10 Spring Game Questions, Minus 1

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Peter Lalich will be buying a boutonniere after this passFor Edge readers, my latest article is up. Here’s a taste for everyone:

3. Who Will Stink Less At Quarterback? Sorry to phrase the question in this negative manner, but it’s best to set our expectations realistically. Expecting anyone to “shine” at the quarterback position – with Sewell playing cheerleader and Peter Lalich still shopping for a prom tuxedo – is asking a bit much. However, there’s a close competition here too: Scott Deke and Marc Verica are battling to be QB2. And both of these men are playing their hearts out and deserve our attention. The back-up quarterback position can be the most important spot on the team in the blink of an eye (or the snap of a ligament). So, again, another toss-up battle could find someone edging into the lead should either Deke or Verica distinguish himself on Saturday.

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10 Spring Game Questions, Minus 1

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Jameel Sewell will not participate in the Spring Game on Saturday.

As I was pondering my curiosities heading into the Spring Game a few days ago, I nailed the top question right away. I had a surefire number one that should’ve been on any Wahoo mind that had paid even the slightest bit of attention to the team the past year: How would quarterback Jameel Sewell look during the game? This question was perfect for packing in intrigue and a variety of factors like his development, his ability to hook up with non-Ogletree receivers, his wrist injury, and more.

I was raring to type away with this headline question, as everything else certainly would be secondary in importance. And then I read this breaking news from Kris Wright on the Edge Board:

Coach Groh said that Jameel Sewell will not participate in Saturday’s spring game and was never really a candidate for contact drills this spring. He has done more than was anticipated, though.

That’s nice for Sewell. But for me, it’s as if Groh had placed some sort of Matrix-like robotic insect into my temple to read my mind so that he could short circuit my article. Or maybe the shrewd coach knew this question was so obvious that he was likely messing with some enterprising reporter out there by sitting Sewell. Or maybe Jameel truly wasn’t ready for the spring’s version of prime time. Nah, Groh was probably just on to me. Damn creepy insect robot.

Anyway, therein lies the shifting nature of writing about a football team in the spring. One day your thoughts matter, the next day they’re more irrelevant than Sammy Sosa in an Orioles uniform.

So, with no further postponing, here are my 10 questions heading into the spring game, minus one:

1. How will Sewell look on Saturday? Never mind.

Chris Cook virtually locking up one side of the defensive backfield, the other side remains an evenly matched contest between Vic Hall and Mike Brown. And given the closeness of this competition, one of these men might gain an edge heading into the summer by having the better performance this Saturday.

3. Who Will Stink Less At Quarterback? Sorry to phrase the question in this negative manner, but it’s best to set our expectations realistically. Expecting anyone to “shine” at the quarterback position – with Sewell playing cheerleader and Peter Lalich still shopping for a prom tuxedo – is asking a bit much. However, there’s a close competition here too: Scott Deke and Marc Verica are battling to be QB2. And both of these men are playing their hearts out and deserve our attention. The back-up quarterback position can be the most important spot on the team in the blink of an eye (or the snap of a ligament). So, again, another toss-up battle could find someone edging into the lead should either Deke or Verica distinguish himself on Saturday.

4. Will Patch Duda reveal his true first name? Seriously, “Patch.” We’re not buying it.

5. Will The Safeties Get Tested Deep? The question starts here with the safeties. Coach Groh has pointed out throughout the spring that this part of the defensive backfield remains a bit muddled. Nobody seems to have stepped up dramatically in pass coverage. However, will we even get a chance to see how the safeties fare in a situation where the coverage falls on them? I’m not so sure given a variety of factors: the likely inaccuracy of our back-up quarterbacks, the strength of our corners, and the spring tendency for vanilla play calling. I’d love to see how the safeties react to a deep pass down the middle. But will that happen?

6. Will A Random Student Charge The Field During A Punt, Elude Security, Snatch Away The Ball, And Punt His Way To A Scholarship? I hope so. That’s what we’re left with as our multi-year special teams nightmare continues. So, if you’re a student who has kicked a ball before (shape doesn’t matter), this Saturday may be your shot at glory. Lace up them cleats!

7. Will That Hokie That Comes To Every Virginia Games In His Vick Jersey Show Up? I bet he will. The obsession continues.

8. Will Keith Payne Forego Pass Blocking Technique And Just Pick Up Onrushing Defenders And Heave Them Into The Crowd? With Al Groh pointing out Keith Payne ‘s freshmen struggles with pass protection, there’s a good chance that Payne will just … okay, you get the picture. That’s my token “Keith Payne is a demigod” joke for the article.

And to satisfy the “Stop with the Keith Payne jokes!” crowd, here’s a more serious situation that deserves our attention: the actual gap between the performance of Cedric Peerman and Keith Payne . Watching to see how far behind Payne is overall in all facets of his game can allow us to gauge the possibility that he might overtake Peerman some time this season.

Is it Maurice Covington ‘s time to shine?

9. Will Someone Step Up At Wide Receiver? Kevin Ogletree , UVa’s top returning receiver, is barely out of the operating room after season-ending ACL surgery. (Yes, I said “season ending.” Stop dreaming that he’ll be back this season.) So someone out of our ragtag group of remaining receivers needs to step up.

The candidates? A converted safety, a converted running back, a walk-on, and a slew of freshmen. Yikes!

Oh, and junior Maurice Covington . Hopefully, MoCo can give us a glimmer of hope that he can step up his game to become a legitimate wide receiver target feared (or at least respected) by defenses. Or maybe Staton Jobe will win the Patrick Jeffers Memorial Award for surprising walk-on that explodes on the scene and someday becomes a 1,000-yard receiver in the NFL. Or maybe we’ll have another season where defenses key off on our running game and clamp down on our tight ends. Saturday will give us a peek at the answer.

10. Will We See The Stretch Play Fail Over And Over? Of course we will! Okay, that’s my cynicism shining through. I know that you can’t really discern anything about the season from the unimaginative Spring Game play calling. However, I will be looking for a sign – any sign – that some semblance of creativity may have crept back into our offensive game plan. Maybe a shot deep. Maybe a simple reverse. Something, anything, to hint at an increase in inventive play calling in 2007. Not seeing anything on Saturday won’t necessarily mean that we won’t see anything in September. However, I’m hoping we get a taste to quench our long thirst. Wishful thinking, I know. I’m more than prepared to watch the staff break the record for consecutive stretch plays in a row this weekend.

And those are the top 10 questions, minus one, as we head into Spring Game on Saturday. Of course, now that Al Groh has digested this list, he’ll probably sabotage me even further. I fully expect Payne and Brown to join Sewell’s pom-pom section, Lalich to get some secret, unheard of NCAA exemption to play on Saturday, and Jobe to shock the crowd by turning into a world class punter. Groh will do anything to make me more irrelevant than I already am. Him and his stupid insect robot.


What are your top questions for the Spring Game on Saturday? Share your thoughts on the message boards.

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