Despite a big day from the combination of Matt Johns (25-41, 260 yards, 4 TD) and Canaan Severin (8 Rec, 116 Yards, 3 TD), the Hoos once again just couldn't get the job done on the road. The loss is Virginia's seventh on the season and guarantees that they will be home this bowl season for the fourth year in a row and fifth time in Mike London's six seasons. Even with two games remaining, this loss feels like the culmination of another frustrating season. Once again, the Hoos were extremely competitive but faltered at the end. While I can't or won't speculate on what the Administration will do, you get the feeling that Mike London is nearing the end of his time as Coach of the Virginia Cavaliers.
Just as a reminder, here is what we were looking for going into Saturday's game.
Avoid the Avoidable - Eight penalties for 69 yards is not the worst. However, it's the personal fouls, player misconducts, and most importantly the procedure penalties that are the difference between winning and losing. An illegal formation penalty on the onsides kick (recovered by Virginia) cost the Hoos a chance at a comeback. But it wasn't just the penalties. In what was probably the play that swung the game in Louisville's favor, Olamide Zaccheus failed to call fair catch and fumbled a punt giving the Cardinals the ball deep in Virginia territory midway through the fourth quarter. In a tie game, with Virginia set to get the ball back, it was the type of play that costs games.
Win the Turnover Battle - Virginia won the turnover battle 2-1, and it's a darn good thing they did. The Virginia defense couldn't stop Louisville, allowing 425 yards, 266 of which came on the ground. Had the turnovers gone the other way, there is no telling what the score would have been.
Convert in the Red Zone - Winning the turnover battle is one thing, but if you can't convert in the red zone, then all if for naught. That is exactly what happened to the Hoos. While they improved on their TD to Field Goal ratio, it was the one chance they missed that was the difference in the game. Late in the third quarter, trailing 24-17, Virginia's Kwontie Moore forced a Kyle Bolin fumble which gave the Hoos the ball deep in Louisville territory. After an 11 yard run by Taquan Mizell, the Hoos stalled bringing on Ian Frye for a Field Goal. The kick missed wide left leaving Virginia empty handed on the drive. While Louisville only generated the one turnover on the muffed punt, it was their ability to convert their chance that gave them the win.
Virginia returns home for its final two games of the season. Their first test will come against the Duke Blue Devils next Saturday at 3:30 p.m.