UVA D solid in big win over UConn

The numbers didn’t show it, because of garbage time, but the UVA defense was stout again in the 38-18 win over UConn on Saturday.

uva footballThe Huskies tacked on 153 yards in the fourth quarter to finish with 426, but when it counted, the Cavs got stops and got turnovers to snuff out several UConn drives.

A Brenton Nelson interception at the UVA 1 ended one scoring opportunity, that had come after a long kickoff return and Virginia penalty.

A Micah Kiser fumble recovery inside the UVA 5 did in another opportunity that itself had come about following a Cavs’ turnover.

And three times, the Huskies tried to convert fourth downs in plus territory and came up short.

How big was that? The Virginia offense turned around each time and scored touchdowns following those stops.

The box score says UVA had a modest 3-0 advantage in points off turnovers, but the game played out much differently.

The total yards number was deceptive, and really, so was the 18 in the final score. One touchdown came on a trick play, after UConn had apparently benched starting quarterback Bryant Shirreffs in favor of backup David Pindell. With Shirreffs lined up at wideout, he took the pitch on a reverse and found a receiver open downfield for a 60-yard touchdown.

Congratulations, right, scoring on a trick play down 31-0 late in the third quarter, and tipping your hand to that play to future opponents, who will be ready the next time Pindell and Shirreffs are in the game at the same time?

The two fourth-quarter scores came as UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall started subbing rather liberally to get young guys some live action and his two-deep some needed rest with a short week ahead of next week’s game, on Friday night at Boise State.

Don’t let the numbers fool you. That was the best UVA defensive effort we’ve seen from this program since Mendenhall took over.

And something nice to build on.

Column by Chris Graham