NFL Wrap Up

Let's put the finishing touches on the NFL Draft and its aftermath. We all know that Chris Cook was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round. While Cook was the only Hoo drafted, several others have signed free agent contracts:

- Vic Hall signed a contract with the Chicago Bears -- published reports previously linked him to the Baltimore Ravens -- and he will play offense and special teams.

- Will Barker signed a contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

- Mikell Simpson signed a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.

- Rashawn Jackson signed a contract with the Carolina Panthers.

- Nate Collins signed a contract with the New York Giants.

- Jameel Sewell was invited to the Miami Dolphins' rookie mini-camp for a tryout.

- Denzel Burrell was invited to the Cleveland Browns' rookie mini-camp for a tryout.

I'm still surprised that Collins and Jackson weren't drafted, but I expect that each of those guys will craft a decent NFL career nonetheless.

One more reason to root for the Bengals, by the way: Cedric Peerman just signed a free agent contract to play for Cincinnati, as well. Hopefully he or Simpson, or both, can make the team.

On Saturday's Games

The differences between the football and basketball program were stark yesterday. The football team lost yet again, this time to Clemson. They did, however, give us all something to cheer about...briefly:

For one half of Virginia's contest against Clemson, the Cavalier offense did everything that Al Groh is not necessarily known for: trick plays, unconventional formations, and overall outside-the-box thinking. Jameel Sewell, Mikell Simpson, and Vic Hall all took snaps under center. A very un-Groh-like, nothing-to-lose risk gave Virginia an improbable touchdown going into halftime and the team ranked 106th nationally in scoring offense and 118th in total offense had 21 points and 233 total yards.

Unfortunately, the defense stunk all day long. Then, after a few very interesting possessions where Virginia went away from the absurdly pathetic playcalling that has marked Al Groh's tenure, the offense went back to the same old nonsense in the second half. As a result, it was three plays and out on almost every possession, it seemed, and Virginia meekly succumbed to their 8th loss of the season.

The basketball team, on the other hand, gave us a lot to be optimistic about yesterday in a 76-55 win over Oral Roberts. Mike Scott and Mustapha Farrakhan had good games, and Assane Sene played fairly effectively in his first game since returning from suspension.

The defense has been getting better every single game, which is refreshing (after some very poor defensive teams we've been forced to endure over the last decade). It's going to take even more time for Coach Bennett to install his offense, but the Hoos are improving every game on that end of the floor as well.

Wins over Rider and Oral Roberts are not ordinarily reasons for enthusiasm. Most good programs take these wins for granted. We can't think like that yet. How the Hoos are winning these games can't be taken for granted, given the state of the program.

I don't know where the program will end up, but there's no question that Bennett has started in the right direction.

Huge ACC Coastal Division Clash -- UPDATED

Wow, I can't believe Virginia is involved in a big game today with implications for the championship of the ACC's Coastal Division. What's going on? How did we get here? I can't deny that I'm pretty worried about today's titanic struggle vs. Georgia Tech. The Hoos have won their two ACC games thus far with smoke and mirrors. That's not going to cut it today.

Permit me to dream, however.... What if the Hoos could pull this off today? We would clearly be in the driver's seat to win the division and make it to the ACC Championship game. And, dare I say it...a bowl?

Will wonders never cease?

UPDATE: Jameel Sewell starts. Only takes him two plays to make a terrible throw.

--Mikell Simpson starts, too. Great news.

UPDATE 2: On third and long, UVa didn't run a QB draw. That's progress! (Still, three and out on the first possession of the game).

UPDATE 3: 1st quarter, 3-0 GT. Nice defensive stand after a very poor turnover on the punt return; Tech is held to a field goal. Where would this team be without the defense? I dunno the answer to that, but if the defense doesn't score a couple of TDs today, we may be in trouble.

UPDATE 4: Wow, what a dumb time for Tech to fake a punt. Good field position for the Hoos here.

UPDATE 5: Ist quarter, 3-3. Wow, Robert Randolph's 48-yard field goal hit the crossbar and trickled through!

UPDATE 6: Thank you, pouring rain! A wet football is fumbled by Tech, and Virginia has great field position again.

--And Sewell actually made a great pass! To Vic Hall, out of bounds at the 1!

--That's the end of the first quarter. 3-3.

UPDATE 7: First and goal to go from the 1-yard line and the offense can't even punch the ball into the endzone. Sheesh, this offense is not good, is it?

Field goal by Randolph is good, though, and UVa is winning 6-3.

UPDATE 8: 10-6 GT, 2nd quarter. Tech made that look easy, driving down the field for the touchdown.

UPDATE 9: Another generally pathetic "drive" by the offense, but Jimmy Howell punts the ball to the one. He's going to be a very good punter before he graduates.

UPDATE 10: Nate Collins is good. That is all.

UPDATE 11: Halftime. GT kicks a FG as time expires to extend their lead to 13-6.

It really doesn't looke like UVa is going to win this game.

UPDATE: Game over, 34-9 GT.

Georgia Tech is just better than UVa. Period.

Jameel Sewell to start vs. Georgia Tech

It appears that Jameel Sewell (ankle) will be the starting quarterback against Georgia Tech on Saturday. You tell me whether that is a good thing or not. Over on The Edge, there is speculation that Marc Verica will still see a lot of action.

Still no word on whether tailback Mikell Simpson will play, or whether he will miss his second straight game. Similarly, we're all waiting anxiously to find out if defensive end Matt Conrath will play this weekend after suffering an injury against Murr-land:

Early indications suggest that Conrath's ankle injury might sideline him. Conrath was omitted from the initial depth chart released to reporters this week, although freshman Will Hill was listed with the first team. Virginia will release its final injury report after Thursday's practice.

I'm afraid the defense can't withstand the loss of Conrath for long.