Thursday, December 08, 2005

BOBD Part 3

November began with a well placed present...Temple University. Al Golden had an easy time stopping the non-existent Temple offense, a burden he will soon have to deal with as he becomes head coach of the program. For now he accepted holding one of the worst teams in America to three points. The offense took advantage as well, rolling up 51 points and finally getting Wali Lundy to run the ball successfully. The game was just what the doctor ordered, pushing the Cavaliers confidence up as they played three games against ranked opponents, first up GT in Scott Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets came in ranked 24th, but many fans felt this game was still winnable. Georgia Tech was led by junior QB Reggie Ball but it was sophomore WR Calvin Johnson that stole the headlines. Johnson was relatively quiet in this game, the secondary played well holding him to 4 catches for barely over 40 yards. What's more miraculous was that the secondary did without Marcus Hamilton or Nate Lyles. Hamilton, along with three other starters had been suspended for rules violations and Lyles suffered a severe concussion early in the game. Nevertheless with a make shift defense, UVA took a solid 17-0 lead. GT would come storming back to tie it up in the third before Virginia was able to pick up a field goal. Deyon Williams was huge, catching the ball 10 times for over 100 yards. His career day was capped with a touchdown pass that sealed the game, and bowl eligibility. Virginia had beaten its second ranked team of the year and sat pretty at 6-3. The next two games would be huge obstacles, but fans felt after FSU that anything was possible.

Virginia Tech came into Scott Stadium wanting to prove itself as well. A 27-7 debacle against Miami had crushed their national championship hopes and would have to win out just to have a chance at the ACC championship. UVA wished to continue their home game winning streak, but early on proved that it was not going to happen. Virginia did not play badly, it played awful. Nothing went right after holding the Hokies on the first drive to a three and out. Hagans could not make any plays which meant VT could stack the line and take Lundy out of the game. The Orange Crush was plowed over by Cedric Humes and Marcus Vick seemed flawless. The return of sophomore WR Eddie Royal played a big role in the VT offense and a 52-14 drubbing. The loss left Al Groh and company speechless. Now they had to go on the road and the face the team that had just humiliated VT...things were not looking good.

Miami had just blown a crucial home game against Georgia Tech and looked to get back on track against UVA. Virginia had other plans when Emmanuel Byers on a trick play heaved a pass to Deyon Williams who went 90 yards for the first score of the game. Virginia would take a 10-0 lead before Miami woke up and went on a tear. It was 18-10 after some missed extra points by the Canes but obviously Virginia was still in it. Nevertheless, the Cane defense had stepped up and suddenly the Wahoo offense was stalling. A critical 3rd down scramble by Miami QB Kyle Wright all but locked up the game when he reached the 1 yard line and insured a 25-10 lead. Hagans was able to throw a deep one to senior WR Ottawa Anderson and eventually scored to make it 25-17 but when the onside kick failed, so did Virginia's chance for an upset. The Cavaliers played hard, they played smart, but in the end they lost to a superior team.

Now with the 6-5 regular season behind them, Virginia will travel to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN to take on Minnesota (7-4). The Gophers run a similar offense to the Cavaliers (run at will, pass when necessary) and have Laurence Maroney at RB. They also have a similar tough defense, beating the Michigan Wolverines 23-20 earlier in the year. Virginia is happy to be in a bowl that's not Boise, and was actually bumped up a few spots from their projected destination in San Francisco. The Cavaliers could really put a new spin on the season if they could beat the Gophers and advance to 7-5. It was not an easy season, it was full of injuries, lost opportunities and offensive inefficiencies. Nevertheless many young players got some experience, the defense looks to be even better next year and hope for a better season is there. The problem for now is how will the team respond to losing three of its top assistants to head coaching jobs. Can Al Golden and Ron Prince win their last game for Al Groh? Time will tell, but Virginia fans sure hope so.


Post a Comment

<< Home