Virginia Beat: Lost Opportunities

UVA spent almost its entire Thursday night showcase blowing golden chances to win the football game.  Fitting, since blowing opportunities is what they’ve been doing all season.  A season which, itself, has become one big blown opportunity.

Twice on Thursday, UVA had first-and-goal situations and came away completely empty-handed.  Not that it mattered the second time – with the score 37-13 by that point, it would’ve been a perfume-on-a-pig touchdown – but the first would’ve tied the game at 20.  Mike London made the gutsy and applaudable call to go for it on fourth down, instead of kicking the field goal, and succeeded, setting up the first and goal that ended on the second fourth down of the drive.

Of course, it’s questionable whether that touchdown would’ve ever mattered.  You go for it on fourth down at the one-yard line, because even if you get stuffed (which they did) you have great field position and your defense has a chance to put two points on the board.  Given that opportunity, the defense instead allowed a 97-yard touchdown drive, which put UNC two touchdowns ahead.

The list doesn’t stop there.  Virginia could never take advantage of Tar Heel mistakes.  When UNC missed a field goal, UVA responded by throwing a pick-six on the very next play.  When UNC muffed a punt and UVA recovered on North Carolina’s 12, the Hoos moved the ball one yard and settled for a field goal.

Oh heck: why even act like UNC was the only one making mistakes.  UVA saw one of its best kick returns of the season called back on a holding penalty.  The Cavaliers’ second drive of the game was a very nice, efficient display of offense and ended with a field goal thanks to a stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.  No, I don’t mean stupid on the refs’ part.  It all added up to a lost chance to make an impression on national TV in prime time – where UVA has played precious few games this season.  And against a top recruiting rival at that.

That itself was just one piece of a lost season.  Maryland is not a good team.  Wake Forest is not a good team.  UVA has beaten better ones this season, and had they beaten those two, they’d be planning a postseason trip.  Or perhaps, if they had taken advantage of their golden chance to beat Louisiana Tech.  Mike London is trying to pitch the “team on the rise” line to prospective recruits – this line works much better when you actually are one.

Following a surprise bowl season last year with UVA’s first consecutive bowl years since going to four straight from 2002-2005 would’ve been a great way to reinforce the message.  The schedule set up almost perfectly; better than it likely will in subsequent years.  The Hoos blew it.  There is one more chance to fix things this season, and it’s a golden one, with UVA’s instate rival playing its worst football in well over a decade.  If by some miracle things go right, I’ll probably forget everything that happened in the preceding twelve weeks.  If not, it’s just one more blown chance.


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Brendan’s bio: I’m just this guy … this ordinary Virginia graduate and fan who woke up one day realizing his opinions on everything UVA could no longer be contained in one space. Thus was born From Old Virginia, a labor of love where you can find obsessive opinionating on Virginia football, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, and whatever else when the mood strikes. And if that’s still not enough for you, go to the Twitster and follow @MaizeNBlueWahoo for the dumb stuff that pops into my head when I’m watching the Hoos.

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