Friday, December 29, 2017

UVA v. Navy--The Annapolis Massacre

Like much of the fanbase of UVA football, I was somewhat surprised when the team reached a record of 6-3 earlier in the season. I thought this was a max four win season, and was pleasantly surprised that they won enough games to be Bowl Eligible. I remember sitting at that game (the one where we became Bowl Eligible) telling my friend Rob two things: first, that I was afraid we'd wind up in a bowl against Navy, another team that runs the triple-option offense (we had just dispatched Georgia Tech, although they scored a ton of points on us). Second, I offered that we could easily lose the remaining three games of the regular season.  Both predictions came true. And most of you know how bad I am about predictions.

I attended yesterday's "Military Bowl" game at Navy and Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, the home field of Navy. There was some grousing on the Virginia side yesterday about a bowl game being a home game for one of the participants, but I think this was lame--UVA is the flagship university of the STATE NEXT DOOR and it appeared to me that there were as many UVA fans there as Navy--which is the way a bowl ought to be.

The stadium is beautiful, and a great place to walk around reading history captured on plaques. My only complaint (aside from the ineptitude of the team for which I was rooting) was the cosmically ridiculous traffic management leaving the stadium. Half the UVA side left before the 4th quarter, my party scooted out before the game ended to enjoy some beef stew at the home of friends quite near the stadium, and it still took a butt-ton of time just to get to the main highway. I feel sorry for folks who put up with that every Navy home game--at least UVA does that much better.

Now for the apology. I spent some time on social media before the game talking a good bit of smack. Although I knew damn well UVA would have a tough time with Navy's offense, I decided to smack away as if this game were a foregone conclusion on the road to UVA's continuing rise to football prominence. The plain truth though, is that Navy (and Army, and Air Force) have legitimately good Division 1 football programs, full of players that could play for the lion's share of the teams they play against. It was not always so, but it is now. It is also true that UVA's team just wasn't very good this year--and that if they played Navy ten times, they'd lose nine.

The game started positively, with UVA running back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. And then Navy ran all over us for four quarters to win 49-7. This was the worst performance of a UVA team that I have witnessed since the 1984 team opened with a 55-0 loss vs. Clemson. Navy beat us in every single part of the game. We missed a field goal (which we shouldn't have tried). We fumbled a punt. We could not run against them (although we haven't run against really anyone this year), our defense was Swiss cheese, and our passing offense was ridiculously bad. On the rare occasion where our quarterback got the ball in the general vicinity of a receiver, they tended to drop it. UVA's offensive and defensive lines were manhandled.

Don't get me wrong--we were better this year than last, and better than I expected. But there is a long, long way to go, and the shared arrogance among the UVA supporters surprised to get beat-up by Navy is simply not supported by the teams' play. The loss was a horror, exceeded only by the (well-deserved) payback I've received from Naval Academy grads. I can take most of it with equanimity, but that coming from USNA grads of whom I am CERTAIN that less than ten minutes of football watching has occurred in the past three years (I'm talking to you, Gorenflo) is particularly galling.

Did I mention that it is basketball season?


Mark Gorenflo said...

Guilty as charged m'lud.

Actually, I think collegiate football success is inversely correlated with a university's academic rigor.

I would be happy with beating Army and Air Force each year. USNA failed that test this year.

My personal experience is that USNA's Division I football program is corrosive of the institution.

The Naval Academy Athletic Association is an evil institution abetted by various USNA stakeholders besotted with football success.

Curmudgeonly yours,


jon spencer said...

Navy attempts ONE pass for the game and it looked like UVA never thought about putting 8 in the box.
But I am a Navy fan, so that was fine with me.

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