Brendan of From Old Virginia is the only Wahoo who doesn't make me have violent thoughts while speaking to him, so we're giving him the floor to give us the UVa perspective on this week's game. My answers to his questions can be found over at his blog.
GC: Be honest. You guys really miss Al Groh, don't you?
FOV: Not as much as you guys do. I think UVA fans are slowly leaving behind the vitriol and getting to a point where the past (meaning the Groh era) is what it is, as opposed to this unbearable burden that destroyed UVA football for all time.
GC: In the spring game and even early in the season, the Hoos' offensive line looked kind of rough. Now they've really been the catalyst for the current winning streak. What's been the key to their (and thus the Hoos') turnaround?
FOV: I would say, if there's been a turnaround from rough beginnings, that's largely in the eyes of outsiders. I know you'd been hard on that unit in the past. But our expectations have always been that this year's offensive line would be a bright spot for this team, so we don't see this as a turnaround so much as it's what we hoped for. Four returning starters, including two tackles with NFL potential, and a fifth guy (Luke Bowanko) who'd proven himself ready as a backup in the rotation. The only real concern, I think, was at center, where Anthony Mihota had kind of an average year at best in 2010, and his backup got himself kicked off the team for retardery. Mihota's been one of the biggest pleasant surprises this year, and going from average center play to outstanding has really jump-started the run game, where success always starts on the interior line.
GC: What's the one thing that will concern you most if the Hoos aren't doing it well?
FOV: Shutting down Logan Thomas and the passing game. What have been Thomas's three worst days? I would say ECU, Clemson, and Duke, during all of which he threw more picks than TDs and had a completion percentage ranging from average to awful. Those three games are the ones that meet both of those criteria and - surprise - they've also Tech's three worst games of the season. David Wilson will get his yards, but one-dimensional is one-dimensional - even Barry Sanders couldn't turn the Lions into winners with Rodney Peete and Scott Mitchell as his quarterbacks. If Tech's offense is one-dimensional, it's stoppable. Tech averaged 11 points in those three games and 32 in the rest and that's not even including the 66 against Appalachian State. UVA can score more than 11 points in this game but probably not more than 32. We will need Chase Minnifield and Demetrious Nicholson to blanket Coale and Boykin and force Thomas to look elsewhere, and I expect the Minnifield-Coale duels to be very worth watching.
GC: Michigan over Ohio State and Virginia over Virginia Tech. You can only pick one. Go.
FOV: That's cold. I bet you were the kind of kid that picked the wings off of flies and threw rocks at stray dogs. At the risk of pissing off my readership, I will say Michigan. Largely because Michigan is favored, with OSU being down and out this year. In UVA's case, we're already ahead of schedule. Beating Tech and playing in Charlotte would be an amazing boost to recruiting and the psyche of the program in general, but I don't think it would be harmed by losing. Michigan beating Ohio would be the same kind of boost (if we win, we have a great chance at playing in the BCS), but given how bad Ohio is this year, it would be a real downer to lose even when the script has been so obviously flipped on the outlook of the two programs.
GC: Would you have been more or less confident about this game if you'd lost to FSU?
FOV: Less. I have to assume the idea behind this is that if we'd lost, Tech would've already wrapped up the division and thus would have less to play for, but I haven't seen that be an obstacle in the past. Purely on paper, FSU is every bit as good or better than VT in a lot of areas, and the fact that we went into their house and beat them anyway, that's huge for the team's confidence. Just huge. London's message before the game was: You belong here. You can win here. Embrace the atmosphere, you and nobody else control your destiny. And then to actually win - talk about reinforcing the message. Now, I think the team is as confident as they've been in a long, long time, which rubs off on me and the rest of the fans.
GC: Die. Sorry, that's not really a question ... I guess tell us who you think's going to win this game.
FOV: My gut says UVA. My brain says NSFMF. Tech's defense isn't smothering, but it's very good. Tech's offense is difficult to stop. 10-1 vs. 8-3. On paper, Tech is the better team - the margin is much, much closer than in recent years, but it's still there, and my brain further points out that Tech's coaching staff tends to know what they're doing. But my gut responds with another Corsoism: ah fuckit. Whatever motivation Tech brings to the game, it won't be more than what UVA brings; that's what a losing streak will do for you. And we finally have talent and ability to back it up. The team is riding high and focused, and I haven't had such a strong feeling of "this is our year" since 2003. Score prediction won't be final until I finish my game preview, but: UVA 20, VT 14. Too much homerism? Sure. But that's what the FSU fans said too.