Anybody surprised? The Virginia Cavaliers just got knocked out, picked up, knocked out again, picked up again, knocked one more time, and thrown out of the building by the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2023 Commonwealth
Five takeaways from an objectively hilariously horrific beatdown:
Same old Virginia gets smoked by the Hokies
With every passing year the 2019 win over Tech looks more and more like the exception to the inevitable rule rather than the turn of the tide. The Hokies have won 22 of the last 24 meetings, 18 of the last 19, and the current generation of UVA students can only remember one win.
It wasn’t even the loss that was the problem. There was zero, zip, nada that went well for UVA in this game. From the opening kickoff and for the entire 60 minutes the ‘Hoos were utterly and entirely boat raced by Virginia Tech. There’s no shame in losing a close game to a bitter rival. But to hardly even show up? Be better.
It’s uncertain whether or not UVA wanted to win this game
Put aside the on field performance, the way the Virginia coaching staff managed this game was quintessentially absurd.
It started with Virginia refusing to go for it on 4th-and-4 feet from their own 41 in the first quarter which was promptly followed by a 23-yard punt from Daniel Sparks and a 44-yard touchdown reception for the Hokies on a 4th-and-2 just a few plays later.
To open the second half — while down 24-0 and having gained a whopping 74 yards of offense — UVA punted on 4th-and-5 at their own 41. Immediately after the punt, Virginia Tech completed an 84-yard touchdown pass to go up 31.
On the very next Virginia offensive possession, the ‘Hoos actually drove the ball down into the redzone. But on 4th-and-6 from the Hokie seven yard line, UVA wilted and decided to kick a field goal to cut a four touchdown deficit to a... four touchdown deficit.
In incredibly ironic fashion, Virginia Tech returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to go up 38-3. It doesn’t get more poetic than that.
Then (if you’re still reading this I commend you), down 41-10, UVA punted on 4th-and-6 at their 29. Despite actually stopping the Hokies after the punt, the ‘Hoos proceeded to muff the returning punt and VT connected for their sixth touchdown of the game on a 34-yard catch and run from Da’Quan Felton to go up 48-10.
Going for all those fourth downs wouldn’t have meant that Virginia would’ve won this game. Heck it might not have helped at all. But if nothing else shouldn’t the staff actually let the team try to win the football game? Losing like they did is bad enough, but not even trying to come back is just sad.
A potentially momentum-building back half of the season is ruined
Despite starting the season 0-5, Virginia went 3-3 in its following six games with a top-10 road win (although UNC has promptly fallen out of the top-25 since) and an impressive victory against Duke last week. A 4-8 finish wasn’t going to be an inspiring season, but closing the year 4-3 with a pair of huge rivalry wins would’ve set the program up for some degree of momentum heading into a crucial offseason.
Alas, even if a respectable performance and a close loss would’ve allowed the fanbase to retain some level of faith, that’s entirely out the window now.
Tony Elliott, welcome to the hot seat
If UVA had lost by even 10 points or so, this wouldn’t be a takeaway. If this game wasn’t a complete embarrassment, I wouldn’t be saying this.
Yet it’s hard to watch this game and not immediately start to question the future of this program and, subsequently, its head coach. Wins against UNC and Duke and five one possession losses seemed to have things headed in the right direction. Such sentiment is long gone now.
Elliott is not going to be fired this offseason, and he still deserves praise for how he handled last November’s tragedy, as does the entire program. As human beings, it’s impressive that these individuals came back from that and came back out on the football field this year.
But between the lines the Virginia program is 6-16 since Elliott was hired, and this loss firmly plants him on the hot seat heading into next season. This game was such an utterly disappointing performance all around that the man in charge deserves considerable blame.
At least Malik Washington is going to go get paid
To close out the tradition of Malik Washington being our lone positive takeaway after each football game, he’s the only one for the last game of the season as well.
With 109 catches this season, the Northwestern transfer is now the ACC‘s record holder for the most receptions in a single season. He already surpassed all Virginia receivers in single season catches and yards last week against Duke. Then he followed that up with 14 catches for 115 yards against the Hokies.
Washington should be a 2024 NFL Draft pick, and that’s really cool to see for a guy who balled out despite the... circumstances this season. He was easily the best player on this team in 2023. And his performance this year will at least be a feather in the cap for first year wide receivers coach Adam Mims as the ‘Hoos look to add another veteran receiver in the portal this offseason.
Also shoutout Malachi Fields for two touchdowns along with six catches and 89 yards against Tech. He was good this season and (if he doesn’t transfer out) he’ll be a big part of the offense next season.