Bowl season has officially started (still waiting for the Panera Soup-in-a-Bread Bowl…) and for the third season in a row, my beloved Hoos are home for the holidays. It’s hard not to feel some of that December Depression, watching other ACC teams and random schools compete for the glory of being named the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Champion or any of its equivalents. Although Virginia wasn’t bowl eligible this year, the 2010 season had its share of highlights. I’m going to pry myself away from the debacle that is the Washington Redskins game this Sunday afternoon and count down my five favorite moments from this football season.
5) Four Wins!
It may seem a little pathetic, but four wins is indeed an improvement. Virginia beat the three teams they were supposed to, plus one more. It’s going to take quite a bit more for the Hoos to get back to bowl-eligibility, but Mike London is going to take us there. Even though the team wasn’t exactly a football juggernaut, it was really refreshing to see the players continuing to try hard and getting excited to play each week. There is a change in the attitude around the program for sure; here’s hoping that the new year brings changes in play and skill level to match.
4) Terence Fells-Danzer scores on a fake field goal.
Virginia’s special teams unit certainly came to play this year. Holder Jacob Hodges, in his first season on the team, played a crucial role in my No. 4 and 3 moments. Against Maryland, Hodges pitched the ball to TFD, who ran off the right side for the score. The Hoos had been eyeing the Terps’ kick coverage for some time, and liked what they saw. During a season where they didn’t have a lot to work with, the Cavaliers tried to take advantage of every opportunity.
3) Robert Randolph scores on a fake field goal.
I just love this video. The set up, the breakdown, and even the music are just awesome. “I came to dance” pretty much sums up the Cavaliers this season. They might not have executed perfectly at all times (or even some of the time), but Coach London’s guys showed up to dance every game. If the Hoos had converted a couple more plays, or if the ball had bounced differently on a couple occasions, they could have easily had a couple more wins this season. Once again, Jacob Hodges was pivotal in the execution of this play; Les Miles would have been proud. Also, tight end Colter Phillips threw a MONSTER block that allowed Randolph to put his track skills to work and sprint into the endzone, nevermind that he fell down and missed his opportunity to do a celebration dance.
2) Colter Phillips scores his first career TD.
What a season for Colter Phillips! He made the tremendous decision to return to the team after a trying family tragedy, and finished the year as the No. 1 tight end. Phillips had to step up his game and lead the tight end corps after the injury to Joe Torchia, but one of the best moments of his season came in the Cavaliers’ third game against VMI. It had been a long time coming; Phillips caught a touchdown pass against Richmond, but he was ruled out of bounds. The next week against Southern California, an officiating error wiped out his involvement on a momentum-changing trick play. Finally, back at home in Scott Stadium, Phillips caught the first touchdown pass of his career on a 17-yard strike from freshman QB Michael Rocco in the fourth quarter. The fans were holding their breath as the ball floated towards a wide-open Phillips, who snagged it in the back of the endzone. Wahoo Nation had been waiting and hoping for Phillips’ first touchdown catch all season and their faith, as well as Phillips’ perseverance, finally paid off.
1) The Miami Game.
Wow. Wow. Wow. You can talk about John Kevin-Dolce’s insane, LEGAL, hit on Jacory Harris, the huge effort by the offensive line (keeping the QB clean against the nation’s No. 2 sack defense) , or Marc Verica’s clutch drive in the fourth quarter to run out the clock on the Hurricanes. The real story is, well, everything. Everything just came together against Miami on October 30. The offense performed outstanding, and the defense did enough to win the game. Five interceptions!
You also have to mention Coach London’s first ACC win, and the team’s first upset of a ranked opponent since 2008. The students stormed the field after strong urging from the players, and London fell to his knees on the sidelines in jubilation (although he’ll tell you it was a result of exhaustion and skipping breakfast). The Miami win was pure magic, and a moment I’ll remember as a Hoo fan for the rest of my life.