Monday, September 9, 2013

weekend review

I've said in the past that writing about losses is much harder than writing about wins, and now that we've just seen the single largest football defeat of the FOV era (and that's saying something) I find the trend continuing.  There's a certain je ne sais quois about a seven-score ass-whoopin' that takes all the words out of my mouth.  "Well that sucked" just doesn't have the kick to it I'd like.

In fact, I've decided the most disappointing part about the game was not anything that actually happened (playcalling, interceptions, big plays given up, etc. etc. - the problem is that there are just too many to pick one) but that they all happened with UVA wearing its classiest uniforms.  I'm glad and all that they picked a big game to wear the "traditional"** look but now they probably never will again, at least not this season.

I have to give Oregon this, too: Often, when I'm watching a blowout, it doesn't seem like one.  The losing team will just keep doing things a little bit worse than the winning team and by the end of the game it's like 45-7 and I realize, dang, that wasn't actually competitive.  No such restrictions this time.  I think it's because of the number of times we got gashed for big plays, or maybe it's because of things like big long touchdowns immediately following a pickoff, or maybe just because every time there was an important play, we came out on the wrong side of the outcome.

Complicating matters, of course, is BYU's dominating win over Texas.  I seem to recall playing really good defense against BYU.  Cougars fans must wonder how on earth they went basically nowhere against a defense that just gave up 9 yards a carry to Oregon and then exploded for 550 rushing yards against Texas.  I'm allowed to interpret this however I want, and so for my own sanity I say that we really do have a good run defense, maybe even a really good run defense, but Oregon is special and unique.  Plus also, Marcus Mariota was only 14-for-28 passing, which isn't that good, and UVA is allowing only a 40.6% completion rate to opposing quarterbacks.  David Watford's passing has been kind of crummy, and so has Logan Thomas's, and VT is allowing only a 36.8% completion rate, and so in the department of way too early predictions, that game against the Hokies is really going to put a stellar air assault on display.

Oh well.  At least Greyson Lambert didn't fire up a QB controversy, right?  Ah, that's not a nice thing to say.  I shouldn't say that.

Time for the prediction review:

-- At least two of UVA's running backs, one of which is Kevin Parks, will improve on their BYU rushing total by at least 10 yards.  Well, Khalek Shepherd did, because he carried for 46 yards with 45 of them coming on one play.  Parks did not, however.  Oregon's run defense played much better than I gave them credit for, a major reason for the blowout since UVA could accomplish very little on the ground.

-- UVA's TEs and RBs combine for more catches than their WRs.  By a lot, too.  21 to 10.  By themselves, Jake McGee and Zach Swanson fulfilled this particular prophecy.  Oregon's corners were at least as good as advertised, and I advertised them as comprising "one of the finest secondaries in the country."  Darius Jennings caught three passes for -2 yards, which is a huge statement by the Duck cornerbacks.  I didn't even realize he'd caught as many as three passes.

-- Watford throws more INTs than TDs.  Even when making this prediction I had really hoped for a better than 0-to-3 ratio, but there you are.

-- Oregon breaks at least one TD run of at least 60 yards.  Mariota's 71-yarder to open the scoring certainly qualifies.  At that point I was regretting not making the prediction "at least three runs" and if I had, I would still have given myself this one because the only reason some of those runs weren't longer is because Oregon was given such nice field position in the first place.

-- Oregon has more than twice as many rush yards as passing yards.  I thought for sure I would get this one right, but then the box score shows only 350 rush yards against 207 passing yards.  I feel like I ought to give myself this one for the very reason above, but I'll let it slide.

-- Mariota is the only Oregon QB to throw a pass. I have to give at least that much to our defense; at least we'll keep it close enough to keep the scrubs out of the game.  I blame the offense for my failure at this prediction, actually.

Going 3-for-6 this week (with one that could've easily made it four) makes me 4-for-10 so far on the season, which is a respectable start.  And I'm now 1-1 both straight up and against the spread after winning this week's bet.

Notes from the rest of the ACC:

-- I think you definitely have to give the conference some credit this year for having, now, two statement wins against the SEC, thanks to Miami this week.  The ACC-SEC battle this year has been much closer to even.  If anyone besides Syracuse would play a Big Ten team we could probably match up pretty well there, too.

-- Don't look now, but Boston College is 2-0.  Two weeks from now they'll probably be 2-2, and they still have an uphill battle for bowl eligibility, but I was feeling pretty good about myself after watching the Eagles' defense stuff Wake Forest.

-- Another team I'm feeling pretty good about, or at least, I'm feeling pretty good about my prediction about them: NC State.  Michael Strauss - the former Hoo, yes - shredded them for 300 yards, and the Pack barely escaped Richmond.

Senior Seasons feature:

Williams 39, Cummings 33: Will Richardson missed the game, his team's third straight loss to start the season.  Cummings is 0-3.

Oscar Smith 42, Lake Taylor 2: Andrew Brown had 4 TFL, 2 sacks, and forced and recovered 2 fumbles in Oscar Smith's dominating, nationally televised win over Lake Taylor.  Oscar Smith is 1-0.

Oaks Christian 57, Upland 28 (Jeffrey Farrar) - Upland is 0-2.
Tampa Catholic 13, Central Catholic 10 (Caanan Brown) - CCC is 1-1.
Episcopal Academy 21, Interboro 7 (Evan Butts) - Episcopal is 2-0.
Bayside 14, Princess Anne 0 (Quin Blanding) - Bayside is 2-0.
Eastern View 40, Chancellor 22 (Steven Moss) - Chancellor is 0-2.
Tuscarora 21, Woodgrove 14 (J.J. Jackson) - Woodgrove is 1-1.


-- In a development that surprises nobody, the VMI game will only be on ESPN3.  Two weeks from now, of course; the first bye week is next week.  Ordinarily you'd think before the VMI game is a rotten time for a bye week, but it's probably not the worst thing to have it after that Oregon game.

-- I often complain that I don't have enough of a chance to talk about soccer, thanks to a combination of it being undertelevised and overshadowed, so I took the opportunity to watch the men take on Clemson on Friday.  It didn't go well.  Overall impression was of a UVA team that had better ball skills than their opponent but was much worse at space and timing, and either chased balls they shouldn't or didn't chase ones they should.  Result: defensive breakdowns and little offensive pressure and a 2-0 loss.  I wouldn't call it discipline - more like a lack of good recognition, leading to bad spacing and being slow to realize danger on the defensive side.

There won't be a chance to watch the men's team on TV for another month, but the women will be on ESPN3 against Pitt in a couple weeks.


Erik said...

Brendan, I know you've been a bit outspoken when it comes to the strength of our basketball team's non-conference schedule this season but I've seen conflicting reports on the quality of it - namely Eamonn Brennan's analysis at ESPN that gives us a 7 out of 10 for strength of OOC schedule

Anonymous said...

Nice analysis, Brendan - always enjoy reading your take on things. Two questions for you:

1) In hindsight, do you agree with the decision to schedule Oregon? As you noted, the Hoos were just outclassed in all phases of the game. Was this a bold, gutsy decision to take on the big boys and find out what this team is made of, or a cash grab that just handed UVA a demoralizing loss in exchange for a (near) sell-out and ABC-televised game?

2) Up next are VMI, Pitt, Ball State, UMD and Duke. What are the odds they reel off five straight wins and get bowl eligible? The last half of the schedule looks downright brutal - now is the time to rack up some Ws.

Brendan said...

Re: basketball - I don't buy much into that ranking. Brennan gave us credit basically for three games. I don't think our schedulers should be thinking, OK, we have a B1G game automatically on the schedule, we have room for some MEAC teams. I'd love to see a Big East team or maybe a second SEC one. Tennessee scored 30-some points on us last year, that shouldn't count as a marquee game.

On the two questions:

1) Would much rather play Oregon than Idaho. But since Oregon replaced Penn State, it probably wasn't necessary. Still, I'd definitely prefer to have a program that isn't afraid to take on the big boys, even if we get killed in the process. I'm not against a cash grab because the program looks much better playing for a full stadium on national TV than it does playing VMI in front of 25,000 on ESPN3.

2) I frankly expect a three-game winning streak, minimum. Ball State might be tough or might not be but regardless of how good they are, as an ACC team, you can't ever expect anything decent if you can't get past a MAC team. There's a chance I've underestimated Maryland so let's see what happens after they've played West Virginia.

Brendan said...

By the way, Lunardi just put out an article this morning that takes my side of the debate on the basketball schedule. Far too many supercrap teams on there.