Archive for the ‘acc football’ Category

Mother Nature

February 7, 2012

During his Signing Day press conference at John Paul Jones Arena officially announcing this year’s football recruiting class, Virginia HC Mike London noted that the list of players included “some height and athleticism. There are some guys where in the end Mother Nature will decide what position they will finally rest at.” 

A historical look at the references to the personification of nature by the last two Cavaliers head men reveals Mother Nature can not only think, work, and control weather, the elements, and human size, but also wreak havoc, talk, and ulatimately, “take over.”

The only question that remains is: can she run a sub-4.4 40?


  • Groh, October 2002: “As that commercial said, it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature. She’s got a mind of her own. The rehabilitation and healing were not coming along as we originally were told because Mother Nature was going to decide when that leg was ready to play football again.” 
  • Groh, November 2004: “It’s all muscle; it’s all power. Some guys can just take it. There are bigger players that are always hurt. Part of it is just Mother Nature.” 
  • Groh, September 2005: “It’s just a question of Mother Nature right now with all the modern medical help we can give to help Mother Nature along.” 
  • Groh, September 2006: “It’s the outside bone of the foot, which is the farthest away from the blood supply… [It will] be a while yet [and it was really up to] Deyon and Mother Nature to collaborate on this one.” 
  • Groh, October 2007: “Linebacker wasn’t something we were talking about [in recruiting], even though we were pretty sure that Mother Nature would take its course, as it has now.” 
  • Groh, September 2008: “He’s getting multiple treatments a day it’s just a case of how fast is Mother Nature working with him.” 
  • Groh, September 2009: “It’s pretty difficult to do. If we had an appropriate place, we’d probably go inside. But we don’t have that available to us. We have to let Mother Nature do that for us and Mother Nature is not cooperating this week, so we’ll just have to deal with it and adjust to it when we do get there.” 
  • Groh, October 2009: “Most of his high school was at wide receiver and safety, but he was a player with a lot of athletic skill and obviously a lot of height and good versatility that just the way nature usually works we could see was going to grow out of all of those things, Mother Nature lived up to her reputation and fortunately that was the case and he’s gone from being in the lower 200s when we first met him to being in the plus 250s now and obviously bringing that same level of athletic skill.” 
  • London, March 2010: “I don’t think tough at all. I think it’s something he welcomes, because Mother Nature‘s still working on him, and it’s hard sometimes to be a DB and try to keep your weight down when he’s 6-4-plus and you’re starting to lift … I think he welcomes the position. It’s more natural to him being able to run, come off the edge. He’s got safety cover skills as a linebacker, which provides us hopefully with an edge.” 
  • London, July 2010: “The 3-4, if you have the players, the personnel to do it, it is a defense that can work well for you, but in a 4-3 defense you can recruit more linemen and get that big safety in high school who Mother Nature is probably going to put some pounds on and end up being a Will linebacker.” 
  • London, August 2010: “The move with Royal was the fact that Mother Nature was going to say, ‘You know what, you’re not going to be 230 or 245 pounds.’” 
  • London, August 2010: “Mother Nature kind of took over.” 
  • London, December 2010: “If you can recruit some tall, long, athletic guys, that’s what we need. Then Mother Nature will take over. They’ll grow into whatever we need, but you know they’re athletic and can run.” 
  • London, April 2011: “He’s put on a couple of pounds from inactivity. His frame and his size and the way we are lifting [weights] dictates it. We feel that Mother Nature is going to jump on him real, real quick here.” 
  • London, August 2011: “He thought he was a basketball player coming out of Gonzaga, but Mother Nature jumped on him. You take some highlights and splice them together and you’re like, ‘Ooo, whee!’

The ‘Doc’ Walker Drinking Game

November 19, 2009

In honor of the next-to-last Raycom broadcast of the 2009 ACC season, the creators of the Al Groh Drinking Game (recently revisited) bring you the Ric ‘Doc’ Walker Drinking Game.

When enjoying an ACC football telecast, episode of the John Thompson radio program, play-by-play radio broadcast of a Washington Redskins game, Comcast Redskins Post-Game Live, or other of the numerous media appearances by the former Bengal / Redskin, break out your favorite beverage and enjoy.  The rules are simple:

1. Take the following number of drinks each time ‘Doc’ refers to a player as a:

-“baller” – 1

-“beast” – 1

-“savage” – 1

-“cyborg” – 2

-“Brahma bull” – 2

-“caveman” – 2

-“Neanderthal” – 3

-“dog going after a bone” – 3

-“werewolf” – 3

-“natural born baller” or “natural born ballah” – 4

-“unicorn” – 4 

2. Take one drink anytime he references the good life:




-“food, fun, music


-“all the movers / shakers in DC

-“cigars” (see here as well)


3. Take two drinks anytime ‘Doc’ attempts to diagnose an injury or potential injury (“That’s broke! Um, that appears to be broken”) (“It wipes away the interception, but it doesn’t wipe away the brain damage to Verica”)

4. Take two drinks any time ‘Doc’ uses one of the following phrases to describe a hit or block:

-“bring the jackhammer” or “ran into the jackhammer”

-“function at the junction”

-“King Kong” and/or “Godzilla”

-“welcoming committee”


5. Take four drinks anytime ‘Doc’ uses his favorite phrase…  “manhood issue”

The Biggest Loser

August 11, 2009

Ralph ‘The Fridge’ Friedgen

Peak: 401 (September 2008)

Current: 306 (July 2009)


Mike ‘BMW’ Williams  

Peak: 450 (January 2009)

Current: 342 (July 2009)


Cordarrow ‘Taco’ Thompson

Peak: 340-250 (2007)

Current: 301 (August 2009)

NYT bearish on Virginia

June 18, 2009

Yes, Virginia, The New York Times cares about college sports.  Even college football.  Quite a bit, in fact.  The Quad is the NYT’s college sports blog, and is in the middle of an in-depth countdown of all 120 Division I (FBS) teams.

Al Groh’s Cavaliers check in at spot #81 for 2009, ahead of only Duke (#96) in the ACC.  The Times points out the obvious in stating that “if Virginia is to improve in 2009, the offense must begin to carry its weight.”  The hiring of Gregg Brandon as OC is called “a very good start” and “a wise move by Groh.”  However, Brandon inherits “likely the A.C.C.’s worst group of skill players,” the result of Virginia’s “inability over the past handful of recruiting cycles to sign and enroll top recruits.”

At QB, Vic Hall is “not the type of passer you’d hope for in Brandon’s offense,” but “is the favorite to start the season opener.”  Jameel Sewell is seen as “likely to “eventually reclaim his starting spot” from 2007’s 9-win team.  The OC will “implement a pass-first version of the spread offense” but be “without the services of its [top] five pass catchers from a season ago; no returning player had more than 15 receptions last fall, and no returning receiver had more than 12.”  Perhaps as a result, offensive strengths listed by the NYT include “a solid, experienced line, albeit one that lacks the star power of recent years” and a potentially “improved performance from the Virginia running game,” given a healthy Mikell Simpson. 

Interestingly Brandon’s old team (Bowling Green) is ranked five spots lower at #86, as his successor – former Richmond HC and Tennessee OC Dave Clawson – goes about “implementing new schemes” and attempting “to run more than his predecessor did.”

On the other side of the ball, there is rebuilding at LB – “an integral unit in Virginia’s 3-4 defense” – where “the Cavaliers must find three new starters.”  The defense is called “strong on the line and in the secondary, where its cornerback depth is as good as any in the A.C.C.”  On the DL, “seven of its top eight” return, “making the unit the most experienced on the defense.”  The Times is “excited about the potential of the secondary, which returns two starters from 2008 — the talented junior Ras-I Dowling and the sophomore Chase Minnifield — and a third past starter, Chris Cook, who missed all of last fall.”   Safety may finally be a strength as well, with Rodney McLeod moving over from CB to team with Corey Mosley.  As DC, Groh (“very much on the hot seat” as HC) has “shown the ability to keep his teams in games with an inept offensive coordinator.”

Regarding the schedule, the NYT calls the Indiana, @Maryland, Georgia Tech, Duke, @Miami six-game (in six weeks) portion “a big stretch for the Cavaliers. Go 4-2, and the team will likely get to .500 and reach a bowl game. Anything less, and Virginia will need to get an upset or two to improve upon last year’s finish.”  Optimistically, if the “defense is stellar and the offense not terrible” nine wins are possible.  However, if the offense continues to sputter and “the defense takes a step back… sounds like a 4-8 season.”  The ultimate prediction is closer to the latter…

“Perhaps simply adding Brandon will be good enough to see the team fight for the top spot in the Coastal division. Yes, perhaps. But not likely. I see the Cavaliers repeating the 5-7 record of a season ago; if that is the case, the university may opt to go in a new direction at head coach.”


Diamond Cutter?

November 18, 2008

Viewers of last Thursday’s VPI-Miami game may have thought former redshirt freshman / current sophomore Tech QB Tyrod Taylor was channeling one Diamond Dallas Paige when he made what appeared to be the “Diamond Cutter” symbol during the game:
















“T-Mobile,” who passed for 75 yards in the loss, may want to watch his back.  Or, at least his legal defense team may want to watch it.  Recall that Karl Malone’s one-time tag-team partner recently sued rapper/mogul/Nets minority owner Jay-Z over this copyrighted hand gesture back in 2005:


Staying with Tech, has anyone else noticed the striking similarity in likeness between DC Bud Foster and New York Giants DC (and onetime target of Dan Snyder infatuation) Steve Spagnuolo?







ACC’s Coastal Plain

October 27, 2008

All six teams in the “Coastal” half of the nationally-mocked ACC have one or two conference losses, and all have at least a reasonable shot playing in Raymond James Stadium on 12/6.  Given Clemson (3) and NCSU (4) already have more losses, all also appear to have a good shot at securing one of the ACC’s nine bowl tie-ins as well:











@ Wake






#16 FSU

@ #21 UNC


Miami (Thu)


#21 UNC




@ #25 UMD


@ Duke




#25 UMD (Thu)

@ Miami (Thu)







VPI (Thu)

@ GT (Thu)




@ Wake


@ Clemson


#21 UNC

Records and rankings (AP) as of 10/26


Several of Virginia’s remaining games – if not all four – look much more winnable than they did just a few weeks ago.  The Cavaliers embarrassed Miami 48-0 in the last game at the Orange Bowl in 2007, and the Canes come in with a 5-3 record identical to Virginia’s.  Unlike last year’s 5-3 Miami start – which yielded to a four-game losing streak to close the season – Randy Shannon’s group has won two conference games in a row, and lost nail-biters to UNC and FSU (both at home) by a combined six points.  Miami has allowed 31 points per game in the ACC compared to just 22 per contest through their first five conference games last season.  These Canes rank 11th in the 12-team ACC in scoring defense and 9th in total offense (99th nationally).


A month ago, Wake Forest was ranked 16th nationally after holding the ACC’s current leader in total & scoring offense (FSU) to three points in Tallahassee.  Wake also have wins over Clemson, Mississippi, and Baylor on its resume, but has looked pedestrian in losses to Navy, Maryland, and Miami.  In its four conference games, the Demon Deacons have averaged just 8.5 points per game and have not scored over 17 in their last five, after opening the season with 41 at Baylor and 30 against Ole Miss.  How they perform this weekend at home against Duke may be a better indication of the team Virginia will face in Winston-Salem on 11/8.  The Cavaliers will enter BB&T Field having beaten Wake three straight times, including a one-point victory last year in Charlottesville, and three-point win at home in 2003, and a four-point triumph on the road in 2002.


The Cavaliers have not played Clemson since 2004, when they won 30-10 in Charlottesville, but have won three of the past four matchups including two straight at home.  The wheels have seemingly come off the bus in Death Valley, with multiple coach firings, key injuries at QB and TB, and finger-pointing aplenty.  The Tigers are 1-3 in conference and boast wins over NCSU and The Citadel, both teams which have lost four games in a row.  Clemson has only lost three in a row – perhaps only because they were idle last week – but interim head man Dabo Swinney has instituted a “Tiger Walk” (in suits) before home games, removed cell phones from locker rooms & sidelines, and “invited and let the student body participate in practice.”  The Tigers face BC & FSU on the road, followed by a home contest against Duke before travelling to Charlottesville.  Virginia, meanwhile, will enter the game after a week off.


Lane Stadium has been a house of horrors for Virginia of late, with double-digit losses in each of the past four trips, and a combined point total of 19 over the last three visits to Blacksburg.  The Cavaliers held Tech to less than 25 points in all three of those games, but have given up 33 and 52 to the Hokies in the last two meetings in Charlottesville.  The Hokies are allowing 21 points per game in 2008 – up from 14 a year ago after ten weeks – but offensive statistics would indicate that this year’s game may not feature a ton of scoring.  Not to be out done in the national total offense rankings, VPI ranks 113th out of 119 teams, below fellow ACC Coastal scoreboard-lighters Virginia (97), Duke (98), Miami (99), and Wake Forest (100).  Before you ask the question, Georgia Tech is 72nd.  Like Wake, Virginia Tech will host Duke the week before hosting Virginia, and the Cavalier fans will be eager to see how healthy Tech’s banged-up quarterbacks are by that point in the season. 


Georgia Tech is the only Coastal team that has played five conference games, but faces back-to-back contests against ranked opponents as well what looks to be an improving Miami team.  Like GT, Virginia Tech has only one road contest remaining, and consecutive ESPN Thursday night games against Maryland (home) and Miami may decide the Hokies fate.  Duke is the only Coastal team with five games remaining, and must travel for three of them, including to both Clemson and Blacksburg.  UNC plays two of its final four on the road, but should be favored in each, unless Maryland knocks off Virginia Tech on 11/6.  Miami may have the toughest road to Tampa, with three outstanding road contests, and two Thursday games in a row.


In case you’re wondering, the ACC divisional tiebreakers are head-to-head competition, followed by in-division records.  Virginia Tech is currently the only Coastal team without a Coastal loss, and the two Virginia schools are the only with two Coastal victories.  Virginia will play three of its five Coastal games on the road, but is one of four Coastal members (UNC, Miami, Duke) who will play two of its three contests against Atlantic foes at home.  Comparing the Atlantic draws, Virginia does not play FSU or BC – who have both beaten Coastal squads already.  Virginia also misses our on NCSU, the conference’s only 0-4 team:



Coastal Only

Atlantic #1

Atlantic #2

Atlantic #3








@ BC

@ Clemson

#16 FSU

#21 UNC



@ #25 UMD




@ BC

@ #16 FSU

#25 UMD (Thu)



#16 FSU







@ Clemson

Wins in green, losses in red; rankings (AP) as of 10/26


Blood Thicker Than Tears?

October 18, 2008

Former Samford/Auburn head man and current motivational speaker/FSU ‘observer’/wannabe WVU coach/ college football analyst Terry Bowden learned this week that the non-coaching Bowden fraternity gained a third member in older brother Tommy.


In his most recent column, Terry B says “Tommy knew expectations weren’t met” at Clemson, after opening 2008 at 3-3 after perhaps the most preseason expectations of his career.  The now finalized Clemson entry on his resume includes no ACC titles, but the now beefed-up bank account with his name on the ledger includes a few more zeros.

Terry went on to say (after referring to his own coaching accomplishments) that he and his brother are close and while it is very difficult for him to write, Tommy really did “deserve what happened to him Monday.“  Clemson, after all still has “as much talent as anyone in the conference” and had not met the clear expectation off winning a at least winning a conference title.  Clemson, Terry reckons, “deserve[s] the right to try to find a coach they believe can get them there.”  Tommy, “of all people, knew what to expect when he got into this business. [He and his brothers] grew up in it.”


Little Bro Terry wrote that Tommy “agreed to resign,” while many other media outlets simply called it a firing.  The AJC went that route, and also noted the similarities between Tommy’s departure – “college football’s earliest coaching exit since 2003” – and Terry’s last decade:


  • “Both took their leave six games into the season.
  • The departures came almost exactly 10 years apart — Tommy on Oct. 13 and Terry on Oct. 23, 1998.
  • They left programs nicknamed Tigers, with orange as their color.
  • Both schools appointed former Alabama assistants as interim coach — Bill Oliver taking over for Terry, Dabo Swinney for Tommy.”


For his part, Pappa Bobby cut to the chase: ”That’s the way this profession works. There ain’t but one answer, and that’s winning.”


The family may not be shedding tears over Tommy’s firing/resignation/golden parachute, but tailback James (not “Lightning”) Davis was crying according to ESPN.  And he’s not alone.  At least one fan produced similar waterworks:



Somewhat reminiscent of Tommy’s own liquid breakdown:



And for the other 99% of Death Valley Nation…  there’s always the next hot prospect in waiting – reasdy to be tempted by millions of dollars and hundreds of rubs of Howard’s Rock, and the waiting arms of a DB:



R. Friedgen: Then & Now

October 3, 2008



Are ACC Coaches Kidding Themselves?

July 27, 2008


Seemingly out of nowhere, during last month’s ACC football meetings in Greensboro, GA Clemson HC Tommy Bowden took a shot at the proverbial ‘big dog’ SEC:


“Not long ago, it was Florida State and Miami dominating college football. Where was the SEC then? These things go in cycles. The SEC has had a nice run. I’m sure that the ACC or another conference will take its place.”


"I make it rain on Spurrier"


Probably not in his own record against the SEC.  He’s 1-3 in his last four games, including the bowl loss to Kentucky two years ago and two straight losses to South Carolina before winning this year 23-21 in Columbia.


Perhaps in his argument, perhaps not.  Miami & FSU won/shared a combined four national titles from 1991-2001.  During that span, the SEC won 3 (Alabama, Florida, UT).  The Big 12 won four as well, so I don’t know that Miami & FSU dominated college football, but you could make a decent case that they were the ‘big dogs’ of southern college football during that span.


Bowden’s leg to stand on may be in that he actually has a pretty good perspective in this argument. Obviously he’s biased now, but before taking the head jobs at Clemson & Tulane, he was an assistant at FSU (twice), Auburn (twice), Duke, Alabama, and Kentucky.

Another SEC transplant in the ACC, David Cutcliffe couldn’t resist making a similar comment.  The former Ole Miss HC & UT OC, proverbial Manning family friend, and current Coach K buddy had this to say:


The SEC and ACC “are a lot more similar than people might think.”


"The Asack family are the next Mannings"


Not sure what specific film spurred him take the Duke job (maybe this game?).  His worst win total at Ole Miss (4) was two more than Ted Roof’s best at Duke and more than Roof won over the past three years combined.  Cutcliffe may want to hope the ACC is a lot less similar than people think.





Early Enrollees

May 20, 2008

As I read through the ACC Area Sports Journal’s annual spring football issue this week, I was struck by the number of early enrollees already making headlines around the league…

Miami: In Coral Gables, early enrollees are standing out in terms of both quantity (eight) and potential impact at key positions.  An article earlier this month profiled DT Marcus Forston, who should get significant playing time.  PK Jake Wieclaw may start in the opener against always-powerful Charleston Southern, and others who may move to the top of the depth chart by late August include QB Jacory Harris, LB Arthur Brown, LB Sean Spence, and WR Aldarius Johnson.  Note that four of the eight played together last year for Northwestern High in Miami, which beat then #1 Southlake (TX) Carroll in front of 30,000+ last September to break Carroll’s 49-game winning streak.  Head coach Randy Shannon may have taken the in-season maturity cliché a bit too far when he said “those guys will be able to contribute right away.  They’re not true freshmen anymore. They’re more like redshirt freshmen.”

Clemson: Tommy Bowden did his best SEC impression by getting six football players enrolled in January, including one holdover signee from 2007’s class.  DE Da’Quan Bowers stole the show in the spring game by dominating when in, recording four TFL (including two sacks).  Bowers was the top-rated end by most recruiting services last year, and the #1 overall recruit in at least one publication.  Will he be next in line on the 1st-round train, following in the footsteps of pass rushers Gaines Adams & Phillip Merling?  Bowden played the rookie game by keeping him on the second team through the spring, but admitted after the spring game that “he’s shown that he’s going to be able to help us next year.”  You can bet Alabama QB John Parker Wilson will have his jersey number in mind in the season opener in Atlanta.

Florida State: An unheard-of 10 freshmen were redshirted last season, and only a handful of starters do not return in Tallahassee.  Yet because of injuries, attrition, and impending suspensions, three recruits (all slated to play defense) to participated in spring drills for FSU.  LB Nigel Bradham is battling for a starting role, and may have little competition according to the Tallahassee Democrat, at least for the opener against Western Carolina.  DB Terrance Parks may contribute right away in a reserve role and on passing downs.

Boston College:  Among the three early enrollees in Chestnut Hill, the big name is RB Josh Haden.  Josh is the brother of 2007 Florida early enrollee Joe Haden, who started 12 games last year for the Gators in the secondary.  The Boston Globe reported that by the end of spring the younger Haden had moved into the “primary running back slot.”  At 5-8, he may not carry a full load in the opener at Kent State, but as head coach Jeff Jagodzinski bragged, “he brings some explosion to our backfield.”

NC State: The incoming freshman generating the most buzz in Raleigh is still in high school in Chantilly, VA.  Head coach Tom O’Brien went as far as to say last month that “we certainly have a highly regarded freshman coming in the fall in Mike Glennon.  We want to give a look at him when we get to August so it will probably be a situation that won’t be solved until we go into the first game.”  Mike is of course the younger brother of rising VPI senior Sean Glennon, who is in a battle for the starting QB job himself in Blacksburg.  One early enrollee making noise in the spring was Dwayne Maddox, who the Charlotte News & Observer observantly observed “has the potential to be a four-year starter,” perhaps beginning with the 2008 opener at South Carolina.

Georgia Tech: The lone early enrollee to participate in new head coach Paul Johnson’s initial spring foray in Atlanta was Tyler Melton, a holdover from the Yellow Jacket’s 2007 class, who reportedly “took community college classes and cleaned golf carts at a course in Houston last fall” while rehabbing a knee injury.  Johnson raved about how much of an advantage the extra spring will provide, and Melton appears locked into at least a second-string WR spot heading into his team’s opener at home vs. Jacksonville State.  The turnout for GT’s spring game (8,500, the largest since 1987) hinted at the optimism surrounding the program and the new man in charge.  The usual questions about the feasibility of Johnson’s triple-option offense (spring game was roughly 75% run, 25% pass) in the ACC remain, but consider what he said upon taking the job: “During the past six years at Navy, we played 29 BCS teams, in the large part from the ACC. We averaged almost 30 points against them.”  Interesting logic and perhaps yet applicable to his current offensive personnel, most of which was recruited by his predecessor Chan Gailey.

Maryland: Ralph Friedgen’s February haul included four players who completed their high school curriculums early and planned to enroll in January.  The four were joined this spring by two grayshirts from the prior year’s recruiting class.  Two of the three receivers signed in February were already enrolled, as were both tight end prospects, indicating new OC James Franklin’s may be looking to inject some new blood into the Terps’ offense in time for the opener versus the Blue Hens of Delaware.

Wake Forest: Jim Grobe departed from his convention of years past and got three February signees enrolled in time for spring practice.  The Fayetteville Observer reported that two – OL Joe Looney and TE Joe Dixon – will see playing time in 2008 while the third (OT Garrick Williams) will likely be redshirted, more the norm for Grobe’s freshmen.  Looney was listed on the post-spring two-deep at guard, and Grobe even went as far as to suggest that the 3-3, 315-pound Floridian “has done some really good stuff.  I really like that kid right now, and I think with this summer to be here, and then with an August under his belt, that’s a guy that has a chance to help us as a freshman.”  Sprits are high in Winston-Salem heading into the opener at Baylor, with Grobe praising a growing fan he once had to look for “with a search warrant” and commenting that “there’s nothing there’s nothing more glaring” than the lack of a proven starter at long-snapper.  Certainly could be worse.

Duke: Stud DT recruit Vince Oghobaase created waves nationally when he committed to Duke back in 2005 over Miami, Oklahoma, and several other national powers.  Oghobaase created waves in Durham when he enrolled early in order to participate in spring football practice.  Three years later, Duke has another early enrollee – defensive back Randez James.  The USA Today noted James “progressed to the point he should see considerable playing time in the fall.”  New head man David Cutcliffe clearly has a positive opinion of early enrollment, likely molded by springs spent in Oxford & Knoxville.  He had this to say regarding James: “In his particular case, he needed the reps.  Had Randez missed spring practice, he’d have had a hard time helping us. Because he’s been here this spring, Randez will be able to help us in the fall.”  James Madison comes to town on August 30th, but don’t look for ESPN Gameday to be there.

Virginia (none)

Virginia Tech (none)  

North Carolina (none)