Find out the 3 keys to why UVA Football Lost vs Pittsburgh and what it reveals about the team.
Photos/Video by Jonathan Buchinsky, Pittsburgh Sports
Competition Footage Courtesy of ACC Digital Network
Music: 432 by Cambo
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What a difference one game makes! As of Friday afternoon the UVA Cavalier football team was ranked number 23 in the nation and had a clear path to the ACC Championship game. After a brutal bashing at the hands (or claws) of a ferocious Pittsburgh Panthers team, the Wahoos no longer control their own destiny. I’m Robb Dehney, and I’m here to share three key factors that contributed to the Cavaliers 23-13 loss Friday night.
#1 Penalties… If you caught my three keys from last week’s win over UNC, you remember that the Hoos committed only one penalty for 5 yards, which helped them keep Carolina down and come away with the win. This week, not so much. The Hoos committed 10 penalties for 80 yards, which is over double their season average! While the Panthers committed 7 penalties themselves, they were still the more disciplined team, and as such got the job done.
#2 Losing the battle up front… It is always better to be the hammer than the nail. On this occasion, the UVA defensive line was the nail, and Pitt’s run game was the hammer. Running back Darrin Hall rumbled his way to a career day, turning 19 carries into 229 yards and finding the end zone 3 times. He ripped off touchdown rushes of 41 and 75 yards and averaged over 12 yards per carry. Both the Cavalier offensive and defensive lines played soft and Pitt exploited this advantage on an evening in which the weather wasn’t conducive to passing the ball. It is nearly impossible to stop a big, down hill running back like Hall when he gets a head of steam, so it is especially important to get ta good push from the defensive line and that just didn’t happen. On offense, Bryce Perkins was sacked 5 times and his blockers couldn’t handle the pressure Pitt brought. As we saw, the whole offense falls apart when the linemen don’t beat the opponents lined up across from them. By losing the battle up front, the Hoos offense never got into sync, and Pittsburgh controlled the tempo through extended drives and long touchdowns.
#3 Injuries… To add injury to insult, the Cavaliers suffered a few key casualties in this one. Defensive End Mandy Alonso likely tore his ACL and won’t be back to help the Cavs this season, and the linebacker corps. Was already without Rob Snyder. Juan Thornhill and Joey Blount, two key members of the secondary, left the game and did not return. Both of these guys have been a big part of the unit’s success this season, and losing either one of them for an extended period of time will be crucial. Given the toughness of Pittsburgh’s offense, all of these losses to the unit piled up, and when other players had to step up, they didn’t get the job done. Moving forward these injuries could have long-lasting negative consequences for the Cavaliers for the remainder of the season.
Bottom line: it is impossible to win a football game while committing foolish penalties, playing soft, and missing a third of the starting defensive unit. For all of these reasons, the Cavaliers no longer control their own destiny in the ACC, and we can only hope for a better showing against Liberty next week.