Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Ian over at Sexy Results! agreed to do an e-mail Q&A with me about our respective favorite teams this week, and over here I've got my questions and his answers. This is a bit different from the typical game preview that I've done in the past with opponent's bloggers, and more of an interesting (and somewhat humorous) view at their programs as a whole. Check out his blog for my answers to his questions about GT's program.

Question #1 -

UVa seems to be a perpetual 8-4 type program over the past two decades, does this team have a Bobby Ross in 1990 type season in them where they get over that hump? Is the UVa fanbase happy with never being bad, but never being great? Would you accept a 3-9 season for an ACC title run like Maryland had?

Ian: Gee, I thought 1990 was going to be that year, but Scott Sisson intervened and sent us on a four-game tailspin. And VT's been copying our model ever since. Due to our young, talented offensive line and developing passing game, I think if either McCabe or Olson progresses at QB, we'll definitely be in the ACC hunt in a couple years. Groh seems to be addressing what killed us last year against the Florida schools and has stressed recruiting for speed. But FSU and Miami can't stay down forever, and VT is VT, so we're probably looking at an 8-4 glass ceiling as far as the eye can see. We're in the same boat as Maryland, BC, GT, Clemson and NC State: although all of us are capable of challenging for a trip to Jacksonville, no one can really say why they're more deserving than the other.

Sadly, I think last year was our best chance for a breakthrough, and will be for some time. This was a veteran team with a favorable schedule that would eventually produce seven NFL draft picks. Miami, FSU and VT all looked primed for down years. And yet, we ended up losing to all three, and got sent through the bowl ringer due to conflicts with classes (Champs Sports Bowl asked us first) and the Big East refusing to send Syracuse to Boise in order to release us and help the ACC. FSU was a blowout, but the VT and Miami games were very winnable into the second half.

As an addendum to #1, I'd say that UVA fans would definitely suffer through a 3-9, 5-6 run if it meant an ACC title. After George Welsh's last truly successful year (1998), we've been quick to note how we've been to bowls five out of the last six times. But here they are: MicronPC (ass-whooping by Illinois), Oahu (ass-whooping by Georgia), Tire Bowl (two decisive wins against overrated Big East teams), MPC Computer (embarassing loss to a Fresno team that clearly wanted it more). All bowls are not created equally, and last year, we may as well have not gone at all. This year, we're being mentioned as possibilities for the Liberty or Houston Bowl, where we'd be matched up against someone like UTEP. The only cachet this has is the novelty of going to a bowl with no ACC tie-ins. Other than that, you'd be hard-pressed to find a UVA fan who thinks this is a best-case scenario for 2005. If we go to a bowl that our fanbase doesn't care about or is openly hostile towards (as was the case last year), did it happen at all? I'd take the ACC Title in a nanosecond.

Question #2 -

Nathan: How upset are UVa fans that VT joined the ACC, especially with the governor strong arming them into the deal to begin with? Is this something that helps the rivalry, or are people in ‘hooville still pretty upset about it? This to me is the most underrated story of the ACC expansion.

Ian: People don't believe me when I say that I don't hate VT so much as pity them, but it's true. They front like a football powerhouse, but they've more well known for harboring sex offenders and losing every important bowl game they've been in. In fact, they've never won a national championship in ANY sport. Although they're the "Tech" school, they can't claim academic superiority or a brighter vocational future ("A&M" would be a more accurate representation of their program). Add to that the fact that UVA is in a nicer city (voted #1 place to live in America last year), has a better social scene and hotter girls, and now you see where I'm coming from.

In Georgia, most people assume it's a rivalry similar to GT/UGA, and it kinda is...except WE'RE GT. Meaning that the fat-ass holding up the line in a Roanoke Bojangles' is probably wearing a VT hat and Starter jacket. (edit - Nathan: remember, Ian is a law student at UGa now, adding to the humor)

I'm glad you noticed the political pressure that resulted in VT joining the ACC. I have to remind people all the time that the governor (a former UVA QB!) wanted VT in, presumably because they have a larger voting base in-state. At no point did VT enter the discussion of potential schools to become the 12th member; most consider it to be on the level of West Virginia or Louisville. As I've said before, in the short term, the move didn't matter because we play VT every year anyway. But relegating them to the Big East would've gone a long way towards establishing UVA as the #1 football power in the Commonwealth. VT would still be alright due to what Beamer's accomplished, but it would still be tied to the sinking ship of Big East football.

Question #3 –

Nathan: Despite losing several starters on the defensive line and in the defensive backfield, GT has managed to still have a top 25 defense. Despite the fact that UVa continually has higher ranked recruiting classes compared to ours, it seems a few injuries in the front 7 have had far more of an impact on the Cavs. Is this a depth issue? Are the injured players just that good, and how well is that finally healthy group going to play this weekend?

Ian: You've touched on a point that's lost amongst a lot of people who get caught up in our recruiting. Groh recruited the shit out of the nation's linebackers, but we've had a pretty bad record of attrition, which explains our lack of depth. That's pretty much all there is to it. It's gotten better recently, but we've played something like 11 of our 23 true freshman this year.

Question #4 –

Nathan: Wali Lundy is a badass who gets no national recognition compared to what he should probably receive. And I know of Hagans, and D’Brickshaw, but that’s about it on the offensive side of the ball, really – about UVa’s entire team outside of Brooks. I follow college football more than most, why does this seem like such an anonymous team to me? Yet, each Sunday I see a collection of quality NFL players from Virginia, and I know there are probably several more just hiding away in c’ville right now. Who are they?

Ian: Wali Lundy is an interesting case. I think he broke into the "top RB's" discussion at the beginning of the year by default because he's been getting significant playing time since 2002. The thing is, he never struck me as a transcendent talent. Though he's adept as a runner and a receiver, he's been banged up over his career and has the tendency to cough the ball up, which I guess makes him a poor man's Tiki. People forget that after the FSU game, Groh made everyone win their jobs back, and Lundy got replaced by Alvin Pearman. He ran for 220+ yards against Duke, and Lundy never reallly got to start again. Now this year, Cedric Peerman has looked more impressive and Michael Johnson is more of a gamebreaker. Hopefully, the Temple game was indicative of what we can expect from the (presumably) healthy Lundy/Snelling combo that we were relying on at the beginning of the year to do the "Thunder and Lightning" thing.

As far as the rest of the offense goes, I think that our TE's are very underrated. Most people are too caught up in what Heath Miller accomplished to realize that Santi, Stupar and Phillips are doing an excellent job replacing his receiving skills. The truth is, Hagans and Groh really leaned on Miller at the cost of diversifying the passing attack, and it showed against FSU and VT, where our offense was Tereshinski-conservative. That's changed with the improvement of our young WR's, and since defenses don't gameplan around the TE's like they did for Miller, they often take teams by surprise.

I think the real unsung hero is on defense, if you can call a former five-star recruit "unsung." Though Ahmad Brooks led the team in tackles last year, I think a lot of that was due to the lenient tackle-counting system that benefits stars like Urlacher and Lewis in the pros. And though Brooks looked GOOD in this year's FSU game, Kai Parham's been the real leader. It's pretty much assumed that Brooks is leaving after this year, so I hope for Cobra Kai's sake that he sticks around, not only to bolster our defense, but to have the LB spotlight to himself.


Blogger Ian said...

Your stuff is up.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

btw - if we win this weekend, I'm suddenly the biggest UVA fan in history against VT. Beatahokie.

12:11 PM  

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