With the fridge well stocked, the charcoals lit, and that dusty #7 SCHAUB jersey aired out, it could only mean one thing: college football was right around the corner. And with that came a slew of mixed emotions: excitement, hope, anxiety. But something was different. Virginia had finished last season with nothing short of embarrassment, and to address this, Head Coach Al Groh had fired his own son from the offensive coordinator post and instead replaced him with Gregg Brandon from Bowling Green. Brandon had been OC under now-legend supercoach Urban Meyer, and under Brandon’s OC and HC reigns, Bowling Green had reached an 11-3 record and finished one year with the second best offense in the country, averaging over 500 yards per game.
So the Virginia Football season started with anxiety and great uncertainties.
What will Brandon bring to the program and how well will the spread offense translate? Who will start at quarterback, and if the old saying that "if you have two QBs, you haven’t got one" is true, what does that mean for a team with three QBs each with starter experience? Can a coach like Groh succeed as both head coach and defensive coordinator?
That was four weeks ago. This is now. Coming off a bye week and headed into this weekend’s matchup against a formidable North Carolina squad, do we have any answers?
I don’t think we have much. It looks like Jameel Sewell has finally secured his place as the starting QB, which I think comes as a surprise to most of us. With Vic Hall on the cover of season football tickets, media guides, and Cavalier Corner, to the public, it was all but certain that he’d be the calling the shots this season. As it turns out, after a disappointing start against William & Mary (yes, we know they’re an FCS team…can we move on? No? Oh, okay.), we finished Week 1 with the same questions with regards to the QB slot. But I still question whether Sewell will be starting the rest of the games, and watching Al Groh, I wouldn’t be surprised if we continued to spice it up, going back and forth depending on the opponent.
As far as the spread offense goes, it has become apparent that Brandon’s magical offensive playbook was lost in translation in Charlottesville. But it’s also apparent that we’re not willing to give it up entirely yet. Coach Groh said after the disappointing loss to Southern Miss that we need to return a bit to our roots – not entirely abandoning the spread offense quite just yet, but incorporating some of the things that have been successful for him during his nine years here, including, as we all witnessed, the return of the passing game, which was noticeably absent against TCU.
Speaking of Groh, wow. When was the last time we’ve had such animosity towards anything in Charlottesville, much less a coach? With an 0-3 start, I simply cannot imagine any realistic scenario where Coach will keep his job at the end of this season. I’ve heard rumblings from within the Athletics department that he is on his way out for certain, though Athletic Director Craig Littlepage has announced that he will not fire a coach mid-season. I don’t think I need to dwell on this point for very long, as a quick Google for Al Groh will take you to such fine internet establishments as DontFireAlGroh, CoachesHotSeat, and FireAlGroh.
In sum, I’m as confused today as I was four weeks ago. I know I have a tendency to drink the Orange Kool-Aid, in part because it is delicious and in part because it’s the only Kool-Aid I’ve got to drink, but I’m still perplexed as to what happened to the hope – and I use that word rather than "expectations" or "possibilities" for a reason – that this season offered. Can anyone answer my questions? Does anyone have more of the Kool-Aid that I can drink?