Talking Virginia With The Good Ol' Blog
Rob Mahini writes about Virginia sports at The Good Ol' Blog, and below he's answered a few questions about the Cavaliers. You can find my responses to his questions over at his place.
1.) What has the good start done for Al Groh's popularity among the fan base? Are UVA fans feeling a little more patient these days?
The fan base has gone from painting "Groh Must Go" on Beta Bridge to talking about him as a potential ACC Coach of the Year candidate. The debacle in Wyoming had many fans itching for a change, but now Wahoos are upbeat and dreaming of a division title. Of course, if Virginia loses the rest of its games, you can kiss that patience good bye. However, I think that Groh has convinced the decision makers -- AD Craig Littlepage and President John Casteen -- that he deserves to stick around for a while. There's no hot seat anywhere near the ol' curmudgeon.
2.) Statistically, Virginia isn't a whole lot different this season than it was last year (bad offense, good defense), but the results are vastly different. Is the turnaround mainly attributable to good luck in close games, or do you think there's more to it?
I think good luck is a part of it. A number of wins could have been losses with a bad bounce here or a couple inches there. But a number of other things is making a difference too. Last year's team was young and lacked depth. The experience on this team is allowing it to pull out games that it was losing last year. Increased depth is allowing Virginia to deal with injuries and fatigue better. And, of course, Chris Long is absolutely destroying offenses with one arm held behind his back (usually by the offensive tackle).
3.) Chris Long is a scary man. How does a team go about slowing him down? Will Virginia move him around on the defensive line?
I'll tell you if you promise not to tell Tom O'Brien. Seriously, it's very hard to game plan for Long. Sending additional bodies against him helps, but he can work around double teams and pass protecting running backs. Also, Long does move around the line enough to make it harder to account for him (especially when he stunts). I'd say the best way to play Long is to employ a quick and accurate passing game that gets the ball down field before he has a chance to light up the QB.
4.) What are your thoughts on Jameel Sewell's performance so far this season? Is he getting better?
He's definitely getting better. Last week's game against Maryland was quite possibly the best of his career. I think his wrist (which he had surgery on in the offseason) was bothering him a lot more than he or the staff let on earlier in the season. As the season has progressed, he's starting to improve his comfort level. He still has accuracy issues at times and doesn't work through his progressions as much as I'd like -- but the bad play to good play ratio is inching in the right direction every week.
5.) I swear, Virginia has had a running back named Pearman for like the last seven years, and this season Virginia has two! You can admit it, it's okay: you're just changing Alvin Pearman's first name every year. I mean, "Andrew" Pearman? You expect us to buy that?
Yes, we do expect you to buy it. Hey, it's working so far! And just wait, next year we'll be playing a true freshman defensive end named "Craig" Long.