When the most exciting part of the game for your fans is the pre-game, and that gets you on ESPN’s “Not-Top Ten” plays, you know you’re in trouble. The Virginia Cavaliers fit that bill after their little accident and then horrible showing at home against TCU.
After getting upset by FCS opponent William & Mary and turning the ball over like they wanted the Tribe to have it for keeps, things only got worse. The then Horned Frogs easily defeated the Cavs after a relatively close first quarter. Were it not for a couple late touchdowns against reserve players the Cavs woulda lost 30-0. The vaunted spread offense that new Offensive Coordinator Gregg Brandon installed was, to say the least, painful to watch.
After jumping out to an early lead that left me hopeful for a good result at Southern Miss, things again went awry for the Cavs. They gave up touchdown after touchdown to Golden Eagles in the second half, surrendering a 27-10 halftime lead to lose 34-37. This was despite returning to UVA's more traditional offense that used many different running backs, the most prolific of whom is now out for the season.
So far this season the passing game has managed only four touchdowns to five INTs, and the runners have a long run of 34 yards (Vic Hall TD vs William & Mary). With the only winnable looking games left on UVA's schedule appearing to be Maryland, and maybe Duke things aren't lookin' too good.
Maryland got off to a horrid start to their season with a 52-13 trouncing at the hands of Cal. They made the Cal offense look unstoppable and didn’t mount much of a threat on offense. The Terps then avoided a disastrous defeat at home against FCS team James Madison University with a field goal in overtime. They followed up this sub-par performance with a loss to Middle Tennessee State on a late field goal. The Terps have looked almost as bad as the Cavs and their losses are around the same level of ugliness. They do, however, have a win to their names, something UVA can’t say.
The Duke Blue Devils started their season off with a UVA-like loss against Richmond (another FCS team!) 24-16. Then they bounced back with a 35-19 win over Army led by two different quarterbacks throwing TDs. The Devils returned to their old selves, losing 44-16 to the Kansas Jayhawks and Super-QB Todd Reesing. Duke is yet another team that boasts a win, but could also give UVA theirs.
UVA looked halfway decent in their defeat to Southern Miss, scoring consistently until when it really mattered. Quarterback Jameel Sewell looked like his old self as he had success running and throwing the football. With Mikel Simpson returning from missing that game and Freshman Torey Mack getting a fair amount of touches the running game should be able to keep up with the aerial assault. UVA looks to be improving, but that all depends on their belief in them selves and their confidence staying intact throughout what could be a hard season.
The best I can hope for from the Cavs is a win or two, possibly one against one of the two teams above and one upset somewhere along the way. With coach Al Groh on the hot seat and Sewell playing his last year of college football, they will both be desperate for success, although they might not get it.
To answer my own question, it can’t get much worse. The new-look offense looks great, and the pressure is on. Look for UVA to play every down like it’s their last and emerge from the season in much better form then they started it.