Saturday, September 01, 2012

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: UVa seeks heat from a 'Cold Dark Place'

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by that Cold Dark Place: You've got to embrace it to ensure you can avoid it.

Q: This week's sponsor makes no sense at all.

A: Sure it does! "Cold Dark Place" is the un-official motto for Virginia's football team this year. Multiple players told me so.

Q: So what does it mean?

A: I take it to mean, "Remember the sacrifice." Think about the early-morning lifting sessions, the August sprints, the sweat spilled in preparation for the season. Reach into that Cold Dark Place and find the inner motivation to keep you going in trying moments in games. The concept was introduced to the Cavaliers by their strength coach, Evan Marcus.

Q: Can a player please explain this better?

A: Probably. Here's what veteran linebacker Steve Greer said: "Through our workouts, he's kind of geared it to where we excel in the fourth quarter and the second half of games. When your body's trying to tell you no, you have your mind saying, 'Yeah, we're going to keep going.' It's all about pushing yourself and exceeding the limits that you set for yourself. "

Q: Ah, I see. Solid strategy. Think they'll need that against Richmond today?

A: No, but soon.

Q: Record-wise, how does UVa avoid winding up in a Cold Dark Place at the end of the season?

A: I think anything .500 or better would be warm and bright this year. A 6-6 record and a bowl berth wouldn't whip fans into a frenzy, but I think most understand that this is a transition year. If you find you can't reach your goal and take another step forward, at least minimize the distance you move back.

Q: Saw you were the only fool in the Fearless Forecasters to pick Georgia Tech to beat the Hokies on Monday night. Why?

A: We got into this in detail on the blog Thursday, but the CliffsNotes version is that I think the Jackets will have better control of the overall flow of the game.

Q: At Lane Stadium? On opening night? You do realize how jacked up that place is going to be, right?

A: I do, and I can't wait to get there and have the noise wash over me and feel the press box shake. But I think you have to separate the concepts of "amazing atmosphere" and "performance enhancer." Lane is definitely the former; you could make a strong argument that it is not the latter.

Q: What's the argument?

A: That since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies have a better conference record on the road (27-5) than at home (26-6). Only once in those eight years (2008) have the Hokies posted a better conference record at Lane that they have away from it.

Q: Yeah, but those numbers are pretty close there. Given the sample size, the difference is statistically insignificant, right?

A: Probably. And that's my point: The Hokies are pretty much the same team no matter where they play. That's actually a very good thing, a testament to consistency and poise in hostile venues. I'm just saying I'm not giving Tech a 6-point swing for playing at home.

Q: Blog comment of the week?

A: Let's go with Peppers Ferry, on my explanation for the GT pick: "All your points are right, but your conclusion is wrong Final score: VT 30-24."

Q: You prepared to apologize to Hokies everywhere if that happens?

A: Nah. I'd be more inclined to apologize if I made a more popular prediction that I didn't believe in. We'll strive for honesty and take what-ever comes. Predictions are just predictions.

Q: And yours tend to be pretty bad, don't they? Didn't you finish in the Fearless Forecasters cellar last year?

A: Yep. And it's a Cold Dark Place, brother.

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