Sunday, August 16, 2009

UVA's Jameel Sewell Used To Facing Adversity

Also seen on the Bleacher Report.

It's déjà vu at the Virginia football training camp this August.

Quarterback Jameel Sewell, after a year hiatus from college, is back on the field with his No. 10 jersey and confident stride to boot.

Indeed, looking at him it is almost like nothing has changed. He’s still a good runner that can buy time in the pocket. He’s still an inconsistent passer, particularly from over 15 yards. Most importantly, for the third straight season, he is a part of a major quarterback battle.

However, things are not always what they seem, particularly in college football. What has changed for the Hermitage High graduate is what might make Sewell surprise everyone coming into his senior season in Charlottesville, Va.

Sewell’s last year at Virginia was a roller coaster few have ever experienced. He went from a fierce battle over true freshman Pete Lalich for the starter’s role, to a seven-game winning streak and to Virginia’s first Gator Bowl appearance in nearly fifteen years.

In Jacksonville, Fla. Sewell helped lead his team to a 28-14 lead over the Texas Tech Red Raiders with only eight minutes to go. Virginia coach Al Groh was tantalizingly close to matching the school record for wins in a season and notch a big victory on his resume.

Then, disaster struck for the Cavaliers.

Sewell went out with an injury and Lalich was thrust into the game. The air came out of the sails for Virginia so quickly that the Cavaliers had no chance. When Lalich fumbled the ball inside the ten, the Red Raiders spelled blood and walked away with victory.

Sewell’s bad news continued just a few weeks later when it was announced he had been ruled academically ineligible for next season.

The sophomore now had to wonder what the future had in store for him.

Should he try to make the grade and return for next season? Should he transfer and sit out a year?

There were no easy answers, but then again, Sewell’s entire career at Virginia has been anything but easy.

Sewell was literally thrown into the fire his freshman year at Virginia. The team was Christian Olsen’s to lose and he quickly did in 2006 for the Cavaliers after a woeful performance to open the season against the Pittsburgh Panters.

When back-up quarterback Kevin McCabe had two interceptions leading to touchdowns for the Western Michigan Broncos, Groh pulled the plug and put his trust in the young Sewell before halftime.

Sewell’s debut was respectable, going 7-of-10 for 51 yards, however, his team failed to score any points and the Cavaliers suffered one of their more humiliating losses at home in the Groh era.

What transpired after that debut has been one rocky road for Virginia fans to stomach.

Sewell has yet to find the consistency that quarterbacks need in order to be successful. For every good drive he has in a game, the next drive he may overshoot a wide-open receiver by five or ten yards. It was almost like he suffered from dual personality.

“Bad Sewell” would throw interceptions and make terrible decisions while in the pocket. While his predecessor Marques Hagans did a good job of knowing when to run or pass when the play broke down, Sewell almost never seemed to get it right.

Sometimes he bailed too early and was in no man’s land, other times it appeared he was waiting for the grass to grow and a defensive lineman soon gave him a closer look.

One need not look far for examples of “Bad Sewell” rearing his ugly head.

11-of-23 for 87 yards against Wyoming with two interceptions may be the pinnacle, but let’s not forget the 15-of-31 for 115 yards and two interceptions against Georgia Tech or 9-of-14 for 60 yards against Duke.

It’s little wonder that Sewell has had to fight off contenders for the starting position.

Then again, every time you thought you had Sewell figured out, along would come the “Good Sewell.”

Sewell simply found ways to win his sophomore year. No matter how much he struggled in the second half, he would bring it all together to get the victory by miraculously finding a rhythm and marching the team to victory.

The quintessential example of this was against Middle Tennessee State, a game the Cavaliers had to win and were on the verge of losing and derailing a four-game winning streak.

A Sewell interception had given the Blue Raiders a 21-20 lead, but when the Virginia defense picked up the critical stop, “Good Sewell” made an impressive appearance.

Shaking off the pick, Sewell confidently threw Virginia down the field going 4-of-5 for 63 yards with less than two minutes to go. A late field goal gave the Cavaliers the victory and “Good Sewell” had a reputation he would bolster again and again in 2007.

Sure he has plenty of question marks and concerns, he can drive Virginia fans to an early grave but he is a winner.

So imagine the concern many had when it was found out that Sewell would not be at the University of Virginia in 2008. That concern only grew when Pete Lalich’s troubles on and off the field forced him to transfer and Marc Verica’s interceptions cost Virginia a chance at a bowl game.

Well, Sewell was not crying at home while all this transpired down in Charlottesville. He could have felt sorry for himself and his situation but instead he did what he does best; he went to work.

Sewell was working at Piedmont Community College and even found time to be the quarterbacks coach at Charlottesville High School. The entire time he was keeping himself in shape and keeping his hunger for a return to the university he had grown to love.

“He did not want to quit on this team,” teammate and fellow quarterback candidate Vic Hall said to the Daily Progress.

Well Sewell’s hard work has paid off. He is back in good academic standing and is poised for a return this fall to Scott Stadium. Better yet, he is still in position to graduate from one of the top universities in the nation.

Sewell is a story with an ending yet to be written, but judging from the first few chapters, readers should expect plenty of drama and intrigue. With three experienced options at quarterback, playing time will be a true challenge for all the competitors.

Earning his spot under center will not be easy for Sewell, and that’s just how he likes it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

He's Back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Virginia basketball got a huge boost to its program when Virginia all-star point guard Sean Singletary took his name out of the NBA draft to return to Charlottesville for his senior year.

The 6'0 (on a good day) guard had several work outs in Orlando for the Trailblazers and the Philadelphia 76ers. However, it appeared that Singletary would not be a first round draft pick, if drafted at all. Through the experience Singletary has learned in what aspects he must improve his game. If he can make progress, not only will his draft stock rise but so will the Virginia Cavalier program.

The biggest critique most NBA scouts seemed to find was that Singletary's defense is not quite where it should be. Even though the NBA and defense seem mutually exclusive, with Singletary's lack of height, his speed must be a critical tool in his arsenal. He has done a great job so far of using his speed to get to the lane, now he must master using that speed to torment people when they have the ball. Singletary had many memorable moments last year, obviously the shot against Duke has become emblematic of his three years here. However, another big moment came when he skied high to steal the ball against Arizona and ran down the court for an impressive dunk from the point guard. If fans can see some more of these high intensity plays, fans can expect some major success.

The second major area for improvement will be moving towards a pure point guard. Singletary is an incredible player, but he still has room to improve when it comes to managing an offense. Some of these problems have come from a lack of scoring options. His sophomore year he only had 7 scholarship players and he still lacks a quality center he can use as a safety valve when pressured by the defense. This year, however, Singletary will have many scoring options. Mamadi Diane comes back as the most improved player and a threat to score anywhere on the court. Adrian Joseph made major strides near the end of last year and a crew of talented freshman shooters give Singletary some options to help get into the game. If he can work on his passing these options will have success. Most importantly Singletary must walk that thin line of knowing when to let others be involved in the offense and when he must take over. While Singletary has won his fair share of games for Virginia sometimes he has shot them out of games on the road by trying to force the issue instead of giving the ball up to the hot hand. With a severe lack of front court options and the departure of J.R. Reynolds, Singletary will face defensive schemes entirely concentrated on him. Therefore, he must find a way to make his supporting cast effective or the results will suffer.

Still, Singletary is a star and someone that puts people in the seats. The little guy has a heart and tenacity that few will ever possess. He has shown his potential from the beginning of his career, breaking two freshman records in the first two games. He has a mental fortitude that awes the usually stoic Dave Leitao and a game that the entire ACC respects. This year, Virginia will try to improve upon a tremendous season last year where the Cavaliers tied for the ACC Regular Season Championship with North Carolina and came within inches of reaching the Sweet Sixteen. It's a moment that most fans in Virginia would like to forget. Singletary fallen on the floor, like a hero slain in battle. Well he has been given a reprieve and I think everyone understands, it's a finale that no one will want to miss.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Strike Three

There is no joy in Charlottesville but not because the great Casey struck out, but rather ran out of gas.

Senior pitcher Casey Lambert, the all-time ACC saves leader; was asked to go out and do the impossible. Propel Virginia to its first ever super regionals after pitching 6.2 innings on Saturday in a marathon game with the Oregon State Beavers. Lambert didn't have it and even though Virginia had an explosive second inning to take a 3-2 lead, they were left with a 7-3 defeat in front of a disillusioned crowd of 2,389 at Davenport Field Tuesday afternoon against OSU.

The result is a disappointment for a team built for Omaha. However, the injury list soon began to pile up at the end of the season. It began with superstar shortstop Greg Miclat, who battled a shoulder injury throughout the year, and eventually resulted in a surgery. Then on Saturday, Brandon Marsh and Brandon Guyer both were afflicted with the injury bug. One Cavalier went down with a bum wrist after being hit by a pitch, the other after a dive into home plate separated his shoulder. The result stripped Virginia of its primary offensive weapons. It is difficult enough to knock out the defending national champions at full strength but a depleted squad had an arduous task indeed. The Beavers simply had a little more mental toughness. Monday night, five outs away from the next round and a chance to host the Michigan Wolverines, Virginia simply could not put away a scrappy ball club. The play of the series came at the top of the 8th inning when Chris Hopkins belted one deep to cut the Beaver deficit to only one. This was only the second home run on the season for Hopkins and that play shifted the momentum of not only the game but the series.

While Hopkins was overachieving, Virginia's Sean Doolittle was struggling. Only 1 for 12 against the Beavers, Doolittle had a strong pitching performance against Lafayette but could not muster the needed offense after the injury bug plagued the Cavaliers. David Adams led the way with a .429 average but Tim Henry was the man with the key hits in the series. However, Virginia still had no players with more than one extra base hit and that lack of firepower is why Oregon State will live to see another game and Virginia must sit back and watch the CWS on TV.

Virginia ends the season with an impressive record of 45-16. Virginia spent almost the entire season ranked in the top 10, they were one game away from the ACC championship contest and they hosted a regional for the third time, and second in a row. Yet Virginia STILL has not made out of the first round of the playoffs and while Coach Brian O'Connor has completely revitalized the program, this albatross looks to remain an issue until it is finally resolved.

More on this later....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

ACC Pick'em

Another great week, we'll see how this goes:
TOTAL: 29-6

North Carolina at Virginia
Oh if ESPN could press redo they surely would. This game will be ugly, very ugly. However it should prove to be competitive. Both teams can't beat anybody not named Duke or Furman. Virginia collapsed but they proved to have made improvements. The short week might help them so they don't dwell on the loss as long. I think they'll do this, and John Bunting can say bye-bye Carolina blue.


NC State at Maryland
The Terps are feeling pretty good, the Wolfpack took a step back with their loss to Wake Forest. I think with the unpredictability of this league, this is a tough one. However, I incline to believe that the Wolfpack are a better team, even on the road. They'll get the job done.


Miami at Duke
The times are bleak in both towns. Duke is bad even for Duke, meaning Ted Roof is probably out. Miami has a dark cloud around it's entire organization and half the team sitting this one out. Still, Miami is just too good, even when they're bad, to lose to Duke. Of course if they did lose it'd be justice for these light sentences and would send Coral Gables into official panic mode.


Boston College at Florida State
Now this is a really hard one. BC almost pulled off the win last year, but that was at home. However, FSU is far from the great giant it once was. BC has been very hit or miss. It almost lost to CMU and then it beats VT. I think there is some pride left in the Noles and the Eagles can't string together meaningful wins.


Southern Miss at Virginia Tech
Now Southern Miss is a pretty decent midmajor team that did beat the Wolkfpack. However, they don't usually play in an atmosphere like Lane Stadium. The Hokies are mad and I think they will do well...but still maybe not as well as many would expect.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

ACC Pick'em

Seems I feel back to earth a bit with a 4-2 week, I swear the ACC is more disarray than ever before.

Clemson at Temple
Might as well start easy. Clemson is good and their comeback against WF proved it. Temple is not good, why couldn't we have played them THIS year too?

PREDICTION: Clemson 52 Temple 3

Virginia Tech at Boston College
A huge game for the conference and the country. A loss and VT would really be behind the 8-ball. BC is wildly unpredictable but still a solid choice to win the Atlantic title. Both teams are good and at Lane I would pick VT so I'll give BC fans some credit and give them a very close win.


FIU at Miami
Well, I guess after Houston nothing is a given but I'll give Larry and the boys some credit.


Florida State at Duke
If Virginia can beat Duke, anyone can beat Duke. Especially a struggling Seminole team that needs to feel better after dropping one to the Wolfpack. They will win handily boys and girls and Duke will continue to look towards basketball.


South Florida at UNC
The Bulls are still remembered for beating Louisville, but they have no such glory this year. Still UNC is pathetic and I think I am feeling an upset. I mean...beating Louisville a year ago is still better than almost losing to Furman.....right?


Wake Forest at N.C. State
Such a weird game. The Wolfpack are on cloud nine after TWO season changing games, WF almost picked up the biggest win in a long time but completely fell apart. This rivalry has been just that in the past few years. This will be close but it's going to be tough to choose.


Maryland at Virginia
Maryland has not beat Virginia at home since 1990. Virginia hasn't sucked this bad since the early 1980s. Maryland has struggled in its own right but provided a scare for GT. This is tough to call, but I think the Terps have to win considering how bad Virginia is playing. The defense is okay, not great and the offense is abysmal. Maryland needs some pride and they always play well against us.


Monday, October 02, 2006


I know I'm early but I seem to be on a roll.

Florida State at N.C. State
These games are going to be a little more precarious this week and here's one. Both teams have grossly underachieved. The Wolfpack miraculously beat the Eagles, and BC is looking much better than those Seminoles as of late. However, FSU had the bye and they play big when they have to. I think pride will kick in and they will put Amato back on the hot seat.


North Carolina at Miami
Now the Hurricanes are bad. Houston may have a prolific offense but the Miami offense HAS to muster more than 14 points. Here is poor little UNC though, a team not looking too good either. If Carolina had some of its past stars, like Julius Peppers, this would be a big program win. However, since both teams are bad...we're back to basic logic and that's that Ibis can take the Ram in a fight.


Clemson at Wake Forest
Wake is 5-0 people, their best start since 1987. Clemson is one of those teams that actually give the ACC some pride. The Demon Deacs sure could use some home field advantage, but there will probably be way more orange than black/gold. This could really be something if Wake were to win, but I think reality will set in this week.

PREDICTION: Clemson 28 WF 24

Maryland at Georgia Tech
Now if the Jackets were caught sleeping, the Terps could surprise them...but I wouldn't bet on it. GT is just too loaded and if they prepare for each game they only need to worry about Clemson and Miami before they waltz into Jacksonville. Maryland struggled against FIU and continue to be lost, Calvin Johnson won't help them find themselves.


Virginia at East Carolina
Oh how nice it is to have hope again. Are the Pirates as bad as Duke, no one knows. They did challenge West Virginia, but I now believe enough in Virginia....their defense at least that this could be a comfortable win. If Virginia's offense could only become mediocre, their three game homestand could really muster some spirit. Sewell will continue to be hit and miss, running will be decent as long as Snelling gets the ball but the defense must shine....I say they will.


Duke at Alabama
Oh there's no reason to even talk about this one.

PREDICTION: Alabama 35 Duke -1

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Another solid performance, but the weeks keep coming.

Maine at Boston College
The Eagles are not happy campers, and who can blame them? Their frustration will mean the complete annihilation against a school I didn't know had a football team. Sure BC has struggled a bit out of conference but they can easily handle their Northeastern "rival".


Liberty at Wake Forest
Oh my, don't look now but the Demon Deacons are 4-0 and yes about to go 5-0 when the Liberty Flames are quickly extinguished. It will be very interesting to see if WF can finally win some of those close ACC games, they're only one game from being bowl eligible if they win this game.

PREDICTION: WF 28 Liberty 0

Houston at Miami
The Cougars??? Miami figured out the way to get heat off of Larry Coker was to schedule teams like Houston after being humiliated by Louisville's backup QB and RB. Miami will win, probably not the prettiest game...but hey, there is always VT.

PREDICTION: Miami 35 Houston 3

Louisiana Tech at Clemson
....You know, I'm just going to go to the prediction.

PREDICTION: Clemson 48 LT 7

Virginia at Duke
It's sad but this might just be the game of the week for the ACC, outside of the Tech bowl that is. Two teams with no offense but decent defenses square off. It could go to triple overtime 3-3. People claim Sewell improved as the game went on but I maintain the Jackets just stopped playing. Still, it pains me too much to pick Duke over us so....I won't.


Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech
These two teams look good, but who really knows. The Hokies haven't played even an average team yet and the Jackets did look good against ND, but do not have the best track record against VT. Last year's 51-7 blowout was bad, the year before they folded faster than a lawnchair in the 4th quarter at home to lose as well. Calvin Johnson is a great athlete but Reggie Ball will determine this game, not to mention the playcalling of Chan Gailey. The home crowd is a huge advantage for the's just gonna be a great game.