W&M coach Mike London doesn’t trust his QB to throw the ball: Darius Wilson was 14-of-18 passing on the day, but the 14 completions gained a total of just 72 yards.
This wasn’t even dink-and-dunk.
I’ll have the official numbers on this tomorrow, but by my count, 10 of Wilson’s 13 rushing attempts were scrambles, and he gained 59 yards on those, so, there’s that.
This all worked fine when William & Mary was up, as was the case for a good chunk of the first half.
The drive after Virginia went ahead 27-13 early in the fourth was indicative of the limitations of the game plan here.
UVA defensive coordinator John Rudzinski was content to sit back and let the Tribe inch its way up the field, bending, but not breaking.
The possession went 13 plays, ate 6:26 off the clock, and stalled at the UVA 20 when a fourth-down completion was still half a yard short of a first down.
- Virginia rallies from early 13-3 deficit, gets first W of 2023, 27-13 over William & Mary
- Five observations from Virginia’s 27-13 win over William & Mary on Saturday
- Muskett gets back up off the deck, throws game-clinching TD after shoulder injury
- Virginia O line, finally, clears way for ‘Hoos to establish a ground game
Controlling the line of scrimmage: William & Mary was averaging 258.2 yards per game on the ground coming in, and yes, that was against FCS opponents, but still.
The Tribe went for 147 yards on 39 attempts on the ground on Saturday, a chunk of that coming, as noted above, on QB scrambles.
Accounting for the scramble yardage, the W&M run game gained 88 yards on 29 tries, right at three yards per.
So, the D controlled the line of scrimmage on its side, which it hadn’t been doing much of late – of late being, you know, all season.
The O line did its job on the other side of the ball.
Virginia ran for 221 yards, with Perris Jones going for a career-high 134 yards on 12 carries, and Clemson transfer Kobe Pace gaining 83 yards on 20 tough-sledding totes.
There’s your winning formula.
Keep the QB upright: The one negative on the O line’s statline on Saturday – QB Tony Muskett was sacked four times.
Muskett gets hit too much, as did his backup, true freshman Anthony Colandrea, in Colandrea’s three starts in Muskett’s place, after the Monmouth transfer injured his left shoulder in the fourth quarter of the Week 1 loss to Tennessee.
He had to leave for one play in the fourth quarter after picking up a fourth-and-three with a scramble, grabbing at his left shoulder as he made his way off the field to the medical tent.
Muskett would end up only missing one play, and curiously, the QB who took the snap wasn’t Colandrea, but the third-stringer, Grady Brosterhous.
Brosterhous was also used on a fourth-and-inches play earlier on that fourth-quarter drive, taking the snap under center on a push play that gained the first down by about half a football.
Muskett, on the first play after emerging from the tent, connected with Malik Washington on a 26-yard TD pass play that would ultimately put the game away.
Whatever the docs did in the tent to get him right, maybe bottle that.
Another 100-plus-yard game from Washington: Washington bounced back from the mere 97 receiving yards he put up in last week’s 27-24 loss at Boston College to score 112 yards on seven receptions on Saturday, his fourth 100-plus-yard game of the season to this point.
Washington, a Northwestern transfer, was already leading the ACC in receptions and receiving yards, by a lot, coming into the game.
His brother from another mother, Malachi Fields, second in the ACC in catches coming in, had four catches for 63 yards and a TD.
Muskett, when targeting those two, was 11-of-15 for 175 yards and two TDs.
Muskett, when targeting anybody else: 6-of-11 for 57 yards.
Gotta get more pressure on QBs: No sacks again today for the Virginia D, which has just five sacks on the season.
(UVA’s opponents have 22.)
The 2022 unit had 30 sacks, averaging 3.0 per game.
The 2021 D, which was so bad that it ultimately led to Bronco Mendenhall deciding to resign, had 19 sacks in 12 games, so, 1.6 per game.
We’re not even to one per game with this group.