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|SabreMail - September 4, 2006||
Home Opener Starts George Welsh Chalk Talk Series
With Wyoming coming to town Saturday, the University of Virginia Alumni Association and TheSabre.com are happy to announce the start of the "Friday Night Chalk Talks with George Welsh" series. The former UVa coach will be on hand to talk football strategy. The event opens at 7 p.m. at Alumni Hall. Learn more about the series here.
Don't forget, the Alumni Association features lots of game weekend activities. There's the "More Than the Score" pregame lecture series (Larry Sabato, Center for Politics, is this week's guest), pregame Barbeque and beverages at Alumni Hall, and a postgame celebration at Alumni Hall as well. You can learn about all of those events and the Chalk Talk series here.
This Week In Recruiting
By Chris Horne
Football recruiting ...
Earlier this week, Ballou (Washington, D.C.) outside linebacker recruit Romale Tucker received the news that the University of Virginia would be extending a scholarship offer. The 6-4, 210-pound Tucker spoke with coach Mike London and verbally committed to the Hoos over the weekend. So the commitment is official ... well, almost.
"I did make my decision," Tucker said. "The [UVa written] offer hasn't come in yet, but Coach London told me it is on the way. I talked to Coach London yesterday. I told him I wanted to be there. I did commit. He just said he wants to talk to my Mom to make sure it's all right, so I think he's going to call tomorrow to talk to her. Then it's all set."
Also, TheSabre.com released its PreSeason Top 30 late last week and there was some movement from the PreSummer Top 30, as more prospects have come to light and more film has been viewed. One newcomer to the list is Henrico's Corey Mosley, a 5-9, 192-pound athlete prospect. Mosley has made at least three trips to UVa including a recent trip for a practice. Mosley holds offers from UVa, Virginia Tech, and Tennessee. He is not sure when he will make a decision.
Chris Horne, our resident recruiting expert, provides updates throughout the week for Edge subscribers about UVa's commitments and recruiting targets in football and men's basketball. To sign up for an Edge subscription, please check out the Sabre Edge Sign Up and Information Page. If you're already on board as an Edge subscriber, click the links below to catch up on recruiting.
Sabre Edge recruiting updates from the past week ...
Patrick Patterson Down to Six
Pre-Season Top 30 Shows Some Changes
Tucker Joins Cavs 2007 Class
Also from the past week ...
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Today's SabreMail is brought to you by our sponsor KrogerŪ.
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Thanks, as always, for giving the Sabre's sponsors the first chance to win your business. Remember, our sponsors help bring you a better Web site.
|News, Notes, and Fan Discussion|
The Sabre's Game Week Coverage
Helmet logos courtesy of The Helmet Project
Diehard football fans know that preparing for the game starts a long time before Saturday. That's where the Sabre has you covered! Our game info pages are stocked with all the information you need for the Hoos' next game. That means you can get the essentials (time, place, TV, postgame stats, weather forecasts, preview articles, depth charts, roster cards, etc.) in one convenient location.
The links to each game are available through our schedule on the Football Info page (Click here for Football Info page.); all you have to do is click on the game of interest and the information is all on that game page! Check out the Wyoming page now! The link is also provided at the top of the Football Message Board and the EDGE Message Board throughout game week.
That doesn't even include the articles you get as part of our premium EDGE coverage. Each week, you'll receive features, columns, and analysis on the Hoos' next game. If you want to be "in the know" and impress your buddies at the next tailgate, the EDGE is the place to be. To sign up for an Edge subscription, please check out the Sabre Edge Sign Up and Information Page.
Posts of the Week
Subject: A whole range of thoughts about where we are, how we got here, and where
Groh came into this job with his thinking based on his Wake Forest experience. Back then, the money and sophistication placed into coaching in the college game was far short of what it is today. He underestimated the coaching level of the competition and overestimated his ability to provide the "coaching" while his assistants were going to be dynamite recruiters. Groh clearly believed that using the NFL aura would help attract the recruits and talent with his coaching would win.
You see this manifesting itself in several ways, what made it more damaging was that it worked with his first full recruiting class. Perhaps if the class of 2002 wasn't the apparent success it was, he would have seen the light earlier, but he brought in arguably the best class in UVA history on paper. Like the fisherman who has the day of his life using a new lure, he believed he would continue having success with that same formula.
The warning lights went off in my head with the class of 2003, which was a good class, but I saw us leaving needs unmet because we turned away "good" talent waiting for the "great" talent and whiffed. Some of you may recall me commenting in that regard at the time and I was soundly bashed for it. The 2004 class was very weak. That is the class that should be excelling for us today.
The 2005 class was the right direction. I view the 2006 class as an aberration caused by a number of things, not the least of which was the loss of four key assistant coaches. It looks like the 2007 class is following the formula of the 2005 class, and that's the right direction but it won't help us for a few years.
Here's something to think about: our defense this year should have senior ILBs Brooks and Parham and defensive linemen Redd and C. Johnson. Instead, we have a walk on and a true soph with two starts under his belt at ILB, backed up by a RS frosh who played running back until about October or November last year. Our left defensive end is a RS frosh seeing his first action backed up by a true sophomore who should be redshirted. I guess maybe Groh should have seen all that coming but that may be unfair.
What we needed was better coaching/teaching from our assistants and the 2005/2007 recruiting formula all along. We didn't have those things in place and that is Groh's fault. He miscalculated and now he's paying for it and we're paying for it. People blame his stubborness, but considering his success in 2002, and the 2003 class was pretty good on paper as well, can you blame him for continuing to follow it in 2004??
It is my hope that he now has the right coaching formula in place though I'm a big skeptic of Mike Groh as OC. Garrett, Borberly and Bernstien are certainly quality teachers and Mike London is the right guy at DC. He seems to be following the right recruiting formula now but is the program too far gone for that formula to bring in sufficient talent??? If he had it in place in 2003, I think we'd be in excellent shape now. We didn't and we have massive holes and inexperience trying to fill those holes. We're not going to be very good this season.
So, we can harp on Groh's past mistakes and clearly in hindsight he made some big errors. Doing that changes nothing about today. The real question that a fan has to deal with is in regards to what is best for the program moving forward?? If you believe he is now making the right changes, basically back to the beginning of the program building mode, then we are best served by patience and supporting them as vigorously as we can. If you don't believe that, then your best course of action is to not buy season tickets for football, write Page and Casteen, and make your protest in the one place that it counts, in the pocketbook.
Me?? I don't see an alternative right now. I'm going to support the team as vigorously as I can. I'm not happy about how we have come to this point, especially since I saw it coming several years ago. However, the right changes seem to have FINALLY been made (except the OC position in which I still am skeptical) so I will be patient for a while longer.
Two keys to watch. First, how do our players develop during the season. It isn't about W-L record as much as it is about development. Second, do we fill out the rest of our 2007 class to meet our immediate needs; i.e., OL, WR, DL, more speed.
That's my take. I'm not happy, but I'm having to deal with the reality. If I don't see the right things this year, I may move to the get rid of Groh bandwagon, but I think most of the changes I felt were necessary have been made.
Subject: Marcus Hamilton said it best in a post-game interview ...
This team had a ton of questions coming into the Pittsburgh game and most of them remain as the team prepares for Wyoming. We could have played another opening schedule like '05 with Western Michigan, Syracuse, and Duke, struggle in those games to get three wins, while glossing over the flaws that would emerge more promeniently against better competition.
We're not playing for a national championship at UVa or even a league title. The only thing that is important for this specific team is to improve and develop throughout the year and try to become bowl eligible. Regardless if you want to accept that fact or not, this is the reality of where UVa's football program resides at the moment. By my count, I only saw 7 seniors step on the field for offensive or defensive plays on Saturday. Try surveying around the league and the country and see how many teams have fewer than that number of seniors in their 2-deep?
The only thing that matters this year is continuous improvement for individual players, within their respective units, and the collective team, maintaining an effective belief system in their fellow teammates and the coaches, establishing new leaders that lead by example, and for the coaches to do a solid job understanding how to best deploy our talent with some of the changes they've made or will make to schemes and strategy. For an team trying to reclimb the ladder, the only thing that is more important than the aforementioned is learning how to win again as a team.
I've been as tough on Al Groh as anyone. But that serves little purpose with this year's team. This is not '04, or even '05. Groh has made a lot of mistakes and missteps with this program. Ding dong! We all know that! I'm talking about this team, this year.
We have overhauled our coaching staff, we have a ton of new players in place that need to learn how to play effectively, and all of that needs time to mesh. But until we can develop stronger line play on both sides of the ball, all bets are off. I don't care who's at QB, who's calling the plays, etc.! It starts with the line.
Lining up a raw Will Barker (zero game experience) or Zak Stair (basically no game experience with the offense) next to Cunningham, who has been a part time player for the past 2 years, next to Lipsey, who is still struggling with his pass blocking, next to Albert who had a good freshman year, but still has much to learn (and has two new guys on each side of him) and Monroe who like Albert didn't get any reps in the spring, is playing OT for essentially the first time on a full time basis and coming off of knee surgery.
Now, I spend a lot of time focusing on line play. I've worked with a number of young linemen over the years. When you look at what UVa is working with at the moment, I'm not surprised at all, by what took place with the OL. Barker Stair are barely able to straighten out their jocks because these guys are so inexperienced. Barker is learning how to play/move with his new size and deal with college level talent and speed. Stair is moving from left to right tackle, while still adjusting to playing for the first time. They are trying to get comfortable with their assignment, line calls, speed of their opponents, etc. Should anyone be surprised that 2 procedures calls came from that position. That's a lot for a young player in their first real game!
Lipsey has NEVER been strong at pass blocking, which is among the handful of reasons he wasn't playing earlier. Do you think that Pittsburgh may have seen a bit of the UMD game when the Turtles were blitzing up the middle like commuters running for a rush hour train. Cunningham came to UVa as a strong drive blocker. He's been bouncing back and forth between center and guard, and frankly, not really excelling at a high level with either. You think that Monroe may not quite be as quick as he would like to be following surgery and is still learning how to pass block in college.
Folks, it takes time for offensive units to come together and perform as one. FSU brought in Mark McHale in this year because they finally recognized that part of their problems with the productivity of their offense was the result of poor line play.
Until the OL is fixed, you can bring back Schaub, Musgrave, or anyone else, it will not matter. If we can't run effectively or have time to throw, it don't care who's at QB or calling plays. The OL is just like the team which needs time to grow, mature, and develop. For a team with this many question marks, the time to evaluate is at season's end, not after one game against a team that could legitimately win 8 games.
Newslink - Your One Stop Shop for UVa News
TheSabre.com provides an excellent service for the Virginia fan base that you may not know about: Newslink. Sabre NewsLink provides you with links to the daily news on your Hoos. Our staff checks the Internet each morning to locate and link to articles from various online media sources from around the state and beyond. We even throw some interesting ACC news to let you know what the Hoos' opponents are up to. Sabre NewsLink is updated every morning, 365 days a year!
Check out Sabre NewsLink today!
UVa Bookstores' 2006 Virginia Football Pick 'Em
Pick'em is simple. The first contestant who picks the winner and comes closest to predicting the final score wins. In case of ties, the earliest entry will be awarded the prize. Last week's winner won a No. 91 Virginia jersey for example!
Entries must be received by 12:00 a.m. EST game day. Entries received after 12:00 a.m. (midnight the night before the game) are ineligible. Limit one entry per person. The next business day following game day, UVa Bookstores will email a short note regarding the results.
For the full information or to enter, click here!
Around the World of Wahoo Sports ...
To read the full stories or gather more information on Virignia athletics, check out Virginiasports.com.
|UVa Bookstores - The Place for Wahoo Gear!|
Issue No. 206 - September 9, 2005
Well, Virginia's first game of the football season sure generated a lot of discussion on the message boards, huh? To me, that's a good thing.
That's fine. In fact, that's the beauty of the Sabre message boards - fans can discuss the good, the bad, the ugly and the excellent about UVa sports. It's not a cheerleading site or a mouthpiece for the athletic department. TheSabre.com represents and reflects the whole spectrum of fan opinion and provides an open forum for discussing anything and everything about the Cavaliers. That's why it bothers me when some fans try to stifle those discussions by attacking anyone who's critical.
Over the course of the week, some posters jumped into critical threads and accused anyone negative of failing to be a good fan. As if being a good fan means never voicing complaints or expressing concerns. Please. Sure, some fans overreact to a poor performance and become overly negative or critical. If you don't like it, ignore them. Just please do me a favor and avoid casting a chill over the message boards by accusing your fellow 'Hoos of being lesser fans.
Challenge their opinions if you like, but don't challenge their right to express themselves. And please don't forget that you can be critical and still be a great fan.
Former Sabre Editor John Galinsky wrote that just last year. It all still applies after the opening loss at Pittsburgh this year. Food for thought ...
| What's New on TheSabre.com?
Football season kicked off Saturday for Virginia in a less than desirable fashion. Still, The Sabre is the place to be for all of your Cavalier content as we keep you up to date on all that's going on. Here's a sneak peak at some of the articles to expect on the site in the coming days:
In Case You Missed It ...
Sabre articles from the past week
The Turning Point - Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Pounds Virginia in Season Opener
Best Seat in the House: Pitt's Tyler Palko
ACC Roundtable: Who Will Win the Divisions?
A Western Perspective on the Wahoos
Game Preview: Virginia at Pittsburgh
Best Seat in the House: Dave Borbely
The Hawk's Nest - Road Openers Offer Opportunity
Catching Up With ... Phillips, Albert, & Hall
Best Seat in the House: ACC 2-Pack, NCSU and Clemson
Hoos Tailgating With Mom - Salad 3-Pack
10-Day Hoo Preview: Nick's Keys to the Season
10-Day Hoo Preview: Position Outlook, Linebackers
10-Day Hoo Preview: Position Outlook, Offensive Line
Cavalier Call-in Highlights 2006, Show 1
10-Day Hoo Preview: November Schedule Breakdown
10-Day Hoo Preview: 10 Things To Watch This Season
| Sabre Edge
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