Monday, April 4, 2011

spring game and weekend review

I probably should write this stuff sooner, because the spring game is already floating out of my head. That's what happens when nothing at all stands out. I don't know about the event, but the game was awful. Yes, awful. I blame the lack of receivers; the offenses couldn't open anything up because the defenses had absolutely no trouble covering the bench-warming receivers in single coverage. So the run looked as if it was always going up against an eight-man front.

I'd like to say, for example, that Rijo Walker had an excellent game, and truthfully he might well be ready to leapfrog the competition and join Chase Minnifield as a starter. But how ready is he, really, when the best we've seen is against a sixth-string receiver? So, I don't feel comfortable making any observations whatsoever about the defense.

So we'll stick to the quarterbacks. It was disconcerting watching them flip back and forth between teams. Rosters were handed out that had two on one team and two on another, but what we got was the all-time-QB look that I was afraid of. Did we learn anything, though? Plenty, actually. Mike London will insist from now til September that there's no hierarchy, the depth chart is filled with ORs, that it's a competition to the end. And it is a competition, but one in which Mike Rocco has the clear advantage for now. We know this because Rocco took easily the most snaps in this game. The order looks like Rocco, Strauss, Metheny, Watford.

None of the quarterbacks were consistent. The lack of excitement in the game can be pinned on the lack of receivers, but not the QB inconsistency. All of them, even Watford, showed they can at least be functional if called upon. But most of them had at least one ill-advised throw. Rocco and Strauss each threw a pick that should never have happened, and Rocco would've had at least one more if Steve Greer had any hands. Rocco's inaccuracy on short throws cost at least 20 yards overall, not counting the yards that might've been picked up after first downs that didn't happen. Strauss actually looked like the most accurate thrower, but his pick was also the worst. Metheny didn't make many mistakes, but needed to add zip to his throws.

There were some quality throws, though, too. Everyone but Watford picked up a big chunk of yards on more than one occasion with a well-placed downfield throw. Strauss had the throw of the day, nailing walk-on receiver Johnny Pickett in perfect stride for a big gain. I would guess that the QB situation isn't actually going to be much worse than last year, but with growing pains and the potential to be better by November.

Anyone else catch my eye? Khalek Shepherd was the surprise of the day with some decent gains at running back and a very nice kick return. Clearly outplayed Kevin Parks, who had major ball control issues. Looked like nerves, honestly. But as I've said, there's a ton of playing time at stake at tailback alongside Perry Jones (who looked good catching the ball on the occasions it wasn't thrown two feet away from where it should) and Shepherd just took a big step toward claiming some.

Speaking of Jones, how about the team captaincy in his third year in the program? I think we should expect big things from this kid.

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I have to keep reminding myself that it's only two losses for the lacrosse team (in a row, that is) but it feels like we haven't won all season. That kind of a pathetic second-half effort against Maryland no less will give you that ugly feeling in the gut. Did anyone play well? Adam Ghitelman, for a half, but the off-ball defense is so poor that opposing attackers are so open that no save is even possible, hurting his numbers. On-ball defense wasn't too bad. Chris LaPierre seems to be the only guy not needing a written invitation to get a ground ball.

Other than that, pfeh. There's an ongoing debate that crops up every now and again about whether our years-long inability to win a single damn faceoff is poor coaching or poor recruiting, and with as many faceoff violations as I've seen go against UVA and as few on other teams, I've decided I'm on the "coaching" side.

And don't even get me started on Shamel Bratton. If he's going to get his dumb ass suspended for the second time this season - indefinitely this time - I don't want to see him on the sideline having a merry old time laughing it up. It doesn't take a crotchety old bastard to be pissed off about that. If Shamel's played his last game in a UVA uniform then it might very well be a short season, and that shouldn't mean happy-time.

It sucks to lose, given the expectations this program has built up, but it's not the end of the world. There are at least three more chances to beat someone - anyone - in the ACC, and there's Penn too. It's easy to feel like the wheels are coming off, and they might be. But they might not.

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In case they are, let's ramp up the baseball talk. Now here is a team getting it done. VT apologists - if there are any that still care about baseball given their team's losing record - that the reason for their struggles is because they've lost so many players to graduation. And so they have. I said as much in the preview. But I didn't see Tyler Cannon, Jarrett Parker, Robert Morey, Franco Valdes, Dan Grovatt, Phil Gosselin, or Kevin Arico anywhere in Blacksburg for the series this weekend, and the 37-8 difference in runs is the difference between a program and a fleeting blip.

The UVA nine was so dominant this weekend that Brian O'Connor only threw closer Branden Kline in the ninth inning of Sunday's game for the sake of it. Gotta get the man some work or he'll be rusty. Tech scored just two runs off UVA starters all weekend, and here's the crazy stat: all their eight runs came off home runs, while UVA hit just one all weekend - David Coleman went yard in a 4-for-5, 5 RBI effort on Saturday, three of those ribbies as a result of the moon shot. This is why O'Connor shuns the home run and prefers to play Oakball.

The sweep of Tech gives the Hoos an astounding 28-2 record after 30 games. Everyone - everyone - is playing well. The team is absolutely humming along, just in time for the showdown of the year next weekend in Atlanta. Georgia Tech is 23-6 and tied with UVA at 11-1 atop the Coastal standings. (It continues to be totally baffling as to why there are divisions. They playin' some shit baseball in the Atlantic.)

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News section!

- We got us a hoops commitment on Friday! Score-o. Evan Nolte is a unanimous four-star and one of the top-rated recruits Tony Bennett's ever picked up for UVA. Like Malcolm Brogdon, he's from Atlanta. Nolte is a player very similar to Paul Jesperson, who'll join the program in the fall. That gives us an overabundance of 2-3-maybe-four-ish tweener types (wings, they're often called, but I don't care for thet term because it's overused) but Nolte is the kind of guy you bring in if you can and work the system to make it fit. More about him tomorrow or Wednesday.

- NC State still doesn't have a coach, and their search has officially dragged to the point where it seems obvious that whoever is hired is like the ninth choice. They're not close. Remember, Tony Bennett was announced on March 31, and that was after a week of cloak-and-dagger shit that had the whole fanbase in a frenzy. Shaka Smart turned them down, and who knows who else has? Maryland blogger Testudo Times can be forgiven for being a Maryland blogger for this well-timed (ahem) nugget of info on their search.

- Speaking of Maryland, they just became a little less of a threat on the recruiting trail this year. Perfect timing since we're recruiting against a new regime, which is always tricky. They got bit by the APR bug and will forfeit three football scholarships. Per Testudo Times that'll take effect after this year, meaning the impact is on the 2012 recruiting class. That's not an insignificant thing in a coach's first year when he wants to build a huge class.

- Could this happen? A neutral-site hoops doubleheader in Richmond with UVA, VT, VCU, and ODU? It would be fun right here to bring up Seth Greenberg's sniveling about ODU not being the kind of school that would help VT "grow a brand" but the truth is, such an event would be a much bigger deal for VCU and ODU than for the two ACC schools. Hence the line about "some concerns." If either Tech or UVA want any instate recruits, it's not really in their interest to try to give them the big-time basketball pitch after losing to VCU. I hate to say it but Greenberg, for all his gum-flapping about everything else, is right: Old Dominion would stand to gain a lot more from a game against UVA or Tech than we would. Mid-majors like to complain about the big boys refusing to play them, but the fact is they have to find a way to make it worth the big boys' while to do so - kind of like how Boise State agreed to come to Landover, MD to play VT in football - because you know they'll celebrate like lottery winners if they win, while the big-boy-turned-victim looks a huge fool.

Also a concern: please don't play a hockey game at the Coliseum the day of because our memories of the last time that happened are lousy.

2 comments:

Winfield Featherston said...

uva baseball sucks!

Brendan said...

GT baseball swallows :P