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Duke 55, Virginia 48: Three up, three down

By Steve Yanda

It's safe to say that if Virginia ever is able to amass 643 total yards, 33 first downs and 48 points again, the Cavaliers most likely will come out on top. On Saturday, they did all those things and still lost by seven.

Certainly, there is plenty of blame to spread around for Virginia's 55-48 loss at Duke on Saturday. The Cavaliers (4-5, 1-4 ACC) were appallingly undisciplined in the first half -- seven penalties, 73 yards -- and quarterback Marc Verica threw two second-half interceptions that led directly to 10 Blue Devils points. But the defense -- be it against the run or the pass -- was shaky for nearly the entire game.

Duke (3-6, 1-4) did not turn in as prolific an offensive performance as did the Cavaliers, but the Blue Devils did their fair share of damage. Duke tallied 26 first downs, 230 rushing yards, 259 passing yards and just one turnover.

"It was a game of we couldn’t stop them and they couldn’t stop us," Coach Mike London said. "Who was going to have the most possessions? And they got the possession when it counted, and they scored."

Indeed, Virginia had 12 offensive possessions Saturday; Duke had 13.

Three Up:

1) Dontrelle Inman. The senior wide receiver hauled in 10 receptions for 239 yards and a touchdown. He was three yards shy of breaking Ken Shelton's school record for most receiving yards in a single game. Maybe the most impressive part of Inman's performance was how impactful Inman was in the fourth quarter. He tallied four catches for 107 yards and a touchdown in the final period. And according to London, there were a couple other grabs Inman could have made throughout the game that could have boosted Inman's totals even further.

2) Keith Payne. Is it even worth having a discussion about who Virginia's offensive MVP has been this season? If you don't think it's Payne, I'd love to hear your rationale for whoever it is you'd pick. On Saturday, he rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. He also grabbed a nine-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. It's very rare that just one defender can bring him down, and at times, it seems as though would-be tacklers simply bounce off of him.

3) Special teams trickery. Placekicker Robert Randolph didn't have great memories of the last time he'd carried the ball in a college football game. He said he got crushed last season when he took a pitch during the TCU game. This time, the end result was much more pleasant. With about six minutes left in the second quarter Saturday, Randolph lined up for a 37-yard field goal. At the snap, he ran to his right, took an over-the-head toss from holder Jacob Hodges and sprinted into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown.

Three Down:

1) Run defense. Duke entered Saturday's contest with the second-worst rushing offense in the ACC. The Blue Devils had averaged 120.6 rushing yards per game in their first eight contests of the season. Against Virginia, Duke rushed the ball 45 times for 230 yards and six touchdowns. The Blue Devils had been averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Against the Cavaliers, Duke averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Blue Devils tailback Desmond Scott carried the ball 17 times for 97 yards, including 35 on a touchdown run with 40 seconds left to play that ended up being the game-winning score. Backup quarterback Brandon Connette registered 78 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Heck, Duke's starting quarterback, Sean Renfree, rushed 10 times for 22 yards and two touchdowns.

2) Interceptions. Verica threw his second three-interception game of the season Saturday. He threw a pick less than five minutes into the game from the Virginia 14-yard-line that was returned to the Virginia 2. Duke scored a touchdown on the following play to put the Blue Devils up by 14. He threw an interception with just more than five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Duke proceeded to march 48 yards in 10 plays and kick a 47-yard field goal to put Duke up by six. Verica threw his final interception less than a minute into the fourth quarter that was returned 20 yards to the Virginia 14. Four plays later, Duke scored a touchdown to go ahead by 12 (the Blue Devils's two-point conversion failed). The common thread between all three picks: "They were all bad plays," Verica said.

3) Penalties. The final damage was bad: 11 penalties for 103 yards. But Virginia's undisciplined play in the first half was most striking. The Cavaliers had tallied 7 penalties for 73 yards -- three personal fouls, two holdings, one illegal block and one ineligible receiver downfield -- by halftime. They were charged with four penalties for 45 yards in the first quarter. Prior to this season, Virginia had not accumulated 10 or more penalties in a game since Sept. 15, 2007 against North Carolina. The Cavaliers had not been charged with 100 or more penalty yards since Sept. 6, 2008 against Richmond.

This season, Virginia has been whistled for 10 or more penalties in two games. The Cavaliers have been charged with 100 or more penalty yards in three games.

By Steve Yanda  | November 6, 2010; 11:23 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Next: Mike London considered replacing QB Marc Verica after third interception against Duke


Penalties are absolutely killing UVA and there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for the complete lack of mental discipline they exhibit week after week. Twice this year, late hits on the opposing quarterback when he was out of bounds have directly led to UVA losses: once against USC, once against Duke. In both instances, barring the late hits, the opposing teams would have been faced with 4th-and-long from midfield - certain punting situations. And in both instances, following the late hits, USC and Duke marched down the field for touchdowns that turned out to the be the game-winners. Without just those two penalties, UVA's record right now would stand at 6-3 instead of 4-5. It's time for London to start bringing the hammer down on these stupid, completely avoidable penalties. Commit a personal foul, sit the bench for the remainder of the game...period. He needs to burn the message into his players' minds that these game killing penalties are going to stop.

Posted by: rvastar | November 8, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

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