Questions Answered Straight From Old Virginia

Don't mess with the best. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
I e-mailed Brendan From Ye Olde Times Virginia this week for the always exciting triannual GT-UVA inter-bloggal questionnaire. Brendan responded promptly and quite extensively. Enjoy his responses to our questions after the jump...

FTRS: First, we have to talk about the macroissues before the microissue aka our game. What does the Wahoo nation feel about the recent additions of 'Cuse and Pitt? Who should the ACC target now that Uconn has been shot down, if anyone?
Brendan: I think I speak for most when I say that nobody is really jumping up and down excitedly about expansion, but if we have to, we're at least OK with the idea of adding geographically reasonable teams with decent academic reputations. A lot of people want(ed) Texas and/or Notre Dame (especially when that article came out saying Texas was talking to the ACC), and the ND thing still has a little momentum but people are coming around to the idea of letting Texas wallow in their arrogance elsewhere. As they should. Most UVA fans still kind of miss the double-round-robin of the old basketball schedule, but that's never coming back so we're just sort of taking the new additions in stride.

I should add that lacrosse fans are very intrigued by adding Syracuse, which would be like if Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan State, and UCLA had a basketball conference and then added Duke. This is one of the best things that could've happened to UVA lacrosse because we already played the Cuse every season, and the rest of the ACC did not and now will have to.

As for further expansion targets, I'm not at all convinced UConn is out of the picture. If we go to 16 - and I'm leaning toward wanting to because it would actually greatly ease my #1 gripe about football scheduling - UConn is the first school I'd want. Lot of people still want Notre Dame. I'd rather stay on the East Coast. Rutgers doesn't excite me because they bring almost nothing to the table but a large alumni base (which is mostly apathetic) but at least in that case, the ACC could really lay a claim to being THE east coast conference. I doubt Navy would join, but they'd be intriguing at least. If we absolutely must take West Virginia, then so be it, but I'd rather leave the 'Neers for the SEC where they culturally belong.
FTRS: The Cavs have played four very tight games against I-A opponents. What singular position or unit has held the Hoomen back the most and prevented a 5-0 start?
Brendan: I guess I'd put my finger on either quarterback or linebacker. I don't think we were ever very likely to win against UNC, but Mike Rocco didn't play very well against Southern Miss and Mike London insists on doing a quarterback shuffle which isn't helping things at all. I definitely think linebacker is the worst of our position groups, though. Steve Greer has his good points and his bad points; Aaron Taliaferro is very limited athletically, and Ausar Walcott and Laroy Reynolds are athletic but inconsistent. Greer would be a better player if he didn't have to pick up so much slack from his outside 'backers.
FTRS: Do UVA fans see Mike London as the head coach in 5 years? Is the program headed in the right direction?
Brendan: It's certainly headed in an upward direction; the question is, how quickly? I'd like to have seen better progress so far, but 3-2 is only one win shy of last season and I think bowl eligibility is still a makeable goal. Get to 6-6 and then we have a real foundation; obviously the recruiting has gone very well this year and last, and getting to a bowl would do wonders in helping to sustain that momentum.

As for London, I don't think most UVA fans are looking that far ahead, but neither can anyone envision anyone else as the head coach right now. Hell, people were already envisioning London as the head coach during the last couple years of the Groh era.
FTRS: Admit that you miss Al Groh. Tech fans seem to be in the ~60% approval rating for the Tech Grohfense. Do you foresee Groh ever again being named a head coach at a major cfb program?
Brendan: Ask 95% of UVA fans to admit they miss Al Groh and they'll slap you in the nuts. I'm one of the five percent and I do miss the excitement around the program in Groh's early years, but not the moribund death-walk the program was doing in the later years, nor the tremendous infighting between fans. However.....the UVA defense has more than its share of holes, and the fanbase is slowly starting to enter the "you have to give Groh this....." phase - you will start to hear that whispered from a few corners every now and then.

As for Groh, he's 67. And there were quite a few aspects of the head coaching job that he hated with the burning passion of a thousand suns, particularly dealing with the media and PR in general. The man likes coaching, he doesn't like the politics and crap that go along with it. Given how his tenure ended at UVA - with mostly losing seasons - I can't imagine there are too many college programs beating down his door to offer him a head coaching job, and I suspect he's fine with that. The only place you'd ever see him as a head coach would be a situation like when Ohio hired Frank Solich, but usually, teams that hire coordinators hire the young stars hoping they haven't yet hit their ceiling. No, I don't see Groh going anywhere for a while.
FTRS: Who is the next budding star of the UVA program? Are there any guys we need to keep an eye for this weekend that should've been preseason ACC picks besides Chase Minnifield?
Brendan: I think there are quite a few candidates for the first question. WR Darius Jennings doesn't show up on the top of the stat sheet in the receiving category, but he does have the best per-catch average on the team. The same holds true for RB Clifton Richardson, who's averaging a team-best 6.1 yards per carry. He and Kevin Parks are going to make a terrific tandem in the years to come; Richardson is supremely athletic and Parks is a bulldozer who's very difficult to bring down. All are freshmen, as is cornerback Demetrious Nicholson. Nicholson's having a lot of the ups and downs that true freshman cornerbacks always have (and he's tiny to boot - I shudder to think what'll happen if he has to take on one of GT's big honking A-backs one-on-one because he'll give up forty of fifty pounds) but he's shown a ton of promise as well. And of course, big Morgan Moses is an absolute load at right tackle.

Preseason ACC snubs? I don't think there were any, but junior DT Will Hill has been opening a lot of eyes, and been very disruptive. He leads our team in TFL. If we're going to slow down your offense he'll have to be one of the big reasons why.
FTRS: Prediction time. As a self-professed Lions fan, how many TD's does Calvin finish 2011 with? And finally, who wins and by what margin between Tech and UVA?
Brendan: Megatron is on pace to rewrite the single-season touchdown record book. Randy Moss has had the most touchdowns in one season with 23; I don't want to jinx Calvin so officially I'll say 22 touchdowns. But he and Matt Stafford have a terrific rapport. Stafford trusts Calvin to catch anything thrown anywhere near him, and he's gone so far as to tell the media that if he sees single coverage near the goal line (if some team is stupid enough to do that, which the Cowboys were to their great detriment) he'll throw to Calvin every single time, regardless of play call. The Lions convert third downs because Stafford finds none of his primary reads open and just hucks it deep to Calvin, triple coverage and all. With that kind of relationship between quarterback and receiver, and both of them finally completely healthy, the sky's the limit and the record books had better watch out.

(Admit it: you absolutely love watching Megatron morph into the league's most dominant wide receiver but you're just a tiny twinge jealous that he wasn't named that in college and had to depend on Reggie Ball to find him.)

As for this weekend: well, I don't typically come up with a proper final score prediction til after I've finished breaking down the game for my preview, but I have little faith in our defense to come up with the necessary stops. I don't think it's well-suited to slow down the GT style of offense. (I further think that's why Paul Johnson hired Groh: because he had one of the few defenses that could.) I'll go with 28-21 in favor of the Jackets.
Thanks goes out to Brendan of From ol' Virginia. We'll post our responses to his questions in the next few days as well.
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