Monday, September 30, 2013

weekend review

No review of the weekend's events would be complete without discussing the depth chart changes, so let's get right on that.  In ascending order of importance, these are at tight end, linebacker, wide receiver, O-line, and punt returner.

-- Zach Swanson's lack of presence probably means an injury from which it's going to take a while to come back.  Too bad, because his play early in the season was strong.  But his absence isn't why the offense sucked, either.

-- Demeitre Brim moves from strong-side to weak-side LB.  I think this is a subtle way of saying Max Valles will be on the field more, and that the SLB position is becoming more and more of an extra pass rush than a traditional Sam role.

-- Wide receiver.  "Or" shows up everywhere.  No starters this week except those that earn the job in practice by not screwing up, is how to read that.   My guess is that the de facto impact will be small - for one thing, Darius Jennings's participation in the construction of such an exquisite pile of shit was surprising and probably short-lived.  Here's betting he doesn't drop a thing all week.  The rest I'm not so sure about, so we'll just have to see come game time.

-- And the much-maligned-and-deservedly-so O-line.  The five-best-guys philosophy is on full display with Jay Whitmire moving to the problematic RG position and Eric Smith taking over at tackle.  Cody Wallace moves to LG behind Luke Bowanko, which is code for you'll never see him again because Bowanko is considered one of the rocks.  Wallace just got buried.

I'm less sure what it means that Michael Mooney moves to backup LT - I think that's probably a promotion of sorts.  Sadiq Olanrewaju definitely got promoted; even though he's behind Smith (obviously) that's better than being behind Morgan Moses.  It might seem like Whitmire got demoted (tackle to guard, after all) but it's really more a function of him having a couple years on Smith and therefore being more versatile.

The center battle is back on, too, probably not least because of Burbank's bad snap.

-- Finally we come to punt returner - where no change whatsoever was made.  This is bad in a couple different ways.  Mike London can't be on the accountability train if he's letting slide the single stupidest play of UVA's season so far.  It's fortunate that Dominique Terrell is from northern VA or this would really open the door to 757 favoritism charges.  You had a lot of that undercurrent with Phillip Sims; allowing Terrell's drunken balloon chase to go unaddressed would practically blow those doors open if he were from Chesapeake or something.

The final verdict is that these are generally positive changes taken one by one.  Wallace just has never been an ACC-level lineman.  Putting a week-long microscope on the receivers is a good idea - David Watford has enough trouble finding open receivers without them dropping the throw when he does.  But London's playing Russian roulette with his credibility over what should be a very simple call at PR.  Can't fully trust what he says about fixing problems when he won't fix the most visible one.

FWIW, London has said that will be a practice competition too, but actions are speaking louder than words here.  Until I see someone besides Terrell back there I won't believe it - and really, even then, it shouldn't be a competition, Terrell should simply sit and watch, because he's hurting the team as bad or worse than any other individual, the way he fields kicks.


The ACC didn't produce too much in the way of surprises this week, except in Chapel Hill.  Quick takes on the week's action in the league:

-- UNC is definitely leaving me with egg on my face for picking them to win the Coastal.  ECU racked up 55 points on them, so maybe our offense can score a touchdown or two.

-- Maryland looks better and better each week, even when they don't play.  West Virginia's bounce-back win over Oklahoma State makes the Terps look awfully good.

-- VT's win in the battle of the Techs actually puts them in great shape, with UNC looking like a bunch of chumps and Miami being the only likely roadblock in the Coastal now.

At the one-third mark of the season, it's time to reassess the remaining schedule.  Beating BYU was a great step toward bowl-game respectability; losing to Pitt was almost as big a step back.  The remainder of the season breaks down like so.

Likely wins: Ball State, Duke.  Not "likely" in the traditional sense - just that you can't be a bowl team period if you can't beat those teams.

Likely losses: Miami, Clemson.  These would be the teams that our defense almost certainly can't stop enough for the offense to catch up.

Swing games: Maryland, GT, VT, UNC.  And let's be real, we're not exactly favored in most - or any - of these.  But if we can get past Ball State and Duke, we need only win two of these four.  And all these teams have serious flaws, although if that's true of Maryland, they've yet to be exposed.  Our defense, though, is good enough to at least give us a prayer of seeing a win in all four of these.


Senior Seasons feature:

Peachtree Ridge 49, Habersham Central 0: Jordan Ellis only needed seven carries to have his biggest day of the season - he racked up three touchdowns, two of them on runs of 68 and 73 yards, and finished with 197 yards.  Peachtree Ridge is 5-0.

Episcopal 38, Chichester 20: Evan Butts had three catches for 111 yards.  Episcopal is 5-0.

Upland 42, Santiago 41 (Jeffery Farrar) - Upland is 3-2.
Central Catholic 38, Trinity Catholic 14 (Caanan Brown) - CCC is 4-1.
South Granville 56, Cummings 27 (Will Richardson) - Cummings is 1-5.
Ocean Lakes 49, Bayside 16 (Quin Blanding) - Bayside is 2-3.
Oscar Smith 56, Lakeland 6 (Andrew Brown) - Oscar Smith is 4-0.
Chancellor 37, Millbrook 3 (Steven Moss) - Chancellor is 1-4.
Briar Woods 45, Woodgrove 16 (J.J. Jackson) - Woodgrove is 2-2.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that they are finally acting on their best 5 for the Oline. Something needed to be done.

I would also say you're being too harsh on DT. This last game left us a ton to be desired but overall this year he's been relatively solid. ACC caliber is questionable but if he is out there it means we have no one else. Given that context he's been decent.

David said...

I don't think Brendan's being too harsh on Terrell. Terrell's behavior on that play was the most inexcusably stupid move since London famously saved all his timeouts to "ice the kicker". It's quite possible that he's still the best punt returner, but even if so, boneheadedness of that caliber warrants sending a message to the rest of the team: Mistakes are forgivable, but downright stupid decisions will put you on the bench.

Last year, FOV tallied the number of losses we had that were a direct result of special teams miscues. Arguably, this year's tally now stands at one.

pezhoo said...

I really have to believe that when you're talking to a guy about returning punts, rule #1 is catch the football. Rule #2 is probably, if you can't catch it, get away from it. And Terrell hasn't grasped that in year 3. Go back and watch the highlight.

Brendan said...

I think you could definitely make the argument that a mistake-free game on special teams could've meant a shutout. I'm afraid I can't agree that I'm being too harsh on Terrell, because "stay the hell away from punts you can't catch" is coached in high school. On the JV level. When Terrell was a freshman and making these mistakes, I backed off - as a junior, sorry, no. And the coaching staff gets double and triple criticism for watching it happen and shrugging their shoulders.