The great unknown

The great unknown

Does this team have a starting quarterback?

“So we would have hoped, particularly with him being at the top of the chart, that he could have thrown 300 or 400 passes in the spring. That’s probably not going to be the case but that’s the reality of it.”—Al Groh, prior to spring practice on his quarterback, Jameel Sewell.

Another quarterback question mark?
UGGHH!!!!!!!!

Jameel Sewell helped Virginia fans limp out of a forgettable 2006 season with a proverbial “Wait until next year!” smile on their face.


The Jameel Sewell-watch continues after a wrist injury prevented him from participating fully in spring practice, casting some doubt on whether he can surpass last year’s promising season.

Sewell showed promise as he tossed 1,342 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for an additional four.

Unfortunately, surgery to repair a wrist injury on his throwing hand left him without the full spring practice learning experience. The absence leaves many, including Groh, to wonder whether this young quarterback is yet another enigma of this team.

Who will emerge as an offensive weapon?

This team has an offensive cast with more hyped names than Ocean’s Thirteen.

Sewell, Cedric Peerman, (Keith Payne—suspended indefinitely by Groh for academics), Raynard Horne, Tom Santi and Jon Stupar.  The question is who will emerge?

Who will step up at wide receiver?

Enough already?

First, Sewell’s operation squashes his spring practice. 

Next, lead receiver Kevin Ogletree’s season ends during the spring when his leg gave out on him marking the third time since the 2003 season the Cavaliers will be without their leading returning receiver. Ogletree finished third in the ACC last season with 52 catches for 582 yards and four TDs.

Now we hear rumblings that projected starting cornerback Mike Brown sustained a serious leg injury in off-season seven-on-seven activities. Has the injury bug already doomed this squad before they’ve even take the practice turf?

Which Groh has more pressure to improve?

National college football publications have easily slipped Al Groh into the category of “Coaches on the Hot Seat” after last year’s dismal 5-7 season.

SI.com’s Stewart Mandell took it one step lower, naming him the Worst Coach in College Football.

Needless to say, Virginia needs a successful season like Nicole Richie needs a sandwich.
If the team is to improve, it will rely on the younger Groh, Mike Groh (offensive coordinator), to upgrade a unit that was just awful last year. Virginia was ranked 100 or higher in each offensive category.

Mike Groh will have a much better hand to play this year as the deck holds an experienced offensive line led by Branden Albert, depth at running back, and hopefully, a veteran Sewell.
“The most important thing is the experience of these linemen and the confidence that they gained last year,” said Al Groh at spring practice.

Wahoos eagerly wonder just how much more aggressive Mike London’s defense will be. In order to keep it at high octane, Mike Groh’s unit needs to do its part.

Can this team win on the road?

Groh’s Virginia teams are 10-24 on the road, including a 7-17 traveling ACC mark.

At Wyoming, at NC State, at North Carolina and at Miami, seeing will be believing.

Wes McElroy hosts “The Final Round” on ESPN AM840. M-F 4pm-6pm.

Posted In:     Living

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The great unknown

The great unknown

Lots of great out-of-town bands will stop in town in the next couple weeks, with Yo La Tengo (www.yolatengo.com) and Jonathan Richman at Starr Hill, as well as SH presenting Jeff Tweedy (www.wilcoworld.net)  at The Paramount Theater.

MV and EE can sound like the Flaming Lips or the Velvet Underground or just their own bad-ass selves.

With the bigger names sucking up the press ink, you might miss out on some of the more interesting shows. On Sunday, February 4, MV and EE with the Bummer Road (www.myspace.comm/veebummerroad), who get lumped into the freak-folk crowd, will play at Dust. Their CD Green Blues is out on Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace label, and features J. Mascis among other guests. At times the band sounds like The Flaming Lips or The Velvet Underground, and other times they wallow happily in their own noise. It should be very interesting to hear how the band re-creates their sound live.

Across town the same night, The Satellite Ballroom presents an intriguing show. Vashti Bunyan was discovered by the Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham and was in tight with the late 1960’s English folk scene.  She released a lone Joe Boyd-produced LP in 1970, Just Another Diamond Day, featuring members of The Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention. Rather than promote the record, Vashti left to live with the ISB in Scotland, and then on to Ireland and anonymity. Thirty-five years later, she found out that she still had an avid group of fans, including Devendra Banhart, who were influenced by that one LP. Diamond Day has been re-released, and her second album, Lookaftering, has been compared to Nick Drake and features Banhart and Joanna Newsom. Big ups to The Satellite’s Danny Shea, who continues to dig deep to bring the most interesting acts to town.

And if you like bad-ass horns in the Tower of Power style, get your tickets now for the Johnny Sketch (www.johnnysketch.com), the late show at Gravity on February 9. According to their press release, the band, which hails from New Orleans, were on tour in Colorado and wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. They could not get home so they continued touring. Judging from their CD, they did not have to. The six piece band plays original rock and funk tunes, but it is the horn section, tenor, baritone and trumpet, that is honking (read: big compliment). “What you’d get if Phish had been born at Tipitina’s and studied under George Clinton and Frank Zappa late every night on the levee,” says David Fricke of Rolling Stone.
   
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Back in Charlottesville, local rock bands are banking on The Outback Lodge filling the void left by Tokyo Rose’s basement. Terry Martin and crew at the Outback have put in a new corner stage downstairs and will follow up with a new PA. The place has a nice rock club vibe and Martin has a lot of plans to keep the space full of live music. Besides The Dawning’s regular goth and industrial shows on Saturday nights, he sees the spot as an opportunity to host a lot more punk rock and metal shows. Some bands, like Bella Morte and This Means You, are too big for the downstairs space, but up and comers now have a great space to build an audience.

Martin is also strongly considering a regular matinee slot, Saturday evenings from 6-9 pm, for teen and high school bands. Like The Dawning, the matinee shows will always be for all ages. Any high school band interested in playing a great local club should contact Martin at the Outback.

The other Outback event that is exploring the possibility of change in the future is the regular Sunday night salsa party. The dance event, which has been packing them in for five-plus years, may soon offer up an international dance night, with different styles like reggaeton and African music.
   
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Although punk is not the usual offering at Fellini’s #9, you can catch a very good band, The Screaming Infidels, one Wednesday night a month there.
   
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New local CDs released recently include The Graboids’ (www.myspace.com/graboids) Infinite Delay. The band, made up of brothers Matthew and Stuart Watson, has released a disc of often sublime ambient sounds mixed with more rocked up noisescapes.

Folk music’s buried treasure, Vashti Bunyan, dusts off the cobwebs and comes to Charlottesville to play songs from two records released more than 35 years apart.

And online, Jay Pun and Morwenna Lasko have some new and reworked tunes ready for download on their myspace page, www.myspace.com/morwennajay.

Posted In:     Arts

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