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Scott German: Blowout loss to Georgia Tech puts Virginia back to square one 

Scott German
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Photo: UVA Athletics

Any momentum that the Virginia football team had after back-to-back competitive road games with North Carolina and Miami was blown out of proportion.

Saturday’s 45-17 loss to Georgia Tech at Scott Stadium was a complete disaster for the Cavaliers – offensively, defensively and from the injury report.

The goodwill Virginia had earned after the upset over UNC and narrow overtime loss to Miami, both on the road, was shown the door in Scott Stadium by an explosive Yellow Jackets offense.

No silver lining, no solid effort, nothing but an embarrassing loss at home, which may have been Virginia’s last chance at winning this season.

Ouch.

The wise guys in Vegas had Virginia as a slight two-point favorite entering the game.

OK, the oddsmakers also didn’t factor UVA losing starting quarterback Tony Muskett early in the first quarter, but the Cavaliers stunk up the joint in about every aspect of the game as well.

As a result, the Cavaliers fell to 2-7, and 1-4 in ACC action, and are still looking for their first home conference win since Tony Elliott took charge of the program.

That first ACC home win may have to wait for a spell.

Offensively, Georgia Tech just ran the ball down Virginia’s throat. On defense, the Yellow Jackets didn’t look anything like the league’s porous defensive squad.

And on the injury front, with Muskett limping off the field early in quarter one, the offense was ineffective under Anthony Colandrea, who saw his redshirt burnt after entering the contest.

What went wrong 

I could have saved a bunch of time by choosing to write what went right. But that could have been written in a sentence or two.

Without Muskett, the offense was just not in sync. Maybe it was because the game plan was laid out for Muskett calling plays, and the receivers and offensive linemen were not prepared for Colandrea coming in.

Maybe it was Colandrea not being ready to take the reins of the Virginia offense. Whichever was certainly not an excuse for the putrid offensive numbers UVA put up.

The last three games, the Cavalier offense just looked different under Muskett. The offensive line seemed more comfortable in pass protection and run blocking.

Muskett, who missed three games earlier in the season, was finally getting comfortable with his receivers and was effective in the run option as well.

The offense was obtaining the balance that Elliott had preached about.

Saturday, with Colandrea behind center, nothing really worked, as Georgia Tech quickly made the defensive adjustment, often loading the box, hands raised, which bothered the shorter Colandrea.

Virginia’s coaching staff had no adjustment.

GT did what it does best 

At times this season, Virginia’s rush defense has been at best shaky, at worst bad. Saturday, GT exposed the bad side of the Cavaliers’ ability to even control the run.

The Yellow Jackets ran at will. Up the middle, around the ends, Tech had a whopping 10 plays of 10 yards or more on the ground, and seven more runs of 15 yards or more. Those are referred to as explosive plays, and a defensive backbreaker.

GT had an up-tempo offensive approach in the first half that Virginia was simply not able to slow down.

The Yellow Jackets finished the contest with 44 carries and 305 yards. GT had three players that each had runs of over 30 yards.

Surging Virginia falls flat 

Sometimes you can x and o things too much.

A Virginia football team that was trending in the right direction in recent weeks returned to reality in the loss.

After a promising drive to begin the game, the Cavaliers just could not adjust to losing starting quarterback Muskett.

Georgia Tech was dominant in its first win in Charlottesville since 2013, ending a four-game losing streak at Scott Stadium.

Overall, it was a disappointing game for UVA.

The execution wasn’t there. It was the first game since Tennessee that the Cavaliers were simply overmatched.

The offense struggled after losing Muskett, and the D got worn out after some long-sustained Tech drives.

It’s what you do after being punched in the face that counts.

Saturday, Virginia took one to the chops.

With three games left, they need to respond.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.