Paring the paranoia

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Heidi Murkoff — author of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" — has appeared on The New York Time’s Bestsellers list every week for nearly two decades. She was even named of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

Murkoff's book catapulted her to worldwide fame, but it also created controversy about what some saw as a paranoid tone on pregnancy. The manual earned nicknames such as “What to Freak Out About When You Are Expecting” or “What to Expect if You Want to Develop an Eating Disorder”.

After last Saturday’s debacle against North Carolina, I think Murkoff would be well equipped to write another edition of her book, titled "What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Virginia Football." Like Murkoff's original, this iteration could serve to fuel paranoia among the Virginia fanbase through a hyper-fixation on the negative.

Last weekend, Virginia honored its decade-long tradition of snatching defeat from the clutches of victory on homecoming weekend as the Cavaliers lost in confounding fashion.

Yes, it is incredibly easy to become paranoid about how the Cavaliers will finish the season against formidable foes such as FSU and Georgia Tech. Yes, we are all worried the Cavaliers will end their season the same as they have in each of the last 10 years, with a loss against the hated Hokies.

It is easy to fall into the cynicism, into the same sense of mounting disappointment which has plagued the football program for as long as we can remember. However, it is incredibly important to remember that Virginia went 2–10 last year, lowlighted by a nine-game losing streak. Few programs can rebound from such a dreadful showing.

The real question we must ask ourselves before falling into the pit of paranoia is, “Are the Cavaliers playing bad football?”

The answer is decidedly, “No.”

Virginia is the fifth-ranked offense in the ACC in terms of total yards. Last year, the Cavaliers finished 13th out of 14 teams in that category. Throughout the season, even with changes at the quarterback position, the team has improved its overall offensive efficiency, and players converted 50 percent of their third-down attempts in the last four games, compared to just more than 40 percent in the first four games.

Across the board, the Cavaliers outplayed the Tar Heels at their Homecomings matchup this weekend.

For 55 minutes Saturday, the Cavaliers were the best team on the field. They landed on the unfortunate end of a gutsy gamble by UNC coach Larry Fedora. Virginia is playing the right way and doing the right things. Mistakes happen in sports, but it's unfair to evaluate this team’s performance solely on the outcome.

The wins for the program will come. Virginia continues to play solid football — albeit with the occasional boneheadedness — and continues to recruit remarkably well.

The Cavaliers are in a position similar to one the Miami Hurricanes were in the early 1980s, a young team built on high quality in-state recruiting. The Hurricanes of that time were defined by their hard-hitting defense and constant flow of top defensive recruits, much like Virginia in the last two seasons.

It took the Hurricanes five years to build that team into a national powerhouse. If Virginia can continue to recruit the 757 area the way that it has in recent years, and the young defensive core can continue to improve, there is no question the Cavaliers will transform into a top tier program in the very near future.

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