I think we learned two simple things this Saturday: How far we've come, and how far we have to go. Dare we say, the Hoos looked better losing this weekend than they did beating BYU last year. That's a very offense-centric point of view (the defense was a little less than completely suffocating), but then, we've long known what has to get better before anything good can happen.
Had UVA pulled that one off, it might well have been fair for the front office to start planning those postseason mailers. Kent State shouldn't be an obstacle (I reiterate my stance from last year: they're the kind of team that if you can't beat them, you're not talking postseason anyway) and the way the Coastal is, two wins in six tries should be eminently doable. Now it's three wins in six tries.
That's still a doable mission. Most of these teams have gaping, exploitable holes. So do we, and teams will take advantage, but UVA is showing the ability to return the favor. We'll get what should be a nice simple week from a pretty lousy Kent State team, and then every game from then on out will hold our interest in a vise grip, because there's a lot of future riding on every single one.
Points in brief:
-- I'm not, like, pissing mad about the referee's call on the fourth-down fumble, even though it's one they don't usually make. I mean, hang on to the ball and don't give 'em the chance, you know? But since when is the left tackle allowed to "shift" his way three yards downfield before the snap? C'mon man.
-- It's really nice to have reliable placekicking again. Ian Frye might be the best kicker at UVA since Chris Gould.
-- Four games into the season and I have yet to complain about clock management.
-- No, I don't think the play of Matt Johns sparks - or should spark - yet another QB controversy. Lambert was clearly the guy before he twinged his ankle, and it sure looks like there was no intent at all to play Johns. (That said, Johns is good enough that there was no real urgency to force Lambert back into the game and risk re-injury.) Johns played against a lot softer of a BYU defense, one clearly willing to trade yardage for time.
- At least 75% of UVA's offensive yardage is through the air. First of all, lemme just point out that 519 yards is pretty outstanding. Some of that was that bendier defense, but you'd have to be blind to miss the improvement in the offense this week. Secondly, before declaring that UVA's run game was going to be the same three-yard slog all season, I should've remembered what happened last year. That was when I was giving Steve Fairchild credit for scheming Kevin Parks's 1,000 yards into existence, and that's borne out in the stats; even though the results were getting worse and worse, Parks's running improved in the second half. This year, it may be that Fairchild's schemes are coming into play earlier, which would be a big plus given that we don't have much of a prayer of simply blowing holes in D-lines. Anyway, the pass accounted for about 63% of the yardage - well within the bounds of reasonable balance and the result not of a worse passing game than expected, but a better run game.
- Greyson Lambert has a season (and career) high in pass attempts. He did, even despite his early departure.
- Kevin Parks has at least 75% of UVA's rushing yards. Parks was only the third-best back this week, behind Lambert and Khalek Shepherd.
- Both Hill and Williams get at least half a yard less per carry than their season average. Taysom Hill was held reasonably in check, but a huge part of the reason for the loss was Jamaal Williams running a bit freer than he should've.
- Hill doesn't complete 60% of his passes. Hill was held to 56%.
Going 2 for 5 is not too bad. If I can get 40% on the season that's pretty good, considering the nature of these predictions. Here's my stats for the year so far:
7-for-18 on specifics (38.9%)
2-1 straight up
Senior Seasons next, in which we track the progess of our verbals across the Friday night lights of autumn:
Hun School 56, Wyoming Seminary 14: Chris Sharp had a big game with 149 yards rushing, 57 yards receiving, and three touchdowns, one through the air. Hun is 1-0.
Bedford 50, Greater Johnstown 36: Kareem Gibson returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, but it wasn't enough in the loss. Johnstown is 3-1.
Gonzaga 51, McKinley Tech 0: Nick Johns threw a pair of touchdowns in the rout, and somehow was only 6-for-9 despite there being 7 receptions in the box score. I should've known better than to trust a box score with "wiki" in the URL. I'll buy the two touchdowns, but there's no way you score 51 points and your quarterback throws the ball nine times. Anyway, Gonzaga is 4-0, and has a showdown with Good Counsel next week.
Sherando 24, Kettle Run 7: David Eldridge had seven catches for 75 yards. Kettle Run is 1-2.
Altavista 56, Galax 7: Juan Thornhill accounted for four touchdowns - three rushing and one passing. Altavista is 3-0.
Venice 30, Charlotte 6 (Grant Polk) - Charlotte is 2-1.
Buford 42, White County 10 (David Curry) - Buford is 5-0.
Manasquan 15, Monmouth 6 (Tanner Cowley) - Manasquan is 1-1.
Lakota West 27, Middletown 24 (C.J. Stalker) - Lakota West is 2-2.
Cathedral Prep 51, DuBois 21 (James Trucilla) - Cathedral Prep is 4-0.
Plymouth-Whitemarsh 34, Upper Merion 10 (Ryan Bischoff) - P-W is 2-2.
G. Washington 14, Phila. Northeast 12 (Gladimir Paul) - Northeast is 0-4.
South Aiken 16, Strom Thurmond 13 (Rasool Clemons) - South Aiken is 2-2.
Gilman 20, Good Counsel 0 (Myles Robinson) - OLGC is 3-1.
Woodrow Wilson 27, Surrattsville 20 (Kareem McDonald) - Wilson is 2-2.
Patrick Henry 17, Lee-Davis 14 (Eli Hanback) - Patrick Henry is 1-2.
Liberty 44, Mountain View 7 (R.J. Proctor) - Liberty is 3-0.
Hickory 42, Deep Creek 9 (Richard Burney) - Hickory is 1-2.
Ocean Lakes 45, Green Run 10 (Jahvoni Simmons) - Ocean Lakes is 3-0.