It’s Spring Again

This subject is not a reference to the seasonal tune by Biz Markie, although did recently perform at Caron Butler’s birthday bash in DC… The focus here is on football.  Not a game, mind you, but practice.  Good Friday marked the first of 15 for the Virginia football program and there are many questions that need to be answered after a disastrous end to last season and an even worse offseason.  The run-of-the-mill questions are asked in the cookie-cutter articles in Friday’s Daily Progress, Times-Dispatch, and Daily Press.  Chief among them are: (1) Is Peter Lalich ready to be the man at QB? and (2) Who will fill the open three slots on the DL and interior OL with all six starters gone?  Digging a bit deeper, I have five slightly more intriguing questions.  Here is #1: 

  1. How will the play-calling and offensive style change without Sewell in the game or even in the QB rotation?

We definitely saw a different brand of offense when Lalich was in the ballgame last year.  He operated almost exclusively out of the shotgun and threw mostly quick-hitters to his first or second read.  The design looked more like the Bill Musgrave-orchestrated West Coast offense of the Matt Schaub era than the rollouts we saw with Hagans and Sewell under center.  It will be interesting to see if Father & Son Groh focus on this style, to both play to Lalich’s strengths and perhaps buy some time for him and the new interior OL.  I for one, would like to see some two-back sets mixed in to utilize the depth at running back (more on that later), with runs behind a fullback and one of the two starting tackles who return.  This formation might keep defenses honest against Lalich, but it has been a rarity in recent years, seen on the field perhaps less than jersey #44 in the post-Kai Parham era.

With no foreseeable QB controversy, Lalich should get the benefit of entire schemes and gameplans designed for him.  He should have a legitimate receiver in Kevin Ogletree, assuming he is back at 100%.  Ogletree’s return may also have an impact on the play-calling as well, as getting someone open off the end was clearly a struggle last season.  Santi and Stupar are gone, but their loss in terms of receptions (76) is actually less of a reduction than last year when Ogletree, Fontel Mines, Deyon Williams (89 combined receptions) were unavailable.  Even Ogletree may not scare too many defensive coordinators, but he did catch at least two passes in all 12 games his sophomore year. 

Lalich has at least some experience going into the season (thanks to Al Groh’s fortuitous burning of his red-shirt in Laramie, WY), which may allow for a bit more of an open playbook and perhaps more offensive creativity than if he were a true freshman.  Then again, Lalich’s “experience” only includes 8 completions in the last 9 games of the season, and has perhaps more lowlights (critical turnovers against both Georgia Tech and Texas Tech) than highlights (touchdown drive against Duke).  The pressure will be on both Lalich and offensive coordinator Mike Groh to improve a passing offense that was ranked 90th and 102nd nationally each of the past two seasons.

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One Response to “It’s Spring Again”

  1. Chezley Watson Says:

    Good stuff. I wouldn’t call the end of football season disatrous though. 9 wins in this program? Doubt we get any better. It was really a disatrous start to the 2008 campaign if 2007 finished at 0:00 4Q of the Texas Tech ball game.

    Biggest quesiton I think is the OL. Much of the game schemes will be based on the their ability to operate together. At least Sewell could escape the pocket. I don’t think Lalich has that ability, especially if he continues to smoke….and I’m not talking about cigarettes.

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