game they usually play poorly in. The run defense held Maryland to 3.8 yards a carry, an excellent number. Marc Verica was about the sharpest I've ever seen him, limited only by the copious drops produced by his receivers. (Talk about letting your quarterback down. It's a good thing none of the penalties were committed by wide receivers** or I'd be forced to talk even nastier about their play. As it was, the drops were atrocious and killed more than one drive.) The game played out as I thought it would: close, with one play (or failure to make such: had Darnell Carter come down with the interception or the ball simply dropped to the ground, the course of the entire game could have been totally reversed) making the difference. You could call it nothing more than blind luck, but then, were the roles reversed, so would Maryland. It came down to who made the play; Maryland made the play and UVA didn't. Bleah.

**Other than the holding penalty on Ray Keys, who was playing on special teams at the time.

So an absolutely golden opportunity to pad the wins column and offer proof to the world that UVA is on the rebound is slipping through our fingers. It's two-thirds gone, with the fluffy part of the ACC schedule ending after next week's game at Boston College.

Stuff that didn't make it in:

- This quote from Mike London should silence the Bench Verica crowd, but it won't:

You can take it and go south. All of those that want to do that can come by my office tomorrow, and I'll excuse them from practice for the rest of the season. Anyone that wants to go forward and move forward can show up and we'll get this thing going and get it in the direction we want it to go.

As I've maintained to anyone who'll listen, starting someone other than Marc Verica (unless they've caught up to him performance-wise, which they haven't) is both suicide and a moot point. Moot because London will never consider it. Why? Because it's suicide. It's as much a debate in his head as whether or not he should coach the next game in a pink tutu. Fans want Mike Rocco or Ross Metheny to start (mostly Rocco, so they can let his burned redshirt be justified in their heads) because they've given up on winning or accomplishing anything this season. Why London would use that as reason to start one of them is a total mystery. Anyone who wanted London hired and yet thinks London should or would start Rocco didn't know what they were talking about when they wanted London hired, because they didn't know Mike London. London - indeed, any coach worth his salt - would never try and instill a winning attitude in his team by sending the message that the season is lost.

- Indeed, if Verica should be benched to develop the future, why not bench every senior? Devin Wallace got a lot of future-development done (at the expense of the again-injured Ras-I Dowling) on Maryland's touchdown catch where Wallace was juked on Danny O'Brien's pump fake, and all I heard was complaining about Wallace. Based on the start-Rocco viewpoint, people should have simply cheered the fact that Wallace was playing in the first place. If Verica can be benched, why even risk Dowling's reinjury? Why not bench Dolce, Cabbell, Carter, and all the seniors? Should the whole senior class have been told, "Thanks for your contribution, but we're developing for the future now, so why don't you put on some sweats?"

- I'm really pleased that the coaches are showing the willingness to break out some trick plays. Fake field goals, fake punts, reverses on kickoffs. It's fun, and dammit it works. Al Groh, along with then-OC Bill Musgrave showed that kind of imagination early on in his tenure, and it fizzled when Musgrave left. The trick plays - wide receiver passes, the hook-and-ladder to beat Georgia Tech, flea flickers - worked to perfection much, much more often than not. Groh let it go by the wayside. I hope London doesn't.

- Still two chances to make a favorable impression on the season. I don't care if it doesn't matter for the postseason: the difference between 4-8 and 5-7 is huge.

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