In any game, turnovers and mistakes are killer. But in a game against Wake Forest who struggles to make things happen offensively, turnovers and easy points are even more detrimental. That’s how things played out on Saturday as UVA turned it over three times including an interception returned for a touchdown that was the difference in the game. Minimizing turnovers were a key in our pregame look at the game, so let’s see how that and our other keys to the game played out...From the Upper Deck.
- Throw, throw, and throw some more. As suspected, Virginia had trouble moving the football against Wake Forest’s stout run defense averaging a mere 3.3 yards per carry on 32 attempts. Forced to put it in the air 40 times, Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert wasn’t able to deliver the results Virginia fans were hoping for, completing only 20 of those 40 passes for just 4.8 yards per attempt. It took a 45 yard touchdown pass to Taquan Mizzell to get 190 yards passing on the day. It wasn’t Benkert’s best day, and certainly not what Virginia would hope for at this point in the season. By comparison, Wake Forest averaged 4.4 yards per rush, and 8.3 yards per pass attempt.
- Jump on them early. A ten-play, 75 yard drive to open the game with a touchdown was exactly how Virginia needed to start the game. However that fast start was short-lived, as four punts and a fumble on their following five drives allowed Wake Forest to stake a 17-6 halftime lead. Wake Forest did just what we thought they would, controlling the football gaining 226 yards on the ground and winning time of possession 32 to 27 minutes. After facing a barrage of offensive firepower the last two weeks against UNC and Louisville the Virginia secondary caught a break only having to defend against ten pass attempts all game, though the Deacons completed nine of them.
- Protect the football. Ultimately this was the difference in the game. If you told Coach Mendenhall at the beginning of the game that his defense could hold Wake Forest to 309 total yards, including a measly nine pass completions yielding just 83 yards, he’d probably like his team’s chances of winning. Instead, Virginia turned the ball over three times and Wake Forest capitalized scoring 17 of their 27 points including the game winning interception return for a touchdown. The Demon Deacons improved on their already stellar turnover margin, and have now generated 20 turnovers on the year. For Virginia, it was just another day where they were plagued by giving the ball away and now sport a
Virginia returns home next Saturday as they host the Miami Hurricanes. Stay tuned to Streaking the Lawn for all your Hoos coverage.