Tuesday, September 8, 2015

what's new is old again

Welp.  Didn't take long.  It hardly seems worth writing about the latest chapter in the Mike London story because it's so uncannily similar to most of the other ones.  Talk up the latest new schemes, surprise with some swaggy hype-azz uniformz, lose by the book, chapter and verse.  OK, sure, it lacked a little something in the clock-management dumbassery department, but London did burn at least two timeouts that I can remember just because of play-call confusion.  So let's check that box.

Other boxes to check: annoying playcalling, offensive line depth biting us in the ass again, undisciplined penalties committed by seniors, crappy special teams, red zone ineptitude.  The list goes on.  A whole offseason and literally nothing has changed.  I sound surprised here, which I guess I am a little, because this time I'm really gonna get to kick that football.

I really hated those helmets, by the way, which you can chalk mostly up to my reflexive get-off-my-lawnism about uniforms.  UVA seems to be working on building a pretty solid brand identity.  You can instantly recognize those gorgeous home whites the baseball team wears, and the school uses a uniform wordmark across most other teams, if not all of them.

Football?  There's no brand identity anywhere.  The navy blue helmets would work at least to anchor the zillion other looks they think are wonderful attention getters.  Naw, let's ditch 'em and go with the marshmallow look.  And the look on Saturday was a horrible mishmash.  The pants are pure throwback - literally, because they come from the 1960s throwbacks they wore a while ago.  The jerseys are a clean, unadorned, modern take on a classic look.  And the helmets were $WAGGY HYPPPEEE, Oregon $tylez.  Pick a look.  (Preferably not swaggy hype.)  There's absolutely no attempt at a brand, an identity, a foundation, it's just "hey this would be a cool idea," and they slap it up there and there's no reason to do it or even any connection with the rest of the athletic program.

I wouldn't usually spend two paragraphs on the uniforms, but if by now you can't get the connection to the actual state of the program then we'll just have to leave you here.

Notre Dame comes to town next weekend.  Of the three difficult OOC games this is the one I expected to be toughest.  They just got done steamtrucking Texas, so I think I'm still thinking that.  If UVA is to steal an OOC win in one of those three games, Boise State is the place to look.

Some player-focused observations:

-- I was surprised Kelvin Rainey was credited with only five tackles.  He seemed to be all over, making tackles in front of the secondary and generally being much more visible than you'd expect from a first-year starter.  I liked it.  And it looks clear too that Micah Kiser is the real deal.

-- I was much less pleased with the defensive ends.  Mike Moore didn't look like a senior.  Kwontie Moore was hardly visible.  Trent Corney showed off his athleticism by actually juking his blocker, but then looked surprised that Josh Rosen actually moved away from the pressure.  Fortunately, he kind of moved toward the rest of the defensive line, but Corney's tackle attempt on that particular play looked like he still hasn't picked up a lot of fundamentals.

-- Matt Johns reminds me of a youngish NASCAR driver who clearly can drive in the lower series but moves up to the big time and is stuck on an underfunded team with an uncompetitive car, which he can't crash because they can't afford replacements.  He might compete for the winner's circle if he was allowed to drive aggressively into the corners, but he's just being asked to circle the track.  That's Steve Fairchild's playbook in a nutshell.  Johns can play quarterback, it's clear, but too often, he's not really allowed to.  Sure, he threw a pick when he cut loose, just like the driver might find a wall or two the hard way.  But in reading up about UCLA, one quote I saw was along the lines of Josh Rosen being handed the keys to a Ferrari, he just had to not crash it.  Well, Rosen took a shot downfield the very first chance he got, and it's obvious he's not just driving the Ferrari around the block.  Johns needs to be cut loose more too.  He's capable of making it work.

Until then we'll just keep throwing screen passes on every third-and-long of the game which they totally won't be expecting this time.

-- One game in and the offensive line is already a smoking wreck.  Eric Tetlow and Jake Fieler, out for the year.  Ryan Doull and Sadiq Olanrewaju, no telling when they'll be back.  Jay Whitmire, not ready to go full speed yet or he'd be out there at one of those positions somewhere.  The interior line was absolutely owned; UCLA's DTs were exactly the problem I thought they'd be, and the "power running game" went exactly as far as I thought it would.  I was openly skeptical of the power running thing; if I'd known we'd be missing four linemen going into the first game, I'd have been downright derisive.

That's OK, I'm sure we'll just recruit us a few more cornerbacks to make up for it.

It's pretty much official, I've skipped the optimistic, maybe-things-gonna-be-OK phase of the season and gone straight to snark.  With any luck that'll last the next eleven (or twelve, if Lucy doesn't pull that football away again) games and we can minimize the burning apathy, which is all that's left at the end.


Anonymous said...

There was a moment moving downfield on the first drive when I could suspend disbelief. At 7-3 after the first quarter I could see the silver lining. Now I'm done. London sucks, you hit the problems exactly, let's please move on.

BostonHoo said...

More of the same. Nothing got fixed or improved in the off season. Any first day of the new year optimism I had was completely squashed by the end of the first half. This program is truly a train wreck and can only be improved by a house cleaning. I assume that out of courtesy no announcements will be made until after our annual loss to VT although no one would object if Fairchild was relieved of his duties sooner.

Kendall said...

I've gone directly to snark, too.

Great post!

Brandon (not Brendan) said...

I've got nothing to say about anything actually football the sport related, for obvious reasons, but I will note that I thought the unis were great, top to bottom. Of course, I also like a fair number of the $WAGGY HYPEZ unis, at least up to the point where they start including camo, clearly clashing color schemes, or hideous state flags.

Anonymous said...

There's a fair amount of conjecture on UVA's various sites that no matter what happens this year, London isn't going anywhere. At least not until Littlepage retires. I don't know if that changes if we only win one or two games, but it will be the final nail in the coffin for me and UVA football if London is retained. Great guy, great mentor of kids, etc., but nowhere close to competent or qualified enough to run a D1 program. Completely sucks too because I have some awesome memories of watching us dismantle great teams in the mid to late 90's. Meanwhile, guys like Steve Fairchild continue to collect bags of money and laugh all the way to the bank. Then again, Steve probably shoves his money directly up his own ass.

Anonymous said...

It's sort of comical that, with how bad a coach he's been, that Mike London is still pulling in a decent recruiting class of now. Just think, if he could coach a lick at the D1 level and the team won a bit more, he could probably rake in huge (for UVA) recruiting classes.

That said, for all the blame on everyone else, it still falls on London and his inability to coach and recruit a well-rounded team. You want to power run with a sub-par OL, a QB that doesn't have a canon of an arm (typically, you power run to set up some sort of vertical attack of play-action), and really, without talented receiving weapons to force opponents to sit back a bit more? I mean, power running is more of a fit for Fairchild, but the personnel isn't there.

Defensively, Tenuta deserves some blame as well. While I think the back 7 looks like it could be solid, you have to adjust your schemes to your personnel. Sure, they were probably a bit caught off-guard by Valles leaving, but they've had an entire summer. The Moore boys simply don't get that much pressure. To be honest, I don't know what the solution is, but again, I'm not the coach. Considering the inadequacies on offense, perhaps lessening the blitz and sitting back in zones is more suitable for this bunch of talent, in an attempt to get the opponent to make a mistake.

I've been pushing for Mike London to be gone for a few years now. It really should've happened after last year, to give a new head coach time to rebuild for a year and hope to get the recruiting going again this winter. Now, I think, even if London is canned, the real rebuilding probably starts in 2 years. Every year that things get pushed off, the program gets mired in a deeper hole. He may be a nice guy, but this is a results oriented business, and he should've been gone ages ago.

Anonymous said...

What, no comments on the notre dame game?

Anonymous said...

The Notre Dame effort was great ... the William and Mary game was almost as bad, letting them come that close to winning. Tis ... a London coached team.

On a total side note, I just realized Kwontie Moore is listed at 6'2" 290 ... bigger than Dean and Brown! Damn ... I remember when he was projected out of HS as a 250-260 pound Mike backer. Granted, he probably bulked up a bit to play DL, but still ... 290?