As is become our custom here at SOTU, we sat down with the head honcho over at Streaking The Lawn, SBN's excellent Virginia blog, to get a better grasp on what our Hurricanes were getting themselves into this weekend. Virginia, regardless of the position of either team, apparently holds the skeleton key to Golden's mind, because they have more or less owned us for the past...say...5 years?
To the questions!
1) You guys dominated NC State after losing 6 in a row. Was this one of those "any given Saturday" games, or has the team finally put something together?
Streaking The Lawn - This team is going to win out the rest of the season. Next question please. Oh wait, you're not talking about wishful thinking. I'm actually not sure what happened last Saturday. By all accounts, my own included, Virginia was going to lose to NC State, no questions asked. I had sort of accepted that fate. But a defense that had been pretty reliable for most of the season finally found a way to get noticed. An offense that had struggled for most of the season found a way to string together a few fresh plays. How did they do that? They stopped making bad mistakes. They stopped turning the ball over in key, inopportune moments. Honestly, the talent level, though not at an FSU-level, is there. Last Saturday was a refreshing reminder of that.
2) How has Sims played so far for you guys? Has the Alabama transfer earned his starting spot, or was it basically given to him because he was just the better of the options?
STL - Nobody has earned a starting spot, nor does it really count that Sims received the start last week. Phillip Sims and Michael Rocco split their time at QB last week and are going to rotate again this week around. Sims has played decently well, but he has a hard time throwing the ball away and it doesn't seem like he's gotten a grasp of everything quite just yet. Both QBs, I think, have been given a fair crack at earning all of the playing time, and neither has capitalized.
3) It has to be a bit disheartening to see the performance this year after being so good last year. What has contributed to this season turning out as it has?
STL - It's certainly disheartening. We knew this year would not look pretty, given just how young the team, especially the defense, is. But the real problem is in special teams. No adequate punt returner. Our kickoffs have not been well placed. Mistake. After mistake. After mistake. So many penalties. So many turnovers. So few forced turnovers. I can't even put together complete sentences at this point of this answer.
4) The game is at noon. How much do you hate this? Because we hate it.
STL - Confirmed. A man can only grill so many breakfast tailgates.
5) Is London at all on the hot seat because of this year, or is he basically safe unless things repeat themselves?
STL - Not at all. Anyone who tells you otherwise is being completely irrational. London has pulled together three red hot recruiting classes, including a Top 25 class coming off a 4-win season, and hasn't even had the chance to coach a class entirely of his own yet. He's reigning ACC Coach of the Year, if that counts for anything. But that's not to say everything is all rainbows and butterflies on the Virginia sidelines. Special teams coordinator Anthony Poindexter, a former UVA safety of near-legendary proportions, is just about en fuego, at least with respect to his ST coordinator position. I expect a shakeup over there, and possibly even with OC Bill Lazor (but a low possibility, in my mind), during the offseason.
6) You guys forced a lot of turnovers last week, and spent a lot of time speaking directly into Glennon's face mask. Miami has also forced a lot of turnovers, and the offensive line has been exceptionally adept at keeping Stephen Morris upright. Who do you think wins out in the trenches this week?
STL - Last week was a regression-to-the-mean game for us. Virginia was dead last in turnover margin going into that game. Dead last in the country. So we racked up a heck of a lot of turnovers, and hopefully we keep on that trend to keep us out of the cellar. Virginia's offensive line has not been particularly adept at that skill, so if we're looking at the lines, I'll probably give the advantage to Miami.
7) What has been the biggest surprise of Virginia's season thus far? On the flip side, what has been the biggest disappointment?
STL - The Virginia offensive line I think has been the biggest disappointment. Both OTs Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses received preseason recognitions from various sources have not really had the wow-factor performances we expected to see this year. I'm not sure what the biggest positive surprise of the season is. There really haven't been very many highlights of the season. A big surprise was when the Penn State kicker missed four field goals and an extra point to give us a one-point win. Does that count?
8) Predicting any ACC game is an exercise in pin the tail on the donkey, but regardless, we want your prediction. Who wins, why, and what's the score?
STL - Virginia has had Miami's number of late. UVA is probably the one team that Miami keeps unexpectedly losing to. Orange Bowl shutout! Sorry, had to just remind you of that. But Virginia's won the last two, and four of the last six. This includes defeating two ranked Miami teams, and losing one in overtime. In one of those ranked upsets, Virginia was en route to a four-win season. So there's the history. Both teams will come out playing big on Saturday - Virginia to keep any hopes of a bowl game alive, Miami to get one step closer to clinching the Coastal title. Ultimately, I think Miami comes out a little stronger, a little faster, and the ‘Canes pull out a narrow victory. We'll say 31-27 Miami, and let's just both hope that I'm wrong.
Thanks to Brian for taking the time out to do this thang with us!