The Hoos picked up their second win of the season in Nashville against Ohio and did so in a relatively convincing fashion. They blitzed the Bobcats with touchdowns on the first play of three of their first four drives and never let their lead drop to under ten points thereafter. Still, there were some concerning moments when Ohio made a number of big plays to keep the game within reach. Lets take a look at some of the highs and lows:
What Went Well
Bryce Perkins’ Arm
After the first couple of games in Perkins’ UVA career, some fan (and bloggers) were concerned about his ability as a passer and the need to establish more of a vertical threat to the offense. Perkins responded to a soggy Indiana performance by completing 25 of 30 passes for 379 yards, three scores, and zero INTs. While a pair of those scores are inflated by Olamide’s breakaway speed, Perkins’ success wasn’t limited to those big plays and his steady performance was a large part of the Hoos going 7-for-11 on third down conversions. While Perkins hasn’t quite found the fly route success that Benkert had last season, this game should assuage some concerns of his ability to deliver throws in important moments.
Jordan Freakin Ellis
It’s looking like Ellis has a weekly feature for the What Went Wells, which would be great news for the Hoos this season. In a bit of an adjustment from the IU game, Ellis had 19 carries against Ohio (seven more than against the Hoosiers) and turned that into 171 yards and three first half touchdowns. He also had arguably the most important play of the game: following Ohio’s first score, Jordan Ellis took his first handoff 75 yards for a score—a response that would keep Virginia’s lead in the double digits for the rest of the game. The offensive line deserves plenty of credit as well, but Saturday Ellis looked very much like powerful and reliable performer that he did in the season opener.
Llama Day’s 247 receiving yards Saturday broke UVA’s single game record and earned him ACC Receiver of the Week honors. Zaccheaus showed his exceptional elusiveness and breakaway speed on two long touchdown catches and really set the tone for UVA being the more talented team this weekend. I’m excited to see if he can continue his big play stretch against the more talented rosters in the ACC (well, some of the rosters are more talented, at least)—but I think fans should expected to see more huge scores from OZ throughout the year.
What Didn’t Went Well
Booooo fumbles. Fumbles are the worst. The Hoos had three fumbles in the game and while one of those was from a linemen on a fumble return, there’s no real room for error for this team and their goals of bowl eligibility and competing in the ACC. Yes, on a micro level, a freshman punt returner fumbling trying to make a play on the ball is an understandable mistake, and a defensive linemen isn’t really supposed to be trusted with running the ball into the end zone, but giving the ball away three times is too many against any team in any situation. While UVA ended up winning the game, it needs to take advantage of big leads (and convert on fumble recoveries when it forces them upon other teams).
Giving up big pass plays
Virginia clearly was focused on stopping Ohio’s running attack, and did so with some relative success, but the Bobcats came back from a big deficit to cut the lead to two scores behind some efficient and long passes towards the end of the second quarter. I could have titled this section “Letting Ohio Back in the Game” or “Giving Up a Surprise Onside Kick” but neither were nearly as concerning to me as the secondary’s performance. While this was easily a combination that included a less-than-stellar pass rush and Ohio wideouts making great plays against acceptable coverage, the UVA secondary was supposed to be the strength of the team this year. So far, they’re not quite living up to the billing. A team’s best unit shouldn’t be the reason a potential blowout turns into a more competitive game.