The alumni have been invited. The dinners have been planned. The festivities are abuzz in Charlottesville. But there's really just one thing on our mind. Virginia. Indiana. Redemption. How is this going down in the books?
I'm going to start off today by saying that Indiana is better than one might think, despite being exposed by Ohio State last week. Let's not forget that they came close to beating (and in my opinion, should have beat) a good Michigan team. They were able to shut down young Tate Forcier in the Big House (the only place that then 3-0 Forcier had played). And it wasn't a fluke.
What did we learn from Indiana - Ohio St. though? The Indiana offense (a strong one at that) breaks down in the face of a good defense. The Hoosiers were only able to convert on 3 of 14 third downs -- that's about 21%, which is near what the powerful UVA defense allows on average. In fact, ESPN recently named Virginia's defense one of the most underrated units in college football, saying that "If Al Groh gets canned, don't blame the UVa defense." (I think they've got it all wrong. It should be, "If Al Groh doesn't get canned, blame the UVa defense.")
The UVA defense has also held all three FBS opponents well below there averages. And in case anyone has forgotten how we ended up at 1-3, it's by playing a now-No. 9/10-ranked TCU (an undefeated team who is entering into BCS and National Championship hopes talks) and a previously ranked UNC. Yes, we lost to William & Mary. I know that. I remember that. I am reminded of that every time I cross another bookworm from W&M who has never been to the high school field they call a football stadium and who couldn't tell you W&M's record at the end of last season, but who all of a sudden cares because they can only dream to be as good as Virginia in something -- anything.
If Saturday doesn't work out for us, I suspect we have one thing to blame -- offense. We've been lacking in offense since Day 1 and while it's shown some signs of life once again (namely be reverting to old school Virginia football), it's far from what we need to complement our defense.
Let's look at the numbers, and as we all know, Numbers Don't Lie:
- 100. Virginia can't seem to break the 100th ranking mark for offense. We're currently ranked 117th in the nation for total yards (272.3 per game), 110th for rushing yards (93 per game), and 106th in points scored (19.5 per game).
- Four. Vic Hall played in four positions last weekend -- slot receiver, quarterback, safety, and holder. He may be one of the most versatile players Virginia has ever seen (Bullet Bill Dudley may beg to differ).
- Sixteen. The number of times Jameel Sewell has been sacked in three games, despite having four returning offensive linemen. Come on guys, let's get it together.
- .500. Virginia is 42-40-2 in Homecomings games. Shouldn't the win percentage be MUCH higher than that for Homecomings?? Al Groh thinks so. This is why his teams are 6-2 in Homecomings games during his tenure. .500 is also an important number because ESPN thinks that it is possible for us to climb back to .500 with an October schedule against Indiana, Georgia Tech, and Duke.
- 470. That's how many yards Tandon Doss has caught for on the season. That's a lot of yards, guys. Virginia Defense is going to have to figure out a way to stop the 3rd ranked receiver in the Big Ten. Luckily, with a very strong group safeties, Hoos stand a chance.
And finally, Virginia is UNDEFEATED, UNBEATEN against Big Ten teams when at Scott Stadium. That's right. We're 1-0, DOMINATING Penn State in 2001 with a CONVINCING 20-14 win. Or something like that.
This week, it's Virginia's Defense vs. ...well, Virginia's Offense. I think it's going to be a low scoring game, and while the line says that we're favored by 7, I'm going to go ahead and say it's a coin flip. But I've been drinking the kool-aid again. So I'm calling it 10-7, UVA.
UVA carries the flag for the ACC this year, as this matchup is the only ACC-Big Ten game of the season. Let's show the boys from IU that there's no room for IERS. Get it? HOOS. HOOSiers. iers. ...okay, I'm done here.
One more thing. Planning on going to the game? I suggest you learn what you can bring and what you can't.