Sunday, November 23, 2014

a billion dollars and a pony

Thank you to all the thoughtful people who emailed or commented to inquire whether I did, in fact, wake one billion dollars richer this morning.  No.  And no adorable little Shetland adorns my doorstep, either.  But I have my THUNDERDOME game, and I'll happily settle for that.

The London era has been sadly lacking in decisive ass-beatings of ACC opponents.  I'd call this the third, following a 31-13 drubbing of 2-7 Maryland in 2011 and a 33-6 pasting of NC State in 2012.  What it hasn't seemed to lack is wins over Miami.  If not being able to beat Duke, UNC, and VT is a major irritant for UVA fans in the London era, not beating UVA must be getting tiresome for Miami fans in the Al Golden days.

Having become more than used to second half collapses in both wins and losses this year, probably the best part of yesterday was the realization that another one wasn't on the way.  Couldn't even pinpoint when that was, but the Hoos kept scoring and Miami kept not scoring, and I'm guessing the Miami fans watching the game gave up on a Miami comeback long before the UVA fans did.  If UVA's red-zone offense was halfway decent - they scored more field goals than TDs once inside the 20, and Ian Frye's longest kick was from a line of scrimmage at the 5 - this would've looked more like the woodshedding that it was.

So the world turns again.  Only college football has the ability to do that in one short game.  48 hours ago it crossed nobody's mind at all to ask which bowl game we might go to, because how silly.  Now I've found myself considering the possibility in all seriousness.  All of which is to say nothing of who will be the coach next year.  Could one simple game change the fortunes of a career?  Or at least, extend its life support another year?  We'll see, I guess.

But, first, Tech.  Thunderdome looms.  Two teams enter, one team leaves bowl eligible.  With the combination of beating hell out of Miami and Tech's spectacularly pathetic display of offense in Winston-Salem, this looks like the most winnable VT game since basically the last time we won it.  What's surprising is how many VT fans have already conceded it.  Their offense has been godawful this year and the idea of Max Valles and Eli Harold getting their cracks at Michael Brewer makes me giggle like a schoolgirl.  Brewer's stats aren't bad, but he sure doesn't pass the eye test, either.  Let the least bad team win a trip to Shreveport.

Bullety things:

-- Canaan Severin's catch: not bad.  And a 14-point swing in the game, too.  You could see the DB get saucer eyes from 700 miles away, and he had his arms all cradled and ready for that football; had it gotten there, he'd have been five yards downfield with a full head of steam before anyone else could put on the brakes to go that way.  I'm convinced it was ten seconds from being 14-3.  Instead it was a 10-7 lead that was 30-7 before Miami found the scoreboard again.

-- Alright, the goose thing was funny, but for my money the real humor was the announcers' inability to speak for laughing so hard.  Flat-out lost it is what they did.

-- I think there were more Miami fans in Scott Stadium than there would've been for a Miami home game.

-- No, I'm not giving out a free pass for 12 men on the field for the punt just because we won.  This is the sort of thing that explains why I don't support keeping London even if we finish this season 7-6.  That shit happens all the damn time.  London could fix that if he wanted to.  He just has to properly incentivize Larry Lewis to do it.  But it's clearly not a priority.  Attention to detail still escapes this coaching staff.

-- Admit it: when you watched the first half clock tick down with no timeout being called, "here we go again" was in your brain in neon flashing lights.  But I suspect that one was more on the refs.  London was visibly livid.  And while you really damn well ought to score a touchdown when you're that close to the end zone, I'll say this: Passing on third down was the right call.  Out of timeouts, a failed run play would've meant going to the locker room empty handed.

-- I've been critical, we've all been critical, of Taquan Mizzell, so credit belongs where credit is due for this one: Mizzell ran really well yesterday.  And Khalek Shepherd did a nice job as the workhorse when Parks went out of the game.  He doesn't have the beef to be a piledriver, but he ran awfully damn hard.

-- Bowl talk in all seriousness: The ACC splits up its bowls into four groups.  The first group is three or four bowls, depending, believe it or not, on whether the Big Ten puts a team into the Orange Bowl.  (If they do, an ACC team goes to the Citrus Bowl.)  We don't have to worry about this.  The second group is called Tier 1, a group of four bowls (ex-Tire, Sun, Pinstripe, and either Music City or ex-Gator) that don't have a pecking order and just have to figure it out amongst themselves who they'll invite.  If UVA wins this Friday, there's a very, very slim chance we could slide into one of those, but it'd be unlikely.

The next group is Tier II: the Military, Independence, and ex-Motor City, in that order.  A 6-6 UVA team would be 97% likely to land in one of these.  East Carolina is the clear fourth team in the AAC, which slots them right to the Military; a very safe bet in the event of a UVA win over Tech is a trip to DC to face ECU.  Next most likely, I think, is actually Detroit; this would probably happen if there's no Citrus (50/50 chance of that), and the top 7 slots get filled with FSU, Clemson, GT, Louisville, ND, Duke, and UNC.  And Pitt loses to Miami and doesn't go bowling.  BC might then be the choice of the Military; their fans are still in close enough proximity and they've had a better season.  Miami would be a natural choice for the Independence.  Detroit would be left with the Hoos.  As you can imagine, I'd be all over this.  I even have tickets already.  Won them at a Lions game.

-- Watching Frank Beamer exult over a missed short field goal that meant he didn't just lose 3-0 to the worst team in the ACC - well, the sadness of that display was immediately evident, so I wasn't surprised to see that picture more or less all over Twitterdom.  You want an image of the sorry state of VT football, that's your thousand words right there.  But in absolute fairness to the Hokies, their fanbase is livid over their 5-6 season and at least 80% of them want Beamer out the door right now - and our fanbase is looking at the same 5-6 record (except with a way worse last four years) and the majority is either supportive or at least accepting of the idea of keeping London around as a reward.  That too is a statement.

Prediction summary:

-- UVA allows at least three sacks.

-- And throws at least two picks.

-- Duke Johnson is held reasonably in check, averaging no more than 5.5 yards a carry.

-- Kaaya throws at least three passes of 30 yards or more.  Precisely zilch of these came true.  Also I picked the game's outcome as badly as possible.

Stats on the season:

20-for-54 on specifics (37%)
6-4 straight up (L)
4-4-1 ATS (L)


BostonHoo said...

I was on the London's-gotta-go bandwagon a few weeks ago but with the solid play against FSU and the drubbing of Miami along with some pretty darn good recruiting, I think the guy has to have another year. He seems to run a clean program and brings in decent kids that we can be proud of. Now if only he could win a few more football games it would be nearly a perfect world.
And what on earth is going on in Blacksburg? I cannot imagine VT being held scoreless for four quarters by a truly weak Wake Forest team. Is the Beamer era over?

Anonymous said...

Winning against Miami was my worst fear - it opens the door to bringing back Mike London. I'd rather that door get shut tight for the way he's mis-managed the football side of things. My hope was a loss to Miami that would effectively keep the London's gotta go narrative at a full-steam, and a win against VA Tech. Now, I am awfully torn - I want that win against the Hokies, but boy ... it's not hard to see 6-6 and Littlepage/Oliver, along with part of the fanbase, rationalize bringing back Mike London.

Here's the thing - if you came into the year and said 6 wins, I might've said okay, but I probably would've wanted him out . The thing is how they collapsed in that stretch of Duke/North Carolina/Georgia Tech - games against teams who do not have a talent edge on us (and there's a case to be made that Virginia might have more next level than even, say, Louisville.))

The inability of Mike London to manage his football ship is problematic. The only thing he's been good at is recruiting and selliing the program, but the poor trench recruiting (which is odd, for a guy who was a DL coach), coupled with mismanaging/not using to his full extent redshirts, and the ridiculously poor decisions at QB over his tenure should've sunk him. He's had time to get his "kids" in. He even, by most accounts, stepped on his assistants at times (Lazor).

Does anyone think that London can take us beyond mediocrity? I don't see it. Being a good guy isn't enough. For all the worrying about recruiting, Al Groh recruited well, and the biggest key to recruiting well is ... winning. You know what a new coach might walk into next year? A good situation that could lead to a decent to good season ... which could lead to a great recruiting cycle. Has London shown enough improvement on his problem areas (game management, roster management ... and hell, even coaching hires) to buy that he can do more than he has? He's had more than enough time, and I don't see it.

Please let London go. London and Al Golden are the same- nice guys, good role models for young men, but they aren't great football coaches. We're rationalizing a reason to keep London around when all the evidence suggests he should be out.