Virginia Beat: If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Another

Virginia’s Steve Greer tries to bring down Maryland’s Justus Pickett (photo courtesy

With UVA’s hopes of a bowl season all but dashed after a frustrating loss to Maryland, this would normally be the point in the season where coaches (hopefully) and fans (definitely) try and figure out what is going wrong and why. And if we’re lucky, how to fix it.

This is never as easy as fans think it is – and this year, the fans are baffled, which should tell you just how stupid-hard this year’s edition of UVA football is to figure out. Just when you think you’ve pinpointed a problem, that problem gets fixed in a big way the next week, and two more jump up to take its place. Nothing has been consistently good this season from game to game. One thing has been consistently bad: the special teams. Everyone agrees the special teams are a mess. After that is when the absurdity begins.

Nowhere is that more evident than at quarterback. For five games we watched Michael Rocco regress to the point where he had to be replaced as the starter, and in each of those games – particularly against Louisiana Tech – Phillip Sims looked suspiciously like the future of the program. Then the Maryland game rolled around and Phillip Sims looked suspiciously like a disaster while Rocco came in late in Sims’s old role and engineered a lightning-quick touchdown drive that breathed life into a morbid game. And just like that we have another mini-controversy on our hands, sure to be perpetuated if Sims has another poor game against Wake Forest.

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The offensive line: even more mysterious. After a season without a running game to speak of, the O-line blew enormous holes in a Maryland defense that had heretofore shut down every rushing attack they’d faced, including that of West Virginia. And UVA’s vaunted NFL-level tackles looked like matadors holding a contest to see whose assignment could get to the quarterback first.

The list goes on. A defense that, before, couldn’t stop anyone, played well enough to win. Laroy Reynolds was a walking contradiction, alternating brain-dead freshman mistakes (despite being a senior) with smooth, instinctual assignment football. UVA capitalized on a turnover – something they haven’t even had the opportunity to do all season – and then gave the points right back thanks in part to the dumbest penalty of the afternoon (and there were plenty to choose from.) Perry Jones, last year a decisive do-everything running back, lauded for his football sense, is now a senior and has lost that decisiveness, morphing into a much less productive player. This means he probably has a 200-yard game in his future this year.

As fans, this whole thing is maddening. As someone who makes a hobby out of predicting what will happen in the next UVA game, it’s even worse; how is anyone to know what to expect when every week it’s a different disaster? If the Hoos could have the pass-blocking from early in the season, the run-blocking from the Maryland game, the Rocco of the Richmond game or the Sims of the Louisiana Tech game, the defense of the TCU game, and the special teams of someone else entirely, they’d win by sixty. As it is we’ll just continue to play the slots and hope one week it turns up all sevens.

Brendan’s bio: I’m just this guy … this ordinary Virginia graduate and fan who woke up one day realizing his opinions on everything UVA could no longer be contained in one space. Thus was born From Old Virginia, a labor of love where you can find obsessive opinionating on Virginia football, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, and whatever else when the mood strikes. And if that’s still not enough for you, go to the Twitster and follow @MaizeNBlueWahoo for the dumb stuff that pops into my head when I’m watching the Hoos.

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