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The View From Scott: Kent State and Attendance Edition

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The Cavalier football team is quietly putting together a solid start to their season. As they enter the bulk of the conference slate, can they keep up the momentum?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

They started off slow, but the Virginia football team ended up crushing Kent State 45-13, beating the spread for the fifth time in five games this season.

There's all sorts of little narratives that go with this game.

"It was just Kent State."

"They started off slow, that's concerning."

"500 yards of offense for a second straight game."

"Held Kent State to only 34 yards rushing."

"Five turnovers caused and 21 points off those turnovers."

"Tre is back!"

But there are tons of articles out there that cover those topics. Literally tons of them. Its the fodder sports reporters thrive on. OneTwo,ThreeFourFiveSix. And that's just from one publication.

So I'll focus on the things those reporters can't talk about. Because they're reporters. And I'm a fan.

The Attendance

It's been a fun topic of discussion on twitter the last few days, but 140 characters (minus all of the names that were included in the discussion) isn't enough to say what one truly wants to say.

The Background

The attendance was terrible at the game against Kent State. It was listed as 33,526 - a little over half the official capacity of 61,500. But as I've mentioned before, we all know the official numbers are a joke. They count all season tickets whether or not the tickets are used. So I'd say something closer to 30,000 would be more accurate.

The students got called out specifically, as the student section was... empty.

The Nuances of the Argument

When having this discussion, one has to be careful to make a distinction between individual fans and the fan base as a whole. Lots of the responses that I and other commentators got to our tweets over the weekend were about individual reasons for not attending games.

My friend, fellow wine connoisseur, and big U.Va. fan David Storm put it this way:

So yeah. Folks like David aren't the ones I'm referring to. Folks with babies, sick children, sick parents, little league soccer games, a huge work deadline, etc. I'm not talking about them. None of us are talking about them.

Others attempted to defend the students, saying they might have had to work weekends to pay for school or maybe had to study. Sure. If they had to do that, I'm not faulting them at all.

What we're talking about here is the fan base.

Every school has fans with the same issues mentioned above. Whether you're Alabama or Wake Forest. Florida State or Kent State.

  • Kent State had almost 23,000 fans in attendance for their home loss to Ohio.
  • Wake Forest (the worst team in the ACC and a school with 1/3 as many students as U.Va.) had 26,925 fans in attendance for Gardner-Webb and 28,123 on hand for Army.
  • Miami, oft-derided for having terrible attendance and with 2/3rds as many students and basically no local support for the program whatsoever, had 41,519 butts in the seats for their game against the juggernaut Arkansas State and 48,254 on hand for their huge in-state showdown with Florida A&M.
  • Duke - DUKE! - who doesn't even have an upper bowl in their stadium, who has less than half the number of students as U.Va. drew 31,213 for their game against Elon.

With ~15,000 current undergraduate students and with ~8,000 current graduate students and with ~4,000 students graduating from The University every year and with 150,000 people living in Charlottesville/Albemarle and with many of those alumni and local fans having friends and family (we're not all anti-social twitter-dwellers!)... with all of that, we should be able to do better, collectively.

Now... I'll readily admit that The University could do better. Go read Wiley's latest thesis on what The University could do for the game day atmosphere. Go check out the discussion on stadium food:

(side note - seriously, where do I get a turkey leg? I've heard we have them but I've never seen them)

It's a little bit of a chicken and egg scenario. You want your school to have a good team. But to have a good team you need fan support (yes, that's not the only thing that matters, but don't fool yourself - it DOES matter). So ultimately it comes down to the fan base making a decision to support this team and this University. THIS team. This is not the team from 2013. This is not the team from 2012. This team is different. If you can't see that, do yourself a favor and pay attention. Listen to Eli Harold talk. Listen to Greyson Lambert talk. Listen to Kevin Parks talk. Watch Harold, Valles, Blanding, Harris, Coley, Lambert, Parks, Mizzell, Severin, Frye... watch them all play. And then tell me this team isn't worth supporting.

(As an aside, how the football program impacts the overall University is another article all to itself, but one only has to recall what Michael Vick did to Virginia Tech's national academic prestige - and he didn't even win a title or get them to a #1 ranking)

You don't have to come to every game. You don't even have to come to most of the games. But just show up and bring a friend. There's only three home games left this season. Yes, that's right. It's not even October yet and we only have three home games left.

October 4th vs Pittsburgh

October 25th vs North Carolina

November 22nd vs Miami

Join us. You won't regret it.

As always, random musings:

  • Pick-6! Not just for the Virginia Lottery anymore! It was only a matter of time.
  • Matt Johns has our longest run from scrimmage. I believe its also only a matter of time before Smoke surpasses that.
  • OH HAI JOE HARRIS. #SWOON
  • I need to remember to take headphones to the game so I can listen to @wahoovoice instead of the fans in my section. Don't take that as me saying I don't want you at the game. I'd just rather not listen to a dozen people given their opinions on every. single. play. call.
  • Our offense has scored at least three points in 18 of the 20 quarters this season. I don't know if that's good or bad nationally, but it seems pretty good to me.
  • On the flip side, our defense has held our opponents scoreless in 8 quarters this season. Seems pretty decent when we've played three top-25 teams.
  • Eight different players caught passes from Matt Johns. Interestingly, that's the same number of players with at least one carry.
  • So that Demetrious Nicholson interception in the end zone at the end of the first half... I haven't gotten the chance to look at the tape yet, but... that sure seemed iffy. It appeared the ball was still moving as the players went to the ground. But still. Seemed iffy.
  • Time of possession in the game flip-flopped at halftime: first half was Kent State 19:42 and Virginia 10:18; second half was Kent State 9:50 and Virginia 20:10. While time of possession isn't always connected to victory (Hello, Chip Kelly) it certainly doesn't hurt.
  • Watching New England get absolutely waxed by Kansas City is quite enjoyable.
  • Quin Blanding continues to impress. He led the team in tackles against Kent State and now leads the team in tackles on the season. His 46 tackles on the season is good for 28th place in the country, and 2nd in the country among freshmen (Derek Ibekwe of New Mexico State has 50).
  • The Cavaliers are one of only two teams in the ACC that have held opponents to under 100 yards rushing. Given that we've played three ranked teams, that's impressive.
  • Virginia leads the conference in takeaways by a wide margin. The Cavaliers' 18 turnovers caused easily beats second place Louisville, who has 13.