As I write this article, I'm watching the first quarter of the Eagles at the Redskins on Monday Evening Football (I can only assume that's what this is and that Chargers/Texans is Monday Night football). Most people are probably thinking of the ridiculous that has occurred so far (and as I write that, Alfred Morris drops the pitch and the Eagles score a safety). But what I'm looking at is a little different.
I feel like I'm watching Oregon at U.Va. again. The Eagles are running all over the field generally doing whatever they want. The Redskins offense, clearly trying to take it easy on their recently returned quarterback, is looking decidedly vanilla (and even a bit out of sync).
On Saturday, it was the Ducks flying all over the field and doing generally what they wanted while the 'Hoos were keeping it simple for their QB in his second start.
As a 'Skins fan (and, as importantly, a Michael Vick non-fan), I hope the result in Landover tonight is better than it was in Charlottesville. I guess by the time you read this, you'll know.
SittingStanding in the bleachers of Scott Stadium on Saturday was incredibly frustrating. Partially because of the scoreboard, yes. But just as much because of the fans around me.
On the fifth play from scrimmage, Oregon
sprinterQB Marcus Mariota rushed up the middle essentially untouched for a 71 yard touchdown.
"The rout is on.."
"We are terrible."
"Our defense is the worst in the ACC, maybe the country."
"That's more points than we will score the rest of the season."
I literally heard all of those things after that first drive. I'm sure you can imagine what kind of dumbass comments I heard the rest of the evening as the score got out of hand.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I was completely encouraged by this game. A 49 point loss, the most points scored against Virginia since I was a naive first year (1999 MicronPC.com bowl, a 63-21 loss to Illinois) is never an occasion for outright joy. That said, there were definitely some encouraging things, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
The Cavalier defense forced four punts and two turnovers on downs. The Ducks were 3 for 10 on third down and 0 for 2 on fourth down. I'd normally take those percentages any weekend.
Bottom line is... take this game for what it was. But there's no reason to overreact. Be realistic. We've got a lot to work on and we've got time to work on it now during the bye week and the VMI week. Let's do it.
As always, some random musings:
- Among the things we need to work on during the bye week and VMI week: the entire offense outside of passes to the tight ends.
- Oregon's speed is the most impressive thing about their team if you ask me. Watching some of their big gains, I felt like our defense was in pretty good position... only to have the offensive player blow past them like Usain Bolt (did you know Bolt is a member of the Order of Jamaica, essentially the island nation's equivalent of British knighthood?).
- Looking just at the stat line, Watford would get a disproportionate amount of the blame for the loss. Don't get me wrong, he needs a lot of work. But the blame is really spread out amongst a lot of people, both on the field and off.
- Speaking of Watford, you want to see some hustle? Watch Watford after he throws the INT in the endzone. Twice he gets in the way of the returner and redirects his run.
- There were a lot of Oregon fans. A lot. Most of them that I talked to were from the West Coast. So props to them for traveling well.
- They were also almost all very pleasant. Maybe not quite as pleasant as the BYU fans, but definitely up there as far as nice folks go. So far this non-conference schedule has been a welcome reprieve from the normal invasion of ACC fans (have I mentioned how happy I am that Maryland is going to the Big Ten?).
- I don't remember who it was - I want to say Brent Urban. But whichever of our defensive linemen that held the UO running back by the back of his jersey with one hand... Beast. Just Beast.
- So, what exactly is the rule about kick catch interference? Because based on the non-call when Oregon clobbered Terrell and the penalty flag that was thrown on us, I'm confused. Actually, I'm not confused. One of those calls was wrong.
- Extra Random: I had the distinct pleasure of meeting former U.Va. women's soccer and current Washington Spirit player Caroline Miller after the game, along with current fifth-year Morgan Stith. Miller had her ankle reconstructed and was on crutches when I met her. My understanding is that she is only about a week from getting the boot off.
- The goal-line stop in the second quarter? Very impressive. And who got the stop on fourth down? Brent Urban. Have to imagine Jon Tenuta is loving having him anchor the inside of the defensive line.
- BYU beating then-#15 Texas - and doing it with a record-setting rushing performance - has to make some people feel even a little better about the win last week.
- Clemson beating Georgia last week, then Miami beating Florida and Georgia beating South Carolina this week... sure gives a little legitimacy to the ACC as compared to the vaunted SEC, wouldn't you say? Still lots of football left to be played though.
- Our next five games: VMI, Pittsburgh, Ball State, Maryland, Duke. Seems a heck of a lot less daunting than the opening slate of BYU and Oregon, doesn't it?
- That said, we have to take advantage of that stretch. Personally, I think we need to go 4-1 during that stretch to feel decent about the chances of a bowl game. 5-0 would give us a bowl game and make everything else this season gravy.
- In other words: this is a really important stretch of games coming up.