CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - NOVEMBER 26: The Virginia Cavaliers run onto the field prior to their game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Scott Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
ITBUUS 2012 rolls on with our brave Virginia volunteer, Paul Guttman, writer for SB Nation's Virginia blog Streaking The Lawn. Does Paul share Mike's optimism about the Mike London coaching era? What are some great spots to hit up in Charlottesville? Which odd analogy does he use to describe Tiki Barber? Read on to find out the answers to these and more.
I don't know about the majority of the PSU fan base, but I am most definitely still bitter about the disaster in Charlottesville back in 2001, where PSU was inside Virginia's 10-yard line up 14-6 and looking to tack on another touchdown midway through the 3rd quarter. Alas, Zack Mills fumbled the damn ball and it was returned 90+ yards the other way for a UVA touchdown, and there went the momentum and the hopes of an improbable bowl-clinching victory after starting the season 0-4. What are your memories of the PSU-UVA series like? (Now is the time for you to also air out any grievances you may have been harboring over the last decade)
Keeping in mind that this was Al Groh's first year, and that we simply weren't very good, I don't have much memory of the 2001 game. I remember Art Thomas's fumble return, and I remember that our defense played pretty well. And I remember that we won. I do remember the return trip, in 2002, when we went up to Happy Valley and basically got crushed. Honestly, my first recollection of UVA-PSU is the basketball game from 3 years ago, when we lost at home in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. I think Talor Battle scored about 50 in that game.
[Tim's Note: Battle actually had 32 points in that game, with 28 of those points coming in the second half. Close enough, though. Did I neglect to mention there's video evidence of this?]
UVA is entering Year 3 of the Mike London era and no doubt, they appear to be following the trajectory of a third-year coach who is doing things right. Recruiting has improved drastically, coaching and player development appears to be better, and the team seems to play with a greater intensity than before London came to Charlottesville. What is the mood currently like amongst the Wahoo faithful? Is an ACC title a legitimate possibility this season?
The future definitely looks bright for the Hoos. Even some of the people I know who haven't followed UVA football since graduation are talking about it. We drew something like 20,000 for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and season tickets sales are up. I think there is a guarded optimism, since we've seen this before (in Al Groh's early years), but Mike London seems like the real deal. He doesn't talk in platitudes, and he doesn't hide his players and assistant coaches from the media. He excepts his players to act a certain way, and they are responding. It seems like a good time to be a Wahoo football fan, but all UVA fans know that it could come crashing down at any moment. Our biggest fear might be London leaving for greener pastures.
UVA scored a major coup in landing Alabama QB transfer Philip Sims. What's the latest regarding his eligibility status for this upcoming season? How much does it change expectations if he is in fact, declared eligible in 2012?
It seems likely that Sims will be eligible this year. All we know for certain is that the paperwork was submitted, but people in the know are confident that his waiver will be accepted. In truth, this doesn't change much for this season. Michael Rocco is our QB, that is clear. If Sims can learn the playbook quick enough, he'll probably be the backup. There is a lot of talent at QB for the Hoos (not something we've been able to say about the past 20 years or so), but Sims might be the most talented. If something happens to Rocco, be it injury or just poor play, we might see Sims get some extended reps. I think we're all excited about Sims, but Rocco proved to us last year that he's the QB for this team.
As one of the rare hardcore Penn State basketball fans on the planet, I must ask you to inform our readers about the current state of UVA hoops, especially coming off their first NCAA tournament appearance in five years. Also, does Tony Bennett have any singing ability whatsoever?
UVA Hoops is also on the rise. Combined with football, the fan base is really excited and this shows in ticket sales. Our basketball recruiting has been really strong, as we pulled in 3 top 100 kids this year. We lose Mike Scott, which is a big loss, but the overall talent level in the program is the highest its been since in over a decade.
Tony Bennett may not be able to sing, but he can sure coach.
[Tim's Note: I'm still holding out hope that a video will surface on YouTube of Bennett doing a William Shatner-style rendition of 'Rocket Man']
I've visited Charlottesville a couple of times and noticed by the Rotunda (UVA's equivalent of PSU's Old Main lawn) that there are markings on the brick steps for a few different secret societies such as IMP, Z, and 7. Are you now, have you ever been a member of, or do you know anybody who is a member of any of these societies? How does one communicate with them? Is the 7 society a real-life version of the "Van Buren Boys" from Seinfeld?
The really secret one is the 7s, as there are only 7 of them, and they are only replaced when they die...or, at least, that's what everybody is led to believe. Nobody knows for sure. I know a couple of Zs, and at least one IMP. It's a "secret" and people don't talk about it, but people know.
[Tim's Note To Self: Do not go around Charlottesville flashing 'the sign' at random people]
One more non-football question: There will surely be a ton of PSU fans making the trip down to C-ville, given that the DC Metro area has the largest alumni contingent in the country. Do your best Anthony Bourdain impression and give our visitors some tips on the best places to see, eat, and drink.
Well, first and foremost, is the most famous Cville food landmark, The White Spot. If you're in town, and you've got the stomach for it, go and get yourself a Gusburger, it's a (very) greasy burger with everything on it including a fried egg. It's particularly good at 4AM after you've been drinking for 8 hours. The White Spot is on the "Corner", an area with lots of bars and restaurants about a block down from the Rotunda, on University Ave. On the Corner, there's a number of good bars, including the Biltmore, Coupe DeVille's, and Trinity. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention St Maarten's Cafe, the winner of our Charlottesville Bar Madness Tournament (and partially owned by one of our bloggers). Maarten's is also on the corner, but is a block off University Ave, on 14th Street.
Hokie - Pokey
Blacksburg - Hell Hole
George Welsh - Nose.
Al Groh - We Hate Al!
Tiki Barber - Reverse Anne Frank [Tim's Note: I'm as baffled as you are]
Thomas Jefferson - Rotunda
Dave Matthews - Band [Tim's Note: For those of you thinking this is an incredibly random word choice, the Dave Matthews Band got its start in Charlottesville]
1995 - 33-28 [Tim's Note: Also known as Florida State's first-ever ACC loss. Yes, there's also video evidence of this]
And Finally...give us your take on how this game will play out.
I haven't really done much research on Penn State yet, but the Hoos are looking pretty good this year. Our offense is going to be our strength, we've got a lot of dynamic playmakers. PSU's defense should continue to be pretty good, so the game may well come down to whether or not we can consistently get in the endzone. Turnovers will kill us. It's early in the season, so our young defense will still be getting going, but we have enough upperclass leaders that we should be ok there. I think the game could well turn into a shootout, with scores in the 30s. The Hoos are at home, and should have a decent crowd, so I think they'll be favored. My way-too-early prediction is 35-24 Hoos. A lot could change before September 8th, obviously.
We thank Paul for his participation, be sure to head over to Streaking The Lawn for all things Virginia-related.