News came out earlier last week that the color commentator for the internetz broadcast of the Kent State game would be none other than Al Groh himself. Not just a few UVA fans were hoping he'd say something that'd sound a lot like the same guy who read the man-in-the-glass poem as his public farewell to the program. Some might also have been hoping for some better insight to the current program than the average joe-blow.
I think both camps were disappointed. Groh made exactly one reference to his coaching career, and it was to his Jets days and even then it was a nice little anecdote about Khalek Shepherd's dad rather than "well I did this and I did that." "Circumstances" never escaped his lips, he only even bothered with one goofy-ass word the whole game ("UVA re-personneled their special teams units") no poems were read, and I'd give him a solid B or B- as a commentator - a bit like Bobby Knight lite. Would listen again - but would not expect flamboyant entertainment.
So went the game. Had the second half gone like the first, it would've generated post-game fireworks win or lose. Then UVA came out for the third quarter and clamped way the hell down. You can easily imagine the halftime message in the visitors' locker room - keep it up, we got this, right where we wanted 'em, etc. etc. When the quarter turned again, Matt Johns had just rumbled 42 yards and turned the field almost completely around on a Kent State defense that'd seen their deficit blow up from four to twenty-one points in a near blink. I imagine the message by then was "well, shit."
The ACC schedule now begins in earnest, after one heavy-duty appetizer, and the Hoos have done as well as anyone could expect - maybe a touch better. Nobody's checked out with a trail of Fire Londons in their wake, and the "division" is wide-open enough to hold everyone's interest. The whole season still hangs in the balance, but that's the whole point. Barring a jaw-dropping miracle, the only way anything could've been decided by now was decidedly negative. We'll go into October with nothing predetermined. I like it that way. Well, I'd like it better if we could say we just don't know which bowl we're going to, but right now, what we have is a lot better than what some others have. I'll take it.
-- Ongoing quarterback opinion: Matt Johns did a nice job and Greyson Lambert is still the starter. But there's competition in a good way. Lambert is being pushed hard here.
-- My usual take on games like this applies here. That is, if you flip the two halves of the game, nobody would worry. I'm probably overreacting because I don't think too many folks are up in arms over the first half, which had all the imprints of a team coming off a bye week (as Kent State was) and having spent that whole two weeks drawing up stuff to attack UVA with. And then running out of ideas after UVA adjusted.
-- Quin Blanding just rocketed past the linebacker duo of Coley and Romero in the team tackles lead.
-- These throwbacks are sharp, and would be more than perfectly acceptable as the regular uniforms if you topped them with the regular blue helmet with the V-sabres. Especially if that helmet had stripes matching the shoulder stripes.
- Demetrious Nicholson plays.
- So does Daniel Hamm.
- Greyson Lambert does not. This was sort of a cheap way to pick up three correct predictions, but at least it lets me take credit for reading tea leaves correctly as well as calling the game as being out of hand early enough to dig deep into the bench.
- UVA's top three backs - Parks, Mizzell, and Shepherd - each beat their season averages per carry, which right now are 3.1, 3.4, and 4.6. Well, drat: the first two guys blew up those numbers but Shepherd did not come close. Still, the running game was effective. If Kevin Mizzell (or Taquan Parks) were the feature workhorse back, he'd have gone 122 yards on 21 carries, an excellent day.
- Kent State fails to reach 50 yards on the ground, including sacks. The ESPN stats are a little messed up here, and I think it's because they don't count runs that end in fumbles as yardage. The UVA and KSU sites agree: the Flashes went 85 yards forward and 51 yards backward, culminating in a prediction win.
- Max Valles records at least one sack and two batted passes. He was a sack and a batted pass short.
Four out of six (albeit a bit of a cheapish four; next week I won't go that route) results in the following stats for the year:
11-for-24 on specifics (45.8%)
3-1 straight up