September 1, 2008

Upon Further Review: The UVA game

Over the course of covering a game, a reporter will tend to miss some of the really specific things that lead a team to a win or a loss.

Apparently, the media is not perfect (contrary to media reports).

With that in mind, I sat down back in plush estate after returning from Virginia to revisit the Trojans 52-7 win over the Cavaliers.

Coaches always watch film after their team's game, and now, this reporter will too.

Some things stuck out that haven't been mentioned in any of my coverage. Here they are.

• On Stafon Johnson's 2-yard touchdown run, freshman tight end Blake Ayles made a great block in his first collegiate play.

Ayles lined up on the left side of the line, and after the snap, he swept to the right, picking up the outside linebacker. The block created an enormous hole for the easy score.

It's plays like this that will certainly earn Ayles more reps.

Still, Anthony McCoy had a really nice first half, too. He's a big target in the middle of the field, and if teams zone USC like Virginia did, he'll make plays.

Stanley Havili's drop was bad. If he's going to be a big-time player, he needs to make that catch.

• I'll say it once. Stacey Dales is just gorgeous in person. Seeing her on TV, it just doesn't do her justice. The tall ex-WNBA player is a talented sideline reporter, and she makes me blush.

• I thought it was nice to hear Keith Jackson's legendary voice over the phone. My only gripe is when people insist on talking about how good older guys play golf.

Still, if Jackson is firing his age, that's impressive. Ryan will have to live to 120 to pull that off.

• In the first quarter, Ronald Johnson needed to make that catch in the end zone. Sure, a flag would've nullified it anyway, but it's a play he needs to make.

Johnson makes a wonderful adjustment to the inside, but he failed to secure the ball.

With his speed, he needs to make those plays when he's on the field. He won't always get a second chance like he did on Saturday.

• If I were an impartial observer with no ties to either team whatsoever, there's almost no way the game would've stayed on during the second quarter. Virginia looks overmatched - badly.

• Anyone else think Chris Long looks like Kevin Love? I wonder if he's the world's greatest outlet passer too.

Everson Griffen might not have been a huge factor in the pass rush, but he did a really nice job drifting back into coverage as part of some zone blitzes.

• I think Paul Maguire may have played football without a helmet. It's like watching the game with your crazy uncle, and, strangely, I enjoy it.

Kaluka Maiava had the biggest hits of the day, save for Allen Bradford running over dudes when he had the ball and running through dudes when he was on special teams.

• The offensive line was just dominant. It's hard to believe this group couldn't protect a thing for over a week in camp. Kudos to Pat Ruel.

• The offensive game plan looked just perfect, and the catch RoJo made in the third quarter along the sideline was just awesome.

• The look on the Virginia cheerleaders' faces when RoJo catches that bomb is just priceless. One of them even accidentally cheers. Too funny.

Damian Williams looks really, really good. That might not be enough "really's," too. I'll say it; he's good enough for a nickname. I propose "The sickness" - he makes secondary coaches ill.

• Good to see Kevin Thomas get a pick. He's really a great guy. It's shocking that USC only picked off Virginia quarterback Peter Lalich only once.

• Bradford might be the perfect second half back. He just wears out a defense. If there was one guy perfectly suited for a ton of carries based on his running style, it's him. He'd be a huge stud in the Big Ten.

Fortunately for USC fans, you don't have to watch that boring, grinding football. Seriously, what's fun about watching P.J. Hill?

I get it; he's big.

• Some notes from garbage time…"Who am I" is just lame. I never thought I'd miss that Aflac duck… Uona Kavienga might not have prototypical size, but that kid plays mean…Pete Carroll looked tickled to see Mark Sanchez jog off the field after the Trojans' first fourth quarter score…Virginia's home uniforms are really sharp; the offense, not so much…Good to see Marc Tyler score…I just realized that this recount of the game hasn't been in perfect order (kind of like Memento)…Nick Howell made a great block down field on a pitch play…The end of this game is just a slow death for the Cavs…My best efforts to get some camera time at the end of the game were apparently not good enough.

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