I might have to start every review this way...EVERYONE RELAX. Virginia just lost on the road to a top 10 team in Notre Dame. I hope everybody saw that the Cavaliers are so close to breaking through and being a football program that’s sustainable and no longer on the rise, instead becoming a program that is at the top with the best teams in the country.
The obvious feeling is wanting to scream (and I’m with you on that), but let’s look at, as always, how we turn negatives into a positive.
MVP(s): WR’s / ST
Hasise Dubois - Hasise has been a steady receiver that seems to always be open and never drops a pass. On Saturday, he was everywhere and once again seemed to always be open and never drop a pass. Dubois posted a stat line of nine receptions, 143 yards, and one unbelievable TD catch that gave Virginia the lead heading into the half.
And he wasn’t alone on the wings.
Joe Reed - Joe has a touchdown in four straight games and has undoubtedly been the number one receiver thus far. Saturday afternoon he had a career-high nine receptions to go with 107 yards and a touchdown. He will be playing on Sundays (which Mike Tirico even said during the broadcast).
Special Teams - Brian Delaney had arguably the play of the game with the onside kick to open the second half. In addition to that, he nailed two field goals and has been consistent this season. Nash Griffin had his best punt of the year pinning Notre Dame at their 2-yard line and perfected the rugby style punt causing a muff that Virginia recovered.
Bryce Perkins in the pass game was a beautiful bright spot. He made a lot of impressive reads and throws, finishing 30-for-43 with 334 yards and two touchdowns. The Cavalier defense overall played really well, led by Joey Blount’s nine tackles. For most of the afternoon, Virginia kept Notre Dame QB Ian Book in check (17-for-25, 165 yards, no touchdowns) and, until the last half of the 4th quarter, their whole offense in check.
Running the ball is a problem for Virginia. We have good backs and a great scrambling QB, but we just can’t seem to find a way to make it work. Which leads me to my next point. The Offensive Line has been a question mark all season, but until Saturday, we could win games with how they played. They never give up on plays — which I love — but Saturday was a rough outing.
Notre Dame’s defense got to Perkins to the tune of eight sacks and five hurries, which certainly did not help our chances. On top of the sacks and hurries, Perkins lost three fumbles and threw two interceptions, almost all of which were caused by pressure on the QB (especially coming off the right side of the line, Perkins’s blindside). Tackling has to be better as well, but I have faith in my guys that they will make the adjustments.
Training camp made it hard for me to get this out first thing in the morning, but I’m actually glad that it worked out this way. Now I’m the last voice of reason! Virginia is 4-1, ranked No. 23, and better than they have been in over a decade. We had chances to win the game or pull away, and we let them slip. That should give hope to doubters because we are so close. That was a BIG TIME game for the University, and I think we held our own. Hoos forever.