Thursday, September 30, 2010

game preview: Florida State

Date/Time: Saturday, October 2; 12:00

TV: ACC Network (formerly Raycom)/ESPN3 for those of us blacked out

History against the Seminoles: 2-13

Last matchup: FSU 33, UVA 0 - game vacated by FSU

Last week: UVA 48, VMI 7; FSU 31, WF 0

Line: Florida State by 7

Opposing blogs: Tomahawk Nation, Scalp 'Em

Injury report:


TE Jeremy Dollin
WR Bobby Smith
WR Tim Smith
WR Eric Thornton




OT Landon Bradley
WR Kris Burd
RB Raynard Horne
S Corey Mosley
S Brian Oden
LB LaRoy Reynolds
TE Joe Torchia

Uniform combination: blue jersey, white pants

Other useful stuff:
Q&A with Tomahawk Nation
Other half of the Q&A
FSU season preview

Things looked a lot different last time we saw this. Two old dudes roamed the sidelines in Bobby Bowden and Al Groh, and FSU was ranked in the top 5. In fact, the last time FSU came to Charlottesville not ranked in the top ten is probably never. Now Groh is gone, and so is Bowden (significantly decreasing FSU's dislikability factor), and for the first time, UVA fans aren't looking to next week's game with this one already written off as a loss.

There's also a lot of looking back, of course. "Florida State at Virginia" brings back pleasant memories of two of UVA's best upsets since the Welsh era began - heck, maybe the two best ever. It's a disappointing side effect of the expanded ACC that the opportunity to really relive 1995 and 2005 will now come up just once every five years, but that's the way it is. In 1995 I hadn't yet added orange to my maize-and-blue loyalties, but I do have pretty strong and exciting memories of an autumn evening in 2005 - which you would admit is impressive if you'd seen the roughly gallon-and-a-half of beer I'd imbibed through the afternoon. The date has special significance for UVA fans and Michigan fans alike, so combined with the Boston bar-hopping it's been the football Saturday by which all other football Saturdays are judged in my book. Can similar memories be made on Saturday?


- Christian Ponder isn't much of a deep thrower. His triceps are probably better than they were, but they're still not 100% and I still don't expect a lot of big bomb-type throws. Roughly 10 yards per completion against Wake - that's a fairly low number. Combine Ponder's wonky triceps with the likely absence of LT Andrew Datko, and FSU's likeliest course of action in the passing game is quick slants and dinking and dunking their way down the field. That means plenty of throws to possession receiver extraordinaire Bert Reed, Ponder's favorite target. Reed will probably match up with Chase Minnifield, but what I'd really like to see is Minnifield on Taiwan Easterling and the comparatively monstrous Ras-I Dowling on Reed. (Reed is teensy.) If Dowling has regained his quicks, he can use his size to limit Reed. I think Minnifield can hang with Easterling. Additionally, we'll need outstanding side-to-side play from our linebackers.

- Because of the short passing game, I don't expect the pass rush to be a huge factor unless the cornerbacks are really doing a good job on the FSU receivers. So more run-stopping beef on the D-line - that is, more playing time for Matt Conrath and Nick Jenkins over John-Kevin Dolce, except in obvious passing downs - should be of greater help against the very efficient FSU running game.

- Is there a weakness in the FSU defense? The only team yet to find one is Oklahoma, which doesn't have a monster running game but did shred FSU through the air. Nobody's really run successfully on FSU this year, and my thought is UVA will need heavy doses of the pass to keep the run defense honest. Getting the tight ends open will be key. FSU has very, very good linebackers, but they can't step up for run defense if they're in pass coverage against our tight ends. A successful offensive attack might start with a few strikes to TE's Torchia and Phillips, and draw plays when Lazor wants to run the ball.


- The worst thing that can happen is for FSU to be able to establish their running game. Not unlike Payne and Jones, FSU has a quality tandem of big-and-small running backs. Level of competition obviously has to be taken into account when considering the impressive run-game results, but the only team to date to stop FSU has been Oklahoma, and, you know, we're not Oklahoma.

- Under no circumstances whatsoever should Greg Reid be allowed to field a punt.

- Remember how, before the season, every preview of the offense written anywhere began with "if the offensive line...."? This is why. USC aside (and UVA wasn't especially effective on offense there), this is really the kind of game that that phrase was meant for. FSU will just bulldoze the offense if they're allowed to and it'll be the kind of long, frustrating afternoon that ends up with a score of 34-6 if the O-line doesn't give the skill players room to work. Their defense is more than good enough to just shut us right down.


Really, it'll hinge on the two O-lines. And Ponder. UVA's is healthy but still of questionable ability - we don't really know yet if they're a good, ACC-caliber unit or not. FSU's is not healthy and in a little bit of flux: Datko, their top tackle, is out, and Zebrie Sanders may or may not move to left tackle for the game.

Ponder, meanwhile, is a bigger mystery than Verica. FSU pushed him as a major-league Heisman candidate, but that was borderline silly. Ponder isn't a Heisman-caliber quarterback. But he does have the ability to drive the offense down the field and hurt you. He also has the capacity to miss receivers he should hit. Verica's a wild-card in a different fashion - you know the giant brainfart is coming, you just don't know when and you hope it doesn't hurt you too bad. But otherwise Verica is Verica and you know what you're getting. Sometimes with Ponder, the whole game is a lost cause, though that sort of thing is getting less frequent as he gets older.

Really, FSU should win this game. There's still a talent gap. But even though both teams are under new management, there's a difference in the change. As FSU fans will point out, the team is being coached again. Bobby Bowden, the thinking goes, didn't do much of that. Fisher's introducing plays and schemes and stuff, and the thought process no longer stops at the assumption that being Florida State is enough to make them bigger better faster and that's all it takes. Contrast that to the change here at UVA, where the problem was not undercoaching, but overscheming. The schemes of Mike London, Bill Lazor, and Jim Reid are still schemes and they're still coaching, but they demand much less thought, much less "if A then B" going on inside a player's head while the play goes on around him. Makes playing easier. For this reason, you will see UVA overachieve relative to expectations, while FSU has ups and downs, good games and bad, and may or may not play up to their talent level while they get used to being coached again.

And don't forget the overlook aspect: FSU has Miami next week. We're just little ol' Virginia. You always beat us. No need to get too excited.

So I'd be surprised to see a blowout. UVA may still lose - in fact, I think the chances of that are better than even. But since we've been reminiscing about FSU's past trips to Charlottesville, let's talk about 2003. The Hoos lost, 19-14, playing a very solid game (particularly on defense) but were done in by one really glaring, ugly weakness and a couple ill-timed mistakes. In that team's case, the weakness was punting and the worst mistake was a poor snap that ruined a crucial third down. This seems like the kind of game we're in for. Fortunately, nothing on this team is as bad as the punting was in that game, although there's no Matt Schaub or Ahmad Brooks, either. But - eliminate the mistake(s), and what happens instead? A Virginia win may be the answer. It'll be close enough that we might just get to find out.


Miami @ Clemson, 12:00
Virginia Tech @ NC State, 3:30
North Carolina vs. East Carolina, 3:30
Duke @ Maryland, 6:00
Georgia Tech @ Wake Forest, 7:00
Boston College vs. Notre Dame, 8:00

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Q&A with Tomahawk Nation

It's finally ACC season, and to celebrate, here we have Bud of Tomahawk Nation to answer some questions about Florida State in preparation for the upcoming home game against the Seminoles. Florida State in Scott Stadium brings back some terrific memories (and some forgettable blowouts), but sadly thanks to the expanded schedule, that's an event less common than presidential elections.

The format is the usual; here are my questions and Bud's answers. A little bit of enlightenment to reacquaint everyone with FSU football. When it's up, I'll link the other half of the conversation. And here it is. Go read - the other half of these Q&As are always a great way to see what the other side thinks is important about UVA, and what I think about that.

1. Which is the real Christian Ponder - the Oklahoma version or the Wake Forest version? Which should we expect to see in Charlottesville?

The real Christian Ponder is hard to figure out right now. Clearly he is banged up with the triceps bruise that swells up sometimes. He wears a compression sleeve 24/7. Against Oklahoma the issues were with Ponder, the receivers, and the line. Even banged up, he's one of the better ACC QBs. I'd expect to see safe throws except off play-action. Ponder is still smart and quick through his reads.

2. How is the Jimbo Fisher era so far? Are FSU fans giving him as much of a chance as any new coach or do you see him having the kind of difficulties that usually seem to come with following a legend?

I don't think he's having the "following a legend" difficulties because Bowden left FSU in shambles. FSU has a 16-16 conference record over the last 4 years.... after losing 20 games in the last 4 years... after having the 7th worst major-conference defense... after not even winning its own division in the ACC in the last 4. Add all the stuff with hiring his unqualified or washed-up buddies to coach and the stuff with his son and the recent version of Bowden isn't much of a legend to follow.

Fisher is going through growing pains in terms or learning how to delegate and trusting others, particularly the media. On-field stuff has been sharp though, including clock management.

3. What's the biggest difference between Bowden's Seminoles and Fisher's Seminoles, besides fewer "dadgums" at press conferences?

Fisher is Saban-lite. The obsessive attention to detail and focus on "process over results." He's never satisfied and the team reflects that. The improved weight program (FSU's defensive linemen averaged more than 15 lbs of added muscle this off-season!) has also been a huge change. FSU is turning into an SEC-like team in terms of the way it looks physically, which is what Fisher wants. He's also changed practice routines to more than double the reps and has added a ton of new staffers to make sure no stone goes unturned.

4. Is E.J. Manuel a change-of-pace QB or have his appearances been mainly the result of the four blowouts FSU's been involved in?

Manuel is not a change-of-pace guy. He's decidedly the backup, though Fisher loves him. Manuel is Jimbo's prized recruit (from Virginia Beach) and Fisher has worked to change his delivery from the mess it was in 2008. He's come in during blow-outs and against Oklahoma because Christian was really rattled and hurting, but I don't expect to see him this weekend. UVA fans will get to see him next year in Tally for sure.

5. Would you trade a loss in this game if it meant you could guarantee a win next week at Miami?

No, I would not. I thought about this, and while the win in Miami helps recruiting, I think FSU has probably a 12% chance to lose both, a 32% to win both, a 48% chance to beat UVA and lose at UM, and an 8% chance to lose to UVA while beating Miami. Sorry for the gambling math there, but what I am trying to say is that FSU would be throwing more away than it gained. Plus, Virginia is still seen as a bad team after the last two years and the loss would be embarrassing to FSU fans, though I know UVA is better.

(Ed.: the math here means Bud figures an 80% chance of beating UVA and a 40% chance of beating Miami. With any luck, the reality will be the opposite.)


As always, thanks to Tomahawk Nation for their half. Check back tomorrow for the game preview!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the recruit: Kevin Green

Name: Kevin Green
Position: ???
Hometown: Petersburg
School: Petersburg
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 195

ESPN: none
Rivals: none
Scout: two stars, #76 QB

Other offers: none

Talk about your mystery recruits. Here we have a guy with no other offers, no evaluations, and no future position. Green didn't really even have a recruiting story, at least not a public one - he's a legacy since his father, Kevin Morgan, played at UVA, and Green wanted to follow in his footsteps. Offer, commitment - done.

Green plays quarterback and linebacker for Petersburg, and on offense he really racks up the yards as a dual-threat guy. Almost 5,000 of them last season, and 39 touchdowns, both passing (24) and running (15.) Six more touchdowns this season in just two games. Suffice it to say, Green is the kind of quarterback, operating in a quarterback's offense, that will be putting up gaudy stats basically every week.

The thing is that Green almost certainly won't be playing quarterback at UVA. With David Watford onboard for that job and plenty of freshmen on the roster, Green would be buried. He was offered "as a football player" and I doubt the coaches even know where he'll end up just yet, or even which side of the ball.

For reasons of both program depth and Green's size, the likeliest candidates are WR, LB, or safety. He'd be tall for a safety, which kind of rules out cornerback. He's light for a linebacker, and the coaches will have to decide whether he's going to bulk up to at least 225 or not. ESPN lists him at 205, so who knows? He's about the perfect size for a receiver, and clearly has the athleticism, but wide receiver is where the coaches are recruiting quite a few players at the moment so I don't think they see Green as one.

So defense is where he'll probably be, and LB or S depending on whether he bulks up or not. Me, I'd prefer safety. Assuming he redshirts, his redshirt freshman year will be a year after Rodney McLeod, Corey Mosley, and Dom Joseph all graduate, leaving zilch at their position except for Green's classmates, and we have absolutely no idea whether or not Kyrrel Latimer will even make it in or Javanti Sparrow will make it back. I have absolutely no way of projecting how well Green will do, given that literally the only data on him is at a position he'll never play. But if indeed he's a future safety, early playing time seems like a rock-solid guarantee.

Monday, September 27, 2010

weekend review

Hooray for a weekend with football in it. They say there was football last weekend too. Could've fooled me, I didn't see any UVA games so it couldn't have been much. This weekend, some stuff happened and some other stuff too, so here we go.....

Recruiting board gets a small update with:

- DE Horace Arkadie added to yellow.

- WR Demetri Knowles moved from yellow to blue.

Dominique Wallace's departure leaves another scholarship opening and the small possibility UVA goes harder after another running back, like Nyjee Fleming. But I don't see that happening. Too many priority targets and frankly, not enough space. There are 18 openings for next year, by my count, but don't forget that Javanti Sparrow could well return.

Then again, the coaches seem to think they need fifty defensive ends. Maybe Arkadie is being recruited as a linebacker. He's in the yellow section despite putting UVA in a top two or three because I can't imagine he's being recruited especially hard. I'd be pretty content if the coaches shut down recruiting except for about ten priority targets, even if they only landed one.


News items!

Two from the department via the Sabre message board: one, Tim Smith is out for the year. If you'd told me on September 1 that Smith would be out with ankle surgery before October 1, my reaction would have been pretty R-rated. But Burd and Inman have been plenty productive and my initial reaction is that if that keeps up, there's no big loss in having Smith redshirt this year (he's very likely to receive a medical redshirt) and get an extra campaign out of him. I just hope that's not fool's gold given the quality of the competition. Regardless of whether it's a big loss or not, the surgery sounds like the right decision - a 60% Tim Smith isn't really any better than Jared Green.

Mike London tends to announce the weekend's uniform combo on his radio show, and blue-over-white is the call for this week. Which is good, I was worried that the so-called white-out would also mean white jerseys, which should never be worn at home I'm looking at you Georgia Tech.

Speaking of the white-out, with the game at noon on Raycom, I bet the athletic department regrets the decision to announce that particular promotion before the TV lineups were announced. Their recent promotions have been by and large a whopping success - the Building of a Program show and the ODU scrimmage were both huge hits - and it's starting to feel like the program is taking the shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach to promotions. Time to slow down here - now that they've wasted a big white-out deal on a noon game with a backwater network, something similar like an orange-out for a later game like Miami would start to feel contrived and stale.


Checking in on the high schools:

Hermitage 17, Varina 12 - Varina's defense scored all 12 points; Diamonte Bailey and Hermitage pitched their offense a shutout and held them to 91 yards.

L.C. Bird 29, Thomas Dale 3 - Anthony Harris doin' it all: two touchdown throws and one more on the run, as well as an interception.

St. Christopher's 35, Norfolk Academy 0 - Thompson Brown in the news with 11 tackles in a shutout, and scored a touchdown too.

I.C. Norcom 47, Woodrow Wilson 7 - Kameron Mack's team rolls again.

Green Run 34, Salem 14 - Big win to get the season on track for David Dean.

Landstown 28, Cox 7 - Loss for Ross Burbank.

Kecoughtan 57, Menchville 6 - Menchville: not a good team. This is as good a time as any to point out that much respect came Clifton Richardson's way for not transferring.

Hampton 49, Denbigh 12 - David Watford has it easy most nights.

Glen Mills 33, H.D. Woodson 18 - Darius Redman held off the score sheet as Woodson loses an 18-0 halftime lead on their trip to Pennsylvania.

Stone Bridge 49, Thomas Jefferson 0 - Rob Burns helps hold Jefferson to 13 total yards of offense. You read that right.

Good Counsel 53, Bishop O'Connell 7 - Another shutout for our defenders, this time Vincent Croce. O'Connell scored on a kickoff return.

DeMatha 41, Paul VI 6 - Jordan Lomax blocks a punt.

Bishop Ireton 49, St. Stephen's/St. Agnes 13 - Yeowch for Darius Lee.

Damascus 22, Seneca Valley 16 - Dogfight for Brandon Phelps, but remains undefeated.

Independence 49, East Mecklenburg 6 - Adrian Gamble gets his first win of the year.

Boys' Latin 16, St. John's 12 - Squeaker for Marco Jones. Speaking of whom, here's some reading for you, interview-style.

Mt. Lebanon 28, Hopewell 20 - Got moved thanks to a power outage, but it didn't matter for Tim Cwalina's team.


And the rest of the ACC?

VT 19, BC 0:

Dave Shinskie's play was "a special kind of horrible" and BC Interruption asks if we've seen the last of him, as BC will be making a quarterback change for next week. Shocking. And it says something really scary about BC's quarterback situation that Frank Spaziani claims it'll be a gametime decision. It's a bad enough sign when you can't figure out who your quarterback is all throughout training camp - if you're still holding competitions four weeks into the season, you truly have no quarterback and might as well toss a coin to see who gets the privilege of starting his college career by going 9 for 19 with three picks.

NC State 45, GT 28:

Winfield at From The Rumble Seat is trying to remain calm:

I don't post anything on Sundays because I am working on this year being more objective in my thoughts with a little less emotion. Rants and raves feel good (a little) but they don't get you anywhere.
Can't blame him, but wait til November, my friend. What good is writing a blog if you refuse to use it as a soapbox to call for the firing of everyone involved with the latest fiasco?

Maryland 42, FIU 28:

Danny O'Brien is starting to make a name for himself in College Park, brewing a bit of a quarterback controversy, and Testudo Times has no faith at all in the Fridge to manage it correctly.


That's it for the weekend. If we're lucky this week, a little Q&A session looms to celebrate the first ACC game of the year.

regional bias study, second week

If you haven't seen last week's look at the AP poll to study it for regional bias, check that out, to get up to speed and for instructions on reading the charts. Here are this week's:

Chart 1 displays what I referred to as "overvotes" - that is, the number of times a team was ranked in a ballot five places or more than their actual poll ranking. Chart 2 displays the averages. Keep in mind, these are the votes from the poll that came out on September 21, not yesterday.

Some trends from last week continue.

- Marquee teams like Oklahoma, Florida, USC, and Michigan are far more likely to get overvotes than non-name teams.
- Pac-10-area voters are generally more guilty than most of overrating teams from their own region, though not quite as strongly as last week.
- The strongest evidence of regional bias continues to be located in the area of the poll below the top 25 where the simple act of voting for a team at all constitutes overrating them. The four teams ranked from 30th-33rd - Fresno State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Clemson - get the lion's share of their votes from their home regions. Particularly Fresno State - good lord the West Coast voters are shameless in their support for the Bulldogs. However, in the top 25 itself, there appears to be little evidence outside the West Coast (and even that is rather weak) that regional bias is manifest.

One trend that disappeared this week was the one-vote teams: last week, the vast majority of them received their lone vote from regional voters. This week that isn't the case.

The averages chart is very interesting, though. Had those numbers shown up last week it would have really perked my ears up for regional biases. Last week the distribution looked about 100% random. This week there's some noticeable upvoting for regional teams. The average "bias" is to rank teams a third of a place higher than the rest of the country - a small number to be sure, but there are just eight teams out of 25 that didn't receive favorable reviews from their home region writers. It'll be interesting to see, going forward, whether last week's trend (basically zero bias in the top 25) or this week's holds true.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

have we learned anything?

Here we are, a month into the season. UVA's got wins in the games that were supposed to be wins, and a loss in the game that was supposed to be a loss. In this respect they're no different from 90% of teams in the country. The problem with that is it makes it awfully hard to tell what things will look like going forward, and it makes the weeks interminably long. You want to find out how the team really looks against the competition that matters.

Which is a vast improvement over 2009, which was over as soon as it began. Losing to William & Mary tends to clarify the picture in all the wrong ways. Better to wonder how you'll look against Florida State than know you're going to lose to Duke.

Right now, though, wondering is about all there is. I'd fret about the running game's relative inefficiency against VMI, but it looked good against USC. I'd celebrate Marc Verica's mistake-free day and the quality outings from freshmen Ross Metheny and Mike Rocco, but VMI makes superstars-for-a-day out of a lot of people. I did like to see the defense allowing just 49 yards on VMI drives that started after the first quarter - helluva number - but I said beforehand that the Keydet rushing attack stank to high heaven, so I can't claim to be pleasantly surprised.

(Well, mostly mistake-free from Verica, anyway. Verica's capable of some beautiful throws and they were on display on Saturday, but he's also usually good for one really bad idea per game, and his Dipshit Decision of the Day came on UVA's second drive as he turned a 6-yard sack into a 17-yard sack by hauling ass toward his own goal line. Much better than an interception, though.)

So the real test of the season comes in the next three weeks, and those weeks just ooze with intrigue. Florida State, whom we haven't seen for four years. Georgia Tech in Atlanta, where UVA typically struggles but handed GT their last home loss on the most recent trip. Al Groh coaches there, you know, but I bet nobody will mention that at all during the run-up to the game. And then there's UNC, at home, with a big streak to protect. Seems like every season I manage to identify a crucial series of games - this is it here. Even a single win would protect our bowl hopes, even with the requirement to win seven. And that's the best news of all, because all three games are totally winnable.

Thoughts that didn't fit....

- Does Keith Payne ever actually get tackled, as in wrestled to the ground? His runs seem to end mostly in a large standing gaggle of shoving players that eventually grinds to a halt, thus ending forward progress, rather than an actual tackle. Sometimes this gaggle crawls slowly forward, gathering players like a weird helmeted version of Katamari Damacy, and in this way ten yards are gained and the strange career of Keith Payne grows in legend.

- I don't like monochrome uniforms and never have, but this version of blue-on-blue is an improvement over the last. But I don't think the white-on-white will be.

- Was that a kickoff return for a touchdown? Like, all the way to the end zone? Do you know how long it's been since we did that? So long that I thought it'd been since my student days. The last one I could think of was the Marquis Weeks runback against UNC in 2002 to spark that big second-half comeback. Right opponent, right player, off by two years. So it's actually been six years. Again: usual caveats about VMI vs. opponents that can be expected to put up some resistance. It was still fun.

- Speaking of not learning anything, garbage-time action didn't do any better than training camp did when it comes to picking a backup quarterback. Both Metheny and Rocco looked good. Rocco was up and down - more up than down. I fault him on the interception, for this reason: it's nigh-impossible for the observing fan to determine whether the receiver or quarterback is at fault for a bungled throw like that. So I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the veteran receiver instead of the rookie. And the ball shouldn't have been thrown even if the receiver had been there: that safety would've ensured the ball was never caught. Can't lock in on the route so hard you forget about the personnel.

Then again, Rocco's arm motion doesn't look like the ball is coming out of his elbow. Metheny's weird like that. But both look accurate. And Metheny's arm strength must be halfway decent: his one incompletion came with an especially duck-like motion and off his back foot, falling over, and he still managed to overthrow the receiver.

- Lastly: Rocco. A fanbase still pissed off (sometimes rightly, sometimes not) about Al Groh's extensive use of true freshmen in 2009 had alarm bells go off when the true freshman quarterback stepped onto the field to get some garbage time in once the game was out of hand.

This amused me. There is, of course, a very, very vocal contingent of the fanbase that despises the ground Groh walks on, and largely sees Mike London as the anti-Groh and is inclined to defend him on those grounds alone if they have to. London is a very different coach, but not so different as to have none of Groh in him. If I were to tell you of a UVA coach that burned a freshman defensive back's redshirt on special teams and autocratically told his coordinator to run a different system from the one he specialized in, Groh would come to mind first; London didn't fall far from the tree in those two respects.

As for Rocco, I'm not the least bit upset to have seen him play yesterday, and it has nothing to do with London or Groh. Anyone who dislikes the call is reasoning that it'd be better to have Rocco as a fifth-year senior - theoretically his best year - than for a few plays as a true freshman. But this is making an assumption about the year 2014, which in college football is two eternities and an eon away. Nobody can even say with 100% certainty that there'll even be an ACC as we know it by then, let alone that Mike Rocco will be/would have been UVA's starting (or even) quarterback. But we do know this with certainty: next year, Marc Verica will not be the starter, and we'll need a new one. And we know that we have no idea who that new guy will be, and further it'll be the single, absolute most important decision Mike London and Bill Lazor will have to make. Why not give yourself as many evaluation points as possible to make the choice? Playing Metheny exclusively gives him a leg up on the competition and halfway anoints him the 2011 starter; what if he can't take advantage? Then you've hurt yourself by not developing Rocco (or whoever) to the fullest in preparation for the job. Here's hoping for another blowout this year, maybe against EMU or Duke, and for another chance to see them both in action.

blogpoll ballot, week 4: the Iron Bowl edition

Read and enjoy. My thoughts below.

So, what the hell?

The deal this week is that it's put up or shut up time. Time's up on preseasonal notions - now you have to have done something worth doing in order to get my vote. From here on out we look only at a team's resume, and I have a semi-scientific method for that which I broke out this week for the first time this season. Usually after I do that I shuffle a bit based on things that look a bit right or wrong, but only one of that this week: I nosed Wisconsin ahead of NC State. So - some explanations:

Auburn? Well, they've done pretty well for themselves. South Carolina and Clemson are good-looking skins for the wall and Mississippi State doesn't suck either. At least not yet.

Boise State? One of the reasons I like being able to finally get to use the science is that it put teams like Boise back to where they look a little more like they belong. Beating Oregon State didn't hurt either.

Ohio State? Little bit of a drop there, based mainly on a softer schedule so far than, say, Stanford and LSU. I do think they'll end up being one of the top two or three teams in the country when all's said and done, but these are what-has-happened rankings, not what-will-happen.

And some surprises that drop completely off the ballot. Surprised even me. Like:

Texas? Well, really, they didn't look too good against Texas Tech and they looked awful against UCLA. Really awful. UCLA gets into the poll based on the thinking that Texas is still actually pretty good, but Texas gets booted for not yet having done anything impressive.

Nebraska? Quite a drop. But when did these Dakota schools turn into world beaters? 17-3, really? Maybe the Big 12 should stay the Big 12 by putting the four Dakota schools into a cage match and inviting the two winners. Nebraska hasn't done much yet, other than maybe a shellacking of a not-real-good Washington team. Again, I'm sure we'll see them return to where they belong, but only after they do something worth doing. Next two games: Kansas State and Texas, so they're set up to get it done.

Penn State? It's becoming painfully obvious that the Nittany Lion offense can only score under threat of torture. Vastly improved though Temple may be, Penn State should not trail them at any point in that game.

So, there you have it. You're invited, as always, to point out why I'm being dumb.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

game preview: VMI

Date/Time: Saturday, September 25; 1:30 PM


History against the Keydets: 55-23-3

Last matchup: UVA 42, VMI 0; 1991

Last week: UVA bye; VMI bye

Line: N/A

Opposing blogs: none

Injury report: None, but WR Tim Smith is off the depth chart and won't play.

This week's uniform: blue jersey, blue pants

VMI season preview

Really, if you must schedule a I-AA program, this is the kind to schedule. No William & Mary or JMU, where they get their players believing they're every bit as good and sometimes prove themselves right. At VMI they just say things like "it's a great opportunity for our school" which translates as "oh boy $$$" since VMI hasn't played a BCS team since 2005 (and hasn't played a real one since forever because 2005 was Duke) and this probably doubles their athletic budget.


- Just play some goddam football.


- Overconfidence, basically.

- Well, VMI had a bye this week too and probably spent it coming up with crazy trick plays and if they have like twelve of them and if UVA is totally fooled by the first nine then maybe they score twelve touchdowns.

- Oh, fine. If UVA loses this game it will be a 3-0 score. For all the goodwill coming from the USC game, we forget that the offense managed one touchdown in eleven drives, followed by a goodwill score to make the result look better, aided by a bend-and-don't-care-if-we-break USC defense. VMI does have a few players on defense, specifically safety Byron Allen who is a tackle machine. They have the ability to shut down a running game - I don't know about a I-A running game, but William & Mary, despite shellacking VMI, only averaged 3.3 yards a carry and got nothing longer than 12 yards. Can they shut down UVA's? Probably not, but if they do, an INT-prone QB is INT-prone no matter who the opponent, and it's not a total leap of the imagination to envision the perfect storm where UVA's O-line is rusty from the bye and can't put together a running game, forcing Verica to the air where turnovers's not likely, but still.

Then again, VMI's starting nose tackle, Josh Wine, is 265 pounds, and B.J. Cabbell is 305. So.


VMI, as you'll notice, is 1-1, the win coming from the season opener against Lock Haven. That would be Division II Lock Haven. Lock Haven is not only a Division II team, it is a shitty D-II team. The Lock Haven Bald Eagles haven't won a football game since 2007.

Lock Haven stuffed the VMI running game for 47 yards on 23 carries.

UVA might score 10 points or they might score 49. But damn if VMI ought to be scoring. Their quarterbacks (they have yet to settle on one) are 32-for-80. William & Mary picked them off five times. And the running game has that whole Lock Haven fiasco going for it. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see VMI bring a trick play out of the book, something like what Presbyterian pulled off against Wake Forest. And if they score on that, fine. But this ought to be a shutout.

Ideally, this game is out of control midway through the second quarter, the second string starts to filter in at halftime, and the fourth quarter is a scrubfest. And that's probably what'll happen, because this is the kind of game where the only way to lose it is mentally, and Mike London's X's and O's are still unproven but his players' mental preparation appears to be top-notch.

If we do lose, I'm stowing away on the next rocket to Neptune and getting off sometime just past Jupiter.



Miami @ Pittsburgh, 7:30


Maryland vs. Florida Int'l, 12:00
NC State @ Georgia Tech, 12:00
Virginia Tech @ Boston College, 12:00
Duke vs. Army, 3:00
North Carolina @ Rutgers, 3:30
Wake Forest @ Florida State, 3:30

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the recruit: Caleb Taylor

Name: Caleb Taylor
Position: LB
Hometown: Hampton
School: Phoebus
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 225

ESPN: 75; three stars; #37 ILB
Rivals: 5.5; three stars; VA #24
Scout: three stars, #24 MLB

Other offers: West Virginia, Maryland, Louisville

Despite some questionable fanhood choices growing up, Caleb Taylor was leaning Charlottesville's way almost from the moment he was offered. Taylor missed almost his entire junior year with a serious knee injury, so a potential recruiting showdown with VT never materialized: Tech, careful with their limited scholarships, wanted Taylor to go to camp before they offered, and Taylor was half in UVA's clutches at least since April. When his commitment came the timing was a little strange since it came a few days after a series of June events and visits, but it was one of the least surprising UVA commits ever.

Taylor gets very consistent evaluations from the scouting services. He looks like a middle linebacker all the way (I still have to get used to saying "middle" instead of "inside") - he's stocky and a little slow. Not much for pass coverage. But ESPN cites his "good first-step quickness and short-area closing burst" and it shows on their highlight film, and also in his outstanding broad jump. They also call him "undersized," which here basically means "short" - at 225-sometimes-230 pounds he's already big enough for the college game. Steve Greer is 225 and Aaron Taliaferro is 230. Taylor isn't undersized. If he pans out his reputation will be that of an outstanding run-stopper.

His high school career is easily followed and despite the knee injury, there's a lot of success to talk about: Phoebus is a powerhouse for whom an undefeated season would mean a Virginia state record win streak. They killed Churchland, which is not at all a bad team. They've allowed something like ten points all season, and Taylor pairs up with UNC commit Daquan Romero to lead the defense.

There's early playing time in Taylor's future the way things look right now. (That is to say, no Curtis Grant. That could change things.) Just one linebacker graduates this year (backup Sam backer Darnell Carter) so Taylor's redshirt year will be spent looking up at a stacked depth chart. But the current rotation of Taliaferro and Greer shows no signs whatsoever of ending any time soon, not until Taliaferro graduates which would happen after Taylor's first year. After that, barring some moves there isn't much at MLB, so in Taylor's redshirt freshman year, his appearance on the two-deep behind Greer would be no surprise at all. The starting job could be Taylor's as soon as his redshirt sophomore year. Not a bad situation.


Some other quick stuff to get to. Depth chart is updated for the VMI game. Not many changes: the two-deep sees only one, with the removal of Tim Smith for injury purposes. Dominique Wallace is also gone. Penny thoughts: Smith would be missed if all the stuff I said in preseason were turning out true, but the passing game has been OK so far. Kris Burd and Dontrelle Inman have been very productive. In the short-term, no worries, as the offense has marched along mostly without the explosiveness he ought to bring. Which is a good case for getting that medical redshirt if need be. In the longer term, this season, it might be something that defenses can adjust to and keep Burd and Inman off the stat sheet.

As for Wallace, personally I'm bummed because I thought he'd be one of the most fun tailbacks to watch as he developed. Depth-chart-wise it's no biggy. There haven't been enough carries to go around anyway.

UNC is slowly getting word on the eligibility status of its players from the NCAA, and probably has plans to appeal every single case when they come back. What that means for UVA is that starting safety Deunta Williams will definitely (barring injury or meteor strikes) be in uniform for the game against UNC, and CB Kendric Burney will not. Unless the appeal is upheld, which actually I can probably see happening.

Lastly, you'll want to head over to BC Interruption, which scored a coup with their interview of the ACC's Associate Comissioner for Communications and Football Operations, Michael Kelly. Teaser question:

BCI: As we approach 2015 -- the last year of the current ACC schedule -- will there be any consideration to realigning the ACC's two divisions? Have there been any conversations about other possible tweaks to the schedule, such as moving to a nine-game conference schedule or adopting a scheduling format different than the current 5+2+1 setup?

Kelly: There have been some blue sky conversations about all of these possible concepts, but nothing indicating any imminent interest of making changes at this time.
The rest is just as enlightening - I don't know about you but I'd be very interested in seeing a nine-game conference schedule and I'm a touch disappointed it's not really a topic of conversation. Other discussion topics include the ACC's ever-frustrating penchant for being the last conference to post its schedule, every year. Go read.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the recruit: Darion Atkins

Name: Darion Atkins
Position: PF
Hometown: Bethesda, MD
School: Landon School
Height: 6'8"
Weight: 210

ESPN: 91; three stars; #38 PF
Rivals: three stars
Scout: two stars

Other offers: Notre Dame, Maryland, Temple, Seton Hall, DePaul, George Washington, Richmond

Darion Atkins set us up a classic, old-fashioned recruiting tug-of-war by declaring two favorites, visiting them, and then clamming up good until his preannounced decision day. Nobody could get a word out of him til Friday, and according to him he hadn't even made up his mind until Thursday night.

Despite his rail-thin 210-pound body, Atkins is described by multiple evaluators as a true power forward, so the first order of business jumps right at you: Bulk up. 10 pounds is doable over a year, which would put him in the Akil Mitchell/Will Sherrill range. Mitchell and Sherrill are 4's with 3-ish tendencies, so ten pounds is a start but it's not quite true-4 territory. Mike Scott checks in at over 240. All this suggests that the word "upside" is one that fits Atkins nicely; "upside" being a scout's way of saying that he needs a year or two in the program to really be a full contributor.

Scouting reports suggest that defense and rebounding is where Atkins makes his name:

Atkins put together a strong showing for Team Takeover finishing with seven points and 10 rebounds. He was active on both ends, spent a considerable amount of time on the glass and he ran the floor well.
Several other Team Takeover players get the hype, but it was Atkins that got things done. The 6-foot-8 power forward has always had length and athleticism to spare, and he used those physical tools well in an impressive performance. With Takeover losing, Atkins came in the game and changed things around. He ran the floor, blocked shots, and finished above the rim with dunks. His play got things turned around, and eventually Takeover came back to get a key win, and Atkins was probably their best player.

His coach says much the same thing about defense. So does ESPN:

Defensively he blocks and changes shots from anywhere in the paint. Darion's a very active body and he really understands team defense, i.e. rotations and weakside help. He is also a very good rebounder on both ends. He has the athleticism to guard both forward positions.

That bit about understanding team defense is probably what got Tony Bennett so involved; the pack-line absolutely demands an understanding of how what you're doing fits into the overall scheme. But scouting reports can be even more enlightening for what they don't say: a player's strengths may or may not translate to the college game, but his weaknesses definitely will. Atkins doesn't sound like a guy who'll contribute much more than 5-7 points a game, but if he's as defensively sound and as good a rebounder as all that, he'll be just as important. If not more so.

The thing about the other guys in the fold already for 2011 is that there are players with similar skills already on the roster, so they'll have to compete for PT. But Sherrill and Scott graduate this year, leaving Assane Sene and an assortment of this year's freshmen (Will Regan and James Johnson, as well as Mitchell) as the only big guys on the team. So while Atkins is probably the 2011 class member most in need of a little extra time to develop, he's also the least likely to get it. It's an everlasting big-man conundrum. Fortunately, even if he's shoved into the rotation as a freshman, he won't be needed for offense. "Go get the ball" is a simple task and better-suited to a freshman than being relied on for points. If Atkins' "understanding of team defense" is as good as touted, redshirting will be out of the question.

As for recruiting, that about wraps up the 2011 class. There's room for one more - only 12 schollies in use right now, which is one shy of the limit, and right now, after this year, we have three out, and three in. But Bennett's no dummy - using that scholarship puts 10 of 13 players in two classes, and there aren't any other big-time guys out there to chase. Basketball recruiting focus from here on out will be on 2012 and beyond.

Monday, September 20, 2010

regional bias in the AP poll?

If there's one thing college football fans like to do besides watch their team win, it's bitch about their team getting screwed. And besides referees, what better place is there to get screwed than in the polls? We're all sure that someone's out to get us, particularly Pac-10 fans who are convinced of an East Coast bias. The Michigan fan in me doesn't know whether or not Phil Fulmer actually did vote Michigan 6th after their undefeated 1997 season in retaliation for having his quarterback lose the Heisman to Charles Woodson, but sure likes to believe it anyway.

So, I took it upon myself to see if this bias actually exists, at least in the AP poll. These results use last week's poll, the individual results of which can be found here, or they could until the new poll came out anyway. Wish I knew where they kept poll archives, but anyway I started this last week so what I have works. Obviously one week's poll isn't a sample size worth having, so the results of this little experiment don't say anything about the poll in general. But I think they do say something about last week.

Methodology: There are 60 ballots in the AP poll, and I divided them up into regions based on the six BCS conferences. There are five national-media ballots in a separate category, and I also created a "crossover" category for voters whose newspaper doesn't fall into just one region - for example, the Macon Telegraph and St. Pete Times which could be ACC or SEC or the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette which could be Big Ten or Big East. I thought about putting them in both categories, but I wanted to make sure that when averaging things out, each poll was only counted once. Still, in certain places where it makes logical sense to do so, these crossover ballots are counted in both their two regions.

Teams getting votes also fall into these regions; most are in the actual BCS conferences so their placement is easy, and others like Fresno State or Houston get placed wherever seems logical. (In those two cases, Fresno State is considered Pac-10 and Houston is considered Big 12.) And in this little study, the rankings are considered to extend to every team that got votes, so Pittsburgh, for example, is considered to be ranked 26th since they were the team not in the top 25 who still got the most votes.

The hypothesis to be tested is that yes, some regional bias exists. It seems logical to think so: your local beat writer concerns himself first with the team he covers and then with the teams they're likely to play. On Saturdays he's probably not flipping idly through the channels for the most entertaining game, he's doing work. He's in the press box, and if he follows any out-of-town scores, they're probably next week's opponent. He knows Florida and USC and Oklahoma, of course, but he's got deadlines and crap all weekend and doesn't take the time to really get deep and weigh the intracacies of Oregon State against Auburn.

Hell, I admit to a little regional bias when I vote, which usually manifests itself more strongly in the early going and tends to disappear by about halfway through the season as the data gets more extensive. Why? Because by the time it's time to vote, I know all about the ridiculous experience on FSU's O-line and the depth in Clemson's secondary and all of that, and nothing even remotely close to that about any other conference except maybe the Big Ten. The preseason ballot methodology of adding up points based on the trophy watch lists was an attempt to mitigate that.

So I set upon two different ways of testing regional bias in the poll. The first is born of the occasional accusation that poll voters either believe their region is superior (the SEC comes to mind, and you can't blame people if they think the SEC media is biased), or try to hype up "their" teams based on a rooting interest or simply to sell papers.

You can certainly see where people get this idea. The second-highest vote for 26th-ranked Pittsburgh? Came from Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The only vote for NC State? From Bill Cole of the Winston-Salem Journal. The poll isn't exactly saturated with this stuff, but there's enough anecdotal evidence for people to seize on.

So, I simply counted what I called "overvotes," which are defined as any time a team got a vote five or more places higher than where it was actually ranked. The chart below shows the results. Here's how to read it:

- Each row delineates a team, and each column delineates a region. The numbers are the numbers of overvotes by region. For example: South Carolina appeared on three ballots at least five places higher than their final ranking of 13th; that is, 8th or higher. One of those was a Pac-10 media outlet, one was an ACC outlet, and one was a Big Ten outlet.

- Yellow highlights indicate where a regional outlet overvoted a team from its own region. For example: Two Pac-10 outlets overvoted Utah.

- The first bold black line indicates the end of the top 25 and the beginning of the "also receiving votes" teams; the second is those teams ranked below 29th and hence, simply voting for them is an overvote.

- At the bottom are the number of outlets in each region; this is placed to show you why it's no surprise that (for example) the Big 12 has the most overvotes. I didn't average them out, it's not necessary.

Things that stuck out:

- The first thing that jumped out at me was the identity of the teams that got the most overvotes. In the top 25: Michigan, USC, Florida. Outside it: Georgia, Florida State. These are the outliers. Except for Georgia (and Georgia fans would probably vehemently disagree so they count half): blue-blood, big-name teams all. Could it be that voters do indeed have at least a subconscious bias that, obvious things like record being equal, a team named Michigan or USC is probably better than one named Stanford or Wisconsin?

- The rough bell-curve-ish appearance of the totals shouldn't be a surprise, nor should the fact that a disproportionate number - over a third - of the overvotes are for teams for whom simply ranking them is an overvote. Keep this in mind when contemplating the large number of yellow highlights in that area.

- Florida got a huge number of overvotes, especially for their position in the poll (9th) where it's really hard to do that. Yet none are from the SEC. More on that later.

So is there a regional bias in this poll?

In general, no. It took until the 14th-ranked team to find an overvote from the same region as the team. Of the 75 overvotes for top-25 teams, just 8, or 10.7%, are regionally-based; of the 193 total overvotes, just 38, or 19.7%, are regionally-based. That's about what you'd expect if they were randomly scattered.

However, there are some interesting data points which merit another look:

- In the top 29 teams - where a team must get a vote higher than 25th in order for it to be an over-vote - the prevalence of Pac-10 teams getting overvotes from Pac-10 media is noteworthy. Five teams from the Pac-10 region (Utah, USC, Stanford, Fresno State, Cal) get Pac-10 media overvotes. The only regions to even give a single overvote to a team from their region are the Big Ten (three to Michigan) and the Big 12 (one to Air Force.) One team each; those are the only other instance of a region's media overvoting a team from that region. And it should also be pointed out that of Air Force's five overvotes, three came from Pac-10 outlets.

It's also worth noting that Fresno State appeared on 10 total ballots, 5 of which were Pac-10 ballots.

This does seem a decent indicator of West Coast bias toward its own teams; the West Coast version of these events would be that this is proof of East Coast bias, as East Coast media doesn't have a handle on the quality of these teams because they're on late and not being watched.

- Of the five teams ranked 30-34 - that is, the five highest ones for whom a single vote is an overvote - a significant number of their votes come from their home region media:

Georgia: 5 of 15 overvotes come from SEC papers, twice the 10-of-60 rate of SEC representation (two are in the crossover category.) Georgia also received one-third of their total points from SEC papers.
Missouri: 3 of 9 overvotes from Big 12 outlets, again approximately twice the representation rate.
Clemson: a whopping 5 of 8 overvotes, and 18 of their 25 points, from ACC media.
Overall: 32% of these five teams' overvotes (Florida State and Georgia Tech also included) from home-region media, a huge number compared to the percentages of other teams' overvotes. More than twice the similar percentage outside these five teams.

- Of the four teams receiving just one vote (Baylor, Boston College, NC State, Northwestern) three of them received it from their home region.

So there's definitely an indication that regional bias occurs at times, though the poll at large doesn't seem greatly affected by it. So we go to the second method, asking the question: Is there a pattern of regional media ranking "their" teams higher, on average, than the rest of the country? I calculated the average ranking for each team in each region, and the overall average, to find the answer. The second chart is below. Reading guide:

- Only the top 25 teams this time. Again, row = team, column = region.

- There's a yellow or orange highlight to indicate a team's average in their home region. Yellow means the average ranking was lower than the national average, orange means the average ranking was higher.

- Red and green on the ends mean the same thing: If the team's average ranking from home media was higher, the box is green; if it was lower, red.

- The bottom number in the Delta column is the average of the differences.

- 26 is the rank assigned to all teams unranked in a ballot, by the reasoning that had I tallied points instead of averages as the AP does, unranked teams would all get zero.

Things that stick out:

- Florida is graded very severely by the SEC and national media, as compared to the rest of the country. By far the hugest negative delta. Do they know something everyone else doesn't?

- You'd expect smaller delta numbers at the top and bottom. It's a lot easier to create huge variance below the top-ranked teams, because you can move teams off the low end of the poll but not the high end. And there's almost always some consensus as to who the top-five teams are, but very little as to who is #15-20. As for the low end, all unranked teams get assigned #26 because voters don't rank below #25, so that too allows for less variation. So LSU's number is not too extraordinary, but Arizona's, while very similar, is actually really surprising.

That said, the only possible conclusion from this chart: Regional bias does not affect the top 25, at least in the Week 2 poll.

Sure, there are some outliers, and some anecdotal evidence of it. South Carolina is treated very kindly by SEC voters, and Utah gets similar special treatment from Pac-10 voters. But the yellow and orange, the red and green, and the average delta, don't lie. There are 12 teams with negative delta and 13 with positive, and the average is a very small number. It's pretty strongly suggestive of a random distribution, even to this D- scholar in statistics. What I expected to see was a consistent pattern of small positive differences between a team's average rank in all ballots and their average rank in home region ballots, not a near-random bell curve-ish distribution.

Even so, there are enough signs of regional bias creeping into certain elements of the poll that make this worth watching. And one week, as I said, is a really lame sample size. So I do intend to make this an every-week thing. I say "intend to" rather than "will" because I "intend" to do a lot of things that don't happen. But this is the kind of worthy project that I'm pretty good about sticking with.

weekend review

Straight to business with a recruiting board update:

- Removed DE Stephon Sanders, whom UVA probably stopped recruiting after picking up commitments from every other DE within a 150-mile radius, and who committed to SMU.

- Re-added (to red) LB Travis Hughes. Still wishful thinking if you ask me but who knows.

- Moved RB Nyjee Fleming from blue to yellow. Thought about doing that once Clifton Richardson made himself official, and truth be told, with limited space and the current focus on WRs and blue-chippers, nothing's happening with Fleming. And hasn't for months. This could turn out like Khalek Shepherd did (Shepherd declared UVA a leader as soon as he could, and then nothing happened for months and months and then I looked stupid for taking him off the board just before he committed) but I doubt it.


The ongoing saga of UVA's commitments and their senior seasons:

Hermitage 14, Meadowbrook 3 - Diamonte Bailey's (and Curtis Grant's) defense gets gashed to the tune of 237 rushing yards but keeps the scrappy opponent out of the end zone.

L.C. Bird 54, Huguenot 0 - Anthony Harris helps to quarterback his team to a big win; 6-for-9 passing for 78 yards and one rushing touchdown are the stats. Huguenot is absolutely brutal and Bird used a number of different QBs in the game.

St. Christopher's 21, Benedictine 0 - Thompson Brown caught passes from both quarterbacks: twice from his own for 31 yards and another from Benedictine for an interception after batting it into the air.

Gilman 35, DeMatha 10 - Watch out for Gilman. They've now destroyed both Good Counsel and DeMatha, which couldn't do anything on either offense or defense. Hopefully-future Hoo Darius Jennings ran wild.

H.D. Woodson 31, Theodore Roosevelt 9 - Darius Redman caught three passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. Looks like a much more productive year for Redman this year than last.

Good Counsel 35, State College 13 - Interstate win for Vincent Croce's squad.

Damascus 34, Blake 13 - Win for Brandon Phelps to keep Blake winless.

Stone Bridge 49, West Springfield 6 - Rob Burns's defense stuffs the run game and keeps the opponent off the score sheet until the 4th.

Phoebus 49, Warwick 6 - Easy one for Caleb Taylor.

Woodside 57, Menchville 9 - But not so much for Clifton Richardson - "completely shut down."

Green Run 33, Princess Anne 16 - Little harder than it needed to be for David Dean's team against a winless Princess Anne squad.

Hampton 52, Churchland 0 - David Watford keeps it mostly on the ground in a rout.

St. Anne's-Belfield 23, St. Stephen's/St. Agnes 17 - STAB comes back with two 4th quarter touchdowns against Darius Lee.

Boys' Latin 47, Severn 0 - Marco Jones helps get the shutout.

Vance 21, Independence 20 - A really terrible season for Independence, and Adrian Gamble kept off the scoresheet in this one.

Mt. Lebanon 28, Penn Hills 6 - Tim Cwalina stays undefeated.


UVA might not have been in action on Saturday, but the rest of the ACC wasn't idle. (Some of them probably wish they were. Around the league, from the bloggy point of view:

- GT 30, UNC 24: From The Rumble Seat still likes Groh....

Personnel, personnel, personnel! We simply lack key players in key positions this year and it is going to make us struggle at times. I would expect a lot more of our wins to look similar to that of Saturday. Bird sent me a text on Sunday afternoon: "I think groh is a lot better than wommack but his players aren't better." Give it some time...

- VT 49, ECU 27: Gobbler Country....

A big thanks to whoever said whatever to the defense at halftime. In the first half, we saw a lot of what we saw from the defense in the first two games. There were missed tackles, missed assignments and overall undisciplined play. In the second half, the Hokies' D fired on all cylinders, put pressure on Davis and made his life miserable in general.

Costly win for Tech, with Ryan Williams banging up his hamstring something fierce. The Hokies, as you'd expect with any team and their star running back, aren't saying a damn thing.

- WVU 31, Maryland 17: Testudo Times is not happy about the first-half effort.

Here's the play-by-play for Maryland's opening drive against West Virginia: incompletion, delay of game, loss of one, time-out, false start, delay of game, delay of game, ten-yard completion, punt. West Virginia scored on the preceding drive and on the following one. The rest of the half was worse.

- Stanford 68, Wake 24: After giving up almost 70 points, Blogger So Dear's reaction seems appropriate:

There is not enough room on the entire website for me to elaborate fully on what is wrong with the defense, but the bottom line is that I can't think of more than one or two positive things to say about the effort.... If you are in any way, shape, or form related to the defense, you are partially to blame for last night's performance.

- Auburn 27, Clemson 24: Battle of the Tigers, and Block-C is sporting, in a way:

Auburn coach Gene Chizik stole Dabo’s “All In” slogan and used it in the week up to the game. It was featured prominently in their posters and shirts shown on tv during the game. Then they beat us, so we don’t get to say shit about it. That’s the way it goes.


So that happened this weekend. So did one other thing. Tomorrow: Darion Atkins!