Florida State 34, Virginia 14: Three up, three down
In the first quarter Saturday against Florida State, Virginia tallied one first down, one passing yard and 16 rushing yards. Things eventually would get better for the Cavaliers, but not by much.
The Seminoles dominated most of their 34-14 win over the Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. First-year Coach Mike London lost in his ACC debut, and his team took a considerable step backward after generating positive vibes throughout the first month of the season.
Virginia was exposed on offense (shoddy work by the offensive line) and on defense (poor tackling) against a fast Florida State squad that took advantage of the opportunities it was presented. The Cavaliers have a week to simultaneously recover from Saturday's defeat and prepare for Georgia Tech's triple-option offense. Oh, and that new defensive coordinator they've got down there in Atlanta. You know the guy I'm talking about.
"It was all on us," senior offensive guard B.J. Cabbell said. "Not taking anything away from (Florida State), not saying that they weren’t good. But I’m just saying that we didn’t play up to our full potential."
1) Third-quarter tempo. Fifth-year senior quarterback Marc Verica did not have a particularly good day. He completed 14 of 30 passes for 211 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown. But in the third quarter, Verica and the Virginia offense came to life, and a lot of it had to do with them picking up the pace. Verica threw for 160 yards on 7 of 8 passing in the third quarter. He tossed his lone touchdown of the day -- a 76-yard pass completion to junior wideout Kris Burd -- less than four minutes after halftime. He also overthrew senior wideout Dontrelle Inman to record his first interception of the day. Overall, though, Virginia's offense looked fairly competent in the third quarter, which is more than can be said for its performance in the other three.
2) Kris Burd. The junior wide receiver has recorded touchdown receptions in each of Virginia's four games this season. Burd is the first Cavalier to accomplish such a feat since tight end Heath Miller tallied receiving touchdowns in the first five games of the 2002 season. With four catches for 118 yards Saturday, Burd also became the first Virginia player to record more than 100 receiving yards in consecutive weeks since Miller did it in 2003. Burd registered 119 receiving yards last week against Virginia Military Institute.
3) Ross Metheny. Okay, so the redshirt freshman quarterback played in mop-up duty at the end of a game in which his team was on the sour end of a beatdown. He still completed 7 of 9 passes for 68 yards and conducted a 14-play, 70-yard drive that ended in an 11-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Colter Phillips. Coach Mike London said the battle between Metheny and true freshman Michael Rocco for the No. 2 quarterback job remains ongoing and that Rocco would have been inserted into the game had Virginia gotten another offensive series. Still, the fact Metheny was the coaching staff's choice to get first crack at relieving Verica in the fourth quarter says something. If nothing else, it means Metheny had a better week of practice than did Rocco.
1) Missed tackles. The Seminoles rushed for 256 yards on 42 carries Saturday. That's 6.1 yards per carry. And that's, um, not very good for a Virginia unit that entered the game ranked No. 3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing defense. Obviously, Florida State runners are going to be a little more difficult to stop than those of, say, VMI or Richmond. But the Seminoles leading rusher, Ty Jones, sat out Saturday's contest with an ankle injury, and their starting left tackle, Andrew Datko, missed his third game in a row with a shoulder injury. Much of Virginia's struggles against the run were self-inflicted. The Cavaliers had a slew of missed tackles, some of which directly resulted in Florida State scores. Midway through the first quarter, Seminoles tailback Jermaine Thomas took a handoff to the right side, turned the corner, broke a tackle attempt by sophomore cornerback Devin Wallace and sprinted 70 yards for a touchdown. Thomas finished with 122 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
2) Offensive line. Virginia quarterbacks were sacked six times on Saturday. Florida State entered the game leading the nation in sacks, but still, six is a little ridiculous. To be fair, there were times when Verica held onto the ball too long in the pocket, which contributed to some of his pressures/sacks/bad throwing decisions. But especially in the first half, he was getting chased/hit an awful lot fairly soon after the snap. Cabbell said the offensive line's early issues stemmed from miscommunication; London attributed it to the speed of Florida State's defensive line. Whether it was because Virginia's offensive line was confused or not quick enough to keep up, the Cavaliers' pass protection issues do not bode well for an offense thin on star power.
3) Penalties. Two of Virginia's four games thus far this season have been against 1-A opponents. In the first -- a 17-14 loss at Southern California -- the Cavaliers tallied nine penalties for 101 yards. Against Florida State on Saturday, Virginia recorded nine penalties for 86 yards. The Cavaliers registered five penalties in each of their other two games, which were against 1-AA foes. Why is Virginia nearly twice as penalty-prone against tougher opponents? We'll discuss that sometime next week. The fact is that the Cavaliers penalties on Saturday ranged from silly to downright dumb, and they all contributed to Virginia's inability to build/sustain momentum.
| October 2, 2010; 8:01 PM ET
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