I am generally one to see the good in a game, especially with expectations so low after the start to the season, but there’s nothing to take from this week’s 35-14 loss to UNC. For the first time since the Richmond loss, this looked like a team that wasn’t prepared. To only gain 110 yards on the ground and 253 overall to a team yielding 206 and 417 respectively is not a good look. The performance doesn’t bode well for weeks to come and certainly one that is a disappointment at this point in the year. In case you missed it, here is what we were looking for coming into the game, and here is how it played out...From the Upper Deck.
- Get to the Red Zone - The good news is the Hoos were perfect scoring touchdowns in the red zone, upping their season percentage to 83%. The bad news is they only got there two times. Beyond even getting to the red zone, Virginia only got inside the UNC 40 yard line on one other occassion. By all accounts it was a terrible performance by the offense in a game where they should have had a field day.
- Run wild - Virginia actually had successs running the ball early in the game, however a stagnant passing game and inopportune penalties stifled any rhythm Virginia could muster. The Hoos ran it 39 times for 110 yards, a paltry 2.8-per-rush clip. But don’t blame that on Taquan Mizzell. The senior back toted it 19 times for 106 yards and was the only bright spot in the offense. But the game script and play-calling didn’t support the run game. Six three-and-outs, and a team trying to play catch up in the second half, all but made the running game inneffective.
- Don’t let the game get away - By virtue of lackluster performance in the two keys to the game above, Virginia simply let the game get away from them. The first half was tight, highlighted by offensive ineptitude by both teams, but UNC pulled away early in the second half. Coming into the game, it was paramount that Virginia answer whenever North Carolina scored. Here’s a rundown of Virginia’s answers to UNC’s five touchdowns: Punt, missed field goal, fumble, punt, punt. Not exactly the way to keep a game close. And to add to it, when Virginia ‘‘cut’’ the UNC lead to 28-14 early in the fourth quarter, the Tar Heels needed only 2 plays to score and shut the door on the Cavaliers en route to a 35-14 victory.
Virginia is back home next week as they host Louisville. The seventh ranked Cardinals are coming off a 54-13 drubbing of NC State, and if Virginia doesn’t figure some things out this week, that could be exactly what happens again.