Okay, we could all breathe a sigh of relief. We didn't lose to William and Mary. The season could go on as planned. Going into tonight, I thought of this as a no-win game, one from which no positives could possibly come out of. I was clearly wrong, as the Hoos dominated all phases of the game and showed plenty of promise in a 40-3 romp of the Tribe at Scott Stadium tonight. We'll have more postgame news and analysis in the coming days - here are a couple thoughts running through my head that stood out tonight:
The Gameplan: The coaching staff went into this game with a well thought out strategy that was executed exactly as they hoped. Our prior loss to William and Mary was caused by a barrage of turnovers, and that was a worry again as Mike Rocco presented somewhat of an unknown. London and Lazor started the game with a heavy dose of runs, with some short screens and timing routes mixed in to get the sophomore comfortable. Getting a lead allowed the offense to open up, but I thought the early successful ground attack allowed the team to settle in well.
The QB Situation: Mike Rocco started, as planned, and played well under the conservative gameplan. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 174 yards and after early game jitters settled in nicely. Watford also saw a few series under center; though his juking, shifting runs ignited the crowd, we didn't get a chance to see too much from him. The switching of QBs was predictably awkward, though something to get used to these first few weeks at the very least. The passing game was highlighted by Rocco's 40 yard completion to Tim Smith, caught around the Tribe defender's helmet (hopefully Sportscenter highlights that also?)
The Player(s) of the Game: Kevin Parks rushed for 114 yards and 3 TDs and exhibited the elusive nature that we've only been able to see on tape until now. Excited about his future and seeing him alongside Perry Jones and Clifton Richardson. Fellow first-years Darius Jennings (4 catches, 61 yards) and Demetrious Nicholson (1 INT) made big plays and were similarly exciting to watch.
A Head Scratcher: Anyone else confused with Mike London's decision to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 46 in the first quarter? I was begging him to punt and not allow the Tribe any measure of momentum or confidence, especially when there was no evidence that William and Mary would be able to move the ball on offense. Yes, I am nit-picking, but I thought it was a terrible decision - obviously didn't matter in the scheme of things, but it did take a little while to recover from the loss of field position there.
What it Means: Alone? Not much. UVA is an ACC school and should be dominating pansies like William and Mary (yes, I know the Tribe are a top I-AA school, and I don't mean any disrespect for their program....there is a talent gap that should not be able to be easily overcome). But any Hoo fan could continue being cautiously optimistic about the rest of the year. Against inferior competition, the offense was solid. I don't mean to neglect the defense here; everyone thought the unit would be great, and it was tonight. Looking forward to seeing these guys compete on the road against a Big-10 school next week at Indiana (9/10, 7PM)