CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 01: Head coach Mike London of the Virginia Cavaliers (R) celebrates with running back Kevin Parks #25 of the Cavaliers after Parks scored a touchdown against the Richmond Spiders at Scott Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Here at SB Nation we are blessed to have a huge network or rival sports blog. To take advantage we have weekly Q & A sessions with the opposing team's blog. This week, Streaking The Lawn, an excellent all sports UVA website. My answers to their questions are posted here and we will go over their answers to my questions in this post. Justin Ferber was nice enough to sit down with us, lets see what he has to say.
From The Rumble Seat: UVA is 2-0 with a down-to-the-wire win against a depleted Penn St. team and a convincing victory over Richmond. What are your impressions with UVA after two weeks?
Streaking The Lawn: I'm not totally sure what to think, really. The Richmond game didn't teach us much, as they just don't have comparable athletes. Alot of fans thought UVA would roll over a depleted Penn State team, but the Hoos got quite a scare instead. That game brought up some issues, with the running game in particular. Virginia's offensive line was dominated by the Penn State front on Saturday, and that is cause for concern early in the season. The defense has been a little better than expected, and the secondary actually did a pretty good job against the Nittany Lions' spread attack, except for one bad missed assignment that led to a long PSU touchdown. Special teams have been much improved this year so far, after being really shaky last year. Overall I think we'll know a lot more about Virginia after these next two games, on the road in Atlanta then at TCU
FTRS: Last year Virginia started 8-3 with wins over Georgia Tech and Florida State. Even though you guys finished 0-2 it included a Chick-Fil-A bowl berth. Is the same season expected again this year? Does the UVA fan-base expect an improvement over last year or will another 8 win season be acceptable in Mike London's third year?
STL: I think most fans are expecting 7 or 8 wins this year. The defense loses a lot from last year, and Virginia fans seem to understand that there will be a learning curve there this year. It was crucial for Virginia to get out to a quick 2-0 start going into a tough 3-game stretch, and theyve done that. Most fans are looking to make a decent bowl this year, continue to recruit well, and really make some noise in 2013 and beyond. I think that 5-7 or worse barring catastrophic injuries would be seen as unacceptable by the fanbase though.
FTRS: Last week Philip Sims played two series so that Michael Rocco could, "...get on the sideline and look at the game a little bit." Ummm, what? What is Mike London doing? Is London preparing for a two-quaterback system? After Rocco delivered the game winning drive has he secured the job for another game?
STL: Even though thats what Coach London said about the move, I don't really think that's why he did it. The Virginia offense had been stuck in the mud all day. Part of that was the Hoos' inability to run the ball and costly penalties, but Rocco did have two turnovers, including a bobbled snap that PSU recovered just before Sims came in. Once in the game, Sims didn't really get anything going on two drives, and he fumbled the ball away on a sack. Rocco went back in and Virginia pulled out the victory, and he is clearly the starter going into this weekend. The staff still wants to see Sims in game action when they can though. Frankly, Sims can do some things with his arm that Rocco probably can't, and like with any team, the backup quarterback is always a popular player when the offense struggles
FTRS: Here at From The Rumble Seat we have been immensely impressed with our defense, exceeding most all of our expectations by their play so far. After UVA's lackluster performance on offense against Penn St. what can we realistically expect from the UVA offense against our improved defense?
STL: As I said before, Virginia's offensive line has to be better going forward. It's imperative that the Cavaliers run the ball well to make Bill Lazor's pro-style attack work, and Virginia had some success with that last year against the Yellow Jackets. Time of possession is crucial against GT, as the UVA defense will need to keep off the field as much as possible. Virginia also likes to use the short to intermediate passing game, with quick shots to receivers Darius Jennings and Tim Smith, and the occasional deep shot. UVA has also worked the tight ends (all four of them) into the offense more this year, after almost never throwing their way in 2011. After watching Georgia Tech's defense in Blacksburg on Labor Day, I came away impressed. The secondary seems to be the strength of the group, with solid veterans like Rod Sweeting and Louis Young back there. Virginia fans are all too familiar with Al Groh's 3-4 scheme, and we all know how important it is to get ther ground game going. Groh's defense is often susceptible to giving up chunks of yards on the ground, which was a big part of how the Cavaliers upset Georgia Tech last year. Expect a similar game plan from the Virginia offense on Saturday
FTRS: Is this the year that someone other than Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech wins the Coastal division? Without having to play Florida State or Clemson it seems that Virginia has an inside track if they can knock off Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech, do you believe Virginia has a chance to put together a division title without a silly slip up?
STL: I think if Virginia wants to seriously make a play for the Coastal this year, then they probably need to win on Saturday in Atlanta. That would put Georgia Tech in a tough spot at 0-2 in the Coastal, and UVA would be 1-0 with their next 3 league games being @Duke, Maryland, and Wake Forest. North Carolina can't win the division this year, and we all know Duke won't. Miami doesn't look bound for Charlotte either. And as for the Hokies, Virginia's woes against them are well documented. Their offense does look weaker from previous years though, and they have to play both Clemson and FSU this fall. I think it's possible that UVA could make a run this year given their schedule, but a loss on Saturday, which also gives GT the tiebreaker, would make that feat a lot less likely I think.
FTRS: Can you give us a player that has played surprisingly well for Virginia this year? Someone that Georgia Tech fans should look for to make a surprise impact on the game?
STL: I have to go with Jake McGee. Although he is listed as Virginia's 4th tight end, he stole the show against Penn State, with 4 catches for 99 yards, and the game-winning touchdown grab. He also made an amazing catch to keep Virginia alive on the game-wining drive, and another jaw-dropping catch in the opening game against Richmond. McGee was totally unheralded as a quarterback recruit coming out of high school, but he's turned out to be one of Michael Rocco's favorite targets in 2012. Definitely one to watch
FTRS: Earlier in the season our readers gave Georgia Tech a 69% chance of winning this game, who walks out of The Flats with a victory?
STL: I think Itll be closer than the 10-point spread that I've seen. Virginia was 4-1 on the road last year, and the only team to ever win @ Miami and FSU in the same season. It'll be interesting to see if that mojo carries over to this season. I expect a close game, and the Yellow Jackets ice it late with a long scoring drive. GT 28 UVA 20.
Thanks to Justin and the rest of the STL team. See y'all on Saturday!