Home Notebook: Virginia offense struggles, again, in short-yardage situations
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Notebook: Virginia offense struggles, again, in short-yardage situations

Chris Graham
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Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia faced a fourth-and-inches near midfield late in the first quarter, and coach Tony Elliott showed confidence in his offense with his decision to go for it.

It didn’t work out, and NC State took advantage of the short field to get the first score of the game seven plays later.

Elliott, after the game, didn’t second-guess himself for the call to push the envelope.

“It was six inches. Six inches. And mindset, mentality, being aggressive. I told the guys we don’t have anything to lose,” Elliott told reporters after the 24-21 loss to the Wolfpack in the teams’ ACC opener.

He did concede that he “probably should have called a timeout, and really talked about it, and got the best possible play call,” but other than that, no, he’s good with going for it there.

“It’s six inches. we’ve got to be able to go get that. I don’t care what we run, you’ve got to be able to get six inches,” Elliott said.

You do have to wonder if the failure in the first quarter factored into Elliott’s decision in the third quarter, facing a fourth-and-1 at the State 19, to kick the field goal rather than “being aggressive” like he was in the first quarter.

“Gotta take points. Gotta take points in that situation,” Elliott said. “It’s, at that point, what was it, 14-10? And we just got to take points and didn’t want to, gotta reward the defense, and come away with some points, and see can we now put it in the hands of special teams, and then see if we can possibly get a good kickoff, good kickoff coverage, and then down them on the short field, backed up for the defense, then get a short field for the offense.”

The home crowd booed the decision, but the home crowd doesn’t have a $4.25 million-a-year job riding on decisions like these.

The home crowd, also, didn’t see what Elliott was seeing with his run game, which was productive early on last night, but found “tough sledding” against the NC State as the game wore on.

UVA gained 126 sack-adjusted yards on the ground, averaging 3.2 yards per attempt, which, no, not good.

“If you watch them, that structure is built to have seven, eight guys around the box. They work versus the wide zone. So, they were able to make some, make some adjustments,” Elliott said. “I felt like we had a couple of runs there that we might have cut back a little bit too early. Disappointed in the short yardage. We got to convert those situations.”

Would it help in short yardage to have some offensive plays with the QB under center, rather than taking a shotgun snap six yards behind the line of scrimmage?

“We work, we work under center. Yes, we do, we do work under center, but again, for 10 (true freshman QB Anthony Colandrea), he hasn’t been up on the center a lot, so let’s do what you do. And I come from a shotgun offense philosophy, and that’s always the debate. Most of your shotgun offense guys are gonna tell you, you do it all practice, you do it all game, then you go into the most critical time, and then you ask them to do something different.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].