Things have gotten a little slow around the production facilities lately. I mean, it is close to Christmas after all, and plus I got free Red Wings tickets on Tuesday, so, shit happens. Admittedly it makes my goal of having ten more season previews written by New Year's pretty ambitious, but regardless.
Let's start with the recruiting board, which is gonna look a lot different when I'm done.
-- Added OL Jacob Fieler to orange. Fieler is a post-grad player at FUMA who'll join Andrew Brown as an early enrollee. Adding any warm body at OL is a good sign; I'm more than fairly irritated at Mike London's desire to keep adding low-to-middling "athlete" types just because they play at a high school inside the Virginia borders while blowing off O-line recruiting. There's far too much depth at defensive back and about two-thirds of what we need at O-line. More on this in a bit.
-- Added DB Daniel Ezeagwu to green.
-- Removed OT Marcus Applefield (Rutgers) from green.
-- Removed OT Alex Bookser (Pitt) and DE Cory Jones (Toledo) from yellow.
-- Removed OT Brock Ruble (FSU) and DE Kentavius Street (NC State) from red.
It's time to go on one of those rants that us bloggers are famous for. I don't have to answer to advertisers or subscribers or editors so I can do this. Lemme start with a huge disclaimer: I fully get that recruiting is a touchy subject to be negative about. These kids come in with all the confidence in the world and are thrilled to have the opportunity to play for a big-time college team at a fantastic school, even when that team is 2-10. This is universal. I remember how fired-up I was to get my acceptance letter to UVA - when someone commits to play football, it's no different, except maybe even better because there's really only one thing that can make your happiness better and that's when you're also making someone else's day, such as, say, a football coach.
Despite all this, it's long past time to take Mike London to task on recruiting. Might sound like a funny thing to do, since recruiting is supposedly what London does best. And while he has indeed been able to convince a lot of blue-chip players to consider and even commit to UVA, who might never have done so before, everything else has been a slapdash mess.
As it turns out on a depth chart, you start four defensive backs and five offensive linemen. Therefore it would stand to reason that you'd want more of the latter than the former on your roster. At the moment, however, we stand to have 19 scholarship DBs and 16 scholarship OLs for 2014. And we're pursuing more DBs, without a single OL left on that recruiting board. And Mike London wonders why his offense is so bad.
It gets worse: for one, it's really only 15 scholarship OLs, since Matt Fortin is the long-snapper and not going to play on the regular unit. Reports say that George Adeosun's football career may actually be over. Will Richardson is considering switching to NC State or Florida State. Cody Wallace is a candidate for a non-invited fifth year. If in fact we do manage to keep all 15 linemen around, it means we can go three full layers deep on the depth chart. We can go five deep at cornerback and almost as much at safety, and we're still digging. London is fighting tooth and nail against Wake Forest and East Carolina to add two-star CB DaiQuan Lawrence, is recruiting Daniel Ezeagwu hard, and the following line shows up in Jamie Oakes's report this morning: "While UVa is in the market for another offensive lineman, it’s not looked at as an absolute necessity in the 2014 class."
Such a direct quote is a no-no and I offer humble apologies, but the point needs to be made. London has always made it a post-season priority to go find some moderately athletic player from inside the state and steal them out from under the nose of Old Dominion and James Madison. Mason Thomas has managed to go absolutely nowhere in his career; Divante Walker played a few minutes here and there this year. He's at it again in spades this year, and may add no fewer than three such players to this year's class (counting Donovan Dowling.)
Meantime, how are those trenches looking? Alex Bookser was giving UVA just as much of a look as Ohio State, and for the past few months we've heard nothing about him; he committed to Pitt this week. A guy from Pittsburgh who waits til December to commit to Pittsburgh is there for the taking if you make the effort, and now there goes a high-three-star or even four-star lineman to a division rival. Brock Ruble just committed to Florida State; this is a guy not just from our own backyard, he's from DeMatha. And hardly gave us a sniff. That Mike London managed to screw up the DeMatha pipeline, of all things, is unbelievable. Yes, there's been attrition on the O-line; that's no excuse for not replacing the lost players.
I haven't even started on the defensive line. We'll have six defensive tackles next year if all goes well; again, three deep against five deep in the secondary. One of those tackles is a converted O-lineman, so in moving Andre Miles-Redmond over all we've done is rob Peter to pay Paul, and AMR sat behind true freshman Donte Wilkins on the depth chart. Tyrell Chavis is another; his conditioning was so bad he had no choice but to redshirt this year, and this after a FUMA-shirt season where he had every chance to get on top of that issue. We're also depending on Chris Brathwaite to come right back after a missed season and get right back into the swing.
Defensive end is even worse. This is a train wreck. It's a junkyard tire fire. It's a train crashing into a junkyard tire fire while carrying a load of kerosene and toxic waste. Michael Moore has been a disappointment and absolutely should have redshirted; London has already screwed up his career, possibly beyond repair. Trent Corney is a situational pass-rusher, as is Max Valles (who's technically a linebacker anyway) and Eli Harold is too light to hold up against the run. Jack English is totally unknown (and may move to TE) and Stephen Lawe is almost certain to be non-invited. Marco Jones might move over to help out at DT. I just listed every DE on the roster. And is the cavalry coming? Not hardly; assuming we get Darrious Carter, our DE recruiting will consist of one two-star stolen from Temple and one no-star stolen from James Madison.
But fear not; London will no doubt find a way to add a couple cornerbacks before Signing Day. Chances are pretty good that we could end up signing as many defensive backs as offensive and defensive linemen combined. And it's some real big mystery why we're 2-10 and there's a countdown clock up there.
-- The lacrosse schedule is finally out. It shouldn't take anywhere near this long to release; nearly every school has it out weeks before UVA does, and the baseball one was out a month ago. This happens every year. But at least it's interesting. There's one extra game - we'll play 14 games now instead of 13, which is basically to say that we added Notre Dame and didn't take away a nonconference game. This makes sense since Maryland will disappear next year.
Besides Notre Dame, new teams on the sked include Loyola, Richmond, and Rutgers. Out are Stony Brook (on the schedule since 2006), Vermont (since 2008) and Ohio State (since 2010.) OSU was pretty much just a two-for-one deal that wasn't going to be permanent, so it's no surprise they're being replaced. The school doesn't announce this stuff, but I'd guess Rutgers is a similar deal.
Further change: Drexel remains on the schedule, but they're no longer the season opener as they have been since 2002. That's Loyola this year, in the earliest start ever (February 6; brrrr.) UVA will also serve as Richmond's first-ever varsity game a couple days later. I imagine Richmond, as the state's third program, is at least a semi-permanent addition.
Finally, the ACC championship won't be hosted at a school; it'll be at the MLS stadium in (well, near) Philadelphia. I'm sure it's entirely coincidence that it would've been Maryland's turn to host. It's also worth mentioning that, where in years past the ACC schedule was always the last three games minus a possible NCAA tuneup after the ACC tourney, now the ACC games are spread out a bit. Sort of. Syracuse is still where Syracuse always was, and ND fits into March between Cornell and Hopkins as if they were a non-conference opponent. Also, that tune-up game isn't a tune-up this year; Bellarmine is before the ACC tourney.
The schedule doesn't turn over much; major changes like this one happen only every few years, so it's interesting when it does happen. I will use my predictive powers to suggest that next year's changes will only involve losing Maryland and replacing Bellarmine, since Penn only had a two-year run in the spot where Bellarmine is now.
-- The football people are again going to discuss a nine-game schedule. I guess I'd put the chances of them actually following through at about 10%, but it's nice to see this remains on the plate. Once again: the fact that 2027 is the next time we'll see Clemson at Scott Stadium is stupid. And with Louisville and not Maryland as our crossover opponent, I'm a hell of a lot less attached to the idea of keeping that preserved crossover. Nothing against Louisville, but that instantly gives us (and Louisville) the least foundational and traditional crossover in the league.
Syracuse's AD's idea is to play nine games and guarantee that you play the five opponents this year that you didn't play last year, but that won't fly as is since the NCAA mandates that you play everyone in your division. Swapping out five opponents leaves only four from the previous year, and you have six division games. There's no real way to divide 14 teams other than seven and seven, so the best we can do with nine games is to maybe eliminate the crossover (touchy since that would eliminate the yearly FSU-Miami game) and just play three new teams every year. Or realign so that all the rivalries are in one division (but realignment is dangerous since if they roll north-south, we're suddenly north.)
At any rate, a nine-game schedule in nearly any form is preferable to visiting certain locations once every fourteen years. Check out the future schedules on the official page; we'll visit Provo, Utah twice before we ever visit Boston or Syracuse. Are they sure we're in the same conference as BC and Cuse?