Virginia lost a tough one Saturday, falling at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes 27-21. Matt Johns played well going 29-42 for 280 yards with only one interception. Canaan Severin led the Hoos receiving game with five catches for 70 yards, and placekicker Ian Frye was spectacular going 4-4 on field goals including kicks of 47 and 48 yards. However, when your placekicker has that many chances it's often times due to ineffectiveness in the red zone. That was the case for Virginia on Saturday as questionable play calling and a tough pass interference call ultimately doomed the Hoos to settle for three when they got it down close. Unfortunately that isn't a recipe for success while playing on the road.
In case you missed it, here were the three keys to game laid out in Friday's preview. Let's see how they played out in Saturday's game.
Hold on to the football - Had Virginia ended up coming out victorious, this would have been the biggest reason why. Coming into the game, the Hurricanes led the ACC in turnover margin at +10. After the game that ratio is exactly the same as the Hoos and Hurricanes traded interceptions, but Virginia actually came out ahead winning the points off turnovers battle 3-0. Matt Johns was smart with the football and his lone pick came on a well defended throw that was knocked out of the arms of Canaan Severin and deflected into the hands of a diving Miami defender. The defense buckled down and forced a field goal attempt that was ultimately missed. As we stated on Friday, the Miami defense gives up a lot of yards, but makes up for it with takeaways. By holding onto the football, Virginia made Miami's offense work to sustain long drive drives which ultimately kept the Miami scoring chances low.
Run, Run, and Run Some More - While Virginia only ran for 127 yards, the stable of runnings backs was the key to Virginia's offense. The Virginia backs combined to gain a total of 245 yards from scrimmage led by Taquan Mizzell with 131 (91 rushing, 40 receiving). It was clear from the get go that Virginia thought they could have success with passes out in the flat and a couple yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Mizzell added eight catches to his team lead in receptions for the year, while Daniel Hamm and Olamide Zaccheaus caught four balls apiece. For the fourth week in row the Virginia running game led the way, just not in the traditional sense.
Continue to Play with Passion - Virginia was in an interesting position facing a Hurricanes team also feeding off energy and emotion to finish the season. After their last two games, it's clear that Al Golden just wasn' the right fit to coach Miami. The Hurricanes have played much better in their two games under interim coach Larry Scott. In all, while the Hoos continued to fight, the overall talent of Miami was too much to overcome. Brad Kaaya played like the All-ACC talent he is picking the Hoos secondary apart going 20-26 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. While it's no consolation to Wahoo fans desperate for football success, this team plays hard and hasn't quit.
There is no margin for error if Virginia hopes to make a bowl game. With three games remaining, the Hoos need all three. It starts next Saturday when Virginia travels to Louisville.