In a new twist to keep myself entertained during a 2-9 season, I wrote this “game summary” at 9:00 Saturday morning, 3 hours before kickoff. I was hoping I would be dreadfully off base in my musings. However as I wrote this I had visions of Matt Johns overthrown passes going for picks. Visions of 2015 danced in my head. For the first half it looked like I was going to be dead wrong. Then we played the second half and I got this one more right that I had hoped:
While I don’t think any Virginia fans expected the ‘Hoos to be 9-2 eleven games into the 2016 season, I don’t think many expected 2-9 either. If this is the process of getting back to football respectability, at least we have 1 year under our belts and can look forward to improvement in 2017. George Welsh was 2-9 in his first season at Virginia as well, so at least we have that going for us…which is nice.
Listening to the team, especially the seniors, speak about the season that is about to conclude, you would never imagine that the won/loss record was so abysmal. The chatter is optimistic. It is about winning. It is brimming with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, when you have a young defense that has sustained more than its share of injuries going up against the triple-option of Georgia Tech, execution is more important than enthusiasm. Virginia learned that lesson in a big way on Saturday in Atlanta. Hopefully Saturday’s loss will help them when the Jackets visit Scott Stadium next year.
Ga Tech’s unique offense always carries with it the advantage of style. Very few teams run the triple option and defensive coordinators struggle at times to alter their schemes for the “one off” game against the Jackets.While not dominant, the Georgia Tech offense was “effective enough” and most importantly, effective when it had to be. Virginia continued its trend of giving up big plays at inopportune times. Usually following tackles for loss or in 3rd and long situations. Georgia Tech’s triple option was good enough when it had to be and Virginia had no answer on ether side of the ball.
In true Virginia fashion, even the upside of Virginia’s game against Ga Tech has a downside. While I think most if not all Virginia fans think the world of Matt Johns and were glad to see him have solid game in a return his role as Virginia’s starting QB, the fact that he was back leading the Virginia offense did not speak well of the performance to date of Kurt Benkert, Virginia’s opening day quarterback.
I was glad to see Johns running the show again. By all accounts he is a great kid an outstanding leader with a bright future ahead of him. His penchant for picks at just the wrong moments however, is the reason his future prospects do not include holding a clipboard on the sidelines on Sunday afternoons. At this point in a 2-9 season, that is beside the point. Johns helped keep Virginia in the game for a half and made the ‘Hoos competitive in the battle for boxscore stats. Well done Matt, Virginia fans sincerely wish you great success next week and beyond.
If Virginia football collectively won the Power Ball lottery, I bet it would forget to pay its taxes and end up in jail. It seems that no matter what happens to Virginia football that on the surface, appears to be good, it ends up being bad. Once again, Virginia failed to convert opponent miscues and Virginia accomplishments into points on the scoreboard. When really good teams are presented with opportunities to crush their opponents, they get it done. Virginia failed to capitalize on several opportunities both presented and earned throughout the game.
For what seems like every game this season, Virginia showed it could hang with their opponent, for about a half. Virginia has been in most every game this season (Oregon excepted) up to halftime and some times beyond. I am not sure if this is a depth issue, a lack of confidence, or just providence (see last year’s column) but Virginia just cannot close. Turnovers have been a problem all year and have contributed mightily to Virginia’s tribulations. If the Virginia team were a salesman in Glen Gary, Glen Ross, we certainly would not be in the running for the new Cadillac or the set of steak knives.
Next week Virginia gets on more shot. One more chance to close the deal. It would seem that just once this year the ball might bounce our way, but I wouldn’t bet on it.