Last week, after the loss to Carolina, I thought to myself: "Gee, I'm glad I don't have to write The View From Scott this week."
Right now, I wish I could trade and write about last week's loss. It seems positively cheery in comparison.
A disappointing performance resulted in a disappointing non-conference loss. Our bowl game hopes took a huge blow. But more than that, our weaknesses were more on display in this game than any other so far this season. Truly makes me wonder if expecting six wins this season was premature.
Alright, well, as much as it pains me, lets dive in after the jump.
A Tale of Two Quarterbacks
16 for 24, 140 yards and three interceptions. No touchdowns.
10 for 20, 81 yards and no interceptions. One touchdown.
Those were the stat lines for starting QB Michael Rocco and backup David Watford, respectively. I think those lines look exactly like I would have expected them to look having watched the game in person. Rocco was solid but not spectacular... until you see the three interceptions and no touchdowns part. Watford was shaky, with flashes of the talent we all know he has.
Do we have a QB controversy on our hands? Not if you ask me. Rocco is still the better QB at this point. The only way we should see Watford as the starter is if Rocco's injury keeps him out this weekend against Idaho. I'm excited about the skill set that Watford brings and I think he will be good for us... just not yet in the starting role.
I hate watching players get hurt. I don't care if its a third-string "nobody" or an All-American starter. Injuries suck regardless. And they're also a reminder of how little margin for error a team like the 2011 Cavaliers has.
When I saw Kevin Parks - Virginia's leading scorer on the season among non-kickers - laying on the ground with some type of injury I was very concerned. Yes, we have the starter in Perry Jones and yes we have a very capable backup in Clifton Richardson. But its no mistake that Parks has scored 6 touchdowns for us.
When I saw Michael Rocco on the ground, then standing up holding his ribs, I was more than very concerned. I immediately thought of Tony Romo's injury - a broken rib and a punctured lung. I'm hearing from multiple places that Rocco's injury is bad enough that he may not be able to play against Idaho. I wish him a speedy recovery - for his sake and for the team's sake.
The attendance was PATHETIC. There's no other word for it. PATHETIC. An announced attendance of 43k? Which probably means there were less than 40k actual butts in seats once you take out the season ticket holders who didn't show up. That's well under 2/3rds full. I'm glad Mike London is a good recruiter in his own right, because I don't know why a student-athlete would look at a half-empty stadium and say "hey, you know, this is exactly the type of place I want to spend four years playing." Looking up at the upper bowl and seeing so much metal and concrete and so little blue and orange... its just depressing.
To be fair, the fans that actually showed up were very energetic and very into the game. It was a loud crowd (or as loud as a 2/3rds full stadium can be) and there were lots of people - especially non-students who stuck around all the way to the end to see if Watford could lead us to an improbable come from behind victory.
I'm not solely blaming the fans for the poor attendance. The weather was supposed to be iffy, it was a non-conference game, we were coming off a loss, etc. But something has got to change in that regard.
And hey at least the concession lines were short.
Is the Honeymoon Over for London?
I had a lengthy discussion with a friend of mine after this game about whether or not Mike London's "honeymoon" period is over. I think its pretty clear that just about everyone and their brother likes Mike London "the man." But now, a quarter of the way through his second season, is some of the luster starting to wear off? When defensive players are still missing tackles at an alarming rate; When special teams is consistently anything but special; When the offense continues to sputter at the most inopportune times; When penalties continue to be an issue. How much longer does he get before we need to start seeing really significant, marked improvement?
We're not at that point yet, in my opinion. Would I like us to be further along than we are? Sure. But is it the end of the world? Not yet. There's a lot of talent on this team at a lot of positions. I still think we'll get there. But this one definitely hurt.
- The way Kevin Parks fought for his touchdown on Saturday - moving the pile, dragging defenders with him... Reminded me a bit of a different KP from last year.
- Have to give props to both Lazor and Rocco for the designed QB keeper that scored our first touchdown. I think it was a terrific call that caught Southern Miss off guard and Rocco executed it well.
- I mentioned penalties above, but we were actually a good deal better with penalties in this game, only notching 4 for 40 yards. One of those, accounting for 15 of the yards, was potentially a touchdown-saving intentional pass interference on Demetrious Nicholson.
- Balentine's 20 yard receiving touchdown for USM's second touchdown should have been a 10 yard pass at best. That play is a perfect microcosm of things that have been wrong with our defense, if you ask me.
- The defensive performance on USM's next touchdown wasn't any better. Blown assignment in coverage.
- I don't even want to talk about the fake punt by Southern Miss.
- All three of Rocco's interceptions looked about the same to me (though the first two especially fit this description). He came under pressure, he saw a man "open" but never saw the defender before taking his shot at his man. Rocco needs to make better decisions, but we also need to get him better protection. USM had no sacks, but that doesn't mean the protection was as good as it should have been the entire game.
- Watford's pass to Kris Burd for the two point conversion looked remarkably similar to the two point conversion against Indiana. Watford scrambled a lot more, but the location of the throw, the coverage by the defenders, etc, was pretty darn similar.
- Twice in the fourth quarter Watford looked to Kris Burd on 4th down. The first time Kris caught it, but didn't have the yardage. The second time, Watford threw behind Burd and Burd couldn't hold on. If those two can get in synch, and help each other out a bit, they could be a dangerous combination.
- I had very minimal interactions with the USM fans at this game, so they remain near the top of my list of non-conference fans along with Indiana.
- I'm usually a fan of Adventures of Cavman. Its old and overdone now probably, but I still get a kick out of it and clearly so do a lot of others. But seriously? Killing the golden eagle with a directed ray of sunshine like you're frying an ant on the sidewalk? That was kind of lame.