Thursday, September 04, 2008
Just how bad was Virginia's loss?
Doughty's "take" might surprise you
Doug Doughty's UVa Insider is exclusive to roanoke.com and is posted by 5 p.m. Thursdays in season.
See Doug and Randy talk sports every week with the Sports edition of the TimesCast
My impression is that most Virginia fans who read The Roanoke Times consider me a glass-half-empty guy when it comes to Cavalier athletics.
I don’t know if that impression will ever change, but I’m here to say that UVa’s 52-7 season-opening home loss to Southern California was not as disturbing as a 23-3 loss at Wyoming in the 2007 opener.
As far as I know, Beta Bridge hasn’t been painted over with any “Groh Must Go” messages this week, but maybe that’s no longer allowed with the free-speech crackdown that resulted in signs being banned from Scott Stadium.
(For more on that, look for a blog to be posted shortly on the Press Box on roanoke.com).
One way to look at the UVa-USC game was that the Trojans were simply too good, as represented by their elevation to No. 1 in the polls, and that few teams this side of the NFL could have beaten them.
But, here’s one stat that should give UVa fans some hope: For a period of more than 30 minutes, extending from late in the first quarter until late in the third quarter, the Trojans outscored UVa 10-7.
You could argue that USC had lost interest after pulling away to a 21-0 lead, but that didn’t prevent the Trojans from taking advantage of four Virginia turnovers to outscore the Cavaliers 28-0 over the final 18:28.
Southern California had the ball for close to 10 ½ minutes in the fourth quarter as UVa turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions, including a pair of fumbles and an interception by UVa sophomore quarterback Peter Lalich.
It has been hard to find a UVa fan who was alarmed by Lalich’s performance and the Cavaliers are much more certain about their quarterback situation than they were at this time a year ago.
Virginia had 187 yards in total offense against Southern Cal, which might not seem like much until you consider that the Cavaliers had 117 at Wyoming.
The Cowboys outgained Virginia 442-117. That spread was 558-187 against Southern Cal.
In the 2007 opener, former quarterback Jameel Sewell was 11-of-23 for 87 yards and was intercepted twice. Lalich was 18-of-35 for 155 yards and one “pick.”
Don’t people say that stats are for losers? Maybe so, but it appears that there are throws that Lalich can make – the seam route to the tight ends and the 15-yard outs – that gave Sewell trouble.
On the other hand, how many times last year did Sewell scramble for first downs last year when all appeared lost on third-and-7? The Cavaliers don’t have that threat when Lalich is in the game.
It’s sort of what Virginia Tech is going through with its quarterback, Sean Glennon and the de-redshirted Tyrod Taylor. Lalich is like Glennon and Sewell is more like Taylor, except, of course, that Sewell is academically ineligible.
With unproven running backs and young wide receivers, Tech has an absence of playmakers when Glennon is on the field. Virginia has to bank on wide receiver Kevin Ogletree as a playmaker who can complement running backs Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson.
Give us your call.