I just got through scanning the comments on the game thread and although there's a partial pass for intoxicated blogging, it seems there needs to be some differentiating on exactly what transpired last night, and where blame falls. There seems to be this constant need to singularly place blame after we lose, regardless of the opponent. And it usually falls on Jimbo, at least in the eyes of many fans.
I would contend that Jimbo gets minimal blame at best. I think some context needs to be observed before handing out all the blame to the HC...
In watching the game last night, the first thing that stuck out to me was the entire first quarter was a cluster * thanks to the officials. I'm in complete agreement with Jimbo (and the announcers last night, as it happens) that when you take "88 minutes" of reviews you cannot establish any type of rhythm. We were the only team on the field on the losing end of the officials' terrible officiating in the first quarter. It benefited UVA to slow the rhythm. Furthermore, we had a 50 yard completion disallowed due to a phantom holding call and a personal foul, horse collar tackle/late hit on the Green completion that would have put us half the distance and 1st and goal.
Neither of these things are on Jimbo and had both resulted in just two field goals, we have a handy lead that we don't relinquish. Then, we call it a sloppy game of execution but certainly don't put so much ire into pinning it all on Jimbo.
Secondly, I'm of the opinion, as a former collegiate athlete, that players make plays. In the case of last night's game, I had absolutely no problem with the play calling. We can't convert on 3rd and short and it is incredibly frustrating. But, it is not a schematic problem. It is an execution problem. Period. I specifically remember a 3rd and 4 play in which EJ flushed from the pocket and could have walked for a first down, but rather danced around laterally, trying to elude defenders, and fell down likely just short of the first down marker (consequently, I believe there was a penalty on the play but the idea remains the same). That is on EJ. Jimbo will NEVER say it publicly, but so much of last night's offensive performance was on EJ, IMO.
There is a very legitimate argument to made that the problems with the OL are causing EJ's woes, and I agree with this argument to some extent. But like I told my brother last night, there was a play in which Bobby Hart got flat out beat from the snap and EJ saw the whole thing unfold and did nothing to step into the pocket or compensate for the 15 year old starting tackle we have to play with. Is Hart partially to blame? Obviously. But his shortcomings are understandable and we shouldn't be relying on him to EXCEL at his position. We are asking EJ to excel at his - and rightfully so.
Many of you are reading this and saying to yourself, "but EJ is injured. I'm sure of it." Maybe. Rather, likely. I don't doubt that if Bud says EJ will be getting surgery immediately after the season, than that's exactly what he'll be doing. Here's what else I know: he's throwing 50 yard bombs with no visible sign of pain. He's scrambling around and getting tackled. One particular play had him scrambling down to the one and lowering his LEFT shoulder on the safety or DB who met him at the goal line in a real man's collision. He hopped up excited, not in pain.
Bottom line for me with EJ is this: He's been absolutely average at best all year and his decision making is beginning to cost us serious opportunities in games. If you're like me, you're holding your breathe when he drops back to pass. You're getting frustrated when the pocket breaks down and he tries to summon his inner Roethlesberger. The fumble in the redzone is on him. Our swiss cheese OL will not hold a pass rush for 10 seconds.
If you watched Jimbo's presser last night, you could see the frustration in his face and hear it in his voice. The frustration is: "we work on this all day in practice and the players are not executing." I don't know what else people want from Jimbo. If so many of the plays are executed to their design, losing to Virginia is out of the question. Over throwing a wide open Kenny Shaw, who will walk into the endzone, is inexcusable. And the throw really wasn't even close. Even on Bert Reed's near TD, he had to slow down, turn and jump to catch the pass. Reliford missed a sure TD, but EJ did him no favors with the throw. I remember a certain Christian Ponder taking the blame for Forston missing a similarly thrown ball against Miami. Beau should have caught that pass - no question. But EJ simply did not make it the easy catch it should have been.
A quick comment regarding the run game. Our run game was great. Any notion that playing JT at RB was a mistake is ridiculous.
Finally, D-Hop. Did anyone believe he was going to make that kick? Seriously. I was absolutely certain he would miss. I don't know if it was just the way the game was going or what, but it kills me that that was my thought. And I was right. I know, I know, I know that the game should not have come down to a game winning field goal. But, it did. And this is what he does. And we have the best two kickers in the nation. WTF, man? Even with the cluster of a game it was on offense, Hopkins could have said, "hey guys, tough night. no worries. I got this." Game over.
That has nothing to do with Jimbo. That is on Hopkins. Period. No one play cost us the game, but one kick could have won us the game and we EXPECT Dustin Hopkins to make that kick.
In the words of Jimbo, there's plenty of blame to go around. I just don't think it really falls on our HC. Everyone here knows he is incredibly detail oriented and this was not a case of "overlooking" Virginia. The game plan was fine. The play calls were fine. The execution was an abomination.
My hope is that the PLAYERS rebound in a week and take their frustration to Gainesville. There's no doubt Jimbo will have a great game plan. He did last year.