Inside the Numbers: Maybe the UVA offense is hitting on something?

Bryce Perkins uva footballNorth Carolina isn’t the ’86 Bears or anything, but the Tar Heels had been surrendering a respectable 381.3 yards per game coming into Saturday night’s tilt with UVA.

UNC had held South Carolina to 270 yards in its season-opening win, held defending national champion Clemson to 331 yards in a 21-20 loss last month, held Duke to 329 yards in a 20-17 win in Chapel Hill last week.

So, when Virginia puts up 517 yards – yes, Virginia, 517 yards – you do a double-take.

This is a ‘Hoos offense that had been averaging 305.2 yards per game over its last five, including an anemic 244-yard effort against 1-8 ODU and a 311-yard output against a Louisville D that had been giving up 445 yards per game before stifling Virginia in a 28-21 win last week.

There’s really no secret to the sauce that offensive coordinator Robert Anae cooked up for UNC this week.

It was a dash of Bryce Perkins, another dab of Bryce Perkins, a big hunk of Bryce Perkins, sprinkling in some more Bryce Perkins, then top it off with, you know.

Uh, Bryce Perkins.

Perkins threw or ran on 63 of Virginia’s 72 offensive snaps – going 30-for-39 passing for 378 yards, and running 24 times for 112 yards.

That’s obviously not sustainable, right?

Except that, maybe, it has to be.

In games against FBS opponents, Perkins has thrown or run on 79.0 percent of UVA’s snaps in 2019, so, while the 87.5 percent rate in the win at UNC would represent a small bump up, it does seem pretty much par for the course.

The big difference with the results this week would seem to be the ability to get the ball downfield, or at least beyond the line of scrimmage.

The numbers tell us that Perkins averaged 12.6 yards per completion Saturday night; for the season coming in, he had been averaging 10.4 yards per completion.

This, on a night when Perkins completed 76.9 percent of his passes, exploiting 1-on-1 matchups against the Carolina secondary all night long.

The standout in the receiving corps wasn’t the guy you’d expect. Try Terrell Jana, the 6’0”, 190-pound junior, who had 13 catches on 16 targets, for 145 yards.

He’d had 30 catches through eight games coming in, so if you can assume that Jana is now a sort of 1b to the 1 and 1a that you have already in Joe Reed (56 catches in 2019) and Hasise Dubois (49 catches), well, now you have something.

It would be nice if Anae could conjure up some help in the run game to take some of that burden off Perkins.

Wayne Taulapapa got just five carries, gaining 21 yards, before being put on ice after a fumble in the third quarter.

Perkins had 24 of Virginia’s 32 runs, and as dynamic as he is running the ball, it’s too easy for opposing defenses to know that the only threat on the ground is the quarterback.

For the season, Perkins has accounted for a sliver under 50 percent of Virginia’s running plays (143 of 288); a year ago, he accounted for a what-then-seemed-unsustainable 42.5 percent of Virginia’s rushing attempts.

I kind of feel bad for Perkins here, to be honest. He’s doing all of this for free, and he has three, four, maybe five more games to do this, this being, carrying the offense on his back, the future of his body be damned.

Mini-rant over.

Virginia has a new weapon at wideout, some momentum going forward in terms of getting the ball downfield.

And: more Bryce Perkins.

More Bryce Perkins? Great idea.

Story by Chris Graham

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