JHoo’s Things People Are Asking Me About Virginia Football

Virginia Keytaon Thompson
Keytaon Thompson and Virginia are off to a 2-2 start. ~ Photo By Kris Wright/TheSabre.com

Here we are, about a third of the way through the Virginia football season. 2-2 so far. Could be 3-1, could be 1-3, so I guess 2-2 seems about right.

And yet, the sense I get from those to whom I regularly speak is that folks do not feel like they know this team yet. Seems like folks have a lot of questions … and are searching for answers.

I am not sure I have the answers, of course. But what I can at least do is tell you the questions that I frequently get and what my answers are when asked those questions, for what those answers are worth.

So let’s give it a go …

Did Tony Elliott Break Our Offense?

This is an easy one. Yes, Tony Elliott broke our offense.

We can move on to the next question … No? … We can’t? … OK, OK, I will add a little more.

Yes, Tony Elliott broke UVA’s offense … on purpose.

Elliott arrived at Virginia with a very good sense of the offense Virginia was running and the results Virginia was getting out of that offense. He had seen the “system,” if you want to call it that, and he knew UVA could have games where it piled up points, often in quick strike fashion. None of that was a surprise to Elliott when he arrived on Grounds.

The simple fact is that Elliott did not, and does not, believe that the offense UVA was running was a championship offense.

There really were two reasons Elliott believed that, as best I can tell. The first is that Elliott thought the offense would lend itself to feast-or-famine results, especially against better teams with more team speed on defense. The second is that Elliott looked at the offense as part of the overall team system, and he felt like the offense that Virginia was running would tend to put the defense in difficult positions frequently, including the simple fact that the defense often would be back on the field quickly, regardless of whether the offense did or didn’t score.

Plus, somewhat unrelated to the results on the field, there was a third reason – more philosophical or programmatic in nature – that drove Elliott’s approach: he did not believe that the prior offensive approach really prepared UVA’s offensive players for the next level. Or, at the very least, he did not feel like what Virginia was doing on the field would have UVA’s offensive players taking reps doing many of the kinds of things they would have to do at the next level. Related to that, the Cavaliers’ offensive players were not putting out film for NFL scouts that show them doing the kinds of things that would project to the next level. And Elliott views it as part of his promise to young men that he will help them prepare for the next level, among other things, if that is part of what they hope to accomplish.

How do I feel about that?

Well, I really cannot say that I disagree with any of it.

The first of the points is the one on which I think there could be the most argument. UVA, after all, did throw up some decent point totals against some decent teams. But the more you took it possession by possession, there was a feast-or-famine element at times, especially if you factored in the field position element.

The second point, to me, is tough to argue against. There was very little about how Virginia was running its offense in recent years that did the defense any favors. This is especially true because throughout the time that Robert Anae was calling the plays, UVA just never had the depth throughout the defense to roll through personnel in order to keep defenders a little more fresh, especially deeper into the games. So again and again, a gassed defense was being sent right back on to the field quickly, regardless