Now that's more like it.
A big win, over big time competition, in front of big time recruits. Makes for a pretty good homecoming weekend, doesn't it? Let's get right to it.
The Forward Pass
I'm clearly not old enough to remember when the forward pass was illegal, but at various points during the game on Saturday I felt like we were trying to relive those days. The two teams combined for a total of 27 passing attempts (the Jackets were 2 of 8 while the Cavs were 9 of 19). Compare that with the 100 rush attempts (53 for GT, 47 for U.Va.). That's not a balanced offense at all for either team... and yet it worked. Well, at least it worked for the good guys!
The Running Game
OK, wow. We gashed Al Groh's defense with our running game. That was impressive. We've got three backs - Perry Jones, Kevin Parks and Clifton Richardson - who are all very capable. Heck, we might even have four if Khalek Shepherd ever had a chance to run the ball. He's doing just fine on special teams for now though. Our offensive line is very good. They showed that against the vaunted North Carolina front seven and they showed it again in their second opportunity against ACC competition.
I'm going to say this every game until its not true anymore. The size of the crowd was pathetic - especially for a homecoming game against a ranked ACC team. No, scratch that. It would have been pathetic even if we were playing Directional Delaware. For the third consecutive home game, we didn't manage to break 50,000 on the official attendance statistic. I have to imagine it was closer to 45,000 if you were counting "butts in seats."
That said, and just like I mentioned last time, I'll give credit where its due. The fans that were in attendance were loud and they were into the game. It was a solid atmosphere. Now imagine what it would have been like if there were another 15 thousand people there...
There were more than a dozen big-time recruits (both committed and uncommitted) in attendance at the game. No new commitments occurred as far as I'm aware, but you better believe that this win helped our position with many of those high schoolers - and probably many more who watched it on TV or saw the highlights on ESPN.
Rushing the Field
Since Brian brought it up, I have to comment on it. I understand the attitude of "act like you've been there before." I really do. I think there are a lot of ways in which teams and their fans need to learn to follow that rule of thumb. To me, rushing the field is not one of them.
I'm a big fan of rushing the field, in large part because of the interactions between the fans and players/coaches that would not otherwise be able to occur. That picture in Schwartz's post-game article? Doesn't happen if we act like we were supposed to win and stay off the field. That video in Brian's article with CavMan crowd surfing? Doesn't happen if we pretend this wasn't a big win and just head on out to the bars.
There's a reason that Coach London has the players come over to the edge of the stands - in particular the student section - and interact with the crowd. That's an important part of having a program with a chance of sustaining itself. Personally, I wish the students were allowed down onto the field after the game every time we play. I understand that there are security and safety issues and so I'm OK with it being limited. But this is a college stadium, with college players and a good percentage of college fans. It should be fun. And being on the field is fun.
- I really like seeing so many athletes from other sports attending games. It happens everywhere (several basketball players regularly attended volleyball matches this season, for instance) but I was especially impressed with the turnout this past Saturday. I saw a good chunk of both basketball programs there and spent a brief moment speaking with Assane Sene (it was brief because I quickly developed a crick in my neck trying to look up to talk to him). In addition, both the 2011 Baseball team for their ACC Championship and CWS appearance and track star Robbie Andrews were honored on the field during the game.
- This is bound to be beaten to death this week, but I really didn't like the pass play called for David Watford on 4th and 1 in the fourth quarter. I understand the thought process that London described and I can't really say it was "wrong" per se. But I didn't like it.
- The Lawn is always an entertaining place to be before football games. Obviously, its a gorgeous location. But the atmosphere there is just so much fun. People are playing a half dozen different sports at any given moment. Alumni are taking pictures. There's little kids and there's old people. Its just plain fun and something I haven't seen elsewhere when I visit other campuses for games.
- I was constantly impressed with the way the defense played assignment football against the Jackets. Numerous times during the game I marveled at how there seemed to regularly be a man right where we needed one to stop a big run. Chase Minnifield was one of the more obvious examples. Just watch any of his five tackles on the game.
- Michael Rocco's throw to Tim Smith for Virginia's second touchdown was nearly perfect. The ball was overthrown by about a foot or so, but was right on target as far as being out of reach of the defenders. And credit Tim Smith for a great fingertip catch.
- Has anyone else noticed that, of our final six games this season, only one has a winning record so far? That one is Virginia Tech, who sits at 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference. Our other five opponents are a combined 14-16 and 4-9 in the conference.
- I have to think that people feel pretty decent about finding two wins in our remaining schedule to become bowl eligible. Nothing is guaranteed, but N.C. State, Maryland and Duke all look "winnable" and we just need two of them. Another upset somewhere along the lines would be some nice icing.