Sabre Roundtable: Sweet Music

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1) If you were to give Virginia a grade for its overall performance against Minnesota, what would it be and why?

Nick: A. There were a lot of mistakes, but most of them weren’t due to performance but rather experience. I expected the young secondary and linebackers to make mistakes in coverage, which they did. Marques Hagans was put in a tough spot returning a punt since he hasn’t done that in so long. The resiliency to hang in there after falling behind early earns the team and its coaches an A for this game.

DC Hoo: Overall, a solid A. Execution was probably more like a B but the heart and fight of the team were A++. Before the game, I thought Minnesota had a complete mismatch with its powerful ground game against a UVa defense missing three starters and relying on a NT who gave up football in October. The defense struggled in the first half with blown assignments by the linebackers and secondary. On offense there was the all-too-familiar sight of key dropped passes. But UVa was able to hang around and come back with an amazing performance in the second half.

John: A-. Virginia’s performance was far from perfect, especially in the first half, but its effort was outstanding. Once Minnesota took a 14-0 lead, I started thinking of all the terrible UVa bowl games I’ve covered – the ’91 Gator (Oklahoma 48-14), the ’93 Carquest (Boston College 31-13), the ’99 Micronpc (Illinois 63-21) and the 2000 0’ahu (Georgia 37-13). I was afraid the 2005 Music City would join that company. Instead, it turned out to be one of Virginia’s best bowl performances, all things considered. I’d rank it right up there with the ’95 Peach (UVa 34, Georgia 27) and 2002 Continental Tire (UVa 48, West Virginia 22).

Jed: A-. In my opinion, anything beneath this is unreasonable. Given the number of variables – coaches coming and going, players suspended, Ahmad Brooks ‘ absence – this was a stout effort, especially emotionally. A few tangibles were lacking at times (read: pass coverage), but the intangibles – guts and resolve – were as strong as they’ve been all year.

2) Who was the most significant player in the game?

John: Marques Hagans. Who else? Biscuit isn’t on the short