Inside the Numbers: UVA shows character in win at Pitt

uva footballCould’ve easily been panic time. Admit it. On your couch at home, you were panicking, when Pitt went up at halftime.

Virginia had led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, and was dominant in doing so. To wit: the Panthers had just 13 yards of total offense, and the only first down came on an exceedingly questionable pass-interference call on Zane Zandier.

All that changed on the first play of the second quarter. Kenny Pickett, who had completed just one of his seven pass attempts in the first quarter, connected with A.J. Davis on a wheel route to convert a third-and-four in style, to the tune of a 59-yard gain.

From there, until the halftime break, Pitt had the UVA D on its heels, going tempo, with a no-huddle offense that prevented Virginia from subbing on the defensive side, and caught the ‘Hoos looking to the sidelines for help in terms of play calls, basically, a step behind on every play.

Pitt gained 164 yards in the second quarter, and a Davis 2-yard TD run and a Pickett-to-Tre Tipton 3-yard TD pass, with 38 seconds left in the half, sent the Panthers into the break up 14-13.

Which, for you, Virginia fan, it had you thinking, here we go again.

Pitt had won the last four in the series coming in, and it was as if the Panthers had some sort of mind meld on Virginia Football in the process.

What could coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff come up with in terms of adjustments to turn things around?

It wasn’t as dramatic as all that, but UVA did score on its opening drive of the second half, on a 45-yard Brian Delaney field goal, which, isn’t it nice having a kicker who can make 45-yard field goals?

My thinking at the interminably long halftime break in terms of what the defense needed to do was … simple.

Get stops early.

Can’t go tempo if you don’t get yards on first down.

After the Delaney field goal, Pitt went three-and-out, the third play in that out being a pass that was intercepted by lineback Matt Gahm, at the Pitt 31.

The ensuing short field turned into a 13-yard Bryce Perkins-to-Hasise Dubois TD, and … breathing room.

It was a sort of slog from there, but if you’re also a UVA basketball fan, it felt a little familiar, in that, sure, it looked like it was close, at 23-14, but it also never felt like the outcome was in doubt after that sequence, the INT leading to the TD.

Pitt had just 86 yards of offense in the second half, 2.4 yards per play, two turnovers.

The sum of the second half on offense for the Panthers came down to a missed 50-yard field-goal try.

It wasn’t anything schematic, to answer the question that you had at halftime, in terms of, what would our guys do in terms of adjustments?

Block and tackle better.

Don’t turn the ball over.

Convert opportunities.

The UVA football team is on its way home at this writing with a win on the home field of last year’s ACC Coastal champ.

Virginia Tech already has an ACC loss.

Miami has a sloppy loss.

Labor Day weekend went as well as you could have hoped.

You think you wanted your Virginia football team to win going away, but when you think about it, it was good that they got punched in the mouth, and had to get back up off the canvas.

That builds character.

Column by Chris Graham



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