Week 5 is in the books with a tough loss on the road to #10 Notre Dame, and it's time to take a quick look back at the takeaways from the game and reevaluate both the coming week and remaining road ahead:
Quick Hit Thoughts from the Game
A 2-score road loss to a Top 10 team when we're still in the midst of a rebuild (even if we're a good ways through it) isn't the world's worst result. Not when it came after a 4-0 (2-0) start.
Five turnovers doomed us. It's really that simple. Now, we can get into the causes of those five turnovers, and we will, but ultimately you don't get to commit that many TOs and win. Period.
We're going to talk about the O-Line and playcalling, because obviously. But I want to make it clear that Notre Dame's defensive front was as good as any we'll see this year. Their edge rushers Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem are both projected as 1st or 2nd rounders in the upcoming NFL Draft. TheAthletic's Draft Big Board has 15 D-Linemen in its Top 60, and we've already faced 3 of them (FSU's Marvin Wilson being the 3rd). You know how many of those Top 60 players are left on our schedule? None.
With that said, it's one thing to look inconsistent against that D-Line, and to have some bad moments. It's another thing to give up 8 sacks, three resulting in fumbles, and more pressures that led Perkins into throwing bad INTs. There's having a rough day, and there's having an embarrassing day. Our O-Line had an embarrassing day.
Sometimes its about scheme, sometimes its about the players. In South Bend, it was about both.
Our O-Linemen are relatively young, but I think they're also just kind of limited. We recruited a lot of depth since the staff truly got rolling with the 2017 class, but it's still an open question if the quality will approach the quantity. I've preached a lot of patience with the OL, but that won't last forever.
And Anae does himself zero favors with his play calling. He crowds the backfield with too many additional blockers as opposed to spreading the field and going fast and varied.
Breakout day for Dubois, shame the turnovers overshadow his incredible performance, and Joe Reed wasn't far behind (they combined for 18 catches and 250 yards).
Easy to say "ignoring the turnovers," harder to actually do it, but Bryce's passing actually really dialed in at times against a very good defense. If (and it's a big *if*) the OL can improve against more manageable defenses, the Coastal could be in trouble.
The first half penalties were disappointing. Some were a little questionable, but not enough for me to get on the ref's case. More sloppiness that prevented us from having even more success in the first half than we did.
Defense played a solid day, given the short fields they were continually facing. Not a great day, but ND has some future NFL receivers. Only 322 yards allowed on the day (we actually outgained them), four sacks, a turnover recovery.
Perfect day for the place-kickers, so silver lining!
Did I want a win? Yes. But I told myself at the end of the day I wanted to be competitive (halftime lead? check) and get out relatively healthy (no word of any major injuries in the game yet).
Depth Chart Moves
N/A this week with the bye.
Coastal Power Rankings
1. Virginia (Prev: 1) - 4-1 (2-0) - Refuse to penalize the Hoos for losing on the road by just two scores to a Top 10 team. Virginia hasn't turned into a title contender, okay. But you don't need to be a title contender to win the Coastal, and the Hoos are still in the driver's seat with their 2-0 league record. Bye week comes at a great time.
2. Duke (Prev: 3) - 3-1 (1-0) - Devils were a giant unknown coming into this weekend as they'd only played Bama and two scrubs. Going on the road to paste VT showed, however, that Cutliffe has this team dangrous yet again, and possibly UVA's biggest threat in the Coastal.
3. North Carolina (Prev: 4) - 2-3 (1-1) - Carolina is the ultimate "play to the level of your opponent" team this year, every single game coming down to the closing minutes. Last week they lost a squeaker to App State and this week they lose a squeaker to Clemson. They get bottom feeder GT this week; better win that one by more than a score.
4. Pitt (Prev: 2) - 3-2 (0-1) - QB Kenny Pickett sat this week with lingering issues from last week's upset win over G5 powerhouse UCF. But that's no excuse to struggle to scrape by FCS Delaware. Panthers are the most Jekyll and Hyde team in the ACC, meaning they feel like a 6-6 or 7-5 team yet again this year.
5. Miami (Prev: 5) - 2-2 (0-1) - The Canes are coming off a bye week where the most recent memory is struggling to put away a visiting Central Michigan. They'll have a chance to earn back some respect this week if they can bury the struggling Hokies.
6. VT (Prev: 6) - 2-2 (0-2) - The 45-10 home loss to visiting Duke was the Hokies' worst home loss in decades, and the worst in their ACC tenure. After being taken to the 4th quarter by both Furman and ODU previously, Virginia Tech is looking at an uphill climb to bowl eligibility.
7. GT (Prev: 7) - 1-3 (0-1) - A double digit loss to Temple continues the Jackets long season at the bottom of the ACC. They get their first Coastal matchup this week when North Carolina comes to town. Doubt they surprise, but can they at least show progress?
Non-UVA Games to Watch this Weekend
Big weekend for UVA around the ACC, all six of our remaining conference foes in action, mostly against each other. In the first five weeks of the season, Coastal teams played each other only three times total. This weekend it happens three times in a day.
Boston College at Louisville - 12:30 PM Eastern - ACC Network Extra: Our cross-division rival has showed signs of life this year, and a visit from Boston College gives them a chance to build some confidence as they enter the meat of ACC play.
Virginia Tech at Miami - 3:30 PM Eastern - ESPN: Miami needs a dose of energy for its young offense, and a shot at Virginia Tech's struggling defense fits the bill. The Hokies are eyeing an 0-3 ACC start with a loss, so this is a really important game for both teams.
North Carolina at Georgia Tech - 4:00 PM Eastern - ACC Network: Carolina is on a three game losing streak (Wake Forest, App State, Clemson), but a quick clean win over GT will be a step in the right direction.
Pitt at Duke - 8:00 PM Eastern - ACC Network: Duke looked like world-beaters when they trounced VT. Pitt slayed one giant (UCF) and battled another (Penn State), so confidence shouldn't be a problem. Kenny Pickett should be back healthy in a game that has big Coastal implications.
The Remaining Schedule
Friday, Oct 11 - at Miami: Win confidence 6 - It looks less likely that VT is going to do much to soften up the Canes for us, but Virginia will have the benefit of a bye week to prepare for its trip to South Florida. Virginia's the better team, and Miami clearly needs to put its pieces together still, so the Hoos should be a slight favorite in this one.
Saturday, Oct 19 - Duke: Win confidence 6 - After watching the Devils run the Hokies out of their own stadium, it looks more like Duke's trip to Charlottesville could be an early factor in establishing a Coastal frontrunner. Cutliffe is always an excellent coach and will come to Scott with a solid gameplan.
Saturday, Oct 26 - at Louisville: Win confidence 6.5 - I'll know more about the Cards come Sunday once they've played someone more in their weight class in BC. We're a better team than BC, so if the Eagles can get the win in Lousivlle, we should too. But if the Cards show the ability to hold serve at home, it could mean we're in for a contest in a few weeks.
Saturday, Nov 2 - at North Carolina: Win confidence 5 - UNC went from losing a close one to mid-major Appalachian State to almost slaying goliath Clemson. This team is playing everyone hard, and will prove a difficult test for UVA in their place.
Saturday, Nov 9 - Georgia Tech: Win confidence 9 - They lost at Temple 24-2. They also already lost to the Citadel this year. They'll be mathematically eliminated from bowl contention by the time this game arrives, and UVA should coast.
Saturday, Nov 23 - Liberty: Win confidence 9 - The Flames improved to 3-2 with a 7-point win over New Mexico this week, but given their shutout loss to a mediocre Syracuse, I'm unconvinced they'll challenge much against UVA.
Friday, Nov 29 - Virginia Tech: Win confidence 6 - I said last week I wanted an excuse to bump this game up above 50/50, and Tech suffering their worst home loss since before I was born qualifies.
Predicted final record: 9-3 (6-2)