Part I: We Ask, They Answer
Sir Wesley Willis (SWW), Lord of Diction, SpitbloodTCU Asks: The ante has been upped for both teams since their last meeting in 2009. Since then, TCU has played in 2 BCS games and joined the Big 12, while UVa dropped Al Groh for the up and coming Mike London and was in a division race with Virginia Tech until the final weekend last year. The Georgia Tech game this past weekend was a setback, but what would you say are the realistic expectation for this Virginia team? Reverse question: Was this just a way for me to slip 'TCU' '2 BCS games' and 'Big 12' into the question as a humblebrag? YES.
Kris Wright (KW), Editor of TheSabre.com Answers: When Mike London first took over at Virginia, 2012 was pegged as a year that likely would still be showing the ill effects of poor recruiting and roster management by the previous regime. Why? Too many inexperienced players would be asked to carry a heavy load in some spots this season. There was a lot of that evident in the GT debacle. So, realistic expectations for this season? Somewhere between 5-7 and 7-5 unless some youngsters grow up more quickly than expected.
SWW: Who are 3 UVa players TCU fans should get familiar with prior to Saturday? Anyone worthy of a voodoo doll in order to improve our chances?
KW: I'll say Perry Jones, Darius Jennings, and Ausar Walcott. Jones is the Cavaliers' starting running back and a versatile threat on offense where he'll be used as a runner, receiver, and blocker depending on the play call. Jennings is a sophomore receiver that is starting to make big plays regularly. Considering that the preseason No. 1 receiver Tim Smith missed last week with an injury, Jennings is the top wideout to watch. Defensively, Walcott is a defensive end that is very quick around the edge. He caused some troubles for Penn State a couple of weeks ago on a lot of the passing downs.
SWW: Thru two games, TCU's offense appears to be a pretty well-oiled machine - quite literally if you take our fumbles into account. How do you think UVa will game plan to keep points off the board? And, on the flipside, how does UVa plan to become the first team this season to put the ball in the end zone against TCU? Hint: It probably involves throwing at the left side of the field.
KW: Virginia's defense features quite a few inexperienced players so it waffles between good and bad from play to play. If the Hoos can get pressure to the pocket without blitzing, it would help a lot of other areas. With that said, I expect a 'bend but don't break' approach this week against TCU. That means good tackling technique - which vanished in Atlanta - will need to be in the packed bags for Fort Worth.
As for putting the ball in the end zone, I'm betting either Darius Jennings on a breakout screen or tight end Jake McGee on a jump ball will get the team in the end zone. I just don't think the Hoos will be there more than once.
SWW: I've seen UVa referred to as "Hoo U." What in the meaning there? Don't be embarrassed - I prefer to believe our hand sign doesn't exist as a thing fans do.
KW: I'm a Virginia graduate and have been covering the team in some capacity since around 1997. This is the first time I've heard that phrase. Nice scout work there guys! Seriously, though, "Hoos" or "Wahoos" serve as the unofficial nicknames for the school's teams. Lots of legends and tales out there about that one, but the more popular answer you'll get is that a Wahoo is a fish that can drink twice its weight in water.
SWW: Being in the deep south, the hierarchy of sports at TCU is football first, baseball a somewhat distant second, and from there I'm not sure we even play any other sports competitively at the NCAA level. UVa is technically a southern University, but being in the ACC, puts a pretty strong emphasis on lacrosse and basketball. So where does football rank in the hierarchy of popularity on the UVa campus?
KW: I'm sure quite a few Virginians got a chuckle out of Texas being in the "deep south" but I digress. Football is king everywhere pretty much and UVa is no exception. The difference is that UVa fans support and enjoy other sports a lot too. There's a long list of successful ones at Virginia. And unlike the rivals in the other part of the state, our National Championship case isn't empty.
SWW: Looking forward, what is your reaction to the ACC adding Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame? As a general statement, do ACC fans hate the Big East as much as John Swofford seems to? Does Swofford keep ex-Big East Commish John Marianatto's balls visible in a jar on his desk? Or does he keep them hidden in a drawer, pulling them out when he needs a self esteem boost? In any case, we appreciate the ACC's continuing efforts to keep SMU irrelevant.
KW: My personal reaction is that it's good for basketball, but I'm a basketball junkie so I would think that. As for football, somebody in the ACC is going to have to win in the postseason consistently for the conference to win some popularity points back. I don't see Cuse or Pitt filling that role and who knows about Notre Dame. However, I think a lot of fans are getting tired of this musical chairs nonsense. Realign and get it over with already.