Sunday, August 31, 2008

evaluating Lalich; and, BlogPoll!

Two orders of business for tonight.

First, Peter Lalich. Actually, second, Peter Lalich, first, a little background. I would love to put together an uber-comprehensive review of the game for you, complete with evaluation of every player and every play. Does Clint Sintim have trouble tackling? How does Jack Shields look in pass protection? Important questions to which I have neither the answer nor the time and inclination to find out. Not wishing to spend every Sunday burning up the playback features on my TiVo, we're mainly limited to a fan's impressions. And since USC hung half-a-hundo on our defense, this fan's impression of said defense for that game is: Suck. Sources tell me that's pretty much the impression most everyone else got, too.

But I would like to try and put together at least a little sum'ming. So I've decided on this. I'll focus on evaluating the quarterback. My theory is that about 75% of passes have the result they should; "should", as in, the QB makes a bad throw and indeed, it falls incomplete. Or makes a good throw, and it is caught. The stats are affected a little bit by receivers, though: either by making a good play on a bad ball, or vice versa. So after every game, I'll go back on the TiVo (if I can) and adjust the stats based on what "should" have happened with a throw. The result of what I come up with is gonna look something like this, which just happens to be from yesterday's game:

Lalich's stats:
18/35, 155 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Lalich's "real" stats:
19/36, 137 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT

How do I come up with this?

Throw #6: Mikell Simpson dropped a screen pass. Yeah, the play was a bit hurried, and yeah, Simpson was gonna get tackled pretty quick. Shoulda had it though. Add 3 yards and a completion.

Throw #10: Pass interference on the defense, otherwise, Kevin Ogletree would have had a catch. Add 9 yards and a completion.

Throw #19: Wasn't a great throw, but it went through Rashawn Jackson's hands. Add 3 yards and a competion.

Throw #21: Lalich led Cary Koch too far, but Koch stretched out reeeeeeal far and made a nice grab for the first down. Take away 12 yards and a completion.

Throw #26: Jared Green had to adjust and make a twisting catch over top of a DB. Very nice catch. Not a terrific throw. Take away 16 yards and a completion.

Throw #29: Should have been picked off, but linebacker have hands of rock. Add an interception.

Other general impressions of Lalich's play:
- Locks in on one receiver. Needs to consider alternatives. On the third play of the game, Ogletree was wide the hell open for the first down, Lalich threw at Phillips into double coverage. This happened a couple times.
- Can escape pressure - sometimes. Seemingly not when within 30 yards of own goal line, though. That is Fumble Land.
- Made some truly excellent throws. First play of the game to Koch was a really nice one, as was the throw to Covington. At this point, I think his physical skills are ahead of his decision-making.

Alrighty then. Part two of tonight's agenda is the BlogPoll. Keep in mind the methodology - unless someone really laid a nasty ol' egg, there isn't going to be much moving up and down. I don't really care if you "only" beat Eastern Cupcake State by 20, nor am I particularly impressed by your big honking win over Tennessee-Martin. The Week 4 Poll is when all kinds of nutty shifting is going to happen, because that's when I change over methodologies to asking, "no, seriously, what exactly have you done this year?" So, of course, here's the list, and you will let me know if I'm screwing this up, yes?

1. Ohio State
2. USC
3. Georgia
4. Florida
5. Oklahoma
6. Missouri
7. Texas
8. Arizona State
9. LSU
10. West Virginia
11. Wisconsin
12. Kansas
13. Brigham Young
14. Texas Tech
15. Auburn
16. Virginia Tech
17. Tennessee
18. Wake Forest
19. Oregon
20. Alabama
21. Clemson
22. Illinois
23. Fresno State
24. South Florida
25. North Carolina

The only major movers here are Michigan, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Alabama. Michigan and Clemson drop for the same reason: their offenses took giant donkey shits on the 50-yard line. Michigan's was disappointing, though understandable. Clemson's was baffling, and seriously problematic for their season. That's supposed to be the best part of the team. And it looked like ass. VT's loss was to a halfway decent team, and they were missing their best player, so they get to stay up in the poll somewhat. Alabama makes an appearance because it's pretty hard to justify keeping them off after that smackdown. They replace Michigan, the only team to fall off the list entirely.

This assumes Tennessee and Fresno State take care of business on Monday night. UCLA shouldn't give Tennessee any trouble. There is potential for Fresno State to drop off the list. If they lose to Rutgers in convincing enough fashion (and it wouldn't take much, really, because they're on there mainly because I couldn't find anyone I could justify replacing them with) then East Carolina will take their spot.

crash clunk

That sound you heard was the hopes - not expectations, mind you, just the hopes - of 64,947 people dropping to the concrete floor of Scott Stadium. (Some of those hopes admittedly had a soft landing on the hill, where they rolled to the bottom and got lost in the bushes somewhere.) I'm not sure exactly when that happened. I've narrowed it down to either sometime in the middle of a certain 4th-and-1 play in the first quarter, or perhaps round about the time the offense made two trips into USC territory with the score still in reach (21-7, 24-7, etc.) and came out with zilch.

Al Groh said, and I quote directly, “It wouldn’t be right for me or anybody to say that anybody played well today.” That is as candid a statement as you'll ever see from Groh, and translated out of coachspeak it means, "Fuck, that shit was fucking shitty." But coaches don't swear in front of the media, except for Mike Gundy. Coaches swear at quarterbacks with a habit of fumbling away the ball inside their own territory. At least we finally got to find out who would be our starting quarterback. Unfortunately we didn't learn anything about who'll start next game. I think Lalich had an OK game, other than the two fumbles, but two fumbles tend to overshadow a lot in coach's minds, especially when 64,947 people are screaming JUST FALL ON THE DAMN BALL!

That's not to say I agree 100% with Groh's assessment, though. Oh, I think you can pretty much rule out the defense, and the quarterback, and the offensive line mostly, and the running backs mostly. I'd like to have a more thorough analysis, but 52 points does the work for me as far as the defense is concerned. But a couple players did well. Jimmy Howell's punting work was good. Only one bad punt, IMO. He's begging to get one blocked and soon, though, unless he gets rid of it quicker.

What I liked, though, was the wide receivers. Cary Koch and Jared Green had games worth mentioning, and each bailed out Lalich on one occasion (more on that in a separate post, so's not to make this one too rambly.) I said we'd need to have someone step up besides just Ogletree to give defenses something to think about, and I think Koch and Green succeeded there. Dontrelle Inman had a nice catch too, which you won't see on the scoresheet because he landed out of bounds. Although, if he had done a better job of getting open, maybe the catch would be on the scoresheet after all.

None of that is the real silver lining, though. The real silver lining is the giant donkey shit half the rest of the ACC took this week as well. Clemson got steamrolled, and coincidentally, open season on Tommy Bowden began at about 11 PM last night. Tech got hoist with their own petard by ECU, though I really think their defense was all set to lose that game even if that punt hadn't been blocked. UNC struggled to beat I-AA McNeese State, though in fairness McNeese is not a bad team, having reeled off 11 straight wins to start last season. Maryland had similar troubles with Delaware. NC State (a team that it is most unfortunate we do not play this year) gave the hell up somewhere in the third quarter and got completely shut out.

So I dunno. I'd like to think that maybe USC is just so good that we can't really judge on that game. But hell, man, are we a BCS-conference team or what? (Though after the ACC's performance this week, some may question that.) I don't think anyone really expected to win. I also don't think anyone expected to lose by 45. I hate it when everyone says we're gonna be a bad team and then they turn out right. Hopefully the team hasn't forgotten their bounce-back lessons from last year.

Friday, August 29, 2008

game preview: USC


History against the Trojans: 0-0

Last matchup: Never

Team records: UVA 0-0 (0-0), USC 0-0 (0-0)
Last week: N/A

Line: USC by 19.5

USC season preview here.

Injury list (as printed at the Good Ol’ Blog)

LB John Bivens
DE Sean Gottschalk
WR Staton Jobe

CB Ras-I Dowling
WR Matt Snyder

WR Maurice Covington
OG Austin Pasztor
TE Joe Torchia

OT Landon Bradley
DE Kevin Crawford
WR Dontrelle Inman
QB Peter Lalich
CB Chase Minnifield
RB Hall Simmons
S Brandon Woods

Been waiting for this one for a while, oh yes. Ever since the USC home-and-home series was announced and the schedule set, August 30 was circled on the calendars of many a Wahoo fan. Al Groh, never one to hand out a lot of information when a just a little would do (and none at all would do even better) has managed to increase the anticipation in probably the only way possible: by not naming a starting quarterback. The competition has been three ways, between Peter Lalich, Scott Deke, and Marc Verica. Verica is the one who people don’t place good odds on, which is as good a reason as any to think he’ll get the start after all.

One thing that’s fun about being both a UVA fan and a Michigan fan is you get to see both sides of the equation. At Michigan, you pretty much expect to win every game, and you rarely, if ever, are pleased with putting up a good fight. At UVA, we sometimes see the flip side of that coin, and this is one of those games. The expectation is that we’ll lose and lose badly. We are the hanging slider, and they are the bat. But there’s almost always an upset to start the season. Why not us?


- USC has bigger fish to fry. After they fly out of Charlottesville, they are going to be getting ready for the biggest non-conference game in the country this year, when Ohio State comes to visit them. Nobody ever says they are overlooking their next opponent, but don’t kid yourself that a part of their minds aren’t already on how to beat one of the only teams in the land considered their equal.

- On the field, the answer is exactly the same as, “What can we do so as not to have a coach-firing record of 3-9?” Good offensive line play. Wide receiver other than Ogletree emerges as a threat. Defense keeps the scores low and the team in the game. It would also be really, really nice if whoever plays quarterback does well enough that Groh won't feel compelled to turn the position into a merry-go-round, because he's been shown to have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to his quarterbacks. Multiply those by a factor of 10 and you have your answer to beating USC. If their defense has a weakness it’s best stated as “hey, that guy lining up on the weak side isn’t quite as much of a holy terror as the rest of them so let’s take our chances over there.”

- The defense has to be perfect, and probably score at least once. USC’s offense is the beatable half of their game, though to be honest the questions are much more along the lines of wondering if it’s good enough for the BCS title game, not the Arizona game. But like us, they have a new quarterback, and as a small bonus, he missed a big chunk of fall practice. The receivers are moderately suspect, but again, can they perform against Washington State? is not what keeps their coaches up at night.

- Finally, USC has to either have a bad day or be not as good as advertised. Let’s face it – our A game is not good enough to beat theirs, nor probably even their B-minus game. USC has to play significantly worse than they should. See first bullet.


- Things transpire as they should.


Think defense. It’s the strength of both teams. Many predictions have us failing to score even a single touchdown, with scores like 23-6 and 28-3 being the order of the day. May not be too far off. Our defense, especially at linebacker, is good enough to give Pete Carroll’s boys some fits. If Ras-I Dowling can play, so much the better, because the Trojans have some big receivers and Ras the Destroyer has five inches on Hall. What UVA fans should focus on is the defense, because USC’s defense is pretty good and it won’t tell us much other than “USC’s defense is pretty good” if we can’t score. But if USC’s offense can be held to a reasonably low score, it will bode very well for our ACC schedule.


“They’re not better than our defense. We’ve got the best defense I’m ever going to play against. … Their defense is nothing compared to ours.” – USC RB C.J. Gable, who I knew had hurt his hip and ankle but didn’t realize his brain-to-mouth filter was sprained.



A lot of teams already played on Thursday. Most of them dutifully trounced their cotton candy openers, but NC State opened by crapping the bed against an SEC opponent.

Wake Forest 41, Baylor 13 (Th.)
Miami 52, Charleston Southern 7 (Th.)
Georgia Tech 41, Jacksonville State 14 (Th.)
South Carolina 34, North Carolina State 0 (Th.)
Virginia Tech @ East Carolina, 12:00 PM
Delaware @ Maryland, 3:45 PM
McNeese State @ North Carolina, 6:00 PM
James Madison @ Duke, 7:00 PM
Boston College @ Kent State, 7:30 PM
Alabama @ Clemson, 8:00 PM
Florida State off
**Apologies for the lateness. I'd intended to have this up much sooner, but this post was written under the influence of very strong drugs (apparently Tylenol has found a way to cram four different medicines into one not-that-big pill) which are working wonders to fight off this scourge of a cold I came down with just last night. This post has been brought to you by Johnson & Johnson. Recruiting board update will come on Monday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

season preview: defense

I really feel like watching at least some of that South Carolina-NC State game (that's right, I'm actually depriving myself of real, actual football so that I can get this stuff posted, just for you.) So it will be a toss-up as to whether the USC game preview goes up tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon. Leaning toward afternoon so these season previews, which I really did spend some time on, don't get shoved to the bottom, unread and unloved. In that vein, by the way, here is the link to the offense preview.


Let’s squash any misplaced over-optimism right now, once and for all: At absolutely no point during this year will the defensive line be better than it was last year. Chris Long was a destroyer of offenses. The line could have been made up of Chris Long and two cotton candy statues and I would have called it a 5 out of 5. Jeffrey Fitzgerald was not a cotton candy statue, and he is also gone. When the defense trots out against USC, the three biggest guys in blue will all be different players than last year.

And freshmen abound. At either the first or second spot on the depth chart, there is a redshirt freshman at each position. Notably, there is Matt Conrath (#94) slated to start at one of the ends. This was going to be Sean Gottschalk’s (#99) spot, but he has not been consistently practicing due to an “undisclosed health issue.” He may be Wally Pipp’d right out of a starting job, because Conrath has been lighting up the newspaper articles and message boards with his play this fall. Long himself had terrific things to say about Conrath, and that was without even seeing him in a game. There’s a great deal more experience with the rest of the starters; Alex Field (#93) on the other end and Nate Collins (#98) in the middle were the top reserves and played in every game last year. Collins is an exceptional athlete overall; the guy actually played some quarterback in high school and acquitted himself well for a 270 pounder. (He’s bigger now.) But Groh likes redshirt freshman Nick Jenkins (#96), too, and we could see a lot of Jenkins this year. Last year Collins rotated with Allen Billyk and got about 35-40% of the snaps, and a similar rotation may be in the cards, with Collins taking over Billyk’s role.

So there’s really plenty of reason to believe that this line will perform quite well. Chris Long was one of those rare players who could change a game by himself from the trenches, and none of these guys are that level. But they’re good players in their own right. Counterintuitively, the 3-4 system demands better line play than the 4-3; because there are fewer of them, it’s harder to cover up poor play. A weak defensive tackle can be helped out by the stronger one in a 4-3, but if the 3-4 nose tackle is no good, the linebackers can’t help until the play is already four yards downfield. That’s why Groh rotates nose tackles more frequently than the ends. Yes, the starting ends were dominant last year, but they’re not this year, and Groh’s still looking for that near-even split of playing time at tackle. Fortunately, this looks like a group that can handle itself.

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Always the stars of an Al Groh defense. Like the tight ends, just fire up the conveyor belt and bring on the next great Wahoo linebacker. This year, it’s Clint Sintim (#51), who is the defensive half of our preseason all-ACC selections. His side of the field will be damn near impossible for teams to run on, because next to him is Jon Copper (#54). Oh, and then there’s Copper’s fellow inside ‘backer, Antonio Appleby (#58). These three have started every game together since the beginning of the 2006 season. By their powers combined they are awesome – the best linebacking corps in the ACC, and that’s only three of four. The other outside spot will be manned by either Denzel Burrell (#45) or Aaron Clark (#41). Probably both, actually. Burrell is a junior and Clark is a senior, and both have similar waited-for-their-turn stories because in front of them was Jermaine Dias, who was a three-year starter at that spot.

Expect there to be rotation at all linebacker spots, because otherwise the conveyor belt will come to a screeching halt. If you call Clark the starter, then all four starters are seniors, and suddenly Denzel Burrell will find himself the graybeard of the bunch. There’s only one other junior linebacker, which is Darren Childs (#49), who’s got all of five plays under his belt. Jared Detrick (#55) and John-Kevin Dolce (#59) are the other backups, and only Detrick has anything you could call experience – he got into 11 games last year as a true freshman. These guys will rotate into the game so Groh can get a look for next year.

Rating: 4 out of 5. The only Butkus Watchlist guy is Sintim, but Copper is the leading tackler.


Another position of strength, especially at corner. Vic Hall (#4) and Ras-I Dowling (#19) make up one of the better tandems in the conference. This is mainly due to potential more than past performance because unlike linebacker, there are no seniors in the two-deep at corner. Hall is one of the team’s best athletes. Dowling was a true freshman last year and had the kind of season where the coaches almost feel forced to put him in more and more. He earned last year’s Bill Dudley Award as UVA’s best first-year player, and scraped up a couple all-freshman honors in the conference and the nation, too. Dowling’s got a bit of a leg injury, which could put Dom Joseph (#23) on the field some against USC, but he’s still listed at the top of the depth chart. (By contrast, Gottschalk doesn’t appear.)

At safety, there’s Byron Glaspy (#22) and then questions. Glaspy has two years of starting experience under his belt, which is nice. Brandon Woods (#17) has two years of special teams coverage play under his belt, which is cause for a few questions. But he and Glaspy are the only two upperclassmen playing safety. This isn’t really as huge a deal as I’m melodramatically making it sound, because he’ll be helped immensely by playing next to a guy as experienced as Glaspy, and it’s not as easy for an offense to exploit a weakness at safety (if Woods turns out to be one.)

The depth here is pretty young. Besides Joseph, there’s Chase Minnifield (#31). Minnifield has the Pro Bowl bloodlines; his father, Frank, was a long-time cornerback for the Cleveland Browns. Both those two are redshirt freshmen; the rest of the secondary depth chart are sophomores. Experience is thin after the starting four, and even the starting four aren’t as experienced as you’d like.

Rating: 3 out of 5, but the potential exists for a boost, if Dowling and Hall maximize their athletic ability and stay healthy.


It’s Jimmy Howell (#8). He’s the only guy on scholarship. Um, John Thornton (#4) lives on the Lawn, so, awesome for him. But he won’t be doing any actual punting.


DE Matt Conrath
NT Nick Jenkins
CB Dom Joseph
CB Chase Minnifield


Defense had better be the strength of this team, because it’s sure not likely to be the offense. The offense has pieces to the puzzle, but just as many question marks. On defense there are only two new starters once you get past the line, and that line itself isn’t bad either. The offense is poorly equipped to make any dramatic comebacks that require scoring more than once, so the defense cannot let the team get into any holes. They should be very strong against the run, and even a little bit of a pass rush would give the corners all they need to keep opponents’ passing games in check. Last year, most games were pretty low scoring – this defense even frustrated the flashy Texas Tech offense – and that looks to continue this year.

end of the line for Lars

Lars Mikalauskas' last-ditch effort to remain a Virginia Cavalier basketball player is over - his academic appeal was denied. Here's hoping he will at least be able to finish his degree when the academic suspension is lifted, and if he can carve himself out a career playing ball in Europe, so much the better as well.

I dunno if you're interested in this sort of thing, but they may be worth a peek: the enemy's take. The LA Times and the OC Register give a token look at some East Coast team their Trojans are sort of expected to have a scrimmage against before their West-Coast-superiority-proving game against OSU. Here you can read about our entire offseason in five paragraphs, with sprinkled-in references to the notion that USC is so awesome.

The Blogpoll Roundtable roundup is up at Hey Jenny Slater. The roundup roundup:

- Lots of folks think Kansas is headed for a crash-and-burn.
- Lots of folks also want Usain Bolt on their team. (I still say the moment you try to send him into the line, even a below-average defensive lineman would snap him in two. "Wicked fast" and "durability of a rhinoceros" rarely show up in the same scouting report, though I grant you that an actual rhinoceros probably would have both of these qualities. Rhinoceri are ineligible, however.)
- No agreement on who is going to come out of nowhere and surprise everyone. Good thing, too, because if there had been a consensus, it would sort of have defeated the question.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

season preview: offense

As promised. The first of two. Tomorrow, we'll "tackle" (HAHA) the defense.


OK, we all know the drill. And we don’t know who’ll win the three-way derby between Peter Lalich (#7), Scott Deke (#15), and Marc Verica (#6). Some are excited about the possibility of Riko Smalls (#3) seeing some time, but if that ever happens in any capacity other than to throw the defense off their rhythm, and very, very occasionally, we are frankly dead meat. Verica is said to have the strongest arm; Deke is the fifth-year senior who has already graduated; Lalich is the golden recruit. Here’s the deal, though. If you buy that recruiting rankings are a good judge of raw talent, then Lalich has far and away the most, and if so then it’s a disconcerting sign that he didn’t blow away the coaches and seize the job in spring practice. Deke is a career clipboard stand who has never had even a sniff at the job until this, his fifth and final year in the program; that does not say “big-time talent.” He is in the hunt because he’s the most experienced and theoretically the most familiar with the offense, but as he’s never been in the hunt before, expectations would not be high if the job is his.

The prevailing opinion, both here and elsewhere, is that Lalich will be the starter when USC kicks off. He has too much talent not to be. The contrarian opinion floating aroud is that, Lalich being the only quarterback that Pete Carroll has any tape on, Groh will pull an ol’ switcheroo and put Deke in there, then eventually replace him with Lalich. My feeling is that it doesn’t matter what tape Carroll has, both of them are going to take their three and five step drops and not scoot around, and until they actually let go of the ball you could switch the numbers and nobody would notice, at least not as far as a defensive coordinator is concerned with trying to put together a plan of attack. Whether Deke plays or not, his presence can hopefully have a positive impact on Lalich; without him, there would be no quarterback more senior than Verica on the roster.

Bottom line, then. Lalich did not have a stellar year in 2007. Freshman quarterbacks rarely blow you away with their play, and Lalich had his good times and his struggles like you’d expect from any freshman. But the struggles seem to have continued through spring and fall practice, because he hasn’t separated himself from a guy who has never been higher than third on the depth chart. Like 2006, there will be growing pains at this position.

Rating: 2 out of 5, and only Lalich would have the ability to make this go any higher, which is why he’s the one who I think will start.


You know the drill up and down here, too. Cedric Peerman (#37) and Mikell Simpson (#5) make one of the best tandems in the conference. By their powers combined they rushed for over 1,000 yards last year, with Peerman taking the first half of the season and Simpson taking over in the Maryland game after Peerman’s injury the week prior. It’s unlikely that Simpson can be counted on for 25-30 carries a game, but he is faster, more explosive, and a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. Peerman runs mostly straight ahead and through people instead of around them. The running game is going to be fun to watch.

Just behind the terrible two is Raynard Horne (#44), who we should expect to see as the first option off the bench, though probably not a lot. Groh was asked earlier this summer if the rotation would include a third tailback; his answer, though not in so few words, was “not bloody likely.”

What of Keith Payne (#32), he of so much (probably a bit overstated) potential? Payne is listed on the depth chart as a fullback – the second fullback. Rashawn Jackson (#31) is the guy we can expect to see leading the way for the tailbacks. Rather surprisingly, Jackson was given 14 carries in the Gator Bowl and did pretty good, but don’t expect that to carry over to this season. Groh knows where his gravy train is, and there aren’t going to be a lot of carries to go around after Peerman and Simpson get theirs.

Rating: 4 out of 5. Peerman and Simpson aren’t quite Knowshon Moreno good, but they’re right there with the best in the conference.


‘Tree...whee!(?) Is he going to save the passing game by himself now that he‘s back from a pretty bad knee injury? Unlikely. The fly pattern is not on the front page of Al Groh’s playbook, and the last time a wide receiver played more than a supporting role in the offense, Matt Schaub was throwing to Billy McMullen. But Kevin Ogletree (#20) is also the best chance we’ve had at seeing a big-play receiver since the aforementioned #11. Wide receiver play, and not just that of Ogletree, will go a long way toward making this offense bigger and better than one dimension. Ogletree will need help, and in your humble blogger’s opinion he is most likely to get it from either Dontrelle Inman (#81) or Cary Koch (#26).

Inman came in well-rated by the recruiting services and had a decent campaign for a freshman wide receiver in an offense which de-emphasized the position. Inman should be a good one to watch in the future. Koch transferred in from Tulane after Hurricane Katrina wiped out his major, and immediately found himself derailed with various annoying injuries. Koch’s freshman year was actually pretty good, with 23 catches for 308 yards, and his lack of notable production since then can be chalked up to a hamstring and an MCL. With health comes the chance to be a real sleeper in the ACC.

Koch and Inman, though, are actually listed second on the two-deep behind Ogletree and Maurice Covington (#80) respectively. Covington is a senior and we probably will not see very much from him that we haven’t already. He’ll be steady, and the numbers should rise from last year since he missed four games with a broken hand, but if there’s going to be a real breakthrough in the receiving corps, it likely will be from a lesser-known quantity. We’ve seen what Covington can do, and he’s not a game-breaker.

This is not to forget about Staton Jobe (#22). Jobe walked on to the team last year and walked his way right on to the field. He caught 17 passes last year and is definitely part of the rotation, if not exactly the two-deep. Kris Burd (#18) is another to watch for. Burd impressed the coaches in the offseason and we should expect to see them find a way to get him on the field this year. In a three-receiver set, Burd would be second on the depth chart behind Koch, in the slot.

What’s going to have to happen for the wide receivers to make a real impression on the offense is that someone will have to show they can consistently get open. Ogletree alone will make this offense more receiver-oriented than last year; 2007 was an anomaly even for Groh. He has the skills to beat single coverage, which means he’ll probably be seeing consistent doubles probably as soon as Game Number One. When that happens, someone - anyone, anyone at all - will need to show they can get open on the other side and keep the defenses honest. If they do it will make the offense exponentially better.

Rating: 2 out of 5, but with enough potential and depth to go as high as 4 by season’s end if all works out just right.


The moneymaker. My first year as a UVA fan was 2000, when Billy Baber was catching passes from Dan Ellis. Since then the only years in which a UVA tight end was not drafted into the NFL were the years when none of them were seniors. The player du jour at the position this year is John Phillips (#85), who caught 17 balls in 2007. Many offenses don’t even use their first tight end that much let alone their third. Little needs to be said - he proved dependable last year and will, as usual, be a big part of the offense this year. Behind him on the depth chart is Joe Torchia (#83). Torchia saw the field in goal-line situations last year when Groh felt like three or four tight ends would make a good blocking formation. No reason to believe that Torchia won’t simply ride the TE conveyor belt and make himself more than useful in the offense this year. Andrew Devlin (#87) will likely jump into Torchia’s old role.

Rating: 4 out of 5. The default setting for Al Groh tight ends. I’m convinced he could find a way to make Muggsy Bogues a good player at this position.


This is the lineup that will take the field against USC: Eugene Monroe (#75) and Will Barker (#61) are the tackles. This is the part of the line that’s in great shape, as long as Barker doesn’t take any more late-late-late night trips to the cooler at certain downtown bars. Both have loads of starting experience, and Monroe was Rivals’ #3 overall recruit in 2005 and is getting that kind of hype again as he enters his senior year. At guard we have Zak Stair (#76) on the left side and B.J. Cabbell (#65) on the right, and Jack Shields (#64) is the starting center. So what we have is progressively less and less experience as you move inward; Stair and Cabbell have seen the field mostly as part of the kick protection team, and Shields has played in exactly one game his whole career.

The backups are mostly freshman, so, ouch. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. The only one who isn’t is the backup RG, Isaac Cain (#78) and he’s got just as much experience as Shields does. Stuck back there somewhere is junior Patrick Slebonick, who has just as much experience as Shields and Cain. (See a trend here? The “one game” here is Pittsburgh for all three. You got it – scrub time in a blowout.) Slebonick, though, doesn’t appear in the two-deep thanks to true freshman Austin Pasztor (#63) who’s going to see his share of the field this year. Pasztor is listed as the backup to Zak Stair.

Rating: 3 out of 5. I’m actually pretty bullish on this group. The tackles are very good. The rest of the line is woefully inexperienced, but I think Dave Borbely has that covered. Branden Albert went from a middling three-star recruit to a top-ten pick in the NFL draft under Borbely’s tutelage. His awesomely massive mustache alone is worth some confidence points, and I think he’ll have this group ready to go.


Yannick Reyering (#10) will be the kicker for at least the first game this year, having won the camp competition. Yannick Reyering is a former UVA soccer player; Yannick Reyering walked on to the football team after his soccer eligibility expired and now Yannick Reyering is the starter. If Groh had said, screw it, whoever has the coolest name gets to be the kicker, Yannick Reyering would still have won, hands down. But his backup would have been Zach Mendez-Zfass.

Rating: 2 out of 5. The guy is used to aiming for a much much bigger target with only one guy trying to block. He's done nicely in practice, especially for a German dude who not that long ago knew as much about football American-style as you do about Sepak Takraw. But games are another thing entirely. Keeping fingers crossed.


G Austin Pasztor (true)
WR Kris Burd (redshirt)
TE Andrew Devlin (redshirt)


Forget quarterback. Lalich will probably get most of the starts and most of the snaps this year. And you can probably peg how good he’ll be – simply expect a natural progression from last year’s ups and downs, and don’t bet on a sudden out-of-nowhere banner season. The offense is going to hinge on two things: the interior linemen, and every wide receiver except for Kevin Ogletree. If Stair, Shields, and Cabbell are at least adequate, the running game will go places. Places like the end zone. The receivers need to take pressure off of Ogletree. He’s gonna get double-teamed all the damn time until somebody makes the defense pay for doing so. Phillips doesn’t count, he’s a tight end and therefore will be busy showing someone else’s defensive coordinator that linebackers can’t be trusted in pass coverage. It’s the safeties that have to stay off of Ogletree if he’s going to be any kind of a big-play threat at all, and they’re just going to blanket him if they know that whoever else is across from him can’t shake the single cornerback coverage.

basketball schedule released

Day late, maybe even a dollar short, but it's like I said: news postings just weren't in the cards for the past three days. That said, I'm safely ensconced back home, and here for you is the '08-'09 basketball schedule.

11/16: VMI
11/19: South Florida
11/21: Radford
11/25: Liberty
11/28: @Syracuse
12/2: @Minnesota
12/17: Longwood
12/20: Auburn
12/23: Hampton
12/28: @Georgia Tech
1/3: Xavier
1/6: Brown
1/10: @Virginia Tech
1/15: North Carolina
1/20: @Maryland
1/24: Florida State
2/1: @Duke
2/4: Boston College
2/7: @North Carolina
2/10: @Florida State
2/15: Clemson
2/18: Virginia Tech
2/21: @North Carolina State
2/26: Miami
2/28: Wake Forest
3/3: @Clemson
3/7: Maryland

More detailed look coming eventually. First impression: moderately favorable.

- The only really really good team we get twice is UNC. We also get a double dose of Maryland, VT (as per usual, these two), Clemson, and FSU, in which list the teams are more beatable than not.
- Kudos to Littlepage for again scheduling some recognizable teams on the nonconference slate, even though Xavier is going to squash us. Auburn, who you may recognize from the sport of football, is a terrible team and a good chance to get a win over an SEC team without actually beating a good one. Cuse is their usual pretty good self, which will probably also be good enough to smoke us, especially since the game is in the Carrier Warehouse. (Side rant - Syracuse was a school I was considering applying to and that awful building is a big reason why I did not. College football in a dome? Wrong, so wrong.)
- As usual we got hosed in the Challenge. After we have good years we always get some loser team that causes nobody to care about the matchup; after bad years we are the bone that gets thrown to the Big Ten so they can scrounge a win somehow. Minny is a good team and getting better.
- Our five-hundred year contract with Longwood continues. Personally I'm just glad to see that game pushed back into the non-conference part of the season with the rest of the tomato cans.
- Bit heavier on the instate teams than usual. Five are on the nonconference schedule, which doesn't include Tech.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

preseason Blogpoll

A little tiny bit late posting this because it's now about a week old, but that's OK, I can just pick off the mold on this corner here and it'll be just like fresh. Also the season hasn't started yet, so it's still perfectly relevant. This, then, is the preseason Blogpoll, the aggregate result of football bloggers the nation over ranking the teams. Just like writers, only smarter, and just like coaches only without a GA filling in our ballot for us.

Brian at MGoBlog does all kinds of mathsmithing with the numbers and it's good readin'. You can find out here all about the gory details of who voted what and who's a lunatic and who's got their goggles on and an empty pitcher of Kool-Aid next to them. The actual Poll itself is below. Remember: that's not me, that's only 1/78th me. My picks are found here.

1. Georgia (24)
2. Ohio State (17)
3. USC (15)
4. Oklahoma (6)
5. Florida (14)
6. Missouri
7. LSU (2)
8. Clemson
9. West Virginia
10. Auburn
11. Texas
12. Texas Tech
13. Wisconsin
14. Virginia Tech
15. Kansas
16. Arizona State
17. Tennessee
18. Oregon
19. South Florida
20. Brigham Young
21. Penn State
22. Illinois
23. Wake Forest
24. Alabama
25. Utah

season preview: East Carolina

Finally - the season previews are done, and I can focus on the team that I actually am supposed to be writing about. So here's the drill. I am in NoVa on business and will be here for another, oh, 22 hours or so. This is your big post for the day. Tomorrow, while I'm trying to waste three or so hours at the airport between the end of my Big Important Conference and my plane leaving, I'll try and write as much of the offense and defense previews as I can. This will likely be done without Internet access, so you'll see no actual product until late Wednesday evening when I get back. Offense will post then, defense will post on Thursday, and Friday morning, up goes the USC game preview. So now you know. And after this, you'll know about East Carolina, too.


8/30: Virginia Tech
9/6: West Virginia
9/13: @Tulane
9/20: @North Carolina State
9/27: Houston
10/11: @Virginia
10/18: Memphis
11/2: @Central Florida (Sun.)
11/8: Marshall
11/15: @Southern Mississippi
11/22: @UAB
11/28: UTEP (Fr.)

Projected starters:

QB: Patrick Pinkney (5Sr.)
RB: Brandon Simmons (5Sr.)
FB: Kevin Gidrey (rSo.)
WR: Jamar Bryant (Jr.)
WR: Dwayne Harris (rSo.)
TE: Davon Drew (5Sr.)
LT: Stanley Bryant (Sr.)
LG: Cory Dowless (rSo.)
C: Sean Allen (Jr.)
RG: Doug Palmer (Jr.)
RT: D.J. Scott (rSo.)

LDE: Zack Slate (5Sr.)
DT: Jay Ross (Jr.)
NG: Khalif Mitchell (Sr.)
RDE: C.J. Wilson (rJr.)
SLB: Quentin Cotton (Sr.)
MLB: Pierre Bell (5Sr.)
WLB: Jeremy Chambliss (rJr.)
CB: Jerek Hewitt (Sr.)
SS: J.J. Milbrook (5Sr.)
FS: Van Eskridge (rJr.)
CB: Dekota Marshall (rSo.)

K: Ben Ryan (Fr.)
P: Matt Dodge (Jr.)

Coach: Skip Holtz (4th season)

(Italics indicate new starter.)

Skip Holtz is considered something of a mini-savior at ECU, which is a little bit of a misnomer. ECU historically has never been a true doormat in the Duke sense, and the Steve Logan years of the ‘90s were pretty good, especially for a “mid-major” program that hadn’t been I-A for all that long. John Thompson came in for two years and was a complete disaster, and was quickly replaced by Holtz, who has brought the team back to more or less its historical levels of competency.


Patrick Pinkney and Rob Kass split time almost down the middle at quarterback last year so that really neither could be called the actual starter. Pinkney’s numbers were generally slightly better than Kass’, and Pinkney is a capable runner besides, so when the coaching staff decided they wanted to settle on one for 2008, Pinkney got the nod. Besides being a slightly better thrower, Pinkney was also ECU’s second leading rusher in 2007.

The leading rusher, however, is gone. Chris Johnson will have to be replaced; Johnson was the Pirates’ running game in 2007, racking up 17 touchdowns and over 1,400 yards and earning his way to the first round of the NFL draft. The hope was that Dominique Lindsay would fill the void, but he was lost to a knee injury in fall practice, leaving Brandon Simmons large and in charge in the backfield. ECU may find they can use Simmons (who weighs in at 223 pounds) and Jonathan Williams as an effective big-and-small combo.

At receiver, Jamar Bryant returns having led the team in all receiving categories last year. Opposite him is Dwayne Harris, who the coaches use in multiple ways. Harris is also the team’s punt returner, and carried the ball 20 times last year as well, averaging nearly 10 yards per rush.

I had the hardest time coming up with a cute and pithy way to describe the offensive line. It’s weird. Experienced, but a little weird. I suppose you could say it’s got some versatility. The only senior, Stanley Bryant, is a D-II transfer that found himself in the starting lineup six games into last season. Cory Dowless was a starter as a true freshman in 2006 and earned unanimous selection to the freshman all-conference team….then redshirted 2007. Sean Allen moved over from guard to make room for Dowless. Doug Palmer did a stint on the defensive line before moving back to the offense. About the only guy without a story is D.J. Scott, who was a starter last year as a redshirt freshman, which is still kind of a story. All this means that the cohesion may not be there yet, but the talent and experience is, even though there isn’t a single lineman with more than a year of starting experience. They may be struggling a bit early on but they likely won’t by the second half of the season.


This is where we get to make the joke about whether it’s a good thing if you return all your starters from a bad defense. C-USA is a little bit offense-heavy, which is the nice way of saying it’s defense-poor; ECU’s 83rd-rank in the nation in scoring defense was good enough for 4th in the conference. Interestingly enough they did very well against Virginia Tech: three turnovers, many many sacks, and only 33 yards for Tech on the ground, leading to a close 17-7 loss. Then they opened up the city gates and only three teams the rest of the year were held below 28 points.

You could say that they’re more experienced this year, which is the usual indignant response to the above overused joke. In the front seven there is only one player with less experience than redshirt-junior level (DT Jay Ross), and all of them except one started at least half of 2007’s games (LB Jeremy Chambliss, who started four.)

Talent is not completely lacking. Zack Slate and C.J. Wilson both earned second-team all-conference honors, so the defensive line will be solid on the ends. Safety Van Eskridge joins them on the second team. Eskridge was the team’s leading tackler in 2007.

So the extra experience - really only three players without extensive starting experience - will help. But this is still a team prone to royal clunkers like giving up almost 600 yards to 4-8 UTEP. Of course, the VT game shows they’re also capable of good things. Which defense shows up more in 2008 - the VT-game defense or the UTEP-game defense - will have a lot to say about the direction of the season.


Ben Hartman has missed fall practice with a “leg injury”, and legs being rather important to a kicker, his job is being taken over by a freshman, Ben Ryan. This may actually be an improvement; Hartman was woefully inconsistent last year, hitting just 13 of 22 attempts. He made his only attempt over 50 yards but also honked two inside 30 yards. Matt Dodge is a solid punter and the backup placekicker as well, with Hartman out.


ECU is hailed as an up-and-coming team with thoughts of contending for the C-USA championship. That will depend on the defense. They won’t be able to replace Chris Johnson, but the offense otherwise has its playmakers back and a line that should be able to clear the way for them. If the defense can improve, the Pirates indeed could find themselves playing for the conference championship. If it can’t? Well, ECU’s offense is good enough, and C-USA is weak enough, that they will still go bowling anyway. But it’ll be to the Please Sponsor Us Bowl, which is any one of the myriad crappy bowls that is too lazy to even come up with an interesting name and uses the name of the city or state instead. Kind of like how the softball team plays at The Park, which will remain so named until someone ponies up some money to buy them some better stands.

Monday, August 25, 2008

this would have been a good thing to mention earlier

Better late than never though. This week is Business Trip week for me. Excuses excuses, I know. Gotta make the money somehow. Notice the lack of ads on this site. I am actually on travel to Virginia, though not to Charlottesville (oh how I wish it were so.) So actual news postings will be effectively turned off until like Wednesday night if we're lucky, or more likely, Thursday. I'm diligently working on a couple projects while I'm here: ECU season preview, and also our own offense and defense, which will be split up into two separate posts. Also, the USC game preview, and hopefully that will go up Thursday night or Friday morning.

I'd also like to try and keep track of our current '09 commitments and their senior seasons, as this football season progresses. To do that I'll have to track down as many local newspaper sites as I can. If I find all those all on my own it will be a spectacular feat, but if I were that interested in spectacular feats I'd climb K2. I'd rather blog real good. With that in mind, a call to arms: if you are located in or near a town that has one of our esteemed recruits playing locally on Friday nights, or if you just happen to know of the newspaper website I ought to be looking at, do say so. It'd be most helpful.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

season preview: Richmond

Unlike the Connecticut preview, I didn't have anything like an updated depth chart to work with; this is cobbled together from the team preview on the CAA website and a very dangerous source: last year's depth chart. In the interest of sanity I did not spend several days trying to dig up tidbits on spring and fall practices, so the upshot of this is that folks who are somewhat more familiar than I with the Richmond program will probably find cause to point out errors. Bear with me just a little bit then if it seems I got a starter or four incorrect, or missed a season-ending injury or something. The lesson to take away here is really that just because Richmond is a I-AA program doesn't mean that they'll automatically be the easiest game on the schedule. With that in mind, happy reading. It is the second-to-last season preview of somebody else.

8/30: @Elon
9/6: @Virginia
9/13: Towson
9/20: Maine
9/27: @Villanova
10/4: @VMI
10/11: James Madison
10/18: @Massachusetts
10/25: Georgetown
11/8: @Hofstra
11/15: Delaware
11/22: @William & Mary

Projected starters:

QB: Eric Ward (rJr.)
RB: Josh Vaughn (Sr.)
FB: John Crone (5Sr.)
WR: Kevin Grayson (rSo.)
WR: Jordan Mitchell (rJr.)
TE: Joe Stewart (5Sr.)
LT: Tim Silver (6Sr.)
LG: Matthew McCracken (rJr.)
C: Chris Kondorossy (rJr.)
RG: Evan Lehner (5Sr.)
RT: Michael Silva (rJr.)

LDE: Lawrence Sidbury (rJr.)
NG: Parker Miles (rJr.)
DT: Martin Parker (rSo.)
RDE: Sherman Logan (6Sr.)
LOLB: Jordan Shoop (rSo.)
MLB: Collin McConaghy (rJr.)
ROLB: Eric McBride (rSo.)
LCB: David Horton (rJr.)
FS: Brooks York (5Sr.)
SS: Michael Ireland (rJr.)
RCB: Seth Williams (rJr.)

K: Andrew Howard (Jr.)
P: Brian Radford (rJr.)

Coach: Mike London (1st year)

(Italics indicate new starter.)

Mike London joined up with the Spiders at just the right time. Richmond won the inaugural Colonial Athletic Association championship and made it to the semifinals of the I-AA playoffs before being eliminated by eventual champ Appalachian State. (“Inaugural” being something of a misnomer. The CAA decided to start a football conference and pillaged basically the entire Atlantic 10, so Richmond’s championship was won against pretty much the same competition.) Not only do the Spiders return most of their starters, but most of them are juniors and sophomores, so Richmond has bright days ahead, too.


The one gaping hole in an otherwise intact offense is at running back, where Tim Hightower departed after carrying for almost 2,000 yards in 2007, good for second by 21 yards. The only back with more yards needed over 70 more carries to do it. Josh Vaughn steps into that hole, and Vaughn actually averaged more yards per carry than Hightower – nearly 7 each time he had the ball – and finished with 737 yards of his own. The Richmond running attack is bolstered by the ball-carrying abilities of their all-conference quarterback, Eric Ward. Ward is dangerous as both a runner and a passer, and he gets his top target back in Kevin Grayson, who was just a freshman in 2007 but led the team by a longshot in all receiving categories.

The offensive line is big, experienced, and big. None of the starters are listed at anything under 290 pounds, and the tackles are at least 300 each. Tim Silver returns for a sixth year after knee injuries derailed two straight seasons that followed a selection as third-team all-conference, and if he is not the starter at left tackle then it will likely be Jared Decker, another 300-pounder. The line’s anchor is LG Matthew McCracken, who was a second-team all-conference selection in 2007.


When your offense averages almost 35 points a game, they usually get most of the attention. But Richmond’s defense is worth a look. They held 7 of 14 opponents to 16 points or less, and I-AA opponents were held to an average of less than 20 until App State ran up a double-nickel in the semis. (Vanderbilt racked up 41, not counted in that average.) The top player on the defense is also one of the youngest. Redshirt sophomore Eric McBride earned CAA Rookie of the Year honors while playing outside linebacker, and led the team in tackles with 126. Next to him is middle linebacker Collin McConaghy, the team’s 2007 sack leader with 7.5 and second on the team with 121 tackles. Whether the third linebacker is Jordan Shoop (who started the first three games last year and then got hurt) or Tyler Sullivan (who filled in) the Spiders’ linebacking corps is the cream of the CAA.

The only major hole to plug in the defense is in the secondary. The corners are capably manned by returning starters Seth Williams and David Horton, but Richmond lost both starting safeties, who were third and fourth on the team in tackles. Michael Ireland was the third safety last year and now steps up into a starting role, but his likely counterpart Brooks York has seen very limited time despite being a fifth-year senior.


Kicker Andrew Howard and punter Brian Radford both return for their junior seasons. Howard was perfect on 58 PATs in 2007 but shaky on field goal attempts, hitting just 15 of 22 and missing from as short as 34 yards. The real special teams weapons is KR Justin Rogers, who scored two touchdowns returning kicks, averaged over 30 yards per return, and garnered various and sundry All-American honors. Rogers is just a sophomore, so he will be terrorizing CAA cover teams for another couple years.


There are a lot of people calling Richmond a good bet to upset the Hoos when they come to town. The Spiders have a powerful offense and with most of the offensive line intact, they shouldn’t be too worried about losing Hightower. Slotted fourth in the preseason I-AA rankings, Richmond should be thinking bigger things than conference championship; a national title is not out of reach. Former UVA defensive guru Mike London will have an idea or two how to make a good defense even better, and Richmond will be a formidable opponent all season long.

Friday, August 22, 2008

recruiting board update

Friday, and time for the recruiting board to get a little spit and shine. Right to it, then:


QB Kevin Newsome, who decommitted from Michigan. Our odds are not great here. The prevailing opinion is that he'll end up at Tech. I remain skeptical, given the limitations Tech has imposed on their class.


- RB Tavon Austin. Our odds are not good here either. Austin will visit Michigan, Georgia, and West Virginia and is talking about Maryland and Nebraska as well; that will likely be his slate of five officials.
- WR Justin Brown. Added BC to the mix.
- WR Sean Farr. Added Eastern Michigan offer.
- WR Timothy Smith. Smith named four favorites, and Boston College wasn't one of them, so they've been removed. Smith's official visit to UVA will be October 4 for the Twerps game.
- S Javanti Sparrow. Listed a top 6. (Via Varsity Blue.)

Nyshier Oliver is a player we have an offer out to, and he recently decommitted from Tennessee, but the odds are mega-slim here so I'm not going to add him unless something really changes later on.

QB Kevin Newsome
- VT, PSU, Mich., UNC, WVU
RB Tavon Austin
- Md., WVU, UGA, Mich., Neb.
RB De'Antwan Williams
- Bama, VT, BC, Md., Rutgers, WVU
RB Antone Exum
- lots, but definitely VT
WR Justin Brown
- PSU, VT, NCSt., S.Car, UNC
WR Sean Farr
- Md., WVU, Akron, EMU
WR Timothy Smith
- L'ville, S.Car, WVU
WR Rex Burkhead
- plenty
TE Logan Thomas
- VT, Clemson, WVU, UNC, Wake, Tenn.
OT Morgan Moses
- pretty much everyone east of the Mississippi
OT Patrick Ward
- about 20 schools
OT Oday Aboushi
- Iowa, Md., Rutgers, PSU, Mich.
DE Brennan Williams
- BC, Mich., Duke, Wake
DE Michael Buchanan
- Purdue, Ill., Cal, Vandy, KU
DE Lanford Collins
- VT, PSU, Tenn., WVU, Md., NCSt., UNC, BC, Ill.
DE Garry Gilliam
- UConn, PSU, Temple, Pitt, Akron
DE Will Hill
- UConn, Md., Mich., UNC, S.Car
DE Anthony LaLota
- BC, UF, Mich., ND, PSU, Rutgers
DE Bernardo Nunez
- lots
DE DeAntre Rhodes
- VT, Md., Clemson, Tenn.
DE Pat Muldoon
- Cincy, BC, Wisc.
OLB Jelani Jenkins
- everyone and their aunt
CB Travis Hawkins
- who isn't interested?
S Javanti Sparrow
- Clemson, UNC, PSU, VT, WVU
S Taylor Sowell
- Miami, VT, WVU, GT
DB Joshua Evans
- 28 other schools. for real.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

season preview: Connecticut

Today was supposed to be Richmond, because that's the order in which we play them. But I lied. Actually, Richmond is a mega-tough team to research, because nobody writes anything about I-AA teams (still not onboard with this FBS/FCS thing by the way) and even the official website is low on info. Fear not: the CAA website is doing their own preview of their own teams in alphabetical order, only today, they're on Rhode Island. Guess where Richmond falls? So Richmond is slightly delayed, and I'm going to poach that site for info. Never fear, we have Connecticut, and you get a preview as promised. Of all the teams I've looked at so far, only UConn has been kind enough to not only post a depth chart, but one that declares "this is the actual for real one we're taking into the first game." So these projections can be considered closer to gospel truth than any of the others so far. Anyway, I give you the Huskies.


8/28: Hofstra (Th.)
9/6: @Temple
9/13: Virginia
9/19: Baylor (Fr.)
9/26: @Louisville (Fr.)
10/4: @North Carolina
10/18: @Rutgers
10/25: Cincinnati
11/1: West Virginia
11/15: @Syracuse
11/23: @South Florida
12/6: Pittsburgh

Projected starters:

QB: Tyler Lorenzen (Sr.)
RB: Donald Brown (rJr.)
FB: Anthony Sherman (So.)
WR: Ellis Gaulden (5Sr.)
WR: Kashif Moore (rFr.)
TE: Steve Brouse (5Sr.)
LT: William Beatty (5Sr.)
LG: Moe Petrus (rFr.)
C: Keith Gray (5Sr.)
RG: Zach Hurd (rSo.)
RT: Mike Hicks (rJr.)

DE: Julius Williams (5Sr.)
DT: Rob Lunn (5Sr.)
DT: Alex Polito (rSo.)
DE: Cody Brown (Sr.)
SLB: Scott Lutrus (rSo.)
MLB: Greg Lloyd (So.)
WLB: Lawrence Wilson (rSo.)
CB: Darius Butler (5Sr.)
FS: Robert Vaughn (Jr.)
SS: Dahna Deleston (5Sr.)
CB: Jasper Howard (So.)

K: Tony Ciaravino (5Sr.)
P: Desi Cullen (Jr.)

Coach: Randy Edsall (10th year)

(Italics indicate new starter.)

Connecticut is a basketball school, so they’re not supposed to be any good at football. Kind of like Kansas. (Wait.) Kind of like Kentucky. (Better.) They didn’t pay any attention to that little truism and decided to go out and win themselves a Big East championship, which they did. A share of one, at least. Now they’re back, and they’re bringing 15 of 22 starters with them, 17 counting the specialists. Exactly zero of them are recognizable names, and the team so surprised even Husky fans that the Daily Campus (UConn’s school newspaper) was prompted to observe that, “West Virginia’s football team made our football team look like our actual football team,” following the blowout loss to the Mountaineers. Still, good things are ahead for the Huskies.


I lied when I said there are no recognizable names on UConn. QB Tyler Lorenzen's name is well known, though he shares no actual genes with the guy who made the name Lorenzen popular (former Kentucky QB Jared.) Lorenzen is a respectable passer; he will not light up the scoreboard with spectacular throws, but he keeps the ball out of the defense’s hands. The real threat he brings is the ability to run the option, which UConn will do roughly between 14-18 times a game. He’ll be aided in the running game by a stable of quality running backs: Andre Dixon and Donald Brown split the carries last year almost evenly and split the yards the same way, each gaining about 820 yards. This split was less a case of an actual tandem and more that Brown spent a few games in the doghouse, but that even split will probably continue this year.

Where UConn needs help, badly, is at wide receiver. The leading receiver last year was Terence Jeffers, who split for Vanderbilt because he wasn’t happy about “how he was being utilized”, because being the star receiver means you get ignored by the play-callers, all the time. A passel of receivers missed spring practice with injury, meaning that the fall competition was almost started from scratch. Emerging from the dust to get the nod to start were fifth-year senior Ellis Gaulden and Kashif Moore. Gaulden has more knee injuries than knees, and Moore is a redshirt freshman, so there will likely be much rotation here.

The line will be solid, though. Both tackle spots and center feature returning starters; left tackle is held down by William Beatty, who has been a starter for three years. Left guard Moe Petrus, a redshirt freshman, beat out former starter Alex LaMagdelaine for the starting spot. There is plenty of flexibility; LaMagdelaine can step in at center as well as guard, and starting right tackle Mike Hicks has experience at guard as well. It is a deep, versatile, and experienced line; the only question may be their ability to pass-block, having given up 30 sacks in 2007.


Connecticut’s scoring defense last season was excellent, allowing just 19 points per game, and eight out of eleven starters are returning. Leading tackler Danny Lansanah is gone, but there are plenty of names to fill the void. The star on the line is fifth-year senior Julius Williams, who registered 8.5 sacks to lead the team, but with a margin of just one over his other bookend Cody Brown, who got 7.5 sacks of his own. The defense’s other notable player on the statsheet is safety Robert Vaughn, who intercepted 7 passes. Darius Butler, at corner, would have had more than two, but he’s another three-year starter and quarterbacks don’t throw his way. Jasper Howard beat out two more-experienced players to get the job on the opposite corner, and he’ll need to be on his game at all times because offenses will want to try and exploit his inexperience; Howard is a true sophomore. The last member of the secondary is safety Dahna Deleston, back in the backfield after a stint at linebacker in 2007.

Deleston can return to his natural spot because the Huskies have talent to spare at linebacker. On the outside are sophomores Scott Lutrus and Lawrence Wilson, both of whom earned freshman all-American honors last year; Lutrus on the first team and Wilson on the second.


Both kicker and punter return. K Tony Ciaravino was 22-of-27 with a long of 50 yards. P Desi Cullen averaged over 40 yards a punt. UConn will not need to worry about these guys. The cornerbacks, Butler and Howard, will handle the return duties.


UConn was 9-4 last year and has a better team this year. But they’re going to go into games with a larger target on their back than last year, and they face a Big East on the upswing, with many of the teams as improved from last year as they are. Still, their defense should keep them right in the hunt in any game they play. Take away the West Virginia blowout, and the defense gave up just 15 points a game, which would have been good for second in the entire country. These guys will definitely go bowling, but the Big East has a lot of parity and a lot of teams just like UConn that are looking to establish themselves, and their season could come down to one or two plays in each of about five different games.

Groh announces starter!!1!1

Told you the Pruett thing ain't so bad. A short couple of days after new affidavits were filed in the case, which accused Bob Pruett of blatant violations of NCAA rules, one of the players who made a sworn statement recanted his testimony. If you read the articles that were linked to the other day, you might remember that the players' affidavits, at least in some cases, were the same, word for word. Fishy. Smells like a legal clerk printing up two copies of the same thing. Now half of that evidence is called into question. Not only will nothing come of this as far as our University is concerned, but the entire lawsuit itself may be dismissed.

Kickers. We have kickers. And per Kris at TheSabre, whose insider information is infinity times better than mine (because I have none, I'm just a loudmouth with opinions), we have an official pecking order for those kickers. Yannick Reyering, the sawker player, has been named the starter, barring total meltdown or injury. No, the quarterback hasn't been named, and we may as well assume that we'll have to wait til USC kickoff or after to find out who's gonna line up under center.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blogpoll Roundtable

So as part of the Blogpoll, every week there is a roundtable hosted by various members of the collegefootballblogowebs, or at least the ones that are also members of the Poll. In this activity we have the opportunity to answer totally random questions however we like, with the probable caveat that the questions must be actually answered. This first week, the questions, along with links to what everyone else said, can be found hosted by Hey Jenny Slater, an estimable Jawjuh Bulldog blog.

1. In his "visiting lecturers" series posted on Every Day Should Be Saturday over the past few months, Orson Swindle asked each participant to explain which country, during which historical period, their team most resembles. Let's bring everything up to the present day and ponder: Which current sovereign nation is your team? Or to look at it another way, how does your team fit into the "world" of college football?

We are the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is a beautiful country, or so I'm led to believe because I've never been there. People always say so. They say that a lot about Charlottesville too. Like the CR, that's just about all they say, most of the time. We're surrounded by bigger teams that make more noise, the Russias and Germanys and Clemsons and Georgia Techs of the world, but we got our niche in there, somewhere. Nobody really paid attention to us in the '50s, '60s, and '70s when we were lousy and under the thumb of our Red Commie next door neighbors like Maryland and NC State. In 1968 we made some noise, tried to establish ourselves a bit, you know, had a winning season for the first time in years, but then the tanks rolled into Prague and we sat down and shut up til about the late '80s and early '90s when people paid attention to us for a little while.

2. Every preseason roundup has to have some discussion of who's overrated, but let's go beyond that. Which team do you think is poised to crap the bed in the biggest way this season relative to high expectations, and which game do you think will begin their slide into ignominy?

I love Kansas, I really do. I have a soft spot for basketball schools like Kansas and Arizona, especially when they have cool unis and magical awesome years that completely out of nowhere and finish with a thrilling win over a despised rival in a BCS bowl game, and follow it up with a long-awaited national title in basketball. It was a great year for Jayhawk fans. Not so much this year. [Phil Steele]They benefitted from a terrific turnover margin in 2007, which isn't the sort of thing that repeats itself.[/Phil Steele] They lose both offensive tackles, their leading receiver, leading rusher, a solid kicker, and Aqib Talib. I put Kansas 13th in my Poll, which is actually higher than the AP did, but that was mainly because I was going to put VT there and then felt like having beaten them in last year's bowl game should be worth something. Kansas may well lose on their trip to Tampa to take on USF, but even if they do, they'll almost certainly be at least 5-1 and ranked when they roll into Norman, Oklahoma for the slaughter. The last half of their season is as follows: OU, Texas Tech, K-State, Nebraska, UT, Mizzou. That's a big Revenge Sandwich surrounded on either side by two monster teams.

3. On the flip side of that coin, which team do you think is going to burst out of nowhere to become 2008's biggest overachiever -- this year's version of Kansas '07, as it were -- and what's going to be the big upset that makes us all finally sit up and take notice of them?

I'm tempted to say Wake Forest, but it wasn't really that long ago that they were ACC champs, and if they beat Clemson it won't come as a huge surprise because the game is in Winston-Salem and everyone will say, oh, there goes Clemson, choking hard, again. So we'll go a little further up I-40 and pick North Carolina. They have one of the best offenses in the conference, for one, and finally they have a coach who knows his way around a football field. They're set up nicely to pick off Virginia Tech at home, early in the season, and if they do, watch out - their schedule is very favorable. Even if they don't beat VT, they get to skip Clemson and Wake Forest, have nothing but winnable games from September onward, and get two Little Debbies to finish off the year.

4. Here's an "I'll hang up and listen" question. I put Ohio State and Oklahoma #1 and #2, respectively, despite their recent high-profile BCS face-plants. Where did you rank those two teams, and did those BCS issues have anything to do with it?

Ohio State is number one (YUCK) because this year was supposed to be their year, only they made it happen last year instead, and lost only Vernon Gholston plus like half of a senior. Oklahoma is #5 because the top three are pretty clear: OSU, USC, UGA in whatever order makes you happy. So it came down to Florida and Oklahoma for the next two spots, because Clemson is #6 because they have way too many questions to be allowed into the top 5. Florida gets the tiebreaking nod for having the defending Heisman winner. Keep in mind that my first week poll methodology involved comparing the various rankings that were already out there and mainly deciding if too much or not enough of a particular team's Kool-Aid is being drunk.

5. Last season was a statistical outlier in countless ways, not the least of which was the fact that we ended up with a two-loss team as national champion. Do you think anyone plays a strong enough schedule to get MNC consideration as a two-loss team this year? Conversely, do you see anybody managing to sail into the national-championship game undefeated?

Aw jeez. Hell if I know. That's why I love the CFB regular season. If anyone's got a shot at getting to the title game undefeated, it's whichever team comes out of that USC-OSU game. I don't think schedule is gonna play a role in helping a two-loss team into the game. It's really only six teams that have a shot at getting to the title game - the six BCS conference champions. And the only way one of 'em gets in with two losses is if five of them have two losses. At that point, obviously, one of them has to get in, so somebody will have to have played a schedule to convince the voters. Otherwise, the only way a one-loss team is snubbed for the title is if A) they are not conference champions or B) they are Big East conference champions or C) there are too many one-loss teams to choose from. This is a wildly unpredictable system, obviously. I just set the record for Longest Cop-Out of the Decade, but not of the past 50 years because there's the Ken Starr report still sitting out there.

6. OK, time for some Olympic fever. Which athlete from the Beijing Olympics -- any sport, any country, with the exception of USA basketball since those guys are already pros -- would you most want to add to your team's roster this season? No worries about age, eligibility, or even gender; we'll worry about that crap later.


He'd probably get crushed between the tackles, though. No, we'll look at the opposite end of the spectrum. Al Groh likes to say that "walk-ons aren't undertalented, they're just under-evaluated." I like to think our program treats walk-ons better than anyone else - certainly, there is no denying they have every chance in the world to shine, just as much as the scholarship players. So in the spirit of our leading tackler, Jon Copper, or one of our top wide receivers, Staton Jobe, we'll take the Olympics' ultimate walk-on: Congolese swimmer Stany Kempopo Ngangola, who got in on the IOC's wild card rule and swam 50 meters in 35.19 seconds, just under 14 seconds worse than the gold-medal time. No matter - he can be coached up.

more on Lars

Blogging from work.....

The UVA career of Lars Mikalauskas was a colorful and exciting one, so you knew it wasn't going to end with nothing more than a terse statement from Dave Leitao and a fade into the sunset. Lars will be appealing his dismissal and plead with Leitao for another chance. Jeff White at the RTD points out that the dismissal was the result of three years of piled-up behavior issues. Which really only makes sense, because the usual reasons for dismissals result in headlines first, dismissal later. More than likely, there was a straw that broke the camel's back here, because the timing is odd, coming right as the team is about to start practice. Perhaps Lars was told not to take this trip to Lithuania that he's on, and took it anyway. Alternate theory: Lars may have been told he was only on the team conditional to Soroye not getting his medical waiver; Soroye gets waiver, gets scholarship, Lars gone. All just pure speculation anyway. My best guess is that this appeal will not work out for Lars and he will either transfer somewhere else or head back to Europe to start playing professionally. I'd like to see it work out for the guy, because there was never any doubt that when he came off the court he'd given it all he had.

season preview: USC

First preview of a non-ACC team. USC, obviously, is first on the schedule, making them first up. Somewhat abbreviated from the rest of them, and missing some bells and whistles, this is only intended to familiarize you a little bit with these other teams we'll be facing.


8/30: @Virginia
9/13: Ohio State
9/25: @Oregon State (Th.)
10/4: Oregon
10/11: Arizona State
10/18: @Washington State
10/25: @Arizona
11/1: Washington
11/8: California
11/15: @Stanford
11/29: Notre Dame
12/6: @UCLA

Projected starters:

QB: Mark Sanchez (rJr.)
FB: Stanley Havili (rSo.)
RB: Joe McKnight (So.)
WR: Patrick Turner (Sr.)
WR: Vidal Hazelton (Jr.)
TE: Anthony McCoy (Jr.)
LT: Charles Brown (rJr.)
LG: Jeff Byers (5Sr.)
C: Kristofer O’Dowd (So.)
RG: Zack Heberer (rSo.)
RT: Alex Parsons (Jr.)

DE: Kyle Moore (Sr.)
NT: Averell Spicer (rJr.)
DT: Fili Moala (5Sr.)
DE: Clay Matthews (5Sr.)
SLB: Brian Cushing (Sr.)
MLB: Rey Maualuga (Sr.)
WLB: Luthur Brown (rJr.)
CB: Cary Harris (Sr.)
FS: Taylor Mays (Jr.)
SS: Kevin Ellison (Sr.)
CB: Shareece Wright (Jr.)

K: David Buehler (Sr.)
P: Greg Woidneck (5Sr.)

Coach: Pete Carroll (8th season)

(Italics indicate new starter.)

Yeah, in case you’re wondering, Mark Sanchez is back in action and will probably play against us in the opener. Like all USC quarterbacks, nice glowy things are said about him, half of which are rooted in the insanely high recruiting rankings he got and half of which are because he’s on USC and therefore has got to probably be pretty good, probably. Sanchez got three starts last year filling in for John David Booty, and the results were mixed. He did quite well against Notre Dame, throwing four touchdown passes. On the other hand, everyone did pretty well against Notre Dame. Sanchez’s two other games were forgettable, both including two picks and the last being a loss to Oregon.

Joe McKnight, even more of a mega-recruit than Sanchez, will be doing most of the rock-toting this year. He, too, has been slowed by injury during practice, but it’s only a hyperextended elbow – having done that to my own fool self once, I’m pretty confident he’ll be back in action in days rather than weeks. So the coming-out party that is expected of him this year is not likely to be delayed.

Sanchez will need someone to step up if he’s going to have anyone to throw to; the Trojan wide receivers are, by Trojan standards, pretty lackluster. TE Fred Davis led the team in all major receiving categories last year – he’s gone, leaving Anthony McCoy to pick up the slack. McCoy caught all of two balls last year, so the slack is really gonna have to be picked up by Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton. They’re talented guys and last year was really their first as the regular receiving corps, and Turner in particular is a big dude at 6’5”, so last year’s question mark may be a strength.

The new question mark may be the line, then. Four new starters are being broken in, including a true sophomore at center (Kristofer O’Dowd.) No matter how talented they are (and this is USC, so they are plenty talented), there will be some growing pains as they sort out communication issues and all those other things that make coaches worry at night when they must play something less experienced than 5 fifth-year seniors.


This is where the Trojans shake their moneymakers. Running on USC last year earned you just over 2.5 yards per carry, and who doesn’t love second and seven? The line is the shakiest – if you can call it that – part of the defense, and the only position where Pete Carroll expresses any concern is nose tackle. Kyle Moore and Fili Moala are returning starters, and DE Clay Matthews can also drop back and play any linebacker spot, which is important because Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga (the thong guy) are supremely talented and supremely accompished but spend more time at the trainers’ table than would be ideal.

Speaking of linebackers Cushing and Maualuga, they’re nasty. You think we got some good ones? USC’s got some good ones. Maualuga’s been a starter for two years, first team all-Pac-10 for both of them. His stats aren’t especially gaudy, but the stats of the defense that he now leads don’t lie. Cushing missed three games in 2007 and still managed to be given an honorable mention for all-conference.

The secondary is even scarier. S Kevin Ellison was a first-team all-Pac-10 player. His counterpart Taylor Mays was a mere honorable mention, which seems silly because he also made various and sundry all-American teams, including the AP third team. USC probably does not care which is better as long as they continue to make it miserable as hell to throw against them.


Both K David Buehler and P Greg Woidneck are returning as starters, and are solid. USC gushes a little bit overmuch with praise for Buehler – there are a few better kickers in the ACC alone – but regardless, he makes most of his kicks, more than a lot of kickers around the country can say.


It’s USC. As usual, it’s generally front-page stuff whenever they lose. Not gonna be any different this season. The early part of their schedule is murder, with that opening game at some East Coast venue somewhere, followed by a visit from Ohio State. Three out of their first five games are against currently ranked teams – but all three games are at home, and with two weeks before OSU and about 10 days in between each of the Oregon teams, USC has maximum preparation time right when they need it. If they lost two games it’d be more surprising than if they went undefeated and played for a national title.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

jackbooted thugs are not coming for Bob Pruett

I almost didn't write this post; I feel like wasting words and characters and stuff on this subject is not worth anybody's time. But it's a news item, and I'm a hits whore and would like to corner the market on traffic doing Google searches for "bob pruett horrible horrible scandal of doom".

The story, as you may already know, is that our new defensive coordinator, Bob Pruett, stands accused of various and sundry shenanigans, chicanery, and miscreanthood in an affidavit filed in a lawsuit against him, Marshall University, and various Marshall mucky-mucks. The accusations are related to the sanctions Marshall received in 2001 for said shenanigans, which were, as listed by the NCAA, impermissible employment of academic non-qualifiers, academic fraud and lack of institutional control.

This is all wel and bad, because UVA fans were in some consternation when former DC Mike London took the head job at Richmond; the hiring of Pruett made things more or less all better.

The problem is that the news is reporting this affidavit as brand-new, which it is, but the lawsuit is not. In fact the lawsuit is five years old. It was filed by David Ridpath, Marshall's compliance officer at the time, whose sole job was to keep Marshall out of such trouble as they got in.

The specific list of accusations can be found here; I won't go into listing them, they're already rather neatly summarized in the Gazette article. This can look rather bad, because the accusations are made by a couple different people, and on Marshall's side is Slimy Booster Guy, who, not at all coincidentally, was forced to temporarily sever ties with Marshall as part of the punishment; his rebuttal to the accusations is found in the second link above.

The down-low lowdown, or, Why Virginia Fans Shouldn't Worry:

- The NCAA statute of limitations for taking action on stuff is four years; Marshall was punished seven years ago.
- Pruett was not named in the NCAA bitch-smack report; in fact, the report made careful references to "the current head coach" rather than "Bob Pruett".
- Pruett, having not been named in the report, coached Marshall for a further three years, not a particularly common occurrence when a school is hit with sanctions.

Now for the speculative garbage, in which I speculate very speculatively about something I know little about. (The lawsuit.)

- Pruett is named in this lawsuit and has been so from the beginning. Why, then, does it take five years to come up with accusations like these? On the surface, they sound particularly damning, as you'd expect when filed by the plaintiff. Ridpath claims the football staff told the players to keep the compliance staff out of the loop. Further, he is suing essentially because his involvement in this blocked his path to becoming an AD himself. So why wasn't this stuff screamed from the rooftops when the lawsuit was filed, let alone before the NCAA came out with their verdict?
- Ridpath's attorneys filed a FOIA request in order to find out the legal expenses Marshall is paying out. To me, this means one of two things: They're looking to find out where Marshall will draw the line and settle rather than fight. Economics, you know: IF A > B, THEN "Settle Lawsuit"; ELSE "Fight Lawsuit In Court". Either that, or they want to know what they're on the hook for if the judge finds their complaint totally baseless. The former is more likely, and perhaps would indicate Ridpath is less about "clearing his name" than chasing the Benjamins.

In any case, the bottom line is this: Worst case, we have to go looking for a new DC. The NCAA cleared us to hire him though; standard procedure would be to check with the NCAA offices to see if Pruett has anything naughty on his record. This having been done, and the record coming back clean, the possibility of sanctions against UVA for hiring a dirty coach (which he probably isn't) is effectively zero. The NCAA, however, long ago considered this case closed, without finding Pruett guilty of any wrongdoing, and their bylaws more or less prohibit opening it back up. This is going to be one of those things that sort of just disappears in the frenzied happenings of the football season, and by Signing Day, we'll have forgotten that we forgot about it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Soroye not leaving after all; Lars gone

Time for the Monday catch-up. First, the best news. Per the Daily Progress, Tunji Soroye will return and be awarded the scholarship vacated by Will Harris. Soroye is the only really tall (6'10" or above) player on the roster that isn't a freshman, and his defense was sorely missed last season. This means that Calvin Baker will remain a walk-on, at least for this year.

** As I was typing, this happens. Bombshell: Lars Mikalauskas is gone. On the bright side, ummmmmm..... maybe Baker will get that scholarship after all.

Wonderful. Just wonderful. The season just went from pretty bad to a little bit better to a whole hell of a lot worse.

%#&*. Moving on....

Speaking of Will Harris, he has decided to become a Great Dane and play for UAlbany. Best of luck to him there. Of note, remember Keith Friel? I do. Slow, awesome white kid who could do nothing but shoot and get big cheers every time he came in the game. His brother Jeremy is an assistant at Albany. So that's neat.

Looking around the league....

- Virginia Tech's Zach Luckett is suspended from the team for DUI. He will spend time in jail if convicted; whether or not he's still on the team by then is anyone's guess. Since it's his second in just a few years, perhaps iffy.

- NC State has been hit hard by injuries, losing Toney Baker, Clem Johnson, and Donald Bowens. Baker, though talented, is the least of their worries; he'll likely be back at some point this year, and the Pack have two other quality backs. Clem Johnson, in complete defiance of my projections, was on track to start at safety. And Bowens, out with a slight spinal fracture, was their best wide receiver.

- Again in defiance of my projection, Maryland has named Jordan Steffy the starting quarterback.

- Florida state in major NCAA doo-doo? More in a bit.

First, some quickies:
- The kicking is looking better.

- Sean Gottschalk and Staton Jobe are hurting.

Now.....Florida State.

There's almost zero MSM backup on this right now, because the school is being obstreperous about releasing any info. So bear that in mind. Then go read this post over at BuckeyePlanet. Gatorubet is a reliable and excellent poster. The ominous part of the post (for the Seminoles) is the unattributed quote from the AD: "The NCAA may be looking to make an example of us."

This would be something to keep an eye on. Even after FSU announced their self-imposed punishments, all was not kosher in Nole-land. Simply suspending players for a couple games was not going to do it, especially when you then go ahead and schedule Little Debbie and the Keebler Elves to fill those spots on the schedule. The players may be the ones participating but this is an institutional issue, not a player-misconduct issue. The NCAA's catchphrase is "lack of institutional control" and it certainly applies to FSU over the past 16 years or so. This goes beyond lack of control, it is outright institutional enabling. Scholarship slots will almost certainly be lost; a postseason ban is also not out of the question, in the humble opinion of your blogger.