Chris Graham: Mike London’s text, Matt Schaub’s tweets
Remember when I speculated postgame that Mike London, when asked about his baffling endgame strategy that had him saving two timeouts to use to ice Virginia Tech kicker Cody Journell on the game’s final play, rather than deploying the timeouts to give his team anywhere from 55 seconds to a minute to try to come up with a tying score, would say that he had given up on his offense?
Here’s what I had to say, putting made-up words in London’s mouth:
No way our offense can move the ball. And even if we move the ball, no way our kicker makes a kick. That’s why I tried that ridiculous fake field goal in the third quarter up a touchdown with the momentum going our way. Best thing we can do here is let the clock run down, hope he misses it, and then we go to overtime.
I was writing that as the postgame press conference was still ongoing. And I was being a sarcastic little s–t in writing it that way.
No way in a million years would I have guessed that London was actually thinking anything close to that.
Ahem. I was wrong, in that I was right in being a sarcastic little s–t.
London texted Daily Press columnist David Teel to break down his decision to hold the timeouts until the final play of the game, listing four reasons for not using the timeouts earlier.
According to Teel, London texted:
- PK missed previous one (referring to Journell’s miss of a 41-yard field-goal attempt with 3:38 left)
- Make them run/handle FB (ostensibly saying that not using the timeouts would make Virginia Tech run plays on offense, when, of course, using timeouts would also force Tech to run plays on offense, without being able to also run off 30-35 seconds from the clock between plays)
- Did not want to expend the last two TO and concede 3 pts. Even with poss(ession) 30/25 seconds left (if London had used the timeouts after the second- and third-down plays, Virginia would have had closer to a minute left, at the worst 55 seconds left, upon getting possession for the offense, not “30/25 seconds”)
- They would be kicking off with the wind. All kickoffs from the opp end to our locker room were ALL touchbacks (London is right there – the kick coming on the last play did save Virginia the indginity of having to endure yet another touchback)
Continuing the text to Teel:
Aspect of down 3 points – ball on our 25 no time outs, 3-14 for 3rd downs, and drive the field to tie or score Td to win against the wind?
London left it at that.
He had no memory immediately after the game of the time situation that was anywhere near accurate. Neither did, among others, Teel at the Daily Press or Jerry Ratcliffe at the Daily Progress, both of whom give London a pass by suggesting in print that Virginia would have gotten the ball back with somewhere between 25-40 seconds to go. Chris Brathwaite went down with an injury after the second-down play with 50 seconds to go on the game clock and 20 seconds to go on the 40-second play clock. A timeout right after the tackle on that play stops the clock with 1:10 on the game clock, or thereabouts. A timeout after a stop on the third-down play pushes the field goal to beginning at around 1:02-1:04, thus the kickoff comes around :58 to 1:00. Assuming touchback, that’s when Virginia gets the ball; not anywhere near :25-:40.
Strike one on London, then, for flubbing on the sequencing. Strikes two, three and many more come on basically conceding the game based on the observations that the offense hadn’t been moving the ball.
A coach with even a sliver of faith in his team wants the ball with a minute to go and no timeouts with a chance to tie or win. Most assuredly, the odds with an offense that had produced only 68 yards of offense in the second half, had generated just seven first downs all game and had done much of nothing after the inexplicable fake field goal that went awry in the third quarter aren’t all that great; but they’re certainly better than the chance that Journell is going to miss a 29-yard field goal even after having to endure two 30-second timeouts.
But don’t take that from me. Take it from UVa. alum Matt Schaub, who tweeted his displeasure with the time management after the game.
“Terrible clock management by my wahoos today. Could’ve had a min left for O by using TOs,” read the first tweet from Schaub, who may go down as being the last UVa. quarterback to get a win over Virginia Tech, in the 35-21 win that Virginia posted over the Hokies in 2003.
Second tweet: “No confidence in Offense with that move.”
We’re still waiting for the tweet from Schaub regarding confidence in the coach who made the move.
In the meantime, Ratcliffe at the Progress reports to us that London was actually encouraged after it was all over with - because after losing by a combined 75-7 his first two times out against the Hokies, hey, we made them sweat this time, didn’t we?
“We came to win the game,” London said. “I know the streak is what it is, and people will keep talking about it, but that gap has been narrowed in recruiting. They won on the field, but the gap is closing.”
Self-delusion knows no bounds, apparently.