The end of a frustrating season has finally come, and Virginia didn’t leave fans with a lot of hope going forward. The season finished with a 13th consecutive loss to the Hokies in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated (which says a lot, because the score itself wasn’t particularly close). Both Virginia quarterbacks struggled mightily all day and the lone bright spot was Taquan Mizzell running for 113 yards in his last game as a Cavalier. In case you missed it, here is what we were looking for and here is how it played out...From the Upper Deck.
- Be perfect - Coming into the game, the Hokies had lost the most fumbles on the season in the ACC. That would be an area where Virginia could take advantage and steal some opportunities to score. And just as the first quarter was ending, the Hoos would get that chance. Quin Blanding scooped up a Travon McMillan fumble at the Virginia Tech 38 yard line down only seven and the Hoos were in business. Three plays and negative six yards later and the Hoos punted. Virginia Tech would then go on a ten-play 99 yard drive capped off by a 39 yard touchdown pass from Jerod Evans to Cam Phillips, a sequence emblematic of Virginia’s season. Squander an opportunity on offense, get a great punt by Nicolas Conte, fail to keep the opposition pinned at the Virginia end, and give up a big play for a touchdown. Rinse and repeat. The 14-0 lead would be all the Hokies would need on the day, although they didn’t stop there.
- Pressure Jerod Evans early - While Jerod Evans didn't statistically overwhelm, Virginia’s lack of pressure did allow him to have a field day throwing the football. Virginia only mustered one sack and allowed Evans to throw for 253 yards and two touchdowns. His touchdown throws were big plays as well coming from 39 and 42 yards out. Not to be outdone, backup Brendan Motley even got in on the action, connecting with McMillan for a 31 yard strike. The effort leaves plenty of question marks for both the defensive line and the secondary as we head into the offseason. Both should return experience, but they’ll have to play better, not just get older.
- Thank you Mr. Blanding - I don’t know if this will be Quin Blanding’s last game as a Hoo, but he did what he has done for most of the year as well as most of his career. On a positive note, he had 12 tackles, one for loss, and recovered a fumble. On a negative note, he gambled making a play on the ball vice the player and lost while in coverage on Evans’ second quarter 39 yard touchdown pass to Phillips. It’s unclear as if Blanding was supposed to be in coverage on Phillips, but he was late to the play and leaped to tip it (and missed) allowing Phillips to score easily. It’s the type of play that made Blanding’s time at Virginia so frustrating. He himself is a great player, but is mired playing with a secondary unit that is not very good. Whatever he decides, he was a joy to watch in Charlottesville and has already cemented himself as one of the best to play safety in the blue and orange.
The offseason can’t come soon enough for a program with a steep hill to continue to climb. Stay tuned to Streaking the Lawn as we bring you updates on recruiting and any other news to come out of the McCue Center.