24 Days Til' Kickoff!!
I think the weekend we lost to Virginia last year was the week my high school senior pulled her Georgia Tech admissions application. I probably kicked my dog and the outboard on my boat died. It was that kind of weekend. Nothing worked for me or our football team. This was a low point in 2011, but looking back I can see the plaster was crumbling before this game. So, what about 2012? Are we ready to get some revenge? Yes!!!
That said, this will not be an easy win. The Cavaliers are good team. Maybe not as good as 2011 unless they can find replacements for starters on defense, but good enough to challenge for the division crown if the newcomers are adequate. Mike Rocco is back at QB and their receivers and running backs are good enough. The real issue for them will be on defense. For more of my sober assessment, follow the jump.I think the real strength for the Cavaliers this year is their schedule. They open at home against Richmond before hosting Penn State. The Spiders are the toughie of the two. They then go on the road to Atlanta and to TCU, before coming home to begin a four game stretch that includes Louisiana Tech, Duke, Maryland, and Wake Forest. It doesn't take a drunk Wahoo to think they could, with some luck, be 8-0 before playing NC State in Raleigh. Then they come home to play Miami and North Carolina. All of these games are winnable. If they can get past those road games in weeks 3 and 4, this is a beautiful schedule.
Of course, Mike London has mentioned this to his team by now and they will be looking right at us with laser beams. The offense for London will be sound if not truly outstanding. His teams tend to be fundamentally sound and do not beat themselves very often. Look for a balanced attack with an emphasis on ball control. Especially against us, they will try to run the ball and complete conservative passes for first downs. Don't look for deep out patterns on first down. Rocco will try to beat us by keeping our offense off the field as long as possible.
On defense, the line play was a focus in the Spring and will continue in the Fall. They lost three starters up front, including both defensive tackles. This could make them vulnerable to our inside game and force the linebackers and corners to lean toward helping in run defense. Look for us to pound the ball inside with Sims until they stop it. If we pass much in this game it will be after they start cheating the corners up close.
This game sets up very different for Virginia than for us. They have two weak opponents at home before going on the road. Maybe this works to our advantage. If we are as good as I hope, we will have beaten Virginia Tech in a close game, then pounded the kids from Clinton, SC. We will be tested and had two weeks to recover. The speed of the game will be real to our guys. UVA, on the other hand, does not have that advantage. While Richmond is a worthy FCS opener, the Nittany Lions were not going to be very good even before the sanctions and all those defections. Who knows how they will be able to compete, but there is little chance Penn State will be at FBS strength this season. Everything they worked on in the Spring is toast, so this will be a new beginning for them. I think Virginia will 2-0 coming to Atlanta, but not have a read on whether they are really any good. The atmosphere at BDS will be raucous if we are also 2-0 and could be just what we need to get the revenge we so richly deserve.
Again, we need to get off to a good start. Don't let the young guys on the Virginia defense build their confidence that our offense can be stopped. Pound them relentlessly and make them leave the field not really knowing how we got all those yards so easily. And the 7 points we just scored. And make it happen over and over.