Game Review: Inside the UVA 34-20 loss at #2 Florida State

uva-fsu blogLambert has solid outing, with an asterisk Greyson Lambert had probably his most efficient outing as the UVA starting quarterback, with a passer rating of 132.5 to show for his 20-for-35, 220-yard, three-touchdown effort in the 34-20 loss at #2 Florida State Saturday night.

Now, to the asterisk: the two-play sequence at the start of the second quarter that cost UVA the game. Up 13-7, Lambert dropped back to pass inside the Virginia 5 on first down. To be fair, the play call from offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild, a pass in the left flat to the tailback, was bad on its own. Lambert made it worse by not recognizing that linebacker Terrence Smith was following his eyes toward the left flat and waiting to jump the route.

The ensuing interception set up a quick FSU score that made it 14-13 ‘Noles.

Next play from scrimmage, UVA has the ball at its 25, and the play call is for Lambert to throw in the right flat to Taquan Mizzell, who had run across the formation in motion before the snap. Lambert led Mizzell too much to the inside, but also threw the ball backwards, making the play a lateral, not a pass, and when the pass failed to connect, it became a fumble, and FSU recovered. A Jameis Winston TD pass on the next play turned a 13-7 Virginia lead into a 21-13 deficit before a minute had passed in the second quarter.

Yikes.

Tight ends, where ye been? Zach Swanson had three catches for 44 yards Saturday night, including a 26-yarder on a third-and-20 on Virginia’s final drive that put the ball in the red zone.

Coming into the game, Swanson had recorded seven catches for 100 yards, and Virginia tight ends had a total of nine catches for 111 yards for the season.

Plain dumb play sequence dooms last drive So back to that Swanson catch for the first down on Virginia’s last drive. The next play was a 7-yard run by Khalek Shepherd that gave Virginia a second-and-three at the FSU 8. A Virginia touchdown at this stage makes it a one-play game, and with the way both teams were playing loose with the ball, which was being treated as if it had been dipped into a vat of fried butter, anything can happen in a one-play game.

So it’s second-and-three at the 8. Next play is a zone-read that loses two. Third-and-five at the 10, Fairchild dials up a wildcat with third-string quarterback David Watford, who loses two more to set up a fourth-and-seven at the 12.

Florida State, predictably, sends the house, and Fairchild calls a screen to Darius Jennings that has no chance. The pass loses two more yards, and the Cavs give the ball back in the red zone on downs.

Run game fails to get going Virginia ran 32 times for a net 37 yards. Even accounting for losses on the four sacks of Lambert, it’s 28 runs for 70 yards from the ground game, with kevin parks gaining 43 yards on 15 carries.

Safeties making all the tackles? Quin Blanding had 13 tackles, seven unassisted, and Anthony Harris was in on 10 tackles, three unassisted. Linebacker Henry Coley had a nice stat line, seven tackles, five unassisted, and two sacks. Maurice Canady had four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, an interception and a pass break-up.

– Column by Chris Graham



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