The Virginia Cavaliers currently sit at 5-3 (3-2) heading into the final third of the season. After what you have seen this team do in some games and what you have seen them do in other games, has this season been a disappointment?
Paul Wiley: Not yet—but it has all the makings to be. Through two-thirds of its schedule, Virginia has won (almost) two-thirds of its games. Historically speaking, that’s well above pace for a UVA squad. Carry that through the end of the year and we’re talking about an 8-win season. While I’m sitting on a bitter taste right now after a 1-3 stretch, the Louisville game represented the end of the most difficult four-game chunk of the Hoos’ schedule: Bill Connelly’s season preview said UVA should have gone about 2-2 at Notre Dame, at Miami, home against Duke, and at Louisville; they fell a game short of that. (But were already a game “ahead” thanks to starting 4-0 against a projected 3-1.)
What has me worried is the razor-thin margin of error this offense creates. Because so many players in this system are being asked to do things they aren’t suited to, everything turns into a clusterfudge real quick. Of the four remaining games, there are two where Virginia should have a clear edge in talent, and the scales should be about level against Carolina. Which leaves the last game of the year. What looked like a raging clusterfudge of a season for VaTech has turned respectable after wild wins over Miami and UNC. Yes, That Game is in Charlottesville this year, but the talent advantage still resides in Blacksburg. Unless Anae and the offensive staff realize what’s plain to the rest of us, I don’t have a bit of confidence that Virginia will snap the streak. And that will make the season a disappointment.
Paul Guttman: I picked 9-3 before the season. So, if they win out, I’m happy. If they lose to UNC, which seems likely right now, then I’m disappointed. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the end goal is wins. For the greater question of how the team has performed, I’d say yes the season has been disappointing. The team has seemingly regressed as the season has progressed. At the very least, they have not improved while other teams have. Far too often, Virginia isn’t playing up to their ability. This is especially true on the road. At times, they seem unstoppable. And at times, they seem...whatever the opposite of unstoppable is. That inconsistency is disappointing, especially in year 4 for this coaching staff.
Jay Pierce: I do still think 8-4 would be a successful run (and could even win the coastal for the Hoos if things fall correctly). However, like Paul said, this 1-3 stretch has made 8-4 seem less and less likely. Still, you hope that they can handle GT and Liberty and get to at least 7-5...but if that includes losses to UNC and VT, would I be disappointed? For sure. Honestly 8-4 with a win over Tech would still be disappointing because it would mean a loss the weekend a (probably) not winning the division. Would I have taken it preseason? Absolutely. But if would represent yet another colossal missed opportunity in a long list of missed opportunities. The Coastal could not be more open for UVa to claim this season...and the offensive woes might keep them from doing so. If that happens, I’ll be disappointed, no matter what results come with it. If they win Saturday night though...
Ryan Reese: When looking at ACC Over/Under win totals at the beginning of the season I had the Hoos at 7 wins entering the finale against VaTech. And...they’re right on that pace. The most disappointing aspect of the season though is that in their three losses, they were only outplayed in maybe the second half of the Notre Dame game? But given they still have a chance at the Coastal Division title, I’m not ready to call this season a disappointment. Finally, going back to expectations at the beginnings season, I think we were all in agreement that outside of being in the College Football Playoff race, there weren’t any outcomes we’d trade for a win over the Hokies. That remains in play, and should Virginia finish 6-6 with a win on Thanksgiving weekend, I’d call this season a win.
Will Campbell: Sure, we would have all taken an 8-4 season heading into the year, and they have a realistic chance of going 3-1 down the stretch to get there. However, after they were sitting at 4-0, and even after getting to 4-1 after the Notre Dame game, I do think it’s possible to be disappointed with the season even as it stands now. As Ryan says above, they’ve really only been outplayed in one game, yet they have three losses. Injuries have certainly taken a toll and losing your NFL CB probably hurts more than we can imagine, but the offense is truly where the problem is. Bill Connelly’s SP+ metric says UVa’s offense is the 96th most efficient in the country. If they were even slightly more efficient, like in the 60s, they’d probably be 6-2 or 7-1 right now.
Even after saying all that, I was thinking the other day, even if they are a disappointment at 5-3, they don’t even have to win the Coastal for me to think of this season as a success. All the have to do is go 7-5 or 8-4 and end the streak. Just end the streak for all of us and it will be forgiven.