Occasionally, an argument you hear in favor of "scheduling for success" is that a losing team needs to "learn how to win." That is, if you find yourself in a dogfight, it's better that said dogfight be against a little puppy instead of an ugly junkyard dog, to increase the odds of winning. Then, when you fight the junkyard dog you'll have winning experience and you'll know what it takes to win. "Walk before you run" is another way of putting it.
If that game was a lesson in how to win, it should get the teacher fired. It's like if your driver's ed teacher just put on an hour's worth of clips of Ronin and The Bourne Identity and then tossed you the keys.
Frankly, I'd rather the team learned nothing at all from beating William & Mary than any "how to win" lesson. If that game drove home "how to win," they'll go 1-11 this year, because the lesson is: You can get outmuscled, outsmarted, outcoached, and badly outdisciplined, and still win as long as the opponent lets you break open a whole bunch of big plays.
Two weeks ago, post-UCLA, I wrote about how nothing had changed, and we just keep going back to that. Mike London has succeeded in stamping an identity onto the team just as well as Tony Bennett has. Those identities are 180 degrees from each other on the discipline spectrum, but there it is all the same. You can count on Tony's teams to come up with a big stop when they need one, and you can count on one of London's seniors to take an incredibly stupid penalty at a crucial moment. (Kwontie Moore, step on forward.**)
Worse yet is that for an entire half and a good portion of the second, UVA was dominated in the trenches. By William & Mary. Dominated. The Tribe ran all over them. They double-teamed David Dean and nobody else could shed a block. The UVA offensive line and that wonderful power rushing game which was never going to happen, was putrid. Lemme state this once more for effect: William & Mary dominated UVA in the trenches.
That's how you almost lose to them. UVA was rescued by its athletes, which is basically London's recruiting gameplan. Unfortunately, the other ACC teams have good athletes too.
**Mike Moore was hit with the penalty, and he's kind of culpable, but the reason it looked like he ran over the quarterback on that roughing-the-passer call was because Kwontie Moore gave him a totally unnecessary shove, into Mike's path. Totally asinine.
-- First bullet point has to be this: Why in the blazing blue fuck can't this coaching staff figure out how to substitute???? How basic is this? How did any of them get an actual coaching job not being able to do this? Why is the whole lower deck screaming at them to put an 11th man on the field? Normal teams have to burn a timeout, I dunno, maybe once every other game or so, over a little substitution confusion. Even most lousy staffs can handle this. This staff burns all three timeouts of the half with that problem. Un-flippin'-believable. If the complete unpreparedness for onside kicks and total lack of discipline by seniors didn't clue you in on the attention to detail paid by this staff, the chronic inability to execute a fundamental aspect of football should help you figure it out. "Uncompromised Excellence" has devolved into "Uncompromised Incompetence."
-- I'd feel a lot more confidence in the offense if they put together more drives like the first drive of the day. Big plays are neato, but if you can consistently march methodically down the field like that, you're in business. They sputtered a bit at first, but then the ball just kept on going, right through the red zone as if their usual red zone issues didn't exist. I liked it a lot better than Taquan Mizzell's screen-pass touchdown, which was nice but not repeatable. W&M blitzed a screen pass and Mizzell is faster than anyone they got, that's all.
-- How bad was the running game? Mizzell busted a big play which was rather well-blocked. But you always take out the biggest play - if you still average 3.5-4 yards after that, you're doing well. Take that out, and take out Jordan Ellis's touchdown run which was incredibly poorly blocked and 100% Ellis's efforts (Ellis ran 39 yards on that play, 38 of which were after contact), and also take out anything Matt Johns did because those are sacks and scrambles. Here's what you get: 33 yards on 21 carries. Power running game!
-- Have to like seeing the passing game opened up lately. I don't have any confidence in the running game, but this team will pull off a couple surprises - hell, they could still go bowling, despite everything - if they put the game in the hands of Matt Johns. Incredibly boneheaded interception aside, Johns is quietly playing like one of the top QBs in the conference. Only Miami's Brad Kaaya has more passing yards. Good thing Johns is doing so well, because Greyson Lambert is absolutely tearing it up for UGA. Johns is on pace to set the UVA single-season record for passing yards, and the way he's going I'd be more surprised if he missed it than if he made it.