The Al Groh Ideal
SMQ has a timely look at Virginia:
ACC offenses are on the whole right alongside those of the SEC as the most conservative, run-oriented attacks in the country. It is, in short, college football's most NFL-like environment, where the line between measured competence and rank mediocrity is virtually nonexistant. This perfectly suits Virginia's philosophy under Groh, and is probably why you're complaining when ABC gives you the ACC game on its regional options.
So we have Virginia sitting on seven straight wins, at 4-0 in the league very largely by not completely screwing up and responding with necessary - not that there's anything wrong with that. No, no, of course not - and with three more very winnable games (at NC State, vs. Wake Forest, at Miami) before it hosts Virginia Tech, a finale that in all likelihood will decide the Coastal Division. I think Wake Forest and Georgia Tech adequately proved this last year, with their horrid offenses and opportunism: in the ACC, it's not always about being good. It's just about hanging around.
Not a bad theory; I agree that the ACC's conservative bent means Al Groh is in his NFL-bred comfort zone every week. Whether that actually matters, I don't know, but perhaps Groh really is better at being a conservative curmudgeon than the rest of the league's coaches (the curmudgeon part certainly). Virginia's conference brethren--or at least those on their schedule--either lack the personnel or the preference to step on the gas pedal, and that definitely plays into the hands of a team that features stout defense and a run-yawn-pass offense (as opposed to our yawn-yawn-TURNOVERS ARE THE ADRENALINE RUSH I NEVER ASKED FOR offense). Groh's got this market cornered, and everyone's willingly playing his game.
While UVA's success has been a surprise to most, Matt Melton saw it coming:
Team(s) Likely to Improve: Virginia and NC State
The Cavs were a very young team in 2006, but were still actually about average. Expect 2007 to be Groh’s best in Charlottesville. NC State finished 2-6, but they were much closer to Maryland in terms of SDPI than either of their basement brethren on Tobacco Road. Tom O’Brien was a great hire and NC State will contend for a bowl game in 2007.
Hey, one outta two's pretty good, Matt.
Getting back to the ACC on whole--just how lame has the conference become? Pretty damn lame. Only three schools are passing the ball more often than running it.
Pass/G Rush/G Pass%Three yards and a cloud of let's-go-back-to-the-tailgate.
NC State 39.0 30.0 56.5
BC 44.0 34.6 56.0
Duke 32.1 32.0 50.1
Clemson 36.0 38.4 48.4
FSU 32.4 36.0 47.4
UNC 29.6 35.6 45.4
Virginia 31.6 38.4 45.2
Virginia Tech 26.6 36.0 42.5
Wake Forest 30.9 42.4 42.1
Georgia Tech 27.4 43.4 38.7
Miami 23.5 38.9 37.7
Maryland 23.3 45.1 34.0