The Cavaliers suffered a deflating loss this past weekend at the hands of Florida State in head coach Mike London's ACC debut. The Seminoles took care of business, getting the win 34-14 after jumping out to a 27-0 halftime lead. Virginia was sacked six times for a loss of 27 yards in the first game that left fans wondering, "What next?"
Despite entering the game with a 2-1 record, Virginia fans were flying high, easily handling FCS teams Richmond and VMI, and by all accounts in a coin flip contest at USC. However, things quickly got out of hand in the first half for the Cavaliers.
Virginia's 27-point halftime deficit against the Seminoles marked its largest at home since 2001, when the Cavaliers trailed Virginia Tech, 31-0, at the half. In fact, Florida State scored more points in the first half alone than the Hoos have given up against any opponent all season. Virginia was seventh in the nation going into the game in scoring defense (first in the ACC), allowing 12.33 points per game.
Virginia was outgained by the Seminoles 428-304 total yards. The story behind the numbers, however, is that of the 304 total yards, 279 of them were passing yards. The previously well-balanced team was only able to put together 25 rushing yards, the fewest rushing yards a UVa team has put together since a minus-3 production against Wyoming in 2007.
"I'm disappointed for our players," London said after the game. "I'm disappointed for the fans. That wasn't the type of effort that is indicative to the type of team that I think we have here."
In terms of what I noticed from this team that seemed out of the ordinary, here are a couple quick hits:
- Virginia has returned to Al-Groh-form in terms of missed tackles. Players were simply not reaching their man, and when they do, they weren't pulling them down. This was a noticeable improvement from this team during the first three games, but there was a major regression on Saturday on this front.
- It is unclear to me why London and company kept dialing up the rushing plays in the second half. Six sacks notwithstanding, it became very apparent in the first half and abundantly obvious in the second that running the ball was not going to be the answer to a physical, fast Florida State defense.
- Without much doubt, Ross Metheny is the Number 2 quarterback for the 'Hoos now. He went 7-for-9 and 68 yards on Saturday, including a touchdown pass to Colter Phillips and no interceptions. Verica went 14-for-30 with a TD pass, but two interceptions, including one deep in FSU territory. So the question is, How many more performances like the one on Saturday will it take before Metheny is seriously considered for the starting nod?
The Cavaliers take on Georgia Tech and the Al Groh defense next week on the road. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN U.