On a day when 32 fourth- and fifth-year seniors were honored at the last home game of their careers, the Cavaliers orchestrated an epic fourth quarter collapse that gave Maryland their first win over Virginia, 42-23, in four years. Heading into the fourth quarter, it was a back-and-forth game between the two squads, with the Cavaliers edging out the Terrapins 23-21, until two Marc Verica interceptions late in the fourth – one at Virginia’s 36 and one at Virginia’s 44 – all but sealed the deal.
For the third time this season, Virginia was crushed by penalties, getting the yellow flag 16 times for a total of 145 yards. For those of you keeping score at home, we had more yards penalized than yards rushing (92).
"I'm in charge of the whole team," Head Coach Mike London said after the game. "So I'm the one that's got to make sure we reduce the amount of penalties by what's being taught and by what's being understood by the guys playing."
Junior wide receiver Kris Burd was equally disappointed.
"It is unacceptable. Penalties drain the energy of the team, and we will definitely have to address that this week."
Take that for what it’s worth – Virginia presumably tried to address that this past week, after committing 11 penalties for 103 yards against Duke just the week prior.
It’s unclear to me what happened between the Miami and Duke game that caused such a drastic change in Virginia’s defense. Following the upset at Miami, Virginia was second in the conference in pass defense, allowing only 178.38 yards per game. Virginia now ranks sixth in the conference after giving up 259 at Duke and 289 to Maryland.
One positive takeaway is Virginia’s willingness – and success – in throwing in trick plays. Whether it’s the reverse kickoff return or the many fake punts or field goals Virginia’s attempted this year, most have been successful in causing eventual scoring drives. (Note that this excludes the robbed attempt against Southern Cal., for which the Pac 10 officials were reprimanded following the game.)
Virginia travels to Boston College on Saturday to try to get their fifth win of the season, their second in the ACC. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 noon, and the game will be televised on ESPNU. The Cavaliers have not won a game in November in eleven tries, dating back to the 48-0 shutout of Miami in 2007.