Wednesday, December 31, 2008

the recruit: Sean Cascarano

I would have written some more of these over Christmas, only I didn't. In any case there are about six more recruits I haven't yet covered, and hopefully I'll have to add another couple to the pile by February.

Name: Sean Cascarano
Position: OT
Hometown: Glenview, IL
School: Glenbrook South
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 270

ESPN: 40 (hasn't bothered)
Rivals: 5.7, three stars, #40 OT, #12 prospect in IL
Scout: 2 stars, #105 OT

The coaches are looking to add some more offensive linemen to the class of 2009 and seem likely to bring in at least two more, but if they don't, Sean Cascarano will be the biggest one of the class and probably the highest rated. Cascarano was the best player this year on a very good Glenbrook South squad and shuffled around a bit on the offense, outside of his usual spot at right tackle. Here you can find pictures of the Glenbrook South squad; Cascarano wears #58 and lines up occasionally on the left side as well as the right, and at fullback as well in what looks like a wishbone-ish goal line set.

This speaks to some athleticism and versatility, and my rather unfounded flyer of an opinion on that is that Groh saw in Cascarano a player who could be moved to play guard and fit right in with our pulling-guard offensive scheme. That'd be our old one, of course, but the spread requires no less athleticism in its linemen. Not to mention that Cascarano scored a 29 on the ACT and Gregg Brandon is looking for smarts in his players to help them pick up the schemes and timing quickly.

Cascarano committed in June, by which time he was already drawing interest from around the Big Ten. MSU and IU had offered; had Cascarano not fallen in love with UVA at the prospects' camp, Illinois and Iowa probably would have sent offers too. That, and the first-team all state selections lead me to believe Scout is full of crap sticking him with a two-star rating, and if ESPN were to send a scout to take a look, he'd garner about a 77 or 78.

Don't expect Cascarano to step into the two-deep right away like Austin Pasztor; at 270 pounds he's not quite there. The trick is to get another 20 pounds on the kid while keeping his footwork and athleticism. That's what redshirt years are for. But he's got the brains and the quickness to excel in the spread; if Groh and Brandon last beyond this year, Cascarano might fit exactly the mold of lineman they're looking for.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

back in action

Back from Christmas semi-hiatus and time to get rolling again. Hope Santa brought you everything on your list. Unless you're William Clay Ford, then I hope he brought you his dirty underwear.

We'll kick things off with recruiting. The recruiting board looks way the hell different than it did, because I haven't touched it in like two weeks. Here's what's different:

- Dropped RB Antone Exum, RB De'Antwan Williams, DE Pat Muldoon, and WR Sean Farr on account of they committed elsewhere. Also dropped DB Josh Evans, DE Bernardo Nunez, and QB Tajh Boyd, because they dropped us. That'll learn 'em.

- You also may notice a shuffling of the colors, and also that there are really only a very few players left that we seem to be after. Here's my take on the seven players left, with the usual caveat that I know for a certain fact absolutely nothing.

- OT Oday Aboushi: Probably will commit to UVA, though when is anyone's guess. Has a visit scheduled to Rutgers; may or may not take it.
- LB Luke Kuechly: Final four of UVA, Duke, Stanford, and BC means we have basically zero edge on the academic side of the house.
- OT Morgan Moses: At the moment we probably have as good a shot as any, which isn't saying much because Moses doesn't say much. This is one we'll just have to be patient on.
- OT Nolan MacMillan: MacMillan will narrow his list down soon and I suspect we'll still be on it then, but after that who knows?
- OT Hunter Steward: Steward is still just 16 and thus, our coaches want him to go to prep school for a year. If he commits, he'll essentially be a grayshirt and not part of the 2009 class. Thus his quandary: Marshall will probably have him right away. If it weren't for the prep school thing, he'd probably have committed .024 seconds after getting the offer.
- LB Lanford Collins: Moved him from blue to yellow. Think he's probably a Hokie eventually.
- WR Dwayne Difton: Pretty much shouldn't even still be on the board, but I wanted to keep someone in red there, just because.

There are some articles floating around out there about OC hire Gregg Brandon. There's this one from the CDP, and Jeff White at the RTD has this one here which has got Sabre posters all up excited and ready to kick off the '09 season after just a couple quotes from Brandon. Partly this is because there are some quotes at all; Mike Groh spent as much time talking to the media as he spent recruiting in Kazakhstan. I'm less enthused, mainly because Brandon mostly says things that coaches say when they don't want to say anything. Also, because his claim that the offense is going to be flexible to the personnel is nice and exciting and all - you can hear my yippees if you listen real close - but it brings up a sort of chicken-or-the-egg question. Brandon will run an offense based on whichever quarterback is better, sure, but.....better at doing what? Passing spread or running spread? The offense isn't so flexible that there's no room for a yardstick to measure the quarterbacks, but what skill set does Brandon want?

Hey, guess who's ACC Rookie of the Week again? Yawn, it's Sylven Landesberg, who has taken to dominating this award - it's his fourth. The UVA record for this is held by Bryant Stith with six, but if Landesberg keeps doing things like dropping 26 points in ACC road games, he'll blow that record clear out of the water.

And hey, speaking of ACC road games, we're tied for first! TLx4's Winston suggested "cripple fight" as a descriptor of the game, but I'll leave that designator to either the Apple Cup or next year's Lions-Rams tilt. Should be exciting, that. The worst ACC basketball team is still better than two-thirds of the country, so I hesitate to say "cripple fight", but still, the game we just won is primarily useful for giving us a leg up on Not Last in the conference. Not to take away from it. It was a road game in the ACC, which means it's dangerous and particularly so for the Hoos, who have always looked like a crappy version of the Hoos away from Charlottesville. And we won it. I'm still not starry-eyed enough to think we could bust a move into the NCAA's (yet) but we're an ACC team, and that means it shouldn't take a lot of wins to get us back into the CBI. Even if it's "just" the CBI, postseason is postseason, and it'll do this young team a lot of good to feel the pressure of playing a tournament (style) game.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

game preview: Georgia Tech

Regular content resumes Tuesday afternoon. Sunday and Monday posting is extremely unlikely, but there's a big game tomorrow, so we need a game preview.

Virginia Cavaliers (5-4, 0-0) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-3, 0-0)

Possible starters:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (12.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.6 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (9.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.3 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (18.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (10.4 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.1 apg)
F: Jamil Tucker (7.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.4 apg)


PG: Iman Shumpert (11.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 6.0 apg)
SG: Lewis Clinch (18.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.0 apg)
SF: Zach Peacock (9.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 apg)
PF: Gani Lawal (16.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 0.6 apg)
C: Alade Aminu (13.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)

This is our little teaser of an ACC game; after this, a couple more nonconference games before the real deal begins. It's a good matchup, too. Our first and only game with the Jackets, which is a shame because both teams could use another game like this on the schedule somewhere.

See, Georgia Tech isn't particularly good. So far they look better than us both on the stat sheet and in the standings, but like us they have an ugly blemish of a loss on the record - GT lost to Illinois-Chicago a couple weeks ago.

Point I'm trying to get across here in a very roundabout way is that this is a winnable game, and damn do we need to win it. Their starting lineup is a little bit better than ours (they have two boardmonsters that Mike Scott is going to be hard-pressed to win battles against) but we're a little deeper, with Tech's Maurice Miller out with a broken nose. Part of Tech's struggles, though, had to do with Lewis Clinch's academic ineligibility. Now that he's back, he's taken over the offense to the tune of 18.3 points a game. Clinch is a quantity-not-quality shooter, however, and if the team takes Dave Leitao's sermons about defense to heart, he can be forced into a bad shooting night and gobble up shots from other players besides. Physical play on Gani Lawal is another must - he's second on the team in scoring besides Clinch, but a poor free-throw shooter. Both he and 6'10" Alade Aminu do better from the field than from the line.

The implications of this game are practically nil from a conference standpoint. Both of these teams are looking at a double-digit seed in the ACC tournament and some very tough skating ahead. But neither wants to finish last, and a win here goes a long way towards that. This game will set the tone for the rest of the ACC season and from where we stand now is as close to a must-win as any the rest of the way.

Monday, December 22, 2008

i'm not done with my christmas shopping yet

So all you get right now is a real quick two items.

Very abbreviated preview of the Hampton game tomorrow. The Pirates are 309th of 343 teams in PPG. They've also got a very low opponent PPG, but this has been mostly against teams like Portland State. I think there's a chance - just a chance, mind you, we're still not UNC - to earn a blowout win. I don't think we'll lose. Hampton's style is to slug it out - all their offensive numbers (shot attempts, assists, what have you) are low, low, low. So are their turnovers. They're like bizarro-VMI. I like our chances against a team like that because theoretically we have superior athletes because we're the big bad ACC team, and that's usually good enough to force a team like that to speed things up when they don't want to.

Second, look for the 23rd verbal commitment to be Oday Aboushi. He has cancelled his visit to Maryland and is "focused on Virginia." (Pay article here, very very short free recap here.) I can't update the recruiting board because that stuff is on the home computer and this post is Made In Laptop. There's still a chance of him going elsewhere, because it's not Signing Day and pen has not yet met paper, but reading between the lines what I see is this: "I really like UVA but I committed too soon last time and I want to make good and sure this is the place because I don't want to be that guy who decommits twice in the span of two months." Aboushi is a big, big dude and well-thought-of by the scouting services - he would be one of the top five recruits in our class.

Friday, December 19, 2008

game preview: Auburn

Tomorrow, the team takes on Auburn. And tomorrow is the official beginning of the Christmas hiatus, or it will be if the ten inches of snow don't close down the airport. I'm (probably) not going to shut 'er down entirely, but posting between tomorrow and the Monday after Christmas will be on a when-I-damn-well-feel-like-it basis. In case that doesn't happen between now and Thursday: Merry Christmas.

Virginia Cavaliers (4-3, 0-0) vs. Auburn Tigers (5-4, 0-0)

Possible starting lineups:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (13.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg)
SG: Mamadi Diane (5.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.9 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (19.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.3 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (9.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.3 apg)
C: Assane Sene (2.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.0 apg)


PG: Quantez Robertson (6.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.3 apg)
SG: Tay Waller (12.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.1 apg)
G: Dewayne Reed (11.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 4.0 apg)
F: Lucas Hargrove (7.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.4 apg)
F: Korvotney Barber (13.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.2 apg)

OK, so, that whole spiel I had for the South Florida game, about how they were a crummy opponent from a big-time conference blah blah blah, pretty much just recycle that for this Auburn game. Only we're kind of a crummy opponent from a big-time conference too. This is one of nine ACC-SEC matchups and the least likely to attract any attention.

Auburn has been haunting the bottom of the SEC standings for a few years now. About five years ago they mustered up a Sweet Sixteen run, giving eventual champ Syracuse a run for their money before bowing out. Since then: ttthhbbbppptttt. SEC basketball being not quite SEC football, teams not named Kentucky can sometimes fall off the scene as quickly as they came. Quicker, actually.

The Tigers' go-to guy is Korvotney Barber, the closest thing they have to a legit post presence. Barber is a good scorer and rebounder, but smaller than Mike Scott and an atrocious free-throw shooter. There's no reason not to be very physical with Barber. Auburn has a very well-rounded scoring presence, however, with four players averaging double digits. In particular, Tay Waller likes to bomb away from three-land, averaging nearly eight attempts a game. The flip side to that is that their depth doesn't go very far beyond that; six players get the bulk of the minutes.

Waller isn't the only Auburn Tiger that shoots threes. It's a huge part of their game plan; they're right around the top 50 out of 343 teams in three-point attempts. The problem is that they don't even come close to sniffing the top 200 in percentage. They'll fire away, but if they're not hitting, they're not winning.

Meaning I like our chances in this game. If the interior defense can shut down Barber, and there's no reason they shouldn't if they get physical and aren't afraid to send him to the line, it'll force Auburn outside, where they kind of like to be anyway, only aren't particularly good at. Our young team has a long way to go to compete in the ACC, but they're improving, and this is a good chance to take another step forward.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

what it's going to mean

First off, yay basketball. Beat Longwood; glee. This is the first good win all season. There are two more home games, including an SEC matchup, before the first ACC test of the year. Hopefully the team can build on this. You hate to say "hopefully we can build on beating Longwood" but there you go.

So yesterday, a little bit of introduction to the new offensive coordinator, Gregg Brandon. Today, a look at what effect it'll have on the offense, position by position. All this will be assuming that those who believe Groh gives no freedom to his OC are wrong. Personally I think it might have been a logical theory when the OC was the coach's son, but no longer.

Another caveat: It's easy to tell what Brandon's hiring is a shift to, but not so much what it's a shift from. "Identity" has never been a word that followed this offense around, not since Groh's hiring. Certain plays were staples of the offense, but there was never a particular style of quarterback or running back that it demanded. Whoever we had, we used. It was maybe a little bit pro-style, except for when it was run by Hagans or Sewell or Spinner. And pro offenses sling it downfield more. It certainly wasn't the spread, although it had some spread-ish elements. Heavy use of the tight end and dink-and-dunk passing were probably the two calling cards, but it never seemed like there was a theme or a go-to play, just a bunch of plays in a playbook.

So like I said: position by position - let's see what this offense means.


Marc Verica is probably cringing, seeing his playing time circling the drain. Or is he? Yesterday I wrote that the Gregg Brandon offense appears much more suited to the skills of Jameel Sewell or Vic Hall than Verica or our '09 recruit, Ross Metheny. It's still true - you see how Tim Tebow's doing in it. But BGSU's quarterback these past two seasons has been Tyler Sheehan, a big, "pro-style" quarterback that tops 220 on the scale, and he's been decent. Very nice completion percentages and TD-to-INT ratios. But - but - Bowling Green has not done all that well with Sheehan at the helm. They don't have any real running types on the roster, and their best years of late have been with Omar Jacobs quarterbacking them. The coaches face a decision next year. They have to choose from Verica, who can throw but not really run; Hall, who can run but not really throw (yet); or Sewell, who can do both but neither exceptionally. Brandon will have no ingrained loyalties to any particular player. Spring practice will tell much, but I have to believe Brandon will lean toward a guy whose skill set includes running with the football.

Some might wonder why I don't mention Riko Smalls. Because he's behind three other players, that's why. Unless Smalls goes to spring practice and just blows everyone away, hold off on him til Sewell graduates. Even though there's no history yet between the OC and the quarterbacks, coaches still tend to defer to guys who've seen the field before.


If Marc Verica is cringing, Mikell Simpson should be leaping for joy. No cartwheels, he's got that banged-up shoulder. Let's hope that gets healthy quick, because Simpson seems tailor made for this. He's smallish, and when he's got some forward motion going, he's tough to get a grip on. There's a good chance, I think, for Simpson to be a feature player in the offense next year. Fullback types, on the other hand, may see their roles diminished. BGSU has a sophomore RB named Willie Geter, who weighs all of 170 pounds and who's done nothing but average 6 yards a carry in his two years. Geter has been used as a change-of-pace type, but in our case Simpson is the most senior and most talented back on the roster. Gregg Brandon's system should help him to flourish.


There's a lot of room in Brandon's system for talented wide receivers, but the new caveat is that they had better be able to block. The option demands it. This in turn means that bigger wide receivers like Maurice Covington are in vogue - unfortunately, Covington's graduating and we have nobody near his size at wideout. The guy I'm looking at in our recruiting class is Kevin Royal. He's 6'4, 205. If Ogletree goes, the entire receiving corps will be very young and inexperienced - Dontrelle Inman will be the graybeard - and there will be opportunities for true freshmen like Royal. Look for the role of the wide receiver to increase somewhat under Brandon, because.....


....the spread doesn't use these. More than anywhere else, this is where Groh and Brandon will have to mesh their systems. BGSU has three tight ends on the roster. We have eight. BGSU's tight ends accounted for 6 percent of receptions; ours accounted for 19%. There's a clear difference in usage here. BG's Jimmy Scheidler is a regular, and 7 of his 17 catches were touchdowns, but - 17 catches. That's 1/3 of the total between John Phillips and Andrew Devlin. Devlin and Joe Torchia will still get their looks, because Al Groh is still the head coach and not Gregg Brandon, but I think we've seen the last of the days where the UVA tight end is a lock for all-conference.


Can't really match stats here, obviously. But this is an offensive line that's used to getting out there in space on plays like screen passes, and pulling the guards, and such like. Running the option is a similar skill set. Our line's primary weakness was an inability to consistently get any drive forward in the running game. This offense should play better to their strengths.

Next order of offseason business is to hire a couple more assistants (about which you will not get nearly so much brilliant insight, unfortunately) and get Morgan Moses to start thinking Charlottesville.

yes, Gregg Brandon

Seems we have a new offensive coordinator. The school hasn't made it official, but the Toledo Blade is reporting it.*

For my take on that, scroll down like two inches.

*Yeah, you heard me, Toledo. The one in Ohio. It's not that weird. BGSU is no more than a half hour drive south.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gregg Brandon?

It's all over the webtubes: the report that former Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon has been offered the coordinator position. OK, maybe not all over, but it's out there, and you probably know it by now.

So. Who, now?

Brandon's coaching history, per Wikipedia, the Repository of All Knowledge:

1981-86: Weber State (tight ends '81-'84, '86; special teams '81-'84; linebackers '85; receivers '86)
1987-90: Wyoming (receivers)
1991: Utah State (linebackers)
1992-98: Northwestern (receivers; recruiting coordinator '97-'98)
1999-00: Colorado (receivers, return units; recruiting coordinator '99; passing game coordinator '00)
2001-08: Bowling Green (OC, ass't head coach '00-'01; head coach '02-'08)

So it's been a fairly steady rise, from Weber State tight ends coach to a head coaching position. Not too shabby. What else?

Before I go any further, you should go read the GOB; Mahini beat me to the punch with a little perspective on Brandon and it's worth your time, and it saves me some writing. (But I did my Zaunbrecher one first, har.)

So. That little note at the end of the report: "Brandon uses the spread offense." Calling a coach a user of the spread offense is like calling someone European: yes, they're clearly identifiable as such, but that doesn't mean they all speak the same language. The spread offenses of Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez are as alike as the Swedish and the Greeks. Brandon happens to be a disciple of the Urban Meyer-style spread, although "disciple" is a little unfair because (link via the GOB) Brandon helped design it.

That offense was put to good use, at least at first. Here's how BGSU's total offense stats look since 2004:

2004: 2nd, 506.3 ypg
2005: 27th, 427.7 ypg
2006: 56th, 345.8 ypg
2007: 53rd, 402.5 ypg
2008: 61st, 359.8 ypg

If you notice a distinct line between good numbers and maybe not-so-good numbers, then you've found out when Omar Jacobs bolted for the NFL.

This offense is something closer to the Rich Rodriguez spread than the Mike Leach spread. It involves heavy doses of the option (a play we run once a season when Mike Groh loses a bet), but more pass-oriented than the flavor of spread Rodriguez runs. Some implications if Brandon is hired:

- There ain't no party like a Vic Hall party cause a Vic Hall party don't stop. Hall, and likewise Jameel Sewell with their running abilities, are reasonably suited to run Brandon's offense. Marc Verica and Ross Metheny are not - their future will be somewhat up in the air if Brandon is brought aboard. Likewise, Tajh Boyd might all of a sudden go "hey whoa cool" and forget about Ohio State. You never know. You don't hire a coordinator just to bring in a recruit, but it'd be a nice little side effect.

- In the same vein, we would need multiple quarterbacks. An option offense means the quarterback gets hit just as often as the running backs, and having both Hall and Sewell fighting for time would suddenly turn out to be a bonus, especially when one of them has their elbows turned to mushy oatmeal like poor unblocked-for Steven Threet at Michigan.

- Already-committed recruits may look elsewhere. You always worry about this during a coaching change. Keep an eye especially on Dominique Wallace, who mentioned not wanting to play in a spread offense. (It's a Rivals pay article.) Understandable, as Wallace is a linebacker-sized bull moose of a running back who prefers running through tackles to running around them.

- The GOB makes some worried noises about the reasons for Brandon's firing - namely, off-the-field issues, and too many of them. Clearly, keeping players out of trouble has not been one of our strong suits. I don't worry about it, in this case. Brandon would be an assistant, not the head coach. I believe discipline issues rest squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. It's his job to keep the players in line. If the assistants aren't handing out proper discipline, it's the head coach's job to set them straight. If you think Groh isn't doing it right, that's another matter, but it's his job, not the offensive coordinator's, to discipline the team. However........

- Last but very, very much not least, is this: I think Brandon is an appealing hire to the administration because of his recent head coaching experience. Why? Because in the not-unlikely event Al Groh is fired in the next year or two, Brandon would become an immediate short-list candidate for the job. You better believe he would. This sets him apart from, say, Ed Zaunbrecher, because Zaunbrecher hasn't been a head coach in a decade and would likely be just shoveled out the door with the rest of the regime. Gregg Brandon, on the other hand, is fresh from a head coaching job that he didn't do too badly at. Whether or not it would actually be a good idea to have Brandon as the head coach is for another post, later down the road. But Littlepage has to like the idea of hiring a security blanket as an offensive coordinator.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

game preview: Longwood

Seriously, the worst element of any season in any sport, be it football, basketball, baseball, or hockey, college or pros, is this finals-week hiatus in college basketball. It's a necessary evil, but two weeks without a game in the middle of a season still sucks. Let it be a lesson to those of you who think "well college basketball works around finals week so why can't football have a playoff at the same time?" Fortunately, that's over with, and we can turn to the business of sweating out these nonconference doormats before we start padding the win columns of our ACC rivals.

Oh, one note before I begin. This blog is, as you know, a hobby not a job, and that means I can do little more to cover this offensive coordinator coaching search than to update the list of names that the various sources cobble together. Periodically I might do like I did yesterday, with a more in-depth look, if enough sources mention the same name. Otherwise, keeping a running list of so-called candidates, with almost zero commentary on the likelihood of their hire, is about the most I can do. If I see a name in a place that carries more weight than a "hey what about this guy" message board post, I'll list it. Here's what there is so far, along with their most recent job:

Ron Prince (former head coach, Kansas State)
Al Borges (former OC, Auburn)
Gregg Brandon (former head coach, Bowling Green)
Ed Zaunbrecher (former QB coach, Purdue)
Jeff Rutledge (QB coach, Arizona Cardinals)
Buddy Geis (former WR coach, Georgia Tech)

OK, so, like, Longwood.

Virginia Cavaliers (3-3, 0-0) vs. Longwood Lancers (5-5, n/a)

Possible starters:


It's still pretty impossible to guess what Leitao has cooked up this time.


PG: Durann Neil (6.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.4 apg)
G: Ryan Bogan (13.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.4 apg)
G: Kevin Swecker (9.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.7 apg)
F: Dana Smith (16.1, 7.0 rpg, 1.8 apg)
C: Billy Robinson, Jr. (5.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.4 apg)

We keep playing this game, every year, but I think we finally got the timing right. In the past we've taken a break from our regularly scheduled ACC programming to go whoop on Longwood in between grueling conference games. That can be helpful if you need to break a long losing streak, but it kinda sucks for the fans.

Instead we now have them after finals week. I really think the AD should be scheduling the creamiest, frostiest cuppycake he can find for the game that follows finals week. We tend to show poorly in these games. Last year we sleepwalked through a lazy win over Hampton. A couple years ago we got blow'd up by Gonzaga and the year before that it was an OT win over Loyola Marymount.

So Longwood, if we must play them (and we've done so every year but one of their D-I existence), seems the perfect opponent for this game, what with their 9-22 record the past two years. But this year, they're a bit scarier. They've actually got wins against teams not named UVA-Wise or otherwise below the D-I levels. Granted, Delaware State (one of their victims) is only 2-12, but nevertheless, Longwood is improving.

You have to worry, for example, about Dana Smith. He takes three-point shots that he frequently misses, but otherwise does just about everything quite well. Take away the three-pointers and his FG% is up north of 61%. Ryan Bogan is on the flip side of the coin - one of those guys who shoots threes better than twos. As with VMI, we are distinctly much bigger than they are. At 225 pounds, Smith is the biggest player suiting up for the Lancers, and they have nobody taller than 6'7" except for little-used forward Brandon Evans. All this likely means we'll see very little of Tunji Soroye and Assane Sene, because Leitao seems to think big guys aren't needed against teams without big guys. Earth to Dave: when you're much much taller than the guy you're guarding, that's a good thing.

Anyway, Longwood, as usual, is a team we should crush, just because we're UVA, and a bad season is no excuse. We've looked respectable in a couple of these losses, but that needs to translate to big monstrous wins against the Longwoods of the world if we're to take ourselves seriously in the ACC part of the schedule this year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

so who's this Ed Zaunbrecher guy?

Since there's a lot of nothing going on at the moment, except for an offensive coordinator search which has turned up nothing beyond idle press speculation, I decided to indulge my curiosity. Before he was brought up in the paper as a possibility, I had basically never heard of Ed Zaunbrecher; now, there's nary a newspaper out there that doesn't think he's at least a candidate, based on his past association with Al Groh. So what the hell; let's see what this guy's all about and if this is a good idea or what.

First, Zaunbrecher's coaching history, courtesy of Wikipedia, the repository of all human knowledge.

1975-76: Arizona (OL)
1977-79: Purdue (backs and receivers)
1980-83: Wake Forest (OC, quarterbacks, receivers)
1984-90: LSU (OC, quarterbacks)
1991-93: Michigan State (quarterbacks '91, linebackers '92-'93)
1994-98: Louisiana-Monroe (Head Coach - then known as NE La.)
1999-01: Marshall (quarterbacks '99-'01, OC '00-'01)
2002-04: Florida (quarterbacks '02-'04, OC '02-'03)
2005: Illinois (quarterbacks, passing game coordinator)
2006-08: Purdue (quarterbacks, co-OC)

So mostly quarterbacks. With a couple exceptions, he's coached quarterbacks since 1980. Hey, that's good: we're in need of one of those coaches, since Mike Groh handled those duties too. You begin to suspect maybe this is why the media types have brought up this name, yes?

Lot of job changes, though. Lot of job changes. Makes you wonder. Some of them are steps up, the kind you make when you're looking for that higher-profile job that'll get your name in someone's head coaching hat. Zaunbrecher has changed jobs nine times; four of these, I'd consider that kind of up-step: Wake, LSU, ULM, Florida. Wake was his first OC gig; LSU is a better gig than Wake; ULM was his big chance as a head coach; and when you get the chance to go from Marshall to Florida, you take it.

Zaunbrecher's been the unfortunate victim of a lot of head coaching changes, as well. (And if he comes here, you can probably chalk up another one in a year or two.) But check out the list:

2008: Not retained at Purdue when Joe Tiller left.
2004: Followed Ron Zook out of Florida to Illinois.
1990: Swept out the door at LSU with Mike Archer (who in fact came to UVA the next year.)
1976: Hired at the very end of Jim Young's tenure at Arizona; left when Young did that year.

So Zaunbrecher's job changes have essentially been either steps up, or the result of a regime change. Including his own. Speaking of which, how did he do at Northeastern Louisiana?

Zaunbrecher's predecessors there were quite successful; the most successful that ULM has ever seen, as a matter of fact. In five years there, Dave Roberts was 38-19-2, with two Southland Conference championships and three I-AA playoff appearances. His predecessor, Pat Collins, won NE La. a I-AA national championship. Zaunbrecher was hired in 1994 to oversee the team's jump from I-AA to I-A. As you might expect, winning seasons were not in the cards early on, though the Indians did post a couple victories over SEC doormats Kentucky and Mississippi State. In 1996, NE La., being an independent team still, starting scheduling a whole bunch more I-AA teams to boost the ol' win column. This was a moderate success, bringing Zaunbrecher respectable-ish (for Northeastern Louisiana) records of 5-6, 5-7, and 5-6, though they were still getting waxed by the likes of UAB and Louisiana Tech. Apparently tired of five-win seasons (and hey, who isn't?) the NE La. brass let Zaunbrecher go and hired Bobby Keasler, who produced a record of: 5-6. (Keasler then proceeded to break the pattern in spectacular fashion the following year by delivering a 1-10 season.) ULM has never had a winning season since taking the I-A plunge.

So, you can look at Zaunbrecher's tenure there one of two ways. Either he brought that team as much success as they ever had playing at this level of football, or he was never particularly good and artificially inflated his record against the Nicholls States and Portland States of the world.

But the main thing is, what does it mean for us? It'd be nice to say he had any success as a head coach, but if he had, he probably wouldn't be a speculative candidate for a likely dead-end job under a practically lame duck head coach. You can't read anything into that co-OC job at Purdue; basically, his offenses were okay as long Curtis Painter had anyone to throw to, which he no longer does, and anyway he didn't call the plays, Joe Tiller called the plays and it was Joe Tiller's offense and Joe Tiller's show, not Ed Zaunbrecher's. Coaching Curtis Painter to any success at all is probably worth something, because Painter's recruit-guru rankings were wicked mediocre. But we learn nothing from the play-calling. Purdue was a big fan of the five-receiver set; Al Groh probably didn't know you're even allowed to do that until Mike took that trip to Lubbock, Texas and heard all about having the quarterback make throws longer than five yards in the air.

On the whole, Zaunbrecher seems like a pretty fair candidate, if that's the direction the administration is headed. He's bounced around, and yes, when the coach is fired, the OC bears a share of the blame. But he's got 15 years experience as an offensive coordinator. He's no great shakes, nothing spectacular, but 15 years is 15 years, and it's 15 years more experience than Mike had. And let's face it: "Pretty fair" is probably the best we can hope for, given the coaching situation these days. I see nothing in Zaunbrecher's past that would make me head out to CHO to throw things at Craig Littlepage if he were hired, and that's fine by me.

Post Script: If you want to read some li'l stories about the days when the end zone was uphill both ways, in the snow, then take a look at the CDP today. It's worth a read.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

season preview: Virginia Tech

No logo for this one. Like I'm gonna put the VT thing on the front page here when I don't have to.

Media prediction: 6th

ACC schedule:

Twice: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Virginia
Once: Georgia Tech (H), Maryland (A), Miami (A), North Carolina (H), NC State (H), Wake Forest (A)

2007 All-ACC:

First team: None
Second team: F A.D. Vassallo
Third team: None
Freshman: F Jeff Allen
Defensive: None
HM: F Deron Washington, F Deron Washington (def.), F Jeff Allen (def.)

(italics: returning)

Projected starters:

PG: Malcolm Delaney (So.)
SG: Dorenzo Hudson (So.)
SF: A.D. Vassallo (Sr.)
PF: Jeff Allen (So.)
C: Cheick Diakite (Sr.)


F Victor Davila (Fr.)
G Hank Thorns (So.)
G Terrell Bell (So.)
F Lewis Witcher (Jr.)

(italics: returning starter)

Coach: Seth Greenberg (6th season)

Were the preseason predictions a little premature? VT looked like a very dangerous team in September. The Hokies lost Deron Washington to the NBA draft, but the figuring was that point guard Malcolm Delaney and forward Jeff Allen, with a year of seasoning under their belt, would be able to step up and help A.D. Vassallo shoulder the scoring load, and the Hokies would be just as strong, if slightly inconsistent due to their youth.

Mostly this has happened. Delany and Allen are well above their scoring pace from last year, and Allen is a boardmonster besides, grabbing nearly 10 per game. These are going to be the three guys you have to stop. You have a pretty fair chance of beating the Hokies if you can do this, because they're getting very little help from other quarters. Top reserve Victor Davila is good for a quality game here and there, but is inconsistent. Davila is a freshman - you'd expect this. Starting shooting guard Dorenzo Hudson isn't carrying his share of the load either. Hudson is not an especially good shooter, and is hitting on just 28% of his shots this year.

So increasingly it's looking like Tech is a three-man show. They're incredibly young - only three upperclassmen in the rotation - and that doesn't help. Pick a stat category - seriously, just about any stat category at all - and Vassallo, Allen, and Delaney are 1, 2, and 3, in varying orders. Literally the only exception is blocks, in which defensive specialist center Cheick Diakite noses in there, second on the team and bumps Delaney to fourth.

It'll help when they get forward J.T. Thompson back from hernia surgery, which ought to be in time for the ACC season. Even with Thompson, the depth will be a sticking point for this team all season. Teams that can key in on any one of the three stars should usually be able to stop the Hokies, and they'll have a rough ride in the conference on nights when Vassallo, Allen, or Delaney don't have the shooting touch. Tech doesn't look like a March Madness team; it appears likely they'll slip to the NIT this year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

recruiting quickie

Time for another update to the recruiting board. Enough has gone on in the past couple days that I didn't want to wait much longer, lest I have to blow the whole thing up.

- Removed OL/DL Brennan Williams, WR Terdema Ussery, and RB Tavon Austin. Austin should probably have been gone a little while ago. Firing Williams' recruiters pretty much dropped us from the list. And Ussery's recruitment lasted probably all of two days.

- Added OT Hunter Steward. Yeah, I mentioned him earlier and made the call not to add him; with him taking a visit this weekend that was probably a bonehead move. So he's aboard, and what with UVA being his only major offer, a likely commit.

- Re-added OT Oday Aboushi, who decommitted from BC but hasn't dropped them.

- Bumped QB Tajh Boyd up from Low to Fair. So we're in a top four, which is nice, but one of those is Ohio State, which is brutally tough competition for the likes of us.

Keep in mind, of course, that even within the different colors there might be a big difference. Hunter Steward is very likely to end up a 'Hoo - Lanford Collins, though he is also in the blue because of the very few schools we're in competition with, seems more like a Hokie. But you never know.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the recruit: Paul Freedman

Man it has been ages since I've done one of these. Two months. But I'm starting back up and will have these done by Signing Day. And there's a couple items before we begin - some quick linky linky for you....

Levern Belin sounds just as puzzled as you are about his firing. I am not sure we didn't make a mistake here. My extremely uneducated guess without any basis other than my own thoughts is that Littlepage told Al Groh to fire Mike and two other coaches. Because I can't point to any specific reason why the defensive line coach would be let go after a line full of brand-new starters, and freshmen to boot, finished 34th in the nation in sacks.

Aaron McFarling at the Roanoke Times highlights the difference between Bryan Stinespring and Mike Groh, and the column as far as MG is concerned boils down to this quote: "Mike Groh is out of a job today not because of his woeful offensive rankings. He is out of a job because the Cavaliers did not win." Yes, Aaron, that is so. But do you think the reason "the Cavaliers did not win" might have been because of the "woeful offensive rankings"? Juuuuuust maybe?

Gobbler Country's F4H hosted a blog vote for ACC offensive and defensive player of the year and sundry other awards as well. Yours truly participated, and the results are here. FWIW, there is a blog out there - I know not who - that voted Clint Sintim as Defensive POY. That was not me - I gave him a 2nd place vote. Sintim was the only 'Hoo to get a vote of any kind in any award.

Now for a look at this year's tight end pickup:

Name: Paul Freedman
Position: TE
Hometown: Clearwater, FL
School: Clearwater Central Catholic
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 224

ESPN: 75, #54 TE
Rivals: 5.6, three stars, #38 TE
Scout: three stars, #54 TE

Tucker Windle is the higher rated tight end by all the scouting services. But he's a linebacker, or will be at UVA. Thus Paul Freedman is your man. Freedman is 6'6", putting him eye-to-eye with the tight ends we currently have on the roster; with few exceptions, tight ends that have played in Al Groh's offense have been 6'5", 6'6". Windle is 6'3".

So Freedman. As the class stands now, Freedman is the only TE recruit, the first time since 2006 that Groh has taken only one tight end in the class, which was Joe Torchia. (Jack Shields was also listed at TE, but he's your starting center these days.) Freedman's reviews and offer list are extremely meh; at the time of his commitment his only other offers in hand were from FIU, Duke, and Indiana, which - not to put too fine a point on it - suck. Freedman probably would have gotten a couple other offers from schools like BC or Vandy, but his commitment to UVA is solid and he's been off everyone's radar screen since.

I'm not really worried about Freedman's mediocre reviews, because this is Al Groh's offense, and Al Groh has magic TE dust that makes tight ends into NFL prospects. Tom Santi was rated about the same as Freedman is. John Phillips was given some of the crappiest ratings any UVA recruit has ever had, and guess who's this year's first team all-ACC tight end? Ratings don't apply. What worries me a bit is Freedman's blocking. You look at the tape and he blocks like a receiver. Stands straight up and uses his height to win the battles. That works fine in high school. It results in TFL's in college. I wouldn't concern myself overmuch about it, because chances are extremely good that Freedman will redshirt this next year, but it's not like the blocking from our current tight ends has been that good either. In fact it's been atrocious, particularly from Joe Torchia, who has been struggling all year with a shoulder thing and couldn't even stop cornerbacks from getting into the backfield. Andrew Devlin is a redshirt freshman and didn't run-block so hot either. Phillips was fine, but he's graduating. Somebody on this team is going to have to learn how to do it.

So with Freedman, the tight end factory continues to churn, for as long as Foreman Groh hangs around. Next year, Torchia and Devlin will step to the plate, and Freedman will begin his apprenticeship. If Groh keeps sticking around, there's no reason Freedman can't finish his career the same way all our tight ends do: in the NFL draft.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

don't these idiots have anything better to do?

It's an outrage, I tell you. More in a bit. First, recruiting. Some slightly overdue updates to the recruiting board:

- Moved DE Will Hill to Verbal. Obviously.

- Moved WR Tyree Watkins from Soft Verbal to Verbal. This here Rivals article is a pay article but dates from after the Mike Groh firing and includes Watkins' comments on the situation. Watkins says, basically, he's committed and will take his official, and if he doesn't like it, he'll "consider other visits." He's not paying for it. I suspect he will like it.

- Dropped WR Justin Brown. We never really were in great shape for him, and we fired his recruiter.

- Added OT Nolan MacMillan, who got hisself an offer. I wish there were more to know about MacMillan, but Scout gives him the One-star of No Bother Look, and that's a step or two better than ESPN, which doesn't even have him in the database. Awesome.

- Moved Lanford Collins from red to blue and changed his position from DE to LB, as we would use him in a Clint Sintim role. ($) Oh, and he listed a top four of us, VT, Md., and PSU, hence the move to blue. Nice.

I will tell you what, with early enrollments and all we probably have about 26-28 scholarships we can hand out. We have 22 commits. Give us Brennan Williams, Morgan Moses, one of either Collins or Luke Kuechly (or, hell, both), and Josh Evans (who is given meh ratings from the services but has something like 38 offers from damn good football teams) and I will be a happy camper.

One addition I did not make was OT Hunter Steward. This article lists the all-Tidewater offensive football team (and congrats to Perry Jones and Tim Smith by the way) and you would guess from it that he's a very logical choice to end up in blue and orange, given that his other choices are indicated as Marshall and JMU. We will see - I'll keep an eye on it, ya know, but his Rivals profile has an interview - a recent one, like, a December one - that says he has narrowed his choices to Marshall or prep school. Which would kind of indicate he doesn't really have a UVA offer after all, unless it came in the last week or so. So we'll see.

Regarding the OC job, Jay Jenkins at the CDP (and thanks to Mahini of the Good Ol' Blog who had the article up first) has three possibilities based on past ties with Al Groh, Bob Pruett, and/or the Commonwealth. One is a very familiar name: Ron Prince. Ed Zaunbrecher has just been let go from Purdue, and coached for Groh many moons ago. Dave Clawson is the third; Doug Doughty also mentions Clawson here, along with the very prudent caution that Clawson, having just been victimized by one coaching change, might not jump at another job where the head coach is in hot water.

This, in fact, is why we are going to find it difficult to find a real talent at OC. We're not going to get some "up-and-comer" looking to boost his resume. Think retread. Notice Prince and Zaunbrecher and Clawson are all guys who have just lost a job, not some bright new mind on the scene. I know little about Zaunbrecher and Clawson other than what I read, but this I know: I was never enamored of Prince's playcalling. Too much sideways stuff.

OK, so what's got me all worked up these days? Congress, of course. I'm already not real pleased with these fools over the auto bailout. I try to keep politics out of the football blog, but I will just say that Sen. Shelby of Alabama is a fucktard. Now, naturally, Congress wants to stick their meddling noses into college football and mandate a playoff. I'm only half mad about this because of my strong anti-playoff feelings. Don't you leaders of the free world have a war to win, a deficit to tackle, a national debt to pay down, an economy to fix, crime and hunger to solve, AIDS and cancer to cure, ANYTHING AT ALL??

This is probably as good a time as any to point out the Two Truisms of playoffs. Everyone has their own perfect system. Everyone thinks their own system is The Greatest, and everyone wants to share it with the world because it's Perfect and they're waiting for the world to fall at their feet with admiration for saving us from the Abominable Bee-Cee-Ess. If your Perfect Little System doesn't adhere to the Two Truisms, then forget it. It's not going to happen. Accept the Two Truisms, then see if you still like the idea of a playoff:

- Truism #1: It will be BIG.

Do not for a second delude yourself into thinking you can create a cute little four or six or eight team playoff. Here's why. Playoffs have autobids. All playoffs the NCAA has, have autobids. Believe it: None of the BCS conference commissioners will let go of this BCS thing unless all of them get a slice of that pie. So there will be at least six autobids.

Then one of two things will happen. One, the WAC, MWC, and others will cry bloody murder; after all, March Madness includes them, and dammit, so should football. So 11 autobids. That basically means a 16 team playoff, because one at-large bid isn't going to be enough. And what will Notre Dame say about all this?

Or, two, the WAC, MWC, and others will cry bloody murder and get ignored, and that leaves six autobids. Which doesn't fix a damn thing, because that means Texas is still out in the cold, brutha. You need a few at large spots; eight would be the absolute minimum playoff size. You'd actually probably have at least six at-large bids to placate the mid-majors.

And then, take a look at March Madness. You think it's got 65 teams because those are the best 65 teams in the land and they all have a great shot at the title? Hell no. It's 65 because the NCAA couldn't resist the awesome bracket-building, money-grubbing wonder of three weekends of March Madness, baby! It used to be 8 teams. Then it was 16. Then it was 20-some. Then 32. Then 48. Then 64. Then 65. And they're talking of expansion again! Your cute little perfect six team or eight team football bracket will not stay that way.

- Truism #2: It will be home-field sited.

Some people like to claim their little playoff "maintains the integrity of the bowl system" by simply playing the semifinals in Miami and New Orleans and calling them the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl. Why, then you could be the Cotton Bowl champ, Orange Bowl champ, and Rose Bowl champ, all in one year!

I got news for ya: The bowls ain't playin' ball. They're independent organizations. You think the Sugar Bowl is gonna like being the quarterfinals? You would have to get them to agree to this. They're non-profit organizations, and not looking to make a buck - many might simply fold.

And even more important: Fans will not travel twice. You think the ACCCG is so damn empty because there are no VT or BC fans? Of course not: Boston College fans actually helped fill the stadium for the C***** S***** Bowl last year for its best crowd in 13 years. It's so damn empty because it's 1300 miles from Boston to Tampa and the BC fans are going to wait for the bowl game before they spend all that cash and call in dead to the office so they can go. Michigan fans, numerous as they are, are not going to travel to El Paso then Dallas then New Orleans then Pasadena for playoff games.

These are the Two Truisms. If you think you can propose a Perfect playoff system that doesn't take these into account, stop it. It might be fun to think about and wish for. It might be fun to play out each season, like little kids with toy soldiers wishing they had real guns. If you think it's realistically implementable and doesn't take these into account, you're deluding yourself and wasting our time. Every other football division has a big-ass playoff with home-field sites until the championship game. If you still want a playoff, then you must accept that you're:

- Willing to destroy the best regular season in all of sports
- Willing to destroy practically 100 years of unique bowl tradition
- Willing to ruin a great excuse for a lot of people to take a great vacation to a warm spot to go see their favorite team play. Ever traveled to a bowl game? It's a blast. You putter around town, play a little mini-golf. You wear your teams colors at the airport and hi-five total strangers wearing the same colors and shoot dirty looks full of malice at total strangers wearing the other ones. You hit the bars, you go to the game and you enjoy the pageantry. Ever travel to hostile territory? You park your car backwards so nobody sees your license plate, and you hope it's not flipped when you get back.

Playoffs must die.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blogpoll ballot, Week 16

Sorry. This doesn't allow a lot of commenting time. A glitch with the system prevented anyone from entering it on Sunday, and it was fixed by Monday but I got caught up in the whole Mike Groh thing and forgot. So here's this week's.

1Oklahoma 1
2Florida 2
3Texas --
4Alabama 3
5Penn State --
6Southern Cal --
7Utah --
8Texas Tech --
9Ohio State --
10TCU --
11Boise State --
12Oklahoma State --
13Georgia Tech --
14Missouri 1
15Michigan State 1
16Brigham Young 1
17Georgia 1
18Cincinnati 1
19Oregon 1
20Pittsburgh 3
21Mississippi 3
22Iowa 3
23Virginia Tech 3
24Ball State 10
25Northwestern 3

Dropped Out: Boston College (#21).

Obviously there's very little shifting around. I think the chosen BCS title teams are the right ones, and above is the correct order. Missouri doesn't drop, because really, who hasn't gotten the shit kicked out of them by Oklahoma these days? All those +1's are beneficiaries of Ball State's loss. 12-1 is still rankable though. Northwestern drops just because I sort of realized they've beaten a fat stack of nobody, so those other teams get to move up. Oh, and for obvious reasons, VT replaces BC. Once again, the ranked ACC team loses to the unranked one.

Monday, December 8, 2008


We got what we asked for. It's common knowledge by now: Mike Groh is out as offensive coordinator, and DL coach Levern Belin and secondary coach Steve Bernstein are following him out the door.

So is this such a good thing? Well, yes. By all accounts, of course, Mike Groh is a good man, hard worker, great with the players, etc. etc. etc. Most coaches are, and I'm not here to impugn the man's character. But there was a direct correlation between Mike's hiring as OC and the sudden plop sound of our offense hitting the water in the porcelain bowl. The playcalling was a particular point of complaint; I maintain that the playcalling was the one single factor more than any other that cost us a bowl trip. So Mike had to go. Mike's been a loyal Wahoo since 1991 and hasn't held a job at any other college; it can't be fun, firing your son, which is why you don't hire him in the first place. 99% of coaching hires end badly, or at least with some degree of animosity, and it only gets worse and more awkward and more uncomfortable and more acrimonious and really adjectivey when flesh and blood is involved.

So what does it all mean?


According to Al Groh's statement, most of the defensive shuffling has already been done. Your new defensive coordinator is linebackers/special teams coach Bob Diaco, as Bob Pruett moves to something of an associate head coach position. He'll likely focus very heavily on recruiting. I see no reason why Diaco wouldn't continue to coach the linebackers, something he does rather well; a new special teams coach seems likely though. This is Diaco's first gig as a primary assistant, and no, special teams coordinator doesn't count.

Anthony Poindexter finally gets to coach the secondary, and I don't doubt he'll do fine. Running backs coach? Seems like a fish out of water thing. He's back in his element. He also seems a distinct possibility to take over as special teams coordinator from Diaco - this would be as simple as taking "assistant" off his title.

The firing of Levern Belin is what puzzles me. Bernstein was probably pretty much ready to retire anyway, but letting Belin go seems strange. I don't think you can point to the defensive line as a unit that doesn't play up to its potential - in fact, you'd figure the guy who coached up Chris Long to be a second overall draft pick can't be half bad a coach. I dunno, there's probably a reason - maybe Belin kicked Littlepage's cat or something - but to me it's the strangest of the three departures. Assuming Diaco retains his linebacker duties, DL coach is now the only defensive position that we're in the market for.


Couple of holes here, the most glaringly and stupidly obvious being that we need a new offensive coordinator. The only offensive coach on the staff with any previous experience as an OC is WR coach Wayne Lineburg, who was the Richmond OC from 2004-06. OL coach Dave Borbely is also the "running game coordinator" but the man's done nothing but coach offensive lines since 1986 so he's probably not a candidate. Besides, I don't think "coordinator of the 111th best running game in the nation" is a real resume builder for the spot. Lineburg seems like the only candidate to be promoted from within, but an offense as stagnant as ours desperately needs some fresh blood and outside opinions. We would be best served hiring outside the program.

We also need a running backs coach, now that Poindexter has been shuffled over to the defense.


Ay, there's the rub. When coaches depart, the effect on the incoming recruiting class is always a concern. When it comes to the corps of already-committed players, I think we're fine. The bigger question comes from those who've yet to decide.

Bernstein was only the recruiter for two verbals: OT Sean Cascarano and FB Dominique Wallace. Wallace is a helluva runner, but Bernstein doesn't coach either of these positions anyway. I wouldn't worry. Mike Groh was recruiting quite a few players; perhaps the most concerning is WR Tyree Watkins, who's already been sending out maybe a mixed signal or two.

It's the not-yet-committed players where our recruiting may take a hit. The player that probably has (or maybe had) the best combination of talent and likelihood to commit to UVA is OL/DL Brennan Williams - we just fired both his recruiters. Al is going to have to do a lot of talking about the right things in order to keep him interested, because you bet your ass Butch Davis and Jeff Jagodzinski are telling Williams, "This year Mike, next year Al." DE Pat Muldoon was a Bernstein target; this is worrisome not just because of Muldoon, but his teammate Luke Kuechly is considering UVA as well. Mike Groh was also recruiting WR Justin Brown, but he was almost entirely out of the picture anyway, and this will probably cause me to just drop him off the board next update. Dude's going to Penn State anyway.

Looks like we're in for a plenty interesting offseason. But not as interesting as next year's offseason is going to be, if the 2009 season isn't up to snuff.

new video up

The video section now includes the UNC win from this year. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

so many bowls

More than ever before, in fact. In an effort to saturate the three weeks between December 20 and January 8 with enough college football to make your eyes bleed, the NCAA went on a bowl-certifying binge last year, giving us 34 games, almost two per day.

So what's what in the bowl season? I'll tell you, that's what:

Best Non-Crystal-Football-Awarding BCS Game:

Texas and OSU is a very compelling matchup, but Penn State-USC in the Rose Bowl is where it's at. I kind of have this feeling that Michigan is the Big Ten team that belongs in the Rose Bowl - it's sort of a birthright and comes with the territory of being a Michigan fan - but PSU/USC matches up two storied teams playing very, very good football. And (this is the kicker here) the Fiesta Bowl is being played in a glitzy, sterile, corporate NFL stadium, while the Rose Bowl is being played in the Rose Bowl. January 1st, 4:00 Eastern, Pasadena - this is the proper date, time, and place for a college football game.

Best Five Non-BCS Games In No Particular Order:

Ball State-Tulsa in the G*** Bowl. Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my top 15? These two were the surprise teams of the year for pretty much most of the year and occupied a lofty spot in the rankings despite being in crappy conferences. This is a great matchup.

TCU-Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl. It's like the non-BCS championship.

Michigan State-Georgia in the ex-Citrus Bowl. Javon Ringer and Knowshon Moreno. I hate it when the media portrays this sort of matchup as Ringer versus Moreno, because they will never be on the field at the same time. Nevertheless it's exciting. No matter who's on the field, all eyes will be on the running back.

Clemson-Nebraska in the Gator Bowl. The implications are fascinating. Clemson was handed the world, then given up for dead. Thanks to whatever magic Dabo Swinney pulled out of a hat, they've resurfaced on New Year's Day against a team that wasn't ever supposed to be. Both started cold but finished hot. A win for either team will give some pretty restless fanbases a reason to feel all warm and fuzzy going into next year.

Nevada-Maryland in the Humanitarian Bowl. This has train-wreck appeal. Nevada has that quasi-gimmicky and quite successful pistol offense; Maryland has that penchant for sending their evil twin, Sucky Maryland, on the road instead of their actual team. Whether it's Actual Maryland or Sucky Maryland that shows up on the blue turf, I don't think it'll be a close game either way.

Most Craptacular Matchup:

Northern Illinois-Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. You can't blame the IB people here. They've got these contracts in place with the Big 12 and SEC, and that usually provides a pretty decent second-tier matchup of sort-of-respectable BCS teams - and in any case, they're teams people know about. Then the BCS swallowed up two teams from each conference, leaving the bottom empty and the Independence Bowl scrambling. I'll be watching just because Louisiana Tech has been around since forever but has never actually played a televised game, except for once by accident - rumor has it the intern was supposed to hook up the feed for the Louisiana State-Virginia Tech game but got confused.

Prison Rape Waiting To Happen:

Central Michigan-Florida Atlantic in the Motor City Bowl. Adam Weber of Minnesota is 6'3, 220: a big quarterback with a good arm and a decent set of wheels. He passed for 235 yards and ran for 43 more in a 37-3 shellacking of FAU. Dan LeFevour of CMU is 6'3, 226: a bigger quarterback with a better arm and a better set of wheels. This bodes ill for the Owls.

Games I Wanted To See Instead:

Iowa-Oregon State in the Destroyers Of Dreams Bowl. Would have been a decent game, too.

Georgia Tech-Navy in the Paul Johnson Bowl. Come on. Tell me this wouldn't have been totally sweet. They might have set a modern-day record for fewest forward passes. Zero would be a distinct possibility.

Texas Tech-Tulsa in the Fuck Defense Bowl. The 2nd and 5th scoring offenses against the 69th and 84th scoring defenses. Woooooooo!

Virginia and/or Michigan against anyone at all. God damn it.

Notre Lame Hur Hur:

Notre Dame hasn't won a bowl game for freakin' ages. It's been so long ago that 88 Division I-A teams have won a bowl game since the last time the Irish did (that would be the '93 season, 1994 Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M.)

I'm not going to bother listing all 88 teams; suffice to say, it's most of the ones you'd expect and quite a few you wouldn't. If Notre Dame loses to Hawaii this year, the number will go up to 89 once Western Michigan and Rice duke it out to see who gets to be added to the list. Five other teams - Northwestern, Ball State, Buffalo, Vanderbilt, and Louisiana Tech - have their shot at glory as well; the total could go as high as 94.

Friday, December 5, 2008

season preview: NC State

Yay Will Hill and all. I won't have too much more detail on him until my series of semi-in-depth looks at our verbal commitments catches up to him. That sort of fell by the wayside during the season but now that that's over, I can pick it back up. Soon as I'm done with these. Only three more.....

Media prediction: 9th

ACC schedule:

Twice: Boston College, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Wake Forest
Once: Clemson (A), Duke (A), Florida State (H), Maryland (H), Virginia (H), Virginia Tech (A)

2007 All-ACC:

First team: None
Second team: None
Third team: None
Defensive: None
Freshman: F J.J. Hickson
HM: F J.J. Hickson

(italics: returning)

Projected starters:

PG: Javier Gonzalez (So.)
SG: Courtney Fells (Sr.)
SF: Brandon Costner (Jr.)
PF: C.J. Williams (Fr.)
C: Ben McCauley (Sr.)


G Farnold Degand (Jr.)
F Tracy Smith (So.)
G Trevor Ferguson (Jr.)
F Dennis Horner (Jr.)
G Julius Mays (Fr.)

(italics: returning)

Coach: Sidney Lowe (3rd season)

Things don't bode so well in Raleigh. NC State was not a very good team last year, and they lost their two best players. J.J. Hickson played like a first round draft pick as a freshman last year, and then decided to go be a first round draft pick. Gavin Grant ran out of eligibility. This season will be an uphill battle for the 'Pack most of the way.

All is not lost though. The talent appears lacking, but the Wolfpack have two things that can go a long way in a tough season: experience, and a large rotation. Actually, a large rotation can sometimes be a sign of the top players just not being good enough to squeeze out the bottom ones, but it's nice to have options. That experience is coming in very handy too. The two seniors in the starting lineup are Courtney Fells and Ben McCauley, who are currently #1 and #2 on the team in scoring. Fells is the leading returning scorer from last year, so you'd expect that. McCauley, on the other hand, has never been a boardmonster like he has so far this year, pulling down 9.3 rebounds per game. McCauley showed what he can do during his sophomore season, but Hickson gobbled up his minutes last year and he went into a huge funk. He's back with a vengeance, and NC State will rely on that outside-inside punch when crunch time rolls around. Brandon Costner is also vigorously grabbing rebounds at about twice the rebound-per-minute pace of last year, after sort of ignoring that part of his game in '07-'08.

The point right now is left to Javier Gonzalez as Farnold Degand returns - slowly - from a knee injury. Gonzalez has been happy to dish the ball to his teammates and chuck the occasional three - one of which he is good at, the other not so much. His four assists per game are much improved over last year. When Degand finally gets back into the swing of things, his play off the bench will probably dictate whether or not he replaces Gonzalez in the lineup.

Off the bench, NC State's main offense comes from Tracy Smith and Trevor Ferguson; Smith from inside with a so-far-team-leading .577 shooting percentage and Ferguson from outside (Ferguson has only put up five two-point balls this year compared with 18 threes.) Smith's scoring prowess shouldn't surprise - he was second only to Hickson last year in shooting percentage. NC State can be a lot more dangerous if Degand proves worthy of regaining his spot in the starting lineup and bumps Gonzalez to play with the second unit.

What the Wolfpack have is a lineup of pretty much anonymous, decent basketball players. It's the sort of lineup that could make them something of an outside contender in, say, the SEC. Not so much when you have to play UNC twice. This isn't really a tournament team, but a good showing in the conference - which for these guys would probably be 7-9 or even 6-10 - could get them an NIT spot.

glad to be wrong

So I said earlier I thought Will Hill would pick a different school. Sometimes it's good to be wrong. Hill is the 22nd recruit to verbally commit to the University of Virginia. Welcome aboard young man!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

al's not leaving after all. duh.

So, despite the rampant rumors of last night, Al Groh is, of course, staying on as head football coach. This really should come as no surprise, though likely a disappointment to the legion of Wahoos praying for Tommy Tuberville. Further denial of rumors excludes the BOV.

As I've said before, I think Al deserves one final year to prove himself. I also think these are pretty clearly the sunset years of the Al Groh era, as evidenced by Littlepage overruling him on the Peter Lalich issue and booting the starting quarterback off the team. However, it's really a shame that the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude is bringing out such vitriol among the general population. Groh not being fired has saved me the effort of writing the Al Groh Era Retrospective post I had half saved-up, but a little reflection for perspective's sake is in order.

Groh is, by my humble estimation, the second-best coach UVA has ever had. OK, sure: guys like Art Guepe had pretty good records back in the day. Guepe coached UVA to a 47-17 record in seven seasons, but then again, his 1950 schedule included the following teams: George Washington, Washington & Lee, VMI, the Citadel, and William & Mary. Color me slightly unimpressed. Groh has kept UVA football afloat and clean and followed in the footsteps of a legend doing it. This is not easy. Back in October I had a Q&A with the Georgia Tech blog The LegacyX4, and in it I pointed out the following:

But I think his [Groh's] greatest contribution has been to keep expectations high. He hasn't always met them, but we could have been North Carolina. That used to be a program. Then Mack Brown left and Carl Torbush came in; it is hard to replace a coach that's been wildly successful and Torbush wasn't up to the task, and UNC's expectations dropped to the point where six years of John Bunting seemed perfectly acceptable. Groh hasn't let that happen, and it would have been easy to do so when replacing a near-legend like George Welsh. When he leaves, which I think will be soonish, he'll leave behind a quality program and a quality legacy, but a small aftertaste of unmet expectations. Which I think is healthy for the program.
Perhaps Groh's greatest fault has been failing to live up to the 16-9 ACC record he put together in three years between 2002-2004. Since then it's been three years of mediocrity and one splash of whoa-where'd-that-come-from. But say what you will about 5-7, 3-5 - Groh's worst record in his eight years - and believe me, I don't enjoy 5-7, 3-5, but 2-10, 1-7 sure doesn't sound like fun either. That's Bunting's worst year in Chapel Hill; Heel faithful had to put up with three more years of that guy after he did that. Or maybe they didn't mind. Which is why I say that the aftertaste of unmet expectations is a fine service to the long-term health of the program in and of itself.

So I beg, I plead, I beseech the Wahoo faithful: Do not be that fanbase. Al Groh is a good coach. Not a great coach. A good coach, and he's made some mistakes along the way. (Hiring his son as OC qualifies in that category.) But there are about 45 Holy Grail jobs of head coaching: maybe 13-15 colleges, and an NFL team. Groh gave up one of those most coveted positions to come to his alma mater, and since then he's worked his butt off and squeezed a lot of results out of some marginal talent. (I loved watching Marques Hagans, but I don't delude myself that he was well suited to play quarterback without a lot of really good coaching.) Groh is getting one more year. Which he deserves, and which no amount of "I'm not renewing my season tickets" is going to change. Let's spare him the pitchforks and torches and the message board flaming and let the guy do his job.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

first look at 'Hoos minus 44

OK, just for the record, and to get it out of the way, I don't yet buy into the rumors floating around TheSabre that Al Groh has been or will be bought out. I still think he's on his "on notice" year. Keep in mind: I am a loudmouth with access to a computer, just like 99.9% of the rest of the Internet population, and know shit for a fact. But I just don't get the impression yet that Littlepage would change his mind from what he said a couple weeks ago.

So, last night was the first chance I had to get a firsthand look at the basketball least, as firsthand as a TV screen can be. I saw pretty much what you'd expect to see out of a team whose go-to guy is a freshman and who started two others besides. Let's forget about the final score for a second though, because we're going to have no shortage of those this year, and check out the positives. I saw plenty.

- The team played good defense for the most part. Minnesota got at least the winning margin's worth of points on fast breaks off of turnovers. Halfcourt defense was actually quite good.

- Three-point shooting, from those who are actually supposed to be taking them, was also good. Tucker and Sammy shot well. Baker doesn't have the range and probably shouldn't bother unless he's got plenty of time.

- Zero turnovers for Sylven Landesberg. OK, he had a bad shooting night. Shit happens. This is the guy who's going to have the ball in his hands more than just about anyone. It's a good sign that on a night when the rest of the team greased their hands, SL didn't get that memo and protected the rock.

Unfortunately, we just didn't have an answer for that big galoot Iverson, and Blake Hoffarber made some tough shots. He does that. Moral victories are for crappy teams, but we're kind of a crappy team, and I'll be happy to take solace in the fact that we just went on the road, twice, and played competitive games. We have a break for finals, then three extremely winnable home games before Christmas and the start of the ACC schedule in Atlanta. I'm encouraged by what I saw, and I think we'll see plenty of improvement between now and the end of the year.

OK, the recruiting board, since the Thanksgiving schedule kind of killed the usual weekend review. Now that football season is over, I don't really know whether I'll still be doing that, since I might just stop ignoring weekend news with no football or NASCAR or any of that jazz to watch. Chances are that's pretty much just gonna be a football season feature. But we'll see. Still a newish blog.

- Added QB Tajh Boyd. Boyd didn't decommit, Tennessee dropped him. So now he's out looking again and lists four favorites. Even though we're one of four, I'm keeping him in the red. What with rumors of possible academic struggles and us being directly on the bottom of the list, I don't really like our chances.

- Dropped OT Oday Aboushi and DE DeAntre Rhodes: BC and VT commits respectively.

- Bumped WR Terdema Ussery from blue to red after his last interview mentioned us never. ($) None of his five planned officials were to Charlottesville, and the kid's from Texas so it's not like he can just take a weekend jaunt up here any time he likes.

- Updated DE Will Hill's finalists - we're one of four and the announcement is supposed to be Friday, but I don't really dig our chances much. Just a hunch. So he's still in the yellow.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

season preview: North Carolina

Besides just this preview (only three to go after this one!) it's worth a mention that the football all-ACC teams have been selected, and congrats are in order to Eugene Monroe and John Phillips (first team), Clint Sintim and Ras-I Dowling (second team), and Kevin Ogletree and Cedric Peerman (honorable mention). The breakdown goes like this:

First teamers:

Georgia Tech: 4
Wake Forest: 3
Boston College: 3
Florida State: 3
Maryland: 3
North Carolina: 2
Virginia: 2
Clemson: 2
Duke: 1
NC State: 1
Virginia Tech: 1
Miami: 0


Boston College: 9
Maryland: 9
Florida State: 8
Georgia Tech: 8
Virginia Tech: 8
North Carolina: 7
Virginia: 6
Clemson: 5
Wake Forest: 5
Duke: 4
NC State: 4
Miami: 3

Now for UNC. They are, of course, a freaking machine.

Media prediction: 1st (and it's unanimous)

ACC schedule:

Once: Boston College (H), Clemson (H), Florida State (A), Georgia Tech (H), Virginia Tech (A), Wake Forest (A)
Twice: Duke, Maryland, Miami, NC State, Virginia

2007 All-ACC:

First team: F Tyler Hansbrough
Second team: G Wayne Ellington
Third team: None
Freshman: None
Defensive: G Marcus Ginyard
HM: G Ty Lawson, F Tyler Hansbrough (def.)

(italics: returning)

Projected starters: (obviously by this point in the season it's not so much a projection any more)

PG: Ty Lawson (Jr.)
SG: Wayne Ellington (Jr.)
SF: Marcus Ginyard (Sr.)
PF: Deon Thompson (Jr.)
C: Tyler Hansbrough (Sr.)


F Danny Green (Sr.)
G Bobby Frasor (Sr.)
F Tyler Zeller (Fr.)
F Ed Davis (Fr.)
G Will Graves (So.)
G Larry Drew (Fr.)

(italics: returning)

Coach: Roy Williams (6th year)

There's hardly any sense in bothering to analyze these guys. Where, exactly, is the weak point in their lineup? Deon Thompson? He's the one guy in the lineup who isn't as big a name, and oh by the way he's averaging 16 and 8 right now. Such is the magic of North Carolina basketball that by all rights, most of their lineup ought to have jumped to the NBA by now. UNC should be having to try and rebuild and nobody would feel the slightest bit sorry for them because rebuilding with three McDonald's All-Stars (Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller, Larry Drew) doesn't sound like such a difficult thing to do.

So you'll have to forgive me if I sound a little slobberish and overeffusive when I talk about UNC. But the fact is, when our two teams tip off on Jan. 28, there is nothing we can do to stop them. There's college basketball, then there's ACC basketball, and then there's championship basketball, and this is championship basketball. Let's key in on All-Cosmos Tyler Hansbrough, and maybe if we're lucky Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson won't carpet-bomb threes on us. Wait, no, let's play a zone to stop their guards from penetrating, and then we can hear about how Psycho T broke out of the strait jacket again and went terrorizing the town, collecting 24 rebounds along the way.

The only thing that can stop this UNC team is injuries, and right now even that's not working. Marcus Ginyard will be out until the conference season, and Hansbrough is sort of not quite exactly healthy, and UNC just nuked an NIT team (UNC-Asheville) by 68. Without Hansbrough. That's after dropping 102 on Luke Harangody's Notre Dame team. All five of those starting players could step on a land mine and UNC would still have enough talent for a single-digit seed in the tournament.

So, expectations? Oh, just a little. UNC made the Final Four last year, which is nice, you always want to make the Final Four, but losing to Kansas might have had a little bit of an effect on all these guys' decisions to come back. Return to school they did, and now the only thing that'll appease their appetite is trophies, and lots of 'em. It's national title or bust for these guys. Anyone dumb enough to bet against them?

Monday, December 1, 2008

game preview: Minnesota

Virginia Cavaliers (3-2, 0-0) at Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-0, 0-0)

Possible starting lineups:


Who the hell knows?


PG: Al Nolen (8.3 ppg, 5.8 apg, 4.3 rpg)
SG: Blake Hoffarber (9.3 ppg, 1.5 apg, 4.3 rpg)
G: Lawrence Westbrook (14.2 ppg, 1.4 apg, 2.4 rpg)
F: Damian Johnson (9.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 4 rpg)
C: Colton Iverson (8.7 ppg, 1.2 apg, 4.5 rpg)

I totally give up trying to figure out Dave Leitao's mind for now. It's pretty obvious the experimenting continues, five games into the season. Assane Sene gets the start, and Jerome Meyinsse leads the bench in minutes? Mike Scott plays damn near the whole Syracuse game. Jeff Jones and Mamadi Diane, effectively benched for going from inconsistent shooters to consistently bad. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see Meyinsse get the call tonight against Minny.

Anyway, it's the ACC/Big Ten Challenge! I confess to pulling for the Big Ten in all games but ours and the UNC/MSU clash because I happen to like this event and I want to see the Big Ten make it a game so they don't pull the plug on it. And we get Minnesota, which would have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Ralph Sampson's boy is in his freshman season with the Gophers. No, that would never happen in an event put together by a TV network.

Sampson is having a pretty decent season, too. Most of these Gophers are. The go-to guy is Lawrence Westbrook, but beneath him, you can't really zero in on anyone to stop. You just have to play some defense. Sampson is one of six players averaging between 7.0 and 9.3 ppg, and the rebounding load is shared just as equally. In that regard it will be a very good test for Leitao's mantra of playing defense.

They're beatable, too. If we can go on the road to Syracuse and come away with something of a moral victory, we can build on that in Minneapolis. Minnesota's undefeated, but they've had some close calls against teams they shouldn't, like a last-minute win against Colorado State. Of course, we look pretty damn beatable too. Obviously. But a good game can win this thing.

the '09 season starts now

Actually, it started right about the time Marc Verica couldn't escape the grasp of Purnell Sturdivant and went flopping down to the Lane Stadium turf. That's right, all-you-stick-in-the-mud "bowl-eligible" teams. The '08 bowl season is so last year. We're getting a jump start on 2009. Bring on TCU. Or whoever we open the season with.

I spent most of the rest of Saturday, and about half of Sunday, all down in the dumps over Saturday's loss, and kind of pissed off at Verica for making my worst fears about him come true. Because let's face it: that was a better shot to beat Tech than we had last year, and probably a better shot than we'll have next year. But somewhere in between transferring my rage to the imbeciles populating I-80** and finally figuring out exactly how I felt about the future of our intrepid coach, I started to think for real about 2009 and what we'll see and won't see.

We won't see a new head coach, despite the calls for one from the fans. Myself, I've always been slow to call for a firing, and that goes back to the Wayne Fontes days with the Lions when I was about three years behind the rest of the fans in that regard. I don't wish Groh fired this year, either. However: 2009 must be Al Groh's last chance.

It seems likely Groh is running out of magic. Last year, he was able to put aside the doubters early and with much authority, reeling off a seven-game win streak after a horrendous loss to a bad Wyoming team. This year he tried, but could only hold off the wolves for a few games. You can also count Craig Littlepage among the doubters, after the announcement that Groh's tenure won't be extended the one year that his contract allows for. Groh now has three years remaining, but the wolves, as they should be, are circling.

The future does not look as bright for Mike Groh, however. Al Groh got extremely testy when asked about that, which to me says that Al already thinks the question is obnoxiously old after reading one of three things:

A) TheSabre
B) this blog
C) the writing on the wall, in Littlepage's handwriting

Yeah, my guess was C) as well. I hope Mike is demoted to QB coach where he belongs; Littlepage would lose much credibility as AD if he felt like Mike's performance as OC has been acceptable.

So. Demote Mike to a position he does well, and give Al one more year; that is the official position of this blog. Much has been made of the extreme youth on this team; the QB situation has not been ideal; and there is a respectable recruiting class coming in. I am willing to accept these as excuses for this season. But if a competent coordinator is brought in, and the team is still spinning its wheels, it'll be time for a change. Al Groh has never yet had two bowl-less seasons; the first time it happens should be the last. Anything less than 8-4 ought to be grounds for a firing.

Now, what we will see next year is this: another quarterback mess, though with somewhat more talent involved. We were already going to see Verica and Jameel Sewell duking it out; Vic Hall, much to the interest of the many fans who were calling for this, inserted himself into the discussion with authority on Saturday. With Chris Cook likely back, and Chase Minnifield maturing nicely, the need for Hall at cornerback is much lessened. Here's what we're looking at for next year:

- A traditional pocket quarterback with an extremely accurate arm, but prone to brain farts. (Verica.)
- A pure running quarterback who has been away from the position for a while and likely can't be trusted to throw very much, especially early in the season. (Hall.)
- A mix of the two: Hall's athleticism and Verica's inexplicable decision-making, but not the accuracy. (Sewell.)

The problem is that Hall worked out terrifically as a new wrinkle, but VT was able to adjust within a few series. It's fun to do for a game. It's not going to work as an offense unless Hall can throw, and clearly the coaches didn't trust him to do so. Sewell's been out of action for a year and needs an adjustment period. And Verica's going to be remembered primarily for that pick in the end zone for quite a while, not to mention the other 15. So next spring, we'll be right back where we were last spring.

In any case, buckle up: it's now the offseason, or, if you will, preseason 2009, which means questions without any answers and rampant speculation on everything and everyone. And hopefully we'll be in contention for something other than the Fulmer Cup.

**Kindly flush your car keys down the toilet and, for the rest of your life, travel in nothing but taxicabs, buses, and airplanes, if you are one of the fuckers who:

- Is scared to pass a truck in the rain because of all the backsplash, but is perfectly happy speed-matching it.

- Slams on the brakes upon sighting a sign warning of bad weather ahead. These signs do not delineate the border between good and bad weather. It is OK to continue driving.

- Decided it would be a good idea to send out the highway-clogging salt trucks in the middle of the day during one of the top five travel days of the year.

- Races up to the very end of the merging lane, possibly even on the shoulder, when traffic is stopped almost completely, and expects to be let into the lane in front of me. Fuck off.

- Cuts off the traffic in the left lane, then decides not to pass the car in front after all.

Next year, all you people just stay home for Thanksgiving, OK?