Watford's Career Game Not Enough

Joe Robbins

On homecoming, the Hoos faced off against the triple-option offense of Georgia Tech. The Jackets were sloppy, turning it over 5 times and committing nearly 100 yards in penalties. But the Virginia defense couldn't stop the Jackets when they needed and David Watford's record setting game wasn't enough.

With a QB controversy brewing, David Watford and Steve Fairchild conspired to end the discussion by ensuring that Watford would have a career day throwing the ball. Watford set UVA records in both pass attempts and completions, throwing 61 passes, and completing 43 of them, for 376 yards. It was the 4th highest passing game in Virginia history.

Still, Watford's 6.2 yards per attempt is rather pedestrian and would rank right around 100th in the nation on the season. Then again, it's a lot better than Watford's 5.3 ypa coming into the game. (The 70% completion rate would rank in the top 10 nationally.) And continuing a season-long trend, there were a number of drops throughout the game that could've make Watford's numbers even better.

Against a team that is very good at stopping the run, perhaps passing twice as much as running was the only way we could beat them. And considering that despite all the throwing, we still couldn't pick up one lousy yard on the final play of the first half to get into the endzone. On the game, discounting Watford 3 sacks, the Hoos rushed for just 98 yards on 28 carries (3.5 ypc).

Let's take a quick look back at that one lousy yard we couldn't pick up. The Hoos drove down the field 57 yards in about 75 seconds, all with the pass. Then, getting to the 2 yard line with about 15 seconds left, they ran up the middle. No misdirection, nothing fancy, just Parks up the middle. Something we've seen a million times this season, and it's almost never worked. The interior of our OL simply isn't good enough for this play to work. And yet we keep trying. Parks was stopped with roughly 12 seconds left, and the Hoos inexplicably allowed 6 more seconds to come off the clock before calling TO. That is simply inexcusable. It is on Mike London, but it is also on David Watford. The QB's job, once he hands the ball off there is to turn to the umpire and signal the TO.

So, with 6 seconds left, down 14-10, the Hoos faced 2nd and goal from the 1. Most coaches would play it safe and kick the FG. Going into halftime down 1 isn't too bad. The aggressive play is to go for it. For a team desperate for a win, this is the correct call. But, another inside run? Really. A play that we've proven time and time again that we can't succeed on? A play that goes straight into the strength of the GT defense? I ask again, where is the QB draw? Or a QB sweep? Or a read option? On a day when Watford threw 61 passes, perhaps the key play of the day was a run for no gain. This was a terrible play call, in a season filled with terrible play calls, by Steve Fairchild. The stop ended the half with the Hoos unable to put any points on the board.

The Yellow Jackets turned the ball over 5 times. The Hoos turned it over once, and that was somewhat inconsequential, coming on the Hoos final desperation drive. It is difficult to turn the ball over 5 times and still win. But when the Jackets didn't turn it over, they scored. Easily, more often than not. They punted just twice. While some credit must be given to the Virginia defense for coming up with the 5 TOs, most of them were unforced. And how much credit can you really give a defense that gives up 507 yards including nearly 400 on the ground.

The Yellow Jackets were also penalized 9 times for 97 yards. The Hoos? Just 5 penalties for 45 yards. The Hoos were within 3 late in the 4th quarter, but a cleaner game by the Jackets would've seen them win by 30.

So, the losing streak is now at 5. And with the #9 team in the nation coming into Charlottesville next week. David Watford's career day may quiet the QB discussion for a while, but Mike London's seat just gets hotter and hotter.

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