Five interceptions. The last time the Cavaliers threw this many interceptions was on November 14, 1981, against North Carolina, who won 17-14 that day. The Tar Heels would not win another game in Scott Stadium until this past Saturday night, when senior quarterbacks Marc Verica threw three interceptions – one returned for a touchdown – and backup quarterbacks Ross Metheny (R. Fr.) and Michael Rocco (Fr.) each tacked on one red zone interception of their own. With the 44-10 loss, Virginia falls to 2-4 on the season.
This is my first time saying this in many seasons, but the Virginia defense is struggling. The defense that was perhaps the star of the Al Groh era gave up 479 yards on Saturday night, following a performance that gave up 536 yards against Florida State the week prior. The Cavaliers nationally rank 77th in total defense and 100th in rushing defense
There has been "no lack of effort ... no lack of desire," defensive coordinator Jim Reid said Saturday night. There has, however, been countless missed tackles and blown assignments.
But that’s not the only problem. While Marc Verica moves into 10th in all-time passing at UVa, with 139 yards on Saturday, his decision-making ability leaves a lot to be desired. And perhaps of equal concern is that neither Metheny nor Rocco have separated himself as a viable backup – or even potential starting – option.
When asked whether Verica would get the start next week against Eastern Michigan, head coach Mike London confirmed that they are still treating Verica as the starting QB. Whether it’s because there is faith in Verica or because Metheny and Rocco just aren’t ready for their starting debut is unclear.
"It wasn't like anyone came in and did anything outstanding over the other," London said, after assessing the performance of Metheny and Rocco.
"We're going to bounce back. There's not much else you can say," running back Keith Payne said. Payne picked up his eighth rushing touchdown of the season with Virginia’s only trip into the endzone.
The Cavaliers hope to do just that this Saturday against Eastern Michigan. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.