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Five takeaways from Virginia football’s 45-17 loss to Georgia Tech

What we learned from UVA’s seventh loss of the season.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that sure wasn’t very fun. The Virginia Cavaliers were blown out by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to the tune of a 45-17 final score. UVA is now 2-7 on the season, eliminating the ‘Hoos from bowl eligibility and dropping them to 1-4 in the ACC.

With the loss, we’ve got five takeaways for Virginia.

Womp womp

Two straight wins and an overtime road loss to Miami had the vibes around this program going in the right direction for the first time in a while. Then Tony Muskett hurt his ankle on the very first drive of the game, and everything went off the rails.

There’s plenty that went into the loss, and we’ll get to that. But just on the surface level a 28-point loss after this team had actually started to build tangible momentum is a bummer. Especially in a game where UVA was favored against an entirely beatable opponent, to get blown out straight up stinks.

Tony Muskett’s injury was debilitating

For being as fun, elusive, and electric of a player as he is, Anthony Colandrea still isn’t Tony Muskett in the pocket. Muskett’s arm talent and understanding of the game is better, and Colandrea playing the vast majority of this game allowed Georgia Tech to stack the box in order to stop the run while trusting their defensive line to get home before Colandrea could find somebody.

Colandrea also made the mistakes he’s prone to making. It’s hard to blame him, but it speaks to why the offense works better with Muskett on the field, even if he did get unlucky with the jump ball interception on the play he got injured on.

With the Yellow Jackets stuffing the box and trusting their secondary, GT held the Wahoo running backs to 3.9 yards per carry with Colandrea’s 33 yards leading the way for the Cavaliers. In fact, for a stretch from the end of the second quarter through most of the third, UVA had six straight drives that lasted only three plays each. One was a field goal at the end of the first half, yet the rest resulted in four punts and a Colandrea fumble.

Bottom line, the UVA offense couldn’t move the ball without Tony Muskett, and further injuries to running backs Mike Hollins and tight end Sackett Wood only made life more difficult.

Georgia Tech runs all over Virginia’s shorthanded defense

Like they did offensively, injuries sure didn’t help UVA on the defensive side of the ball. Kam Robinson was limping around the field for a bit before going down for good in the second quarter with an injured Josh Ahern taking his spot before Trey McDonald replaced him later in the game. Obviously, injuries to the defensive line have been a season long problem as have those in the secondary.

In the end, Georgia Tech rushed for a whopping 305 yards on 44 carries (6.9 yards per carry). Frankly it’s just not possible to win games when you allow 300 yards on the ground. Georgia Tech

Anthony Colandrea has burned his redshirt

In a 2-7 season, it’s hard to not look to the future. For the long term, Anthony Colandrea is the brightest light for the program on the field, no matter the freshman mistakes he’s made. With Muskett going down for this game and Virginia deciding to roll with Colandrea after confirming the Monmouth transfer was done for the day also means he now is down to three more years of eligibility.

It’s understandable that UVA put Colandrea out on the field once Muskett was done for the day. At that point UVA was still technically bowl eligible and with how few games there are every season each game is so valuable that putting walk-on Grady Brosterhous to maintain Colandrea’s eligibility would’ve been silly. But that doesn’t mean it’s not notable that Colandrea burned his redshirt, and it does slightly complicate the future of the position.

It all comes down to Virginia Tech

Duke and Louisville are still supposedly beatable. UVA’s beaten a top-10 team on the road already this season, so counting the Cavaliers out in those games would be unwise. But this result doesn’t inspire confidence, making it feel as though the Virginia Tech game on November 25th will be the bellwether for the final third of the season for the ‘Hoos.

As of writing Tech is getting blown out by Louisville 27-3, and although they’ve had more success than Virginia this season, the Hokies are certainly a beatable opponent at home. If Tony Elliott and this team can get that win, it at least will get the monkey off the program’s back in the Commonwealth and allow for the staff to head into the offseason able to say that, despite all the turmoil and the unforeseen, unfortunate circumstances, they still beat their two biggest rivals. A potential 3-9 season is nothing pretty, but it’s a lot better than 2-10, and the quality of the wins do matter.