Week 7 is in the books with the Hoos taking a painful loss in Coral Gables. Time to recap the loss and reevaluate both the coming week and remaining road ahead:
Quick Hit Thoughts from the Game
Six trips inside the Miami 25 yard line, and only three FGs to show for it. That really sums up a lot. Other than those three stalled drives, the other three results were a failed 4th-and-1, a blocked FG, and a fumble. One extra touchdown and the game is very different.
This game was 7-3 entering the 4th quarter, still very winnable. Defense did its job before running out of steam late.
Lots of blame to go around for the offense laying a big fat egg. The offensive line still couldn't open up many running lanes and gave up way too many QB pressures. The playcalling often didn't put players in a position to succeed. Perkins, often running for his life, failed to recognize open receivers. The fumble was also a killer.
Speaking of the fumble, tough break for Hollins. It's a learning experience for the talented freshman, who'd been waiting a month to get back into meaningful game action after a productive 2nd half vs W&M. We'll have to see how quickly he gets a chance to redeem himself.
It's not like any other running backs were doing much of anything either.
The Bryce Hall injury just sucks all around, no way to sugar coat it. Going to miss him, still can't believe he's played his last game for UVA.
Hall joins Darius Bratton, Heskin Smith, Germane Crowell, and Myles Robinson as veteran cornerbacks lost to health/injury this year. Leaves us with Nick Grant, a bunch of freshmen, and a utility-knife De'Vante Cross to man the position group over the last 6 games. It's legit reason for worry.
The front 7 played well enough. 3 sacks, 9 TFLs. Missed Rob Snyder but there's enough depth to cover that up in a given game.
Big picture, I said before the season that our first six games were tough. A road date to Notre Dame was a safe bet to be a loss, leaving @Pitt, FSU, and @Miami three very debatable tossups. 5-1 was the realistic goal for this point, with 4-2 being the baseline expectation to maintain position in the chase for the Coastal. From that perspective, we're on pace.
The problem is a couple of games on the back six look a lot tougher than they used to, with both UNC and Louisville exceeding expectations under new head coaches. Leaves us with four legit tossups to come: Duke, @UL, @UNC, and VT. 3-1 in that stretch probably wins us the Coastal, though 2-2 is probably the most realistic outcome. Going 1-3 in those games would end the year 7-5, in which case the win better at least be over VT.
The offense hasn't put together a good half since the first two quarters in South Bend. It hasn't played a complete game since maybe September 14th against FSU, over a month ago. No excuses against a Duke team that gave up 33 to Pitt, a Louisville team that let Wake score 59, or a Tar Heel squad that let App State score 34. Need to break the 24-point threshold in all three games. The defense only has one takeaway over the last two games so we can't count on turnovers to set the offense up with short fields; Perkins and the boys need to be able to go 75 yards and find the end zone on their own.
But as much as the momentum feels to have stalled recently on this season, the Coastal is still very much in reach. The Hoos still control their own destiny, and I hope the fans turn out strong this weekend to see UVA get back into the win column.
Depth Chart Moves
Obviously the most disappointing thing here is the loss of Bryce Hall, who is backfilled by converted FS De'Vante Cross. Brennan Armstrong still left off as he continues his recovery from a foot (toe) injury. The OL, despite its continued struggles, sees little change with only Haskins replacing Devine at backup RT. "OR" continues to dominate the depth chart.
Coastal Power Rankings
Spots 2-6 are a guessing game, as it's a circular reference of wins: Miami beat Virginia who beat Pitt who beat Duke who beat VT who beat Miami. Rather than take the lazy approach and just saying they're all tied, we're looking at the quality of their other ACC win/loss.
1. North Carolina (Prev: 2) - 3-3 (2-1) - The lone team without a Coastal loss, the Tar Heels only conference loss is to Clemson, and they own a good win over Miami. Yes the App State loss should ding them, but for now they get the top spot by virtue of their clean division record.
2. Virginia (Prev: 1) - 4-2 (2-1) - The Hoos haven't won since September 21st, and the Duke game is quickly becoming a must-win for this season to approach its potential. For now, the Hoos stay high by virtue of their good FSU win.
3. Pitt (Prev: 3) - 4-2 (1-1) - The Panthers had a bye this week, and so far their only conference games are the UVA loss and Duke win. Big cross-division opportunity at Cuse this weekend.
4. Duke (Prev: 4) - 4-2 (2-1) - Blue Devils had a home win over Georgia Tech to recover after their Pitt loss a week prior. Not much to be gleaned, but the win over VT is still impressive.
5. Miami (Prev: 6) - 3-3 (1-2) - The Canes saved their season with a home win over Virginia, but will have to make tough decisions regarding the QB position when Jarren Williams gets healthy again. They already have two Coastal losses to VT and UNC, so they've still got an uphill climb. GT on Saturday is a good start.
6. VT (Prev: 5) - 4-2 (1-2) - A sleepy win over Rhode Island follows their season-saving win at Miami, but that win had some fluky elements. Their non-Coastal result was a loss at a mediocre BC, so they stay low for now. A game vs UNC this weekend will give them an opportunity to resume their climb.
7. GT (Prev: 7) - 1-5 (0-3) - With a loss to Duke, the Jackets continued their struggles under new coach Geoff Collins. A road date to Miami is the next opportunity to prove there's hope.
Non-UVA Games to Watch this Weekend
The entire Coastal is in action this weekend, so the messy Coastal division will continue to be reshaped. In addition, UVA's cross-division rival Louisville welcomes a big foe. The national slate lacks any must-watch games, however, so feel free to make non-football plans Saturday night.
Pitt at Syracuse - 7:00 PM Eastern - ESPN: Pitt's offense, with Kenny Pickett under center, is starting to round into form under new OC Mark Whipple. They're very much in the discussion for the Coastal title, and it starts Friday in upstate New York.
Clemson at Louisville - 12:00 PM Eastern - ABC: The Cards went on the road to hand ranked Wake Forest its first loss, and now will attempt to do the same to Clemson. Easier said than done. Virginia sees Louisville next week and they could build some confidence vs the Tigers.
Georgia Tech at Miami - 12:00 PM Eastern - ACC Network: The Canes will have some "letdown" potential following the emotional win over UVA, and GT is entering "now or never" territory. Sneaky upset potential here.
North Carolina at Virginia Tech - 3:30 PM Eastern - ACC Network Extra: The best non-UVA/Duke game in the Coastal this week, Tech will be looking to show that the Herndon Hooker era is for real, while UNC is looking to cement its position as Coastal frontrunner.
The Remaining Schedule
Saturday, Oct 19 - Duke: Win confidence 6 - The Blue Devils are coming to UVA needing to snap its losing streak against the Hoos, and hoping to capitalize on Virginia's recent mini-skid. UVA isn't playing with a ton of confidence and will have to earn this win the hard way.
Saturday, Oct 26 - at Louisville: Win confidence 5 - Don't look now but the Cardinals are playing well. They went on the road to hand Wake Forest its first loss in a 62-59 shootout, and now sit at 4-2 (2-1). Hoos will have its hands full in this road contest.
Saturday, Nov 2 - at North Carolina: Win confidence 4.5 - UNC played Clemson to the wire a couple weeks ago before routing GT and getting a bye. This team is improving, and Virginia is not going to find an easy road win waiting for them in Chapel Hill
Saturday, Nov 9 - Georgia Tech: Win confidence 9 - The Jackets took another multiple-score loss to a Coastal rival this week, and will likely be eliminated from bowl eligibility when they visit Charlottesville. The Hoos should be able to get a comfortable win here.
Saturday, Nov 23 - Liberty: Win confidence 9 - No change here, as Liberty took its bye week this week. The Flames are on a 4-game win streak, but the level of competition is weaker. They will have a bye to rest up for us after their 11/9 road trip to BYU.
Friday, Nov 29 - Virginia Tech: Win confidence 5 - With UVA's performance coming back to the median and Virginia Tech showing some signs of life, this game drops back to at best a toss-up with the mental weight of the streak still at play.
Predicted final record: 8-4 (5-3)