Well that didn't exactly go as scripted. The Tribe gave the Hoos all they could handle early. Enough to put a scare into both the team and the fans in Scott Stadium. However, after as exciting a couple plays as Virginia has produced in quite a while, it looked like the Cavaliers might cruise. The Tribe kept it close though, and made it come down to the very end. Here is how the three keys to the game played out on Saturday.
1) Be the better team - While it wasn't seven turnovers, Virginia once again lost the turnover battle to William and Mary 2-0, and while it wasn't a factor in the game, it is disconcerting that the Hoos are turning the ball over more than they are taking it away. What is more troubling is the fact that Virginia continues to be outclassed in the coaching department year after year. Stop me if you have heard this before but the Hoos gave up an onside kick to start the second half in what could have been totally prevented with a bit better preparation. As far as being able to line up and punch the Tribe in the mouth; the Tribe out-gained the Hoos on the ground, had more first downs, and held the ball for almost ten more minutes. All in all not the dominating performance the Hoos should expect against an FCS opponent.
2) Avoid big plays - Three games in the books, three games giving up at least one TD pass over 35 yards. This time the Tribe struck early with scores of 41 and 37 yards to put the Hoos in a 14-7 hole. In what has become a disturbing trend, other team's big play ability will guarantee that a game is never over and a victory never sure. In what will be very well documented this week, the blitz is the culpret. The pressure just isn't there, and in the end the defensive backs are hung out to dry.
3) Keep the foot on the gas - This wasn't exactly the show of offensive firepower to be expected after last week. Sure, Matt Johns got his, throwing for 263 yards, but 80 of that came on a single play to Taquan Mizzell. Canaan Severin enjoyed another nice afternoon grabbing three balls for 53 yards. After the performance they put on last week, you would have expected the Hoos to keep firing. Unfortunately, they went back to a conservative plan which bodes ill for things to come.
All in all, it's a win. Nothing pretty, but it beats the alternative. See you next week as we look at how the Hoos will fare against the Boise State Broncos