By Jerry Ratcliffe
Give Virginia’s teaching employees credit score for its effort in a must-win sport at North Carolina final Saturday evening.
Not solely did the Cavaliers snap a three-game highway shedding streak, however as soon as once more overcame the lack of one other defensive starter, and the offense confirmed indicators of life attributable to some good self-analysis and changes. In consequence, UVA sits atop the ACC’s Coastal Division standings at 4-2, a half sport forward of Pitt, which the Cavaliers defeated within the season opener.
All of the Wahoos need to do now could be end the job.
Keep in mind final season when Virginia was in competition for the Coastal, however misplaced its final two league video games, each on the highway, each in time beyond regulation, each with an unimaginative offense, at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech?
Now, it’s simple to grasp why the Cavaliers’ mantra for the month of November needs to be a derivative of the Washington Nationals: “End the Combat.”
All that begins Saturday at 12:30 when Georgia Tech involves city. The Yellow Jackets are 2-6 (with a win over Miami), however have struggled below the transition from longtime Tech coach Paul Johnson’s possibility offense to Geoff Collins’ extra conventional types. Definitely the personnel was recruited to play possibility offense, and doesn’t essentially match the brand new regime’s type of play.
Scott Stadium has been a home of horrors for Georgia Tech ever for the reason that Yellow Jackets ruined Virginia’s 1990 season in an unforgettable, 41-38, heartbreaking defeat for the then-No. 1 Wahoos. Since that sport, Georgia Tech is barely 2-11 in Charlottesville.
UVA opens Saturday’s sport as a 17-point favourite, and there’s a cause why. Bryce Perkins is again to his previous self once more.
After a scare at Louisville, when Perkins took a success on his knee however got here again to complete the sport, the senior quarterback was magical final week in Chapel Hill. Not solely did he set a UVA single-game, complete offense report simply shy of 500 yards, however he ran the soccer with out worry, and picked UNC’s protection aside with a 30-of-39 passing efficiency.
In that sport, just a few good issues occurred for the Cavaliers:
- The offensive line took one other step ahead in its safety of Perkins. He wasn’t in durress fairly as a lot as he had been when he dropped again to go.
- Throughout its weekly (for the reason that bye week) self-scouting, Bronco Mendenhall realized that the offense needed to produce at a better stage going ahead if his crew was to win the Coastal for the primary time for the reason that ACC went to divisional play in 2005. With that in thoughts, offensive coordinator Robert Anae designed some new wrinkles that appeared to provide Carolina hassle.
- The teaching employees additionally decided to provide extra taking part in time to those that had produced as much as that time, and that’s one cause why broad receiver Terrell Jana made such an impression, hauling in a career-high 13 receptions for 146 yards.
- Anae additionally obtained the tight ends re-involved within the offense, designing a terrific play for Tanner Cowley, the place Cowley slipped behind UNC linebacker Chazz Surratt, forcing Surratt to decide. Go after Perkins or drop again to cowl Cowley. Both poison Surratt selected was seemingly deadly. He selected to return after Perkins, who displayed excellent contact by lobbing the ball over the linebacker’s fingers and safely into the mitts of Cowley ultimately zone for a landing.
Afterward, Mendenhall gave Anae all of the credit score for arising with that new wrinkle, regardless that he stated that Anae wouldn’t take credit score.
One other UVA tight finish, Grant Misch, a redshirt freshman, additionally caught a landing go within the sport.
Maybe the largest issue on offense, although, was that Perkins was taking part in typical Bryce Perkins soccer, operating (24 carries for 112 internet yards), and passing (30-39, 378 yards).
Perkins’ 24 rushes tied for the second-most of his profession, together with 24 makes an attempt at Virginia Tech final season. His most, 25, got here at Indiana early final season. Amongst his 24 runs towards Carolina, two went for touchdowns, together with a 65-yarder on an RPO.
By way of passing, Perkins threw for 3 TDs and no interceptions.
Mendenhall stated the gameplan known as for utilizing Perkins so much, and the QB didn’t disappoint.
Because of his dynamic play, Perkins was named ACC Quarterback of the Week and nationwide QB of the week by one other nationwide soccer group.
He additionally turned solely the fifth quarterback in FBS soccer since 2000 to to go for 350-plus yards, rush for 100-plus yards, throw for 3-plus touchdowns, and rush for 2-plus touchdowns towards a Energy 5 foe. Two of the opposite 4 are acquainted names round ACC territory, in former Clemson QB Tajh Boyd and former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville.
Georgia Tech’s protection, which is giving up 405 yards per sport, have to be questioning how on the planet it’s going to cease one of many nation’s most deadly quarterbacks for 60 minutes.
In the meantime, the Jackets should even be involved about methods to decelerate UVA’s go rush, which is ranked No. Three within the nation in sacking quarterbacks with 34 (the fifth-best in program historical past with three common season video games remaining).
Mendenhall stated he and the employees discovered some issues towards the top of final season when the Cavaliers have been in pursuit of the Coastal earlier than they skilled a letdown.
“I believe what we discovered from the race a 12 months in the past on this setting was that ACC highway video games are arduous to win,” the coach stated. “They arrive right down to final drives, they arrive right down to time beyond regulation, they arrive right down to crucial stops, they arrive right down to crucial scores, which is simply what we noticed final week (at Louisville).
“So we haven’t utilized these classes completely, however we definitely have framed it appropriately the place we all know what it’s going to take. And I might count on every of our ACC video games remaining to be similar to that.”
Followers are hoping that the employees additionally discovered that it’s no time to be conservative on offense, to be much less predictable in play-calling, and that nothing is incorrect with being somewhat imaginative in that space similar to the crew was towards South Carolina within the bowl victory, and even final weekend in Chapel Hill.
End the combat.