After enduring heartbreak last week, the Virginia Cavaliers ensured it wouldn’t happen again Saturday, though not without drama. It was a tale of three games as Virginia jumped out to a 28-0 lead only to see the Chippewas tie it at 28 all. However the good guys finished strong, scoring three touchdowns in the game’s final 10 minutes on their way to a 49-35 win. Unlike last week, the offense was able to respond and pick up the defense when the game got tied. It was an impressive performance all the way around defeating a Central Michigan team coming in 3-0.
In case you missed it, here is what we were looking for going into the week, and here is how it played out...From the Upper Deck.
- Well, hello there Mr. Brown - While it won’t show up as a monster game in the box score, Andrew Brown made good on his breakout last week. The third-year only notched two tackles on the game, but one of those was a sack for a seven yard loss very early in the game, and his presence was one that the Chippewa offensive line made sure was accounted for all game long. After his first quarter sack, Brown saw double teams for much of the game limiting his statistical output, but opening up lanes for his teammates to get to Central Michigan’s quarterback Cooper Rush early and often.
- Stay in control with the penalties - Four penalties for 41 yards. That was all the Hoos were whistled for on this Saturday afternoon. After last weekends’s flag fest, it was a welcome change and one that echoed Bronco Mendenhall’s sentiment that some flags are a good thing. Two of the penalties were unsportsmanlike conduct calls, which while not ideal did signify the team was playing with an edge. This was no more evident than in the pass rush. The Virginia defense made Cooper Rush uncomfortable for the bulk of the day, and while they only registered three sacks on the afternoon, the Hoos did get a few hits on the Chippewas quarterback as he released the ball, perfectly skirting the the line of a clean versus a late hit on Saturday. Additionally, the timing of the penalties was much better than last week as none was a drive killer for the offense or a drive extender for the Chippewas.
- Manage third down - Despite faltering somewhat during an offensive lull that allowed Central Michigan back into the game, the Hoos were significantly better on first and second down this game. That change led to much more manageable third down situations which allowed the Hoos to convert five of eleven third down tries. Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert, on his way to a school record 421 passing yards, recognized in his post-game remarks that this had been an emphasis. ‘‘We knew that it was important to move the ball. We had to worry about first downs first, trying to set ourselves up for good third-down situations.’’ In fact, on the day, Virginia only faced one third down longer than third and ten. In all it was a banner for a Virginia offense that seems to be coming into its own at the end of non-conference play.
The win was a major step for a team looking to find itself. While they are still only 1-3, they’ve looked better every single week, and that’s a good sign as they open conference play next week. The Hoos travel to Durham where they’ll take on a Blue Devils team coming off a 38-35 upset win over Notre Dame. It will be a key early season ACC test and a chance to get a win against an opponent Virginia has not had a lot of success against in the last several years. Stay with Streaking the Lawn all week as we get you ready for the start of ACC play