This week I am a walking, talking, and especially, writing, illustration of the duality of man. I love to preach sanity, patience, and measured responses. It's how I am. This weekend that part of me is in a raging deathmatch with the irrational raving lunatic that lives inside of every college football fan. (Sometimes not very deep inside.) I'm fighting back the urge to say the things that we all think after games like that, such as:
- what the hell do these guys even care?!?!
- FIRE EVERYONE
- never been so embarrassed in my life
- SHIT DAMN FUCK DAMN FUCK FUCK FUCK SHIT
The heck with it, man. Bad language is highly excusable when you've lost four of five to Duke. That's a sorry situation right there. The worst part is, the only viable comeback left us is "wait til baseball season." There's no getting around it: expectations for the season have dropped all the way from "I wonder who our bowl opponent will be!" to "well maybe if we can beat Maryland this season won't be a total loss." (Seriously, let's not lose to Maryland.)
It's hard to imagine any other outcome of a game, though. Some unpleasant truths are starting to sink in, like, the offensive line will never convert a 4th and 1, the defensive line will never get pressure on a quarterback unless he takes too long with the ball, the entire secondary is a walking blown assignment, and the receivers all have hands of glass. For ITA this week I wrote that it's now plainly obvious what the problem wasn't.
How bad was it? It spurred the creation of a Fire Mike London twitspace account. Yes, this is insane. Yes, it's absurd. Yes, it's way too early. Yes, the guy comes off like a massive dick. No, it's not surprising in the least. Al Groh cannot be blamed for this in any way. (Some people are trying, but they're dead-ass wrong.) Even Groh's lowest-ranked recruiting classes - 2008 and the lame-duck year of 2010 - were ranked above Duke's. Groh might not have left us with the world's most well-stocked cupboard (what fired coach ever does?) but what he left us should have been enough to beat Duke, FFS. David Cutcliffe coached circles around London and his staff yesterday, and it's legitimate to at least ask why player development has led us to the point where we're losing by four touchdowns to Duke.
Further reactions in brief:
-- I'm not sure which is more maddening: an endless stream of three-yard checkdowns on third and nine, or an endless stream of Hail Mary attempts and potential arm punts on third and two. Phillip Sims is clearly conditioned to go deep as his default fallback option. This drives me crazy when he could just take three more steps and cross the sticks. Let's hope we can rewire that sooner rather than later. Going deep is a fun thing - when appropriate.
-- Using Perry Jones as the short-yardage hammer is like bringing a Yugo to a demolition derby. Stop it.
-- I suppose it's hard to be mad when the offensive line opens up enough holes for our backs to average 5.7 yards, but they still can't get one when it's really needed, and when fullbacks (looking at Billy Skrobacz, here) run straight past the guy in the backfield that their job is to block, it doesn't help.
-- Sims did not have a completely terrible day, but it was a few steps shy of mediocre, and "it's his first collegiate start" doesn't work as an excuse when it was also Anthony Boone's.
-- The safeties were an absolute disaster. Like a tornado hit a train wreck and spawned a volcano. Anthony Harris bit so hard on the play-fake that led to Duke's touchdown, he left teeth marks on the field.
-- CATCH THE DAMN BALL
-- AND STOP BRINGING IT OUT OF THE END ZONE. Khalek Shepherd averaged an absolutely miserable 13.3 yards per return. When your average return pins us inside the 15, TAKE A DAMN KNEE.
Argh argh argh. Sofa king bad. Let's see about the predictions:
-- Sims throws at least one pick, probably early. Giving myself two for the price of one here. Well, OK, two for two. Sims's first pick came on the second drive of the game, and was the result of exactly what I said in the preview: "he's a lot more likely than Rocco to try and make the first read work even if it looks kinda covered." It was more than kinda covered.
-- Sims averages 14 yards a completion. Dammit, he got 12.7 and came pretty close. Might have gotten there with a few less drops.
-- Jela Duncan gets a plurality (if not a majority) of Duke's carries. Bingo: Duncan got ten, three more than any other Dookie. He didn't have the most yards, but that wasn't what I said. Even though Juwan Thompson had quite a few more yards than Duncan, Duncan clearly looked like the best running back, earning a lot of his yards post-contact.
-- Whoever quarterbacks Duke completes 2/3 of his passes. Watching the game, I really thought I was going to get this one. But 18-for-31 is only 58%.
So, yay for 3-for-5, giving me 11 of 30 all year. Boo for making the wrong picks and dropping my records to 4-2 straight up and 0-4-2 ATS. Picking us to fail to cover would probably be a much more lucrative outcome.
Let's hear it for the GP South Blue Devils, who kicked a game-winning field goal with under 40 seconds to play to earn their third straight win over the hated Norsemen of GP North - the first time in the history of the rivalry that South has won three straight. That moves South to 6-1 on the season and clinches a state playoff berth. Let's also get to the stuff you care about:
Good Counsel 13, DeMatha 10: Kirk Garner had an interception and stopped DeMatha on a fake field goal attempt to seal the win in the annual rivalry matchup of DC-area powerhouses. OLGC is 5-1.
Damascus 56, Walter Johnson 27: One of these days teams will stop kicking to Zach Bradshaw. He returned yet another kick for a TD in Damascus's rout. Damascus is 6-0.
South Iredell 22, Draughn 0: Great news as LaChaston Smith is back on the field, recovered (mostly) from his broken leg. South Iredell has outscored its opponents 171-17 this year, and is 7-1.
Bayside 62, Kellam 42: Smoke needed a big day and got one, with two rushing touchdowns and one receiving. He also scored three last week in a Monday night makeup game against Landstown. Mizzell now has 13 rushing touchdowns and 17 total, including two receiving and two returns. Bayside is 5-2.
Ocean Lakes 42, Green Run 0: Corwin Cutler had 287 yards passing and two touchdowns.... but also threw his first two picks of the season. You know what, cut him. Ocean Lakes is 7-0.
Fork Union 27, St. Christopher's 14: The only reason any of our recruits' teams lost this week is because one of them had to. Malcolm Cook starred; he had seven tackles, forced a fumble, and returned a pickoff 100 yards for one of Fork Union's scores. FUMA is 6-1; St. Chris is 3-3.
Salisbury 41, Cushing 27 (Sadiq Olanrewaju) - Salisbury is 3-0.
Gilman 49, Archbishop Spalding 2 (Micah Kiser) - Gilman is 4-2.
Potomac 18, Woodbridge 6 (Donta Wilkins) - Potomac is 3-3.
Monsignor Donovan 28, Point Pleasant 14 (Brad Henson) - Donovan is 3-1.
A.L. Brown 49, Mt. Pleasant 14 (Keeon Johnson) - Brown is 7-1.
Houston Westside 38, Houston Westbury 26 (Hipolito Corporan) - Westside is 4-2.
Oscar Smith 48, Hickory 10 (Zack Jones) - Oscar Smith is 4-2.
Varina 46, Armstrong 6 (Tim Harris) - Varina is 4-1.
-- Not a good day at all for former UVA football coaches. The roof on the future George Welsh Practicin' Building caught fire.... and so did Al Groh. The latter is a bummer. I had been really hoping it would work out there and that Groh would find some success, except for when we played GT, and, in typical bullshit fashion, it was exactly the other way round.
-- I've told you what I think of the ACC going back to the eight-game format** but what about the baseball and basketball announcements that came with it?
If I remember right, and I might not, the ACC had previously announced that the basketball schedule would feature only one protected rivalry. Now it has two (or it stayed at two, I dunno) and naturally, ours are Maryland and VT, which is correct. (Maryland's other rival is Pitt. Haha it's not Duke like you think it is.)
However, the truly underrated decision from that big scheduling announcement concerned the conference tournament. They didn't show the bracket, but it's easy to figure what it looks like based on what they did say:
That's excellent. The best thing the Big East had going for it was a bracket that looked exactly like that for their conference tournament, except with a 9-16 game since they had, you know, 16 teams. I love that we absorb the Big East and then gank their bracket too. When we add a 16th, we can just add that extra game. That's a way more interesting bracket than just the basic 16-team elimination bracket, and adds appropriate rewards for high seeds. If we must ever see a 16-team football playoff, that's the bracket I want.
The baseball tournament, on the other hand, I can't fathom too well. (Maybe I could if it weren't currently an hour where normal people are asleep.) 10 teams, double-elimination from Tuesday through Friday, leaving four teams alive for a Saturday semifinal and Sunday championship....I don't get it. When the NCAA does double-elimination it leaves one team alive, but you can't split 10 four ways. Coaches aren't gonna like it, either. The main appeal of the previous format was that it only meant four games, which wasn't a major tax on a pitching staff. This one is like, what, six or seven games, if you want to win? Better bring a deep bullpen.
**This, by the way, leaves us - and the rest of the ACC - scrambling to find a fourth nonconference opponent next year. We already dropped UTSA and they're not coming back - they needed the opening too, so they could fit into their new CUSA schedule. In all likelihood it means a second I-AA team, which sucks. A better choice: call up Idaho or New Mexico State, which have been left out in the cold independent wasteland following the dissolution of WAC football. At least then if we beat them (yes, if - no guarantees allowed following a loss to Duke) it'll count toward bowl eligibility, whereas a second I-AA team would not.