The Virginia Cavaliers took care of business Saturday against the VMI Keydets. In front of a crowd of 43,592 in record-tying heat, the Hoos dispatched VMI 48-7.Three Cavaliers threw for five touchdown passes, with redshirt freshman Ross Metheny and true freshman Michael Rocco getting their first college snaps. After a slow start, it became clear that the Cavaliers were not going to botch this "meaningless" game, the second FCS opponent of the season.
Both teams scored on their first possession, which gave some level of concern for fans, who have visions of William & Mary still dancing in their nightmares. After giving up 127 total yards in the first quarter, the Cavaliers tightened up, allowing only 20 yards in the second, 20 in the third, and finally 12 in the fourth. Virginia outgained VMI 466-179, with 341 yards coming in the air and 125 on the ground.
"[After the first quarter,] we just came to life a little bit and did the things I thought we needed to do to win this game," head coach Mike London said after the game. "We will celebrate this for a little, but it is always short-lived because the next opponent is a very good team. We'll be here in Charlottesville playing again. We are looking forward to the challenge."
The 341 passing yards is the most Virginia has put up since tallying 358 yards against Virginia Tech in 2003.
Three separate UVa quarterbacks threw touchdowns in the same game for the first time since at least 1950, the earliest for which records are available. When asked why he burned Rocco’s redshirt in the fourth quarter, London replied that, because we still have not yet established a No. 2 quarterback, he felt he needed to get experience under both Metheny’s and Rocco’s belt, in case Verica goes down during ACC play.
A total of twelve Cavaliers saw their first college game action Saturday afternoon, but Rocco’s was the only redshirt that was burned.
Plenty of players had big games, including Raynard Horne, who had an 87-yard kickoff return for the a touchdown, the first for Virginia since Marquis Weeks against North Carolina in 2004 ("That was just instinct. Kind of like running from the cops.") and the 12th longest return in UVa history. Chase Minnifield came down to two great interceptions, his second and third of the season. Dontrelle Inman had two touchdown passes in the lopsided victory.
"People who watch us see that there's something different about this team, something different about the way these guys like to play, about how they feel about themselves," London said.
"This next game is a big game for us in that we have gone from playing Richmond to going out to USC, a very good team, to playing VMI - credit to them for fighting and giving a good effort. Now back to the ACC schedule and a team like Florida State and the caliber team that they are; we will find out which team we are and we are all looking forward to that challenge and answering that question."
By the way, the last time Virginia put up 31 points in the first half? It was in 2007 against Miami in the final game of the Orange Bowl. The ‘Hoos went on to destroy Miami, 48-0.
Kickoff against Florida State is set for noon, and the Virginia athletics department has declared the game a white-out game. It will be aired on the ACC Network (formerly Raycom Sports).