A couple of times a year, I'll travel to away games and write The View from Scott from the perspective of a visiting fan. These editions of that series tend to be a little more random and spastic because the road trip itself is part of the experience. This is one such edition. You've been warned.
Wow. Did I say wow? Tiki did.
Wow. Just making sure.
That was one of those games that I'm very unlikely to ever forget witnessing. A blowout, a collapse, a comeback and The Sack. All in one game.
Throw in an entertaining experience in two cities I've never been to previously (Indianapolis and Bloomington), a lunch with an alum, a member of the staff and a current student, a pre-game tailgate that was PACKED, and some of the most enjoyable conversations with two players' mothers... yeah, I had a good time on Saturday.
Oh yeah, and we won!
The 'Hoos are 2-0 for the first time in forever (ok, ok, so its only been a few years, but it seems like forever). It wasn't pretty, but it sure was fun. Let's dig in!
I have to start here. It's essentially what ended the game and gave us the victory (sorry Robert Randolph, you actually won us the game and I'll talk about you later, but this was just too special). I'm fairly certain I've seen a sack and a forced fumble by a player in the same move. And I'm definitely sure I've seen a forced fumble and a recovered fumble in roughly the same move. But I've definitely never seen a sack, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble in the same move. Not just the same play. But the same move.
I'm sure you've seen the play. But please, go watch it again. Please. I'll wait.
Worth it, huh? It won't get old. For the record, while the strip and recovery were all Cam Johnson, several other players were heavily involved in making that particular blitz work the way it was supposed to. Go read JHoo's 10 Things article (behind a paywall) for a complete breakdown - its quite enlightening.
I was warned that the traffic from Indianapolis to Bloomington could be an issue because of construction (thanks Aimee!) but that turned out to not really be an issue. The real issue was getting back and forth between my hotel and the airport.
Virginia pretty consistently has roads that are under construction, especially up in Northern Virginia. But they don't usually close whole roads or whole interchanges. That's what happened at the intersection right by my hotel. Not very convenient.
Otherwise, my stay in Indiana was quite enjoyable.
I was pretty pleased with the showing of Virginia fans. The tailgate was PACKED with orange and blue. I heard that over 200 people registered, but there had to be more folks than that show up. And once you added in a lot of the players' families, the UVA section was pretty full.
I've never had a set of fans as cordial as the ones in Bloomington. The first person that spoke to me pleaded with me to tell the players not to score 40+ points on them (I swear I did not discuss it with them). Several said "Go UVA!" which, while pleasant, was confusing since they were wearing Indiana colors. Only one person flicked us off. Not bad. The number of people who thought we were going to crush them was insane. That must be what its like for opposing fans when they come to Charlottesville...
The only thing I'll add about their fans is that I'm seriously confused as to what their females were wearing. I hope it was 80s weekend at the frats or something. Long socks w/ jean shorts. Black leggings with cut-off t-shirts. I'm not exactly complaining... but I was thoroughly confused.
A big thanks to John from The Crimson Quarry for his tips on where to go to eat and whatnot. Good example of their class act fans.
Oh man. I've spoken with players' families before. But I had a TON of fun chatting with two players' mothers before the game and then immediately afterwards. I won't mention their names, but if they read the article, they'll know who they are.
It was great hearing their thoughts on the program, on coach London, on Craig Littlepage. But more importantly - to me at least - it was great to have them involved in some of the pre-game festivities with the alumni and fans. I hope we can get more of the players' parents over to those kind of events (I can see the compliance folks cringing as they read this - but don't worry, they're always public events).
Ah, growing pains. They're fun, aren't they? As a whole, the true-freshmen class had a rough night. Darius Jennings tried to catch a kickoff that was clearly going out of bounds. Dominique Terrell didn't catch a short punt (that part's ok by itself) - and didn't wave off his teammates from the short punt (that part's not so much ok). Terrell and Jennings then combined to not communicate and fumble another punt. Terrell had a costly false-start penalty that negated what could have been a Perry Jones touchdown. Demetrious Nicholson got beat a couple of times - once for a touchdown - and dropped a good chance at an interception.
But it wasn't all bad. The touchdown against Nicholson was actually well-defended. As London said, that's just the life of a cornerback. Jennings actually had good kickoff returns of 27 and 30 yards. Clifton Richardson had some well-timed runs - averaging more than 10 yards per carry on his four carries. I would be very surprised if we don't start seeing Richardson more and earlier. Not that Jones and Parks aren't doing the job... just that Richardson is also doing the job. On the season, he's averaging just under 9 yards per carry.
Jennings and Terrell are going to be good. I'm not happy they made the mistakes they did... but I am happy they made them in a non-conference game that we ended up winning anyway. They're both terrific players, with a TON of talent. You can see it when they get on the field. Their energy is impressive. And you can bet they'll remember the mistakes in Bloomington and won't let them happen again.
- Robert Randolph is eight for eight on the season. It's been a while (since Connor Hughes, maybe?) since I've been almost completely comfortable when we set up for a field goal. I'd still prefer touchdowns... but man its nice to have some consistency and not be scared every time we can't pick up a first down.
- I found it a little odd that the game was as chippy as it was. There were several personal foul calls and several other times where there was pushing and shoving. I'm not aware of any reason why there'd be bad blood between the teams (aside from 47-7 two years ago). Just seemed a little misplaced - especially with how nice Indiana's fans were.
- Indiana's frat houses are absurd. In a completely different way from how Virginia's are absurd. Both sets are huge. But Indiana's are modern and look more like dorms. Kind of hard to describe, but if you're in the area, drive by them. Its worth the minute or two detour
- Getting to Memorial Stadium wasn't a problem at all - at least in part because I got there 5 hours early. But getting out was a disaster. I almost ended up in Ohio. OK, not really. But unlike Charlottesville, the entire University isn't surrounded by two main highways... so they need better signage so us visiting folks don't get too lost.
- I heard that one of the players' families drove all the way from Virginia to Bloomington... and hit a deer 2 miles before getting to the hotel. That's bad luck right there. Thankfully their son had a solid game and we got the win. And I think their car was fine, too.