The Good Ol' Blog Archive for November, 2008
Sunday, November 30th, 2008
The ‘Page speaks:
“In accordance with a specific clause in Virginia head football coach Al Groh’s contract, I have informed him that his contract will not be extended for an additional year. Coach Groh has three years remaining on his current contract. I will be meeting with him in the next 48 hours to conduct a year end review of the football program. I will have no further comment about coach Groh’s contract or the review process of the program.”
I’ll have more thoughts on the Virginia Tech game and the state of the program soon. We certainly have plenty of time now to hash things out. But on the non-extension, my first reaction is that I don’t disagree with the decision. Another losing season is one that doesn’t deserve a contract extension, and that standard was made two years ago. Consistency in decision-making is a good thing for the coaches, the players, the fans, and the recruits to see. I’ll just add, however, that many of the problems afflicting the program also can be laid at the feet of the administration. Losing players to academics and other shenanigans, not allowing mid-year enrollment for years, and other roster damaging factors aren’t just Al Groh’s fault.
So, that’s fine, don’t extend Groh’s contract. But don’t neglect to address the other causes of the current downturn as well. If there’s a contract extension that can be denied Littlepage and others, I think it would be fair to nail them as well. Regardless, there needs to be a top-to-bottom review, and that includes every aspect of the University that affects its football program.
One more point: “no further comment” about the review process is not acceptable. I hope they at least provide us paying customers and tax payers some insight into the quest for improvement. Transparency is key for a state institution that has asked its constituents to make the number of sacrifices we’ve made for the program. We certainly deserve to know how the highly salaried (and buy-out protected) state employees and the student athletes they manage and we pay to see are being handled when their performance is lagging this much.
Saturday, November 29th, 2008
I’m heading back to Virginia from the STL (no, didn’t run into Chris Long), and the game will be waiting on my DVR when I get back. Dare I watch it? Or should I just read about Virginia slipping into its second losing season in three years? It’s almost a no-brainer: why subject myself to the pain? The Hoos haven’t won in Blacksburg in a decade. And the latest batch certainly doesn’t inspire me to think that trend will reverse. A team that allowed Duke to end its conference losing streak and couldn’t score against the Clemson team that finally got Bowden fired isn’t going to be the team that finally beats the Hokies in Lane Stadium. So, I know what’s going to happen. Harboring hope would be like repeatedly sticking a finger in a light socket and expecting a different result.
But, of course I’ll watch it. There’s a chance Virginia might win given the flaws in this Hokies team and their uninspiring offense and constant quarterback controversies. A slim chance, but for that slim chance alone I’ll sit down and suffer through the recording. I’ll watch the courageous final game of Cedric Peerman and Eugene Monroe and other seniors. I’ll watch Marc Verica’s continuing maturation, as well as the other young talent like Ras-I Dowling. And I’ll watch the Hokies lock up yet another division title at Virginia’s expense.
Hopefully, the rebuilding is already under way. But, until then, I’ll need more than the usual allotment of beers to drown the flames tomorrow evening.
Virginia Tech: 17, Virginia: 9
Saturday, November 29th, 2008
My brutally honest side of the Q&A with our country cousins is up here.
Saturday, November 29th, 2008
After barely beating (and losing once) to mediocre teams, it’s actually oddly refreshing that Virginia only lost to Syracuse on the road by three points. The refs played their traditional part* in screwing the Hoos:
We looked to have the game in hand until Sammy and Sylven got 4 fouls…. Once those two hit the bench, we went from a 5 point lead to a 6 point deficit pretty quick. Overall, it was a heck of an effort by the team to jump on Cuse early and hold them off for most of the game. If Hess had brought his glasses, UVa would not have been in such bad foul trouble (particularly Sene and Sammy). Sene was causing big problems for Cuse early on, but was blown for two whistles early, one was a clear blocked shot – the 2nd foul got him on the bench and he picked up his 3rd right before the half. Sammy Z played like a veteran today – hit shots, passed well, got a few steals, good team management. And kudos for Jerome playing well over his head against better competition. He even blocked a dunk that helped UVa get back in the game late. Even through all the issues, had UVa just hit a few more FT’s and not gotten busted for ticky tacky non-shooting fouls that gave Cuse FT opportunities in the second half, the Hoos win it.
Well, complaining about the refs sure does beat complaining about the team itself. But I’ll add that Diane tossing up another 0-fer effort and the nine turnovers by the starting guards didn’t help either. Regardless, there’s a possibility that this game reflects Dave Leitao starting to figure out this roster a bit. Starting Sene, giving Meyinesse big minutes, benching Diane — there’s still experimenting going on, for sure. But these may also be moves towards consistency as well.
*message board post that will expire
Friday, November 28th, 2008
I’m not sure I’m as optimistic as Mike, but his well-written call for patience* on the Edge board yesterday deserves to be considered:
99.9 percent of all Wahoo fans knew that this year was going to be tough, frustrating and a learning year for a lot of young players. We just lost Lars, Joseph and Singletary on the heels of Reynolds and Cain graduating. Leitao doesn’t even have a senior class of his own, and his first class was put together at the last moment coming in on the heels of Gillen’s departure and the program being dead last in the league.
Within a couple of years, he had the team tying the regular season ACC title with UNC, and being a Reynolds ankle sprain away from a Sweet 16 season. His recruiting has steadily improved since he first year. He got Sammy Z, Mike Scott and Jeff Jones in his second class and nearly missed getting Patterson.
His third class (now true freshmen) got us Sene, Landesberg and Brandenburg (who will be a good one next year), and barely missed on Davis (yet another top national recruit). The newest recruiting class already has the likes of Spurlock and Evans with a big time guy in Sidney taking strong interest – it only takes on big time guy like that to change the dynamic of the team.
Last year saw some ups and downs, but for the most part Leitao kept the team together even though they experienced FIVE post player injuries, three of which were for most of the season and one player (Mike Scott) playing with an ankle sprain for the year. I think many of us can see the difference between an unhealthy Scott and a healthy one (well, the 2,000 or so fans that have elected to show up to the games this year)….
Leitao did a good job for three straight years as a coach here and had our undermanned teams (thanks to severe damage done by Gillen) playing well above their heads on many occasions. This year is a rebuilding one. Gillen left virtually nothing outside of Reynolds and Singletary at the guard position. Diane and Joseph are and were inconsistent at best. Jones, Zeglinski, Farrakhan and Landesberg are all 1st or 2nd year players. Fans need to just let the coach get the team on track. While losing to Liberty is embarrassing, the team is a long way from finding it’s chemistry and Leitao is still trying to figure out which lineups are going to work come ACC season. And we have yet to see much of Sene and Soroye, which we will see once we play teams that aren’t running four and five guard lineups.
Now, keeping all that in mind, I still believe Leitao could have coached a better game against Radford and Liberty, but I do know that he’s teaching these kids, and his manner and patience is much better this year. I also believe that the frustration fans have isn’t as much about their thoughts on HIS coaching as it is an extension of their grief over the football program’s coaching.
I challenge all fans to keep some perspective and give the coach some latitude this season. He WILL turn this team into a competitive one. Right now, he’s trying to get them to play proper defense. Leitao cannot play defense for them. And offensively, Virginia seems to play pretty well when Baker isn’t trying his best Sean Singletary impersonation.
*subscription-only message board post that will expire
Friday, November 28th, 2008
“Yes.” – Peter Lalich, on whether he got a “raw deal” at UVa.
Thursday, November 27th, 2008
With the holiday week travels and the extreme shock over the Liberty debacle, I haven’t had a chance for a proper “Virginia Tech week” kickoff. No matter. Let’s dive right in with our blog Q&A. This week, we’ve got bourbonstreet over at TSL’s blog helping us out. Here we go:
1. What the quarterback situation in Blacksburg? What should the Hoos expect at that position?
The Quarterback situation here in Blacksburg is two-fold. The first part is match-up based, the second or closing part is based upon the hot-hand. Whichever QB appears to be the better match-up on paper has received more playing-time in the first three quarters of play. Then, if a QB has distinguished himself in that particular game pro or con, the better preforming QB has been afforded the chance to close things out. In generic terms, Sean Glennon is superior when facing a zone defense, and Tyrod Taylor is the QB when we face man-to-man defenses. That said, we just saw Sean Glennon close out Duke one week after we saw Tyrod Taylor close out Miami. I look for both to play vs. Virginia, with the less turnover prone one getting the final fifteen minutes of play.
2. It’s been a bit of a down year (relatively speaking) for the offense — how will the offense attack Virginia’s defense?
By playing great defense. That’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely. As our defense has improved from 71st worst all the way up to 8th best on the year. Whereas our offense has gone from 92nd down to a nearly totally inert 109th on the season. Ergo, you will see yet another field-position and who (or Hoo) blinks first stratagem from Frank Beamer. Normally I would call for Darren Evans to just bludgeon anybodies 3-4 defense with our internal Zone-Blocking plays right up the gut. Evans only needs 74 more yards for 1,000 on the year for his rookie season. However, my spy’s have suggested that Evans is less than 100% for this Commonwealth Cup game. Evans hurt his shoulder and got his bell rung vs. Duke. That tells me that we may have to play Tyrod Taylor and play him a lot in order to have any legitimate version of a rushing attack. Look for Frank to play for field-position to help the aforementioned inert Hokie offense with short-fields. Also look for Frank to be Barry Goldwater conservative and hope that the Hoos blink first on some major mistake. This is why I called this game a race to 10 points. First one there wins.
3. Who are the key guys on Virginia Tech’s defense, and how should the Hoos scheme for them?
Other than Victor “Macho” Harris, this years Hokie defense does not have a lot of star power outside of Blacksburg VA. But we are catching a glimpse at some of tomorrow’s orange and maroon stellar nursery today. The front-four for Virginia Tech has gone from good to nearly great over the course of this year. Jason Worilds is a future all-ACC performer at DE and both Graves and Thompson are very solid at the DT spots. Orion Martin has gone from walk-on to a DE who is getting more than a couple next level looks. The catch here is that things drop off a bit when we go to our defensive-line back-ups. Therefore, I would give the VT second-stringers a healthy dose of Peerman who is tough enough to run inside. But to start things out, I would iso the Hokies second-layer (the Linebackers) on the Virginia TE’s and Peerman out of the backfield. Sturdivent is rock solid vs. the run but suspect at times defending the throw. Warren will give you all he’s got, but sometimes he just does not have enough. That tells me there could be some separation to be gained on any passing route where the Virginia target remains in motion, as our Linebackers can be beaten through the air.
4. Is the Hokie special teams unit on par with previous years’ game changing units?
Kicking and Field-Goal kicking have only experienced a nominal drop; if they have experienced that. Punt-returns have been very good, when “Macho” Harris will bring them back. “Macho” has been reluctant to field punts for the last several games; something I characterized as a Professional self-preservation mode. But “Macho” can take any kick to the house, when he does actually return one that is. Kickoff returns have been below average for all returnees not named Dyrell Roberts who was an electric RB in high school. The real bugbear has been the VT punt game. But oddly enough this has had precious little to do with Punter Brent Bowden. Mr. Bowden has good distance, quality hang-time and he has improved over last year as a directional punter. The true ill behind the 112th ranked VT punt return defense is the coverage teams in general and the lack of starting gunners in particular. Due to both off-field and football related injuries, VT as been without the starting services of Brandon Dillard (Achilles), and Zach Lucket (discipline) for the entire year. Not only were these two guys our starting Wideouts, they were also the starting gunners on our so-called “Pride & Joy” or punt-coverage team. Their absence shows, as opponents have scored 21 points on punt-returns vs. VT so far this year.
Thursday, November 27th, 2008
A reader chimes in on the Liberty loss:
I was at the last loss to Liberty! It was the final rusty nail in the coffin of the Jeff Jones era. (This was back when only Richmond was “allowed” to give us a run for our money…not even VPI really came close back then.) It was over Christmas break, and I went to UHall in an SUV (remember those??) with other folks from Lynchburg, some of whom rooted for Liberty. Place was quite empty. Game was horrible, on both sides…you know, that half-court snoozefest JJ would run that would produce final scores in the 50s.
Far and away the highlight of the evening was the halftime show: Battle of the Mascots. Mattress King was all-world– he would put the ball in his crown and run down the court. No one had any peripheral vision, so they couldn’t do anything but run into each other. Final score was 4-2.
So to compare that to our current situation…Liberty is better now, I have to think. Also, JJ’s program was deteriorating in a way only Pete Gillen’s could match, while Leitao is (hopefully) building a program. We have some talented young guys…let’s have fun watching them form a team.
For some reasonx, I don’t feel better. If we’re making arguments that Liberty is suddenly a tougher opponent or that things right now aren’t as bad as the final dark days of the Jones era, then we’re not in a good place right now. However, the image of a giant mattress dunking the ball made me smile, I guess.
If you want to drop me a line about the Liberty game or anything else, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, November 27th, 2008
May Hoos everywhere feast on turkeys all week!
Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
Here’s Ben lamenting about the loss, including the missing big guys:
I really question the personnel decisions he made in this game. Leitao must (must!) know that interior defense was the fatal flaw in last year’s team. This year, he has in his cache three tall gentlemen that he didn’t have last year: Soroye, Sene, and Brandenburg.
Sene, from what I understand, still has a few academic hang-ups with the NCAA. Fine.
Soroye and Brandenburg, though, could and should play. They both sat out the entire game against Liberty. Why? Why? Why? Virginia needs their size, badly.
Why indeed. Soroye sat the entire game? A game where the Hoos were struggling defensively? I’d like to hear an explanation on that one, wouldn’t you?