Another heartbreaker for the Virginia Cavaliers football team. Tony Elliott’s squad falls to 1-5 in one possession games this year. Here are five takeaways from yet another frustrating loss:
Prayers up for Perris Jones
Of course, first on everyone’s minds tonight will be running back Perris Jones who took a hard hit to the head on the play that would be Virginia’s third touchdown of the game. Jones was down for an extended period of time before being stretchered off the field and brought to the University of Louisville hospital. According to the ESPN broadcast, Virginia AD Carla Williams patted Jones’ arm as he was transported into the ambulance. While he was conscious and his eyes were moving, there was no movement in his extremities.
The ESPN broadcast says #UVA AD Carla Williams patted Perris Jones' arm as he was taken to the hospital - there was no movement but his eyes were moving.— Jacquie Franciulli (@JacquieFran_) November 10, 2023
After the game, Tony Elliott said the he has received “encouraging” news about Jones’ status from the hospital.
Coach Elliott in his press conference told the media he is getting “encouraging” news from the hospital regarding Perris Jones' condition.— Virginia Cavaliers (@VirginiaSports) November 10, 2023
On a personal level, Jones is a special human being, and his journey from a walk-on to a key player has been admirable. Everyone at Streaking the Lawn is thinking of him and his family and hoping for a full and speedy recovery.
Virginia can compete with most of the ACC from a talent standpoint
The default when a team is three touchdown underdogs is to assume that there is a skill mismatch. This was not the case today.
Virginia’s defense played well enough to keep this a competitive game. They forced two three-and-outs early, and the lone first half touchdown allowed was on a short field. Some big plays were made against them in the fourth quarter but we have to consider some of the critical plays of their own, such as Kam Robinson’s pick six.
Likewise, the Virginia receivers were winning matchups on the outside. Malik Washington had his typical game of over 100 yards, which doesn’t even include his long touchdown. Malachi Fields was also getting open. Louisville’s defense is one of the better units in the country and Virginia showed they can hang with them.
However, they can’t stay out of their own way
The Cavaliers had some self inflicted wounds, especially early on, that once again prevented them from winning the ball game.
The special teams play was abysmal. Not only was there a blocked punt resulting in a touchdown and a missed field goal, but two pre-snap penalties for good measure.
Overall, the ‘Hoos had 100 penalty yards. This included several key offensive holdings, defensive offsides, and of course, some uhh...questionable calls down the stretch.
In addition to penalties, Virginia had some drives in which they were driving down the field at ease stall due to mistakes. Brian Stevens had a high snap in the first half that resulted in a critical loss, turning the drive into a punt. Multiple failed trick reverse plays occurred when Anthony Colandrea was moving the chains the conventional way.
This pattern is a key reason that UVA keeps falling short in close games.
There is no ceiling on Anthony Colandrea
The true freshman was once again outstanding tonight. He threw for 314 yards on 20 for 31 passing.
There are two plays that maybe he would want to have back. Foremost, Washington was streaking down the field with a step on his defender on the final drive, and Colandrea slightly overthrew him. Colandrea also threw an interception in the red zone, but that was a great play by the defensive back, and a natural side effect of making so many tight window throws.
The bottom line is that this kid is rapidly progressing into what will eventually be a superstar. We have seen throughout the season that Colandrea can make any throw on the field. Tonight, his running ability was showcased as well. On mostly designed quarterback draws, Colandrea picked up 119 yards on the ground (20 were negated in his official stat sheet due to sacks), displaying breakaway speed and open field agility.
Virginia is not far away from a breakthrough
This year has featured a lot of doom and gloom regarding the status of Tony Elliott and the program. Of course, the coaching staff deserves much of the blame for Virginia’s poor decision making and inability to close games.
However, the flip side to being 1-5 in one-possession contests is that they are a few plays away from an entirely different season. While there is plenty to work on, the potential for major progress has been laid out.
The Cavaliers will host Duke next game before taking on Virginia Tech to finish the season. A Commonwealth Cup victory would go a long way in convincing the UVA faithful that there is hope. That remains the primary goal of the rest of the way.