In Friday’s What to Watch Preview I noted that Virginia’s last two outcomes were more a product of Virginia’s performance and less about the opponent. And for the second week in a row, Virginia played their “A” game in a 42-23 rout of Boise State that wasn’t as close as the score indicates. Virginia was dominant in all facets of the game, out-gaining Boise State 440-283 with a ridiculous 167-30 differential running the football. The win was by far the best performance by the Virginia Cavaliers in Bronco Mendenhall’s two years in Charlottesville. Whether or not it’s a springboard to more success as the season unfolds is yet to be seen, but for this team to put together complete efforts in back to back weeks is surely a welcome sight and a sign that things are looking up.
- Spy the QB - After the Broncos’ first drive, it appeared to be a case of “be careful what you wish for” as Brett Rypien got the start over Montell Cozart. Rypien was surgical in leading Boise State on a seven-play, eighty-yard touchdown drive. But after that, the Hoos’ defense took control. By bottling up the Broncos’ running game and forcing Rypien to drop back, the Hoos made the Broncos offense one-dimensional. Add to that the defensive pressure that kept the Broncos quarterback running for his life all day, and Virginia was able run away from the hosts mid-way through the third quarter. On the day, the junior was 24-42 for 285 yards with no touchdowns, a far cry from the 321 yards and 3 touchdowns he put up against Virginia two seasons ago. As far as Cozart was concerned, by the time he entered the game late in the fourth quarter, the Hoos were ahead 42-14 and any change of pace Cozart could bring was already rendered moot. On the night, he ran the ball five times for only 20 yards and was sacked twice. He did throw a touchdown, but overall was just as frustrated as Rypien.
- Ride the hot hand - In the box score, this night belonged to the connection between Kurt Benkert and Andre Levrone who lit up the Broncos defense for 141 yards through the air. And the running game was controlled by Jordan Ellis who racked up 93 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. But once again, the big play ability of Olamide Zaccheaus proved critical in the game. He only caught four passes for 29 yards, and only carried the football twice, but it was his second carry of the game, a 56 yard scamper for a touchdown that broke the Broncos’ will. The touchdown run off the left side of the line staked Virginia to a 35-14 lead with six and half minutes to go in the third quarter and sent numerous Boise State fans to the parking lot. It proved that no matter the game plan or game script, Zaccheaus is a big play waiting to happen, and the coaching staff should look for every opportunity to get him the ball.
- Convert scoring chances - While Zaccheaus’s 56-yard score and Levrone’s 64-yard touchdown reception will dominate the highlight reels, it was Virginia’s ability to sustain drives and finish with touchdowns that was critical to this victory. Three of Virginia’s touchdowns came off drives that started in their own territory and took at least seven plays. That sustained offensive production kept the defense fresh, and coupled with three big plays for scores ensured the momentum was on the Virginia sideline all night long.
The Hoos get a bye week and are back in action on October 7th when they host Duke on Bicentennial Weekend. Meanwhile, this win is one to savor and puts the Hoos 3-1 on the year and looking for more.