Tuesday, October 14, 2008

About Last Saturday (and Thursday)...

Stories, themes, trivia and other minutiae from the weekend that was


Let's survey the damage wrought upon Bobby Bowden's clan by the Demon Deacons over the last several years: they ignited Tommy's perpetual hot seat five years ago following a 45-17 seal-clubbing of the Tigers, they caused Jeff to "resign" following the 30-0 shellacking in 2006, they've now beaten Bobby three straight times (and by a combined score of 42-3 in the last two games in Tallahassee), and they came full circle last week by getting Tommy canned once and for all. God help Terry if some ACC school rolls the dice on him in the near future.

With third string QB Calvin Booker (all 6-4, 235lbs of him) stepping in for injured Josh Nesbitt and Jaybo Shaw, the Paul Johnson Project: Year One nearly fell apart in the most humiliating 1-AA/FCS mediocrity Gardner-Webb. Booker was certainly terrible (19 rushes, 35 yards from your QB in any sort of option attack is certain defeat to just about any 1-A program and many 1-AA teams as well), but the offensive line was shockingly overwhelmed by the G-W rush defense. And nobody seems to have a clear idea why...Booker simply isn't an option QB by any stretch, timing between the QB/OL/RBs was way off, but there's more to it than that. As embarrassing as this near-miss was, it's not often that a team gets a chilling wake-up call and comes away with a win at the same time.

Miami 20, UCF 14. About the only accurate part of that score is Miami's 20...they clunked around on offense for much of the game, mainly because Robert Marve was either throwing incompletions (8 of 19 passing) or interceptions (three). But those 14 Knight points came on a pick-six and a kickoff return. The Hurricane defense held UCF to 78 total yards for the game on 64 offensive plays. That's 1.2 yards per play for those doing the calculations. Yes, games can get away from a team when they turn the ball over too much and/or flub special teams play, no matter how dominating they may be on defense. Nonetheless, the Knights never really threatened to drive the ball at any point that afternoon. Miami still has a long way to go, but making that judgment based on Saturday's score would be lazy.

Stud starting QB gone by the middle of game 3. Stud wide receiver and kick-return deity gone by the middle of game 6. Stud running back mysteriously underwhelming all season. A defense that bends into a pretzel most of the year - but never quite breaks. With Butch Davis leading the charge, that gets you a 5-1 record against one of the better schedules in the country this year. The North Carolina Tar Heels certainly have the excuses to pack it in or to justify a defeat here or there, but they're not biting. Despite the personnel losses, they've blown apart 25% of the Big East (Rutgers and UConn) and they've had to dig deep and come back to beat Miami and Notre Dame. That so many unheralded players have stepped up when called upon is either a testament to substances in the drinking water in Chapel Hill, or in all seriousness the result of superb coaching, development and preparation by Davis and staff. How would Florida look without just Tim Tebow? Texas without just Colt McCoy? Mizzou without just Jeremy Maclin? We'll probably never know, but we do know that Butch rolls with the punches and hits back with whatever he's got left...and hits hard.

Somebody bottle, package, and patent whatever Al Groh and his coaching staff cooked up during the week following the 31-3 defeat at Duke. Anything and everything has vastly improved since the Blue Devil Beatdown - average score (9-32 through Duke, 33-10 post-Duke); QB play (0 TDs/9 INTs before, 3 TDs/2 INTs after), rushing (66yds per game before, 204yds per game after), turnovers (-7 before, +2 after), defense (379yds allowed before, 293yds allowed after), and special teams (no stats, but take my word for it). And there's no rational or logical explanation for the reversal of fortune post-Duke. An attitude adjustment, sure. But it's way more than that. And whatever "it" is, Groh can make a killing by selling it in his retirement years.


hokieglenn said...

UVA is a team that is more different home vs. away than any other in the country. Tough to figure out.

Marcus said...

In most years, I'd agree....but they looked awful against USC and Richmond at home early in the season as well. Something happened after that Duke loss that kicked things into another gear.

Anonymous said...

it seems to me that the lalich distraction was a major issue on the team (I'm a wahoo fan, and the turnaround is perplexing). We'll find out a lot after this weekend.

the ACC is definitely looking better as a while this season, it's just too bad no team is sitting in the MNC picture (that was supposed to be you, Clemson)

Anonymous said...

Late to the party on this thread, but I've been wondering the same thing about what has prompted this metamorphosis for Virginia, and the answer has got to be Cedric Peerman. Not only does he bring a much-needed dose of pad-slamming want-to to the Cavs' rushing attack, but based on everything I've seen and read, he is the emotional catalyst for this team this year. They just play harder and smarter when he's at full speed.