Connect with us
[adrotate banner="51"]

Sports

A new era for both Cavs and Hokies on the football field as new coaches take the reigns

Contributor Reid Kidwell takes a look at what to expect as cross-state rivals take on new head football coaches this season.

Published

on

As we charge towards a new college football season, expectations for Virginia’s two top tier programs are arguably at an all time low. The Virginia Cavaliers are coming off their seventh losing season in eight years, while the cross state rival Virginia Tech Hokies are coming off a fourth straight season where they failed to finish in the AP Top 25. As a result, both schools chose to hit the reset button on their respective programs this offseason and brought in new head coaches. Former BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall heads to Charlottesville; former Memphis head coach Justin Fuente is coming to Blacksburg.

Mendenhall inherits a program that has seen a steady decline since the legend George Welsh left following the 2000 season. During Welsh’s nineteen year tenure, the Cavaliers reached a bowl game twelve times, and finished the year ranked in the AP Top 25 six times, the latter of which has only happened twice in the fifteen years since.

After Welsh, Al Groh piloted the Wahoos to five bowl games in nine seasons, but was let go following the 2009 season. In 2010, the reigns were then passed to Mike London, who had just won a national championship at the FCS level with the Richmond Spiders two years prior. Unfortunately for London–despite his success on the recruiting trail–the Cavaliers slid further down college football’s totem pole. During London’s six seasons, UVA played in just one bowl game.

In his eleven years at BYU, Mendenhall never had a losing season and reached a bowl game each year after inheriting a program that had come off three straight losing seasons. However, the optimism around Mendenhall extends past his track record on the field. Brigham Young has high academic expectations (a top 100 university nationally according to US News & World Report) along with a rigid religious component (affiliated with the Church of Latter Day Saints), making recruiting a more difficult task for a sport like football where there are 85 scholarships to fill. Mendenhall will face similar challenges from an academic standpoint at UVA, which is a member of the prominent Association of American Universities.

Meanwhile, Fuente will be trying to resurrect a program that once had eight consecutive double digit win seasons before falling to mediocrity over the last four years, averaging seven wins during that time frame. He will be replacing the man who put Hokie football on the national map, Frank Beamer.

Prior to Beamer’s arrival in 1987 Virginia Tech had finished in the AP Top 25 just twice in its history, a feat they would go on to do sixteen times in his 29 seasons to go along with 22 bowl appearances including a national runner up finish in 1999. As a result of his success on the field, the Hokies went from an Independent program to joining the Big East conference in 1991 and eventually joined the ACC in 2004. As the program gained more national exposure during these transitions, the caliber of recruits elevated–particularly at QB–throughout the 2000’s.

However, recruiting is a younger man’s game and the head coaches in the ACC, specifically at national powers Florida State and Clemson, have gotten younger over the past half decade and become more attractive options for recruits. As much as Hokie fans love Beamer it became hard to ignore the decline in recruiting over the final five years of his tenure.

At age 40, Fuente only brings four years of head coaching experience to Blacksburg, but in those four years he took a Memphis program that won three games in the two years prior to his arrival to ten wins by his third season. A big reason for that turnaround was being able to land QB Paxton Lynch, who was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos this past spring. During the high points of Beamer’s run, quarterback play was elite (I know we all think defense and special teams aka “Beamer Ball”, but hear me out on this one). During the two years he had Michael Vick as a starter the Hokies were 22-2, finishing 2nd and 6th in the final AP Poll. Two of Beamer’s other three top 10 finishes came in 2007 and 2010, with Tyrod Taylor at the helm (split time with Sean Glennon in 07) who compiled a 23-5 record as a starter during his career in Blacksburg.

The point here is Fuente, who is a former college QB himself, has shown he has an eye for spotting NFL caliber talent at the position where the Hokies have been below average during their decline the last few seasons.

While we all know change doesn’t happen overnight and Rome certainly wasn’t built in a day, you still have to lay the first brick. It appears as if these two schools have laid the right foundation for the future of their football programs, but will it translate to “Ws” on Saturday? Fortunately we don’t have much longer to wait.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Sports

Photos and Game Summary: VCU Women Lose Hard Fought Battle Against St. Joseph’s

A similar story the men on Friday. The women gave up a goal in the waning minutes of the game and ran out of time to tie it up.

Published

on


Official Game Summary

Score: Saint Joseph’s 1, (RV)/#25 VCU 0
Location: Richmond, Va. (Sports Backers Stadium)
Records: (RV)/#25 VCU 13-3-0 (9-1-0 Atlantic 10), Saint Joseph’s 5-11-2 (5-5-0 A-10)

The short story: Despite the Rams dominating possession, the Hawks scored in the 87th minute to grab a 1-0 win in the regular season finale.

QUICK FACTS

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • Gutzmer had the first scoring chance of the day in the seventh minute, taking her first touch around a defender, and firing a low-angle shot at the near post that forced a kick save.
  • In the 36th minute, Jerabek got a foot to a cross that then fell to Kershner, who slid to put a shot towards goal that was blocked.
  • Seconds before halftime, sophomore winger Ella Higgins ran onto a bouncing ball in the box and volleyed a shot over the bar.
  • VCU looked dangerous throughout the second half, racking up 15 corner kicks and 14 total shots in the period.
  • Young made a good save in the 60th minute, diving to her right to stop a breakaway attempt.
  • In the 69th minute, Kershner flicked a Jerabek cross with the outside of her foot inches over the bar.
  • The Rams had a strong double chance in the 75th, with Gutzmer laying a ball of for Kropinack, whose shot was saved, and junior midfielder Anna Bagley pushing the rebound just wide.
  • The Hawks scored the lone goal of the game on a corner kick, with Ashley Orendac flicking a header from Danielle Stuart’s first touch and Natalie Nevins’ service.

UP NEXT
VCU hosts a rematch against Saint Joseph’s in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. from Sports Backers Stadium.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Sports

Photos and Game Summary: VCU Men Fall to Fordham

With just two minutes left in the game Fordham found the back of the net and the Rams couldn’t respond in the remaining minutes.

Published

on

Official VCU Game Summary

Score: Fordham 1, (RV) VCU 0
Location: Richmond, Va. (Sports Backers Stadium)
Records: (RV) VCU 9-5-1 (4-3-0 Atlantic 10), Fordham 6-8-1 (4-3-0 A-10)

The short story: Fordham scored against the run of play in the 89th minute to hand VCU a heartbreaking loss in an Atlantic 10 clash Saturday night.

QUICK FACTS

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • Fordham’s Matt Sloan had a look at goal in the 14th minute, but Sewell stepped in to cover the net and block the shot.
  • While there were few scoring chances either way in the first half, VCU jumped on the attack early in the second. In the 46th minute, Fitch played a long ball to the feet of sophomore winger Celio Pompeu, who laid the ball off to a charging Varela Fraga. The Spaniard played the ball back out wide to Pompeu, who gave the ball to freshman midfielder Philip Klomp on an overlapping run. Klomp played a first-time cross into the six-yard box, where Varela Fraga ran onto it and sent a shot rolling just wide of the post.
  • In the 57th minute, Klomp cut inside on his right foot past a defender and fired a rising shot barely over the crossbar.
  • Robinson laced a dangerous long-range effort in the 61st minute that rattled the crossbar.
  • Pompeu crossed the ball for Robinson in the 86th minute, whose header deflected off a Fordham defender and into the arms of goalkeeper Nick Buchholz.
  • Galen Flynn put Fordham on top with just under two minutes left in regulation, scoring on an assist from Paul Makaj.

QUOTING HEAD COACH DAVE GIFFARD
“The game is honest, and we paid tonight for things that are inside our team that need to get sorted out. In a team game, sometimes players need to do things that aren’t natural or comfortable for them because the team structure dictates that they do. Tonight we paid for some of those things that during the course of the year have improved, but are still there. We had plenty of chances and control of the game, but remained at 0-0, which then puts a microscope on the defending moments in transition or on set pieces that many college teams live for. Fordham scored in one of those transition moments, but with only a couple of minutes left, and we simply ran out of time to equalize.

It was a harsh but honest lesson for our group. In the college game, any team can beat you, and you have to do the things over and over again consistently that give you the better chance to win. We didn’t do enough of those things tonight to make sure that we won.”

GIFFARD ON THE SENIOR CLASS
“This is not only a special group of players, but more importantly, a special group of people. We’ve been through so much together as a group the last four and a half years, and these guys will be ones that we will miss around here for a long time. But, I know that each of them will be successful in life and I can’t wait to be a fan for their journey.”

UP NEXT
VCU plays its final non-conference match of the regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 27, traveling to Bloomington, Ind., to take on the national runners-up from the spring season, (RV)/#17 Indiana. The match will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus starting at 7 p.m.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Sports

Photos and Game Summary: Rams Nab Late Winner Against Seahawks

For the third time this season the Rams won in overtime.

Published

on

Official VCU Game Summary

Score: (RV) VCU 2, (RV)/#22 UNCW 1 (OT)
Location: Richmond, Va. (Sports Backers Stadium)
Records: (RV) VCU 9-4-1, (RV)/#22 UNCW 8-5-1

The short story: Senior midfielder Oquin Robinson fired home a free kick goal in the 100th minute to give the Rams their second consecutive overtime win.

QUICK FACTS

  • This is VCU’s third win of the season against a team that was ranked in one of the three major polls. The Seahawks are currently #22 in the TopDrawerSoccer poll, while both the Rams and UNCW are receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches poll.
  • It’s also the third overtime win of the season for the Rams.
  • Robinson’s goal was his third of the season and fourth of his career. It was also his first career game-winner.
  • Freshman midfielder William Hitchcock scored his third goal of the year to tie the game in the second half, with assists from Philip Klomp and Pablo Varela Fraga, who both picked up their first career assists in black and gold.
  • UNCW outshot VCU 13-7, but the Rams held a 7-3 advantage in shots on goal, aided by VCU defenders blocking several Seahawk shots.
  • There were 32 combined fouls in a tightly-contested, physical match.

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • Robinson had the first scoring chance of the night for VCU, delivering a shot to the bottom left corner that forced a save in the 13th minute.
  • In the 38th minute, Varela Fraga charged down the left wing and ripped a shot that UNCW goalkeeper Gabriel Perrotta could only parry away.
  • The Seahawks got on the board first shortly after halftime, as Nicolas Molina finished off a cross from Cannon Tootle.
  • The Rams had a dangerous opportunity in the 55th minute as senior Jared Greene started a move in the VCU half, playing a ball for Klomp. Klomp then played a through ball for freshman midfielder Damian Gallegos, who had his shot deflected before it was smothered by Perrotta.
  • VCU equalized in the 67th minute. Varela Fraga, whose hold-up play was effective all night for the Rams, received a ball with his back to goal and turned around a defender. He played a ball wide for Klomp, who hit a first-time pass with his left across the face of the goal for Hitchcock to bury in the back of the net at the back post.
  • Klomp played another great left-footed cross in the 97th minute, floating a ball for Greene, who volleyed a shot that forced a save at the near post.
  • Robinson gave VCU the win in the final minute of the first overtime period, taking a free kick just outside the box and blasting it over the wall and into the top right corner.

QUOTING HEAD COACH DAVE GIFFARD
“I was proud of the guys tonight for finding a way to grind out a result against a very good team. We were down some guys again, but as this group has done this year, different people stepped up and got the job done.”

UP NEXT
The Rams get back into conference play, hosting Fordham on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. from Sports Backers Stadium. Saturday will also be VCU’s Senior Night.

Every home match is streamed on ESPN+. For more information on VCU Men’s Soccer tickets, click here.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Richmond Weather