Sunday, October 13, 2013

a million miles away

I can see all the signs.  I see the box score, where respectable offensive numbers show up in places where there used to be a toxic waste dump.  I watched the game and for once it was the opponent I saw making crucial mistakes and handing points on silver platters to the other team.  If one game can be called a trend, there's a decidedly upwards one.

I'm still not convinced.  It's probably too late to rescue the season, now that the team needs four wins in the next six to call the season a success.  The progress isn't fast enough.  On the one hand, they did a lot of things right on Saturday; on the other, they did a few basic things so badly that they're still having to compensate in ways that can't bring sustainable success.

The O-line's inability to push a pile into the end zone was the most galling, and the reason that UVA lost despite a +3 turnover margin.  Given not one, but two red zone chances after muffed punts, the Hoos managed two field goals.  (This is why red-zone scoring percentage is a crap statistic.  Announcers call that 100%.  I call it 42%.)  The offensive line simply was not good, and the result was a whole bunch of field goals when touchdowns were demanded.

This is why it's awfully hard to blame Steve Fairchild for the woes of the offense right now.  If anything, maybe Scott Wachenheim.  The offensive line is a lousy unit right now.  It just is.  It can't be anything else given their total failure to be able to line up and gain just a few yards when that's all that's needed.  Fairchild managed to scheme around that and actually pile up yards on the ground.  242 rushing yards - that's all scheme.  When asked to execute an assignment, the line is doing fine.  When asked to win a battle, it ain't happening.

The level of trust in the quarterback isn't there either.  UVA ran twenty plays inside the Maryland twenty, only six of which were called passes.  Six passes, fourteen runs.  This doesn't count the end-of-game sequence in which the playcalling was apparently designed to ensure maximum safety.  I can't totally fault that - people would've been all over London and Fairchild if Watford had thrown a pick - but don't you think if we had a quarterback we trusted, they'd've put the game in his hands?  They purposely didn't, nor did they, except for one (failed) attempt, let him try and score the touchdown with his arm.  The only time he did score with his arm was a totally improvised busted play.

Against an O-line that can't move anyone and a quarterback the OC doesn't trust, how does the team win four of six?  It probably doesn't.  A two-game winning streak is the only thing that can change my mind, and even then maybe not because Clemson waits in three weeks.

I don't have a lot of other reactions in brief (other than to say that, yes, kicking the extra point to cut Maryland's lead to 14-13 in the first half was the right call.  In the first half you always take the point, period.  Too much can happen and it's the easiest thing in the world to come up with scenarios where you might really, really regret not having that point.)  So let's go straight to the predictions:

-- Watford throws neither a pick nor a touchdown.  Aw, c'mon.  If it hadn't been for his very excellent improvision with McGee I'd have nailed this one.  Oh well.  Actually Watford played maybe his best game so far.  He slightly improved the distance on his passes and didn't throw an interception.  He needs some help from his receivers, who consistently don't get open, but he's starting, just ever so slightly, to come into his own.
-- Neither run game musters more than three yards per attempt.  Actually both run games looked solid.

-- Keeon Johnson leads UVA wide receivers in receptions.  I thought there was no way this was going to pan out, but - boom.  Johnson had two, and nobody but Dom Terrell (two also) had more than one. 

-- Stefon Diggs has had two catches each of the past two games; he has more here.  Diggs had six.  This was an easy call.

Two-for-four makes me 13-for-30, plus I nailed both the game and spread prediction, making me 3-3 in both.

P.S. I think we're going to find out this week that, once again, We Can't Have Nice Things.  In this case, nice defensive tackles.


ragekage said...

Tim Cwalina and Sean Cascarano; Tim was a beast, I knew him. Losing him, and especially both of 'em, was huge. Dang. It'd make a huge difference right there. Alas. You can have Aaron Rodgers, but if he spends most of his time on the ground or running for his life, then you get buttwhomped by the Giants and 49ers in the playoffs.

pezhoo said...

Oh great, so you're hinting our recruiting is falling apart. Not a shock. It's like selling tickets to the Titanic after midnight on April 15th.

Is it too pushy to ask for basketball previews to start? Those will be fun to read.

Brendan said...

Hmmmm... if you're referring to what I think you're referring to, I was going more for the notion that I don't feel good at all about what they'll tell us about Brent Urban.

chas723 said...

So sad for Urban, he was a feel-good story for the season...a guy that was so easy to root for.

Any idea the impact this season is having on our recruiting class?