I was going to start this post with some variation of "I don't know whether to be happy or pissed off" based on the completely polar-opposite performances by the Virginia offense or defense. Then I realized - duh - Virginia lost. So the answer to that question is pretty obvious.
Let's get the good stuff out of the way first before we descend into internet RAGE mode. All of the good stuff is defense-related, obviously. I really can't say enough what a great job the defense did. The offense should spend the week bringing room service to the defense and otherwise catering to their every whim, in exchange for the terrible letdown they handed their teammates on Saturday. Pitt does not have a good offensive line, but still - the domination at the line was a sight to behold. It wasn't just the seven sacks. It was the nonexistent Pitt running game, and the pressure on what must have been two of every three of Tom Savage's dropbacks.
The coverage deserves a hand, too. Savage had 191 passing yards and would've had less than half that if not for some absurdly good NFL throws. Several of his completions were despite beautiful coverage - and against two of the ACC's best receivers. Between the total ownership of the line of scrimmage and the excellent pass coverage, I have nothing whatsoever to say against the defense and can't find enough words of praise to heap upon their performance.
I really wish, though, that I'd thought of Jerry Ratcliffe's line about Dominique Terrell before Ratcliffe thought of it - specifically, he called Terrell's punt-catching decisions "like watching a drunk chase a balloon near the edge of a cliff." You just don't usually get that kind of color from the media and it's a shame. I might have said "off a cliff" because that's where Terrell seems to want to send his team's fortunes. At this point I've given up hope that Terrell will ever be a smart player, and it's just amazing to hear London talk about things like accountability and at the same time continue to put Terrell and his idiotically adventuresome decision-making skills out there in the spotlight.
So let's talk about our offense.
It's not so much that David Watford makes bad decisions. He just doesn't make any decisions. Occasionally, very occasionally, he keeps on a read option. When passing, he waits for his first-option receiver to get to the point on the route where Watford should throw the ball, and then throws it. Coverage be darned.
I really don't want to single out one person, though. The offensive line blocked poorly. Steve Fairchild called a poor game. And on the rare occasions where Watford made neither a poor throw nor a poor decision, his receivers were poor.
I have two main problems about Fairchild. One, God kills a baby angel every time an offensive coordinator runs a toss sweep or option play to the short side of the field. Two baby angels if he does it on fourth down. That is setting your offense up to fail, plain and simple. Two, continually calling run plays directly at Aaron Donald. I don't know whose fault it was that Donald kept being single-blocked, but there's never a good reason to run right at the best player on the defense regardless of how many blockers there are.
"Soul-searching" is probably the wrong word for what needs to happen in offensive meetings between now and next Saturday. Imodium-searching might be more productive so the offense can stop taking a big diarrhea-crap all over the field. Maybe someone can teach Watford that he has more than one receiver to throw to - or else just put nine guys in protection. Maybe someone can teach the offensive line to stay between the defender and the ball. Maybe someone can put stickum on the hands of the receivers. For some really stupid reason UVA starts as a five-point favorite against Ball State - which puts a lot of faith in the offense to score more than five points.
Brief other stuff:
-- If the offense spends the week fetching water for the defense, they can include Alec Vozenilek in their rounds for the 77-yard punt that bailed them out from shitting around inside their own ten.
-- I'm not mad at London for going for it on fourth and almost-goal, down 14-3. Anyone suggesting Virginia should have kicked the field goal is saying that the offense would've been able to actually move the ball again. That one drive included over 40% of the yards the offense gained the entire game. 77 of their 188 total yards. What's easier: scoring a touchdown from the three yard line or your own 20?
-- It's possible, maybe probable, that Eric Tetlow is a better player than Cody Wallace right now.
-- The maddening thing about all the drops is that so many of them came from what are supposed to be our best receivers. Two each, I think, from Jake McGee and Darius Jennings. Settin' the example.
-- Piling on Dom Terrell a little bit more, how about this: we win if Terrell doesn't try to chase down that punt. Even if the offense had gone three-and-out, they'd likely have ended up punting, putting Pitt in no position to score. They don't score, they don't kick off and pin us deep where a bad snap gives Pitt the ball in the red zone again. Just keep trading punts and eventually the turnovers our defense generated would've let us get a field goal here and there, and the Panthers likely would've been shut out.
Before we start, I'm just gonna say that I'm not taking responsibility for bad predictions this week. I'll still track 'em, but c'mon. I deserve a break when the offense is more preoccupied with taking a shit than with moving the ball.
-- Daniel Hamm outgains Khalek Shepherd. Null prediction as London mentioned Hamm left the game early with an injury. I think minus that I would've gotten it, though, because Shepherd was in for just one series.
-- Watford manages about six yards per pass. He got 3.3. He might have made it to six without the drops.
-- Watford also contributes at least 30 yards on the ground. He actually gained 50 yards going forward and lost 35 to sacks and shitty snaps. I'm claiming this one as a win since his contribution to the running game was much bigger than previously, even against VMI, and it's not his fault his O-line politely allowed Aaron Donald and his DT cohorts to get all up in his stuff every other pass.
-- Aaron Donald and Eli Harold are the only players on either team to register a sack. I actually got this half right. One Pitt sack - a fumbled snap - was considered a "team" sack, and Donald got their other two. I didn't really foresee the ass-kicking the rest of our line would deliver, though, and Max Valles deserves special recognition for making prophets out of the defensive coaches that put him way high on the depth chart.
-- UVA is able to keep Pitt's running game in check, with no more than four yards a carry. If you include sacks, Pitt totaled eight yards on the ground. Not including sacks they still got crushed, with only 2.2 yards a carry. Niiiiice.
-- If both Tyler Boyd and Devin Street have fewer than 100 receiving yards apiece, UVA wins. Null prediction as Boyd gathered in 111 receiving yards. That's not why we lost, though.
Take away the two nulls and I actually went two-for-four. 8-for-20 is the season total, and since I predicted a win, I drop to 2-2 both real-time and ATS in the game-prediction department. I should get another loss just for assuming the offense was a real offense, but that's not how this works.
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