Okay folks, Saturday’s win for the Virginia Cavaliers might have just changed the landscape of UVA football. Has your perception of the team/staff/program changed via that result? Is this the turnaround win everyone’s been hoping for? Or is this a one hit wonder?
The biggest takeaway regarding Saturday’s win remains the fact that the UVA program and community was finally able to celebrate something. Tony Elliott explained it best: no program deserved this win more but it’s not about who deserves it, it’s who earns it. And for the first time since the tragedy, they asserted themselves, won in a rivalry game on the road, and EARNED the win.
When we’re eventually looking at this in the long-term, we have to stay balanced. One performance can’t possibly override an entire two seasons of work. However, I said that Tony Elliott needed to show signs of improvement by the end of 2023 and this win indicates that he has that capability.
I feel like a lot of the fanbase will be able to evaluate him more fairly now too. The rest of the season is crucial. Bowl eligibility is a still pipe dream but if UVA beats Tech and wins an additional 1-2 games, then it’s a vastly successful second half of the season.
The Virginia football program had felt snake-bitten all season long, especially following an 0-5 start. When a Power 5 program can’t win any of its first five games, finger-pointing is irresistible. However, following a two-game win streak including a statement victory over a very good North Carolina team and program, it’s a little bit easier to see the silver lining.
Make no mistake: 2-5 remains an ugly record for the Cavaliers at this point in the season. However, the Cavaliers probably beat JMU if the game isn’t stopped for a rain delay with UVA absolutely rolling in the second half, and very well could have also defeated both NC State and Boston College. Against the Wolfpack, the Cavaliers committed three unnecessary personal fouls in the final minute of the game, painfully destroying their chances at a comeback victory. Against Boston College, 11 penalties for 90 yards and some very poor fourth down decision making once again limited the ’Hoos in a tight one-score defeat. Those three losses came by a combined seven points.
Taking away positives from those games — the general competence of the Tony Muskett offense, a capable defense, and a bona fide star in Malik Washington — is much, much easier following the first road win over a top 10 team in program history. The weeks to come might still get ugly; this program certainly hasn’t yet earned the benefit of the doubt. But the UNC win was a necessary first step towards rebuilding faith in the team and program, and boy did it feel good.
I don’t think this is a one hit wonder. I don’t think UVA is suddenly a new team, but as Ben alluded to I think this result confirms that all these close losses have been them knocking on the door and just not putting together complete performances. Put it another way, the talent and ability is there for the players and the staff to win football games against good teams.
Consistency is the key. This was the most complete game of Elliott’s tenure thus far. If the ‘Hoos can compete with Miami, keep it close with Louisville and Duke, maybe steal a win from one of those three, and then beat Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, then we’re talking about a program on the way back up. That’s a ton of ifs. That’s also the result of an 0-5 start and an overall pretty difficult schedule.
Now a 4-8 finish doesn’t feel disastrous, 5-7 feels like a success, 6-6 a coup. 4-8 is not amazing and not where Virginia wants to be on a year to year basis. That would be a sign of improvement, though. Sentimentally as well this is just such a relief for everyone involved. Based on vibes alone that makes me think there are more wins to come.
Great win, even if I couldn’t watch it live because I don’t have CW Network. Does it change anything about the rest of this season? No. Why would it? Are they suddenly good because they beat UNC? No. Still bad. Better than they were earlier in the season, but we already knew that. They’re still going to be underdogs in every remaining game. I’m not sure one-hit wonder is the term I would use. We knew they had this in them after a bunch of close losses. Just needed some bounces to go the right direction. They aren’t running the table, but they also should win at least one more.