Week 9 is in the books with the Hoos falling on the road to Louisville. Time to recap the big win and reevaluate both the coming week and remaining road ahead:
Quick Hit Thoughts from the Game
So much for carry-over momentum from the big Duke win.
Without the aid of the defense and special teams to put the offense in a position to succeed (against Duke the offense benefitted from a half-dozen short fields), Anae and Perkins and company failed to consistently sustain scoring drives.
Plenty of blame to go around. Perkins threw a bad INT and made questionable pocket decisions all game. Joe Reed's fumble was a momentum killer at a critical point in the game. The offensive play-calling totally abandoned the run game in the 2nd half. And the O-Line failed to consistently keep defenders off Perkins.
I feel like complaining about the offense is becoming a bit repetitive, but if you've got time, Justin Ferber did a piece on Rivals that expertly breaks down, by the numbers, just how much the offense is struggling this season: https://virginia.rivals.com/news/deep-dive-breaking-down-uva-s-offensive-woes-and-inefficiency
But ultimately Louisville's defense was maybe the worst P5 defense on our schedule this year aside from maybe GTs, and the fact that we could only score 14 points over the game's first 58 minutes (with no major injuries or absences to blame) is inexcusable.
Defense discussions have to start with the Jordan Mack penalty. It was pretty bang-bang and borderline. But it didn't have to be that borderline. Mack could've gone for the waist/hips, but istead went for the shoulder pads. He knew what he was doing. Our guys are coached to go for those borderline hits, aiming for the upper chest, because they're violent disruptive hits. It disorients the offensive player, higher percentage for a fumble. The flip side is that inevitably a personal foul is going to get called sooner or later.
Defense never looked the same without the captain. Louisville's a good offense, but our D had them in check for the first 35 minutes.
DBs had some learning moments on big plays, but on the whole I think the unit's doing okay despite the injury woes. Obviously we're very thin going forward, but I think the corps has responded pretty admirably given all that they've lost (Bratton, Crowell, Hall, and Clary).
Another good day for Special Teams, so that's reassuring.
Every game the rest of the way is a must-win. We're still in control of our own destiny and not mathematically eliminated from anything, though at the same time not mathematically guaranteed of anything. Every game must get our team's best.
Depth Chart Moves
No changes to this week's depth chart, which continues to be a waste of attention. Still populated by ORs even where a true starter exists and has existed for months now (like Wayne T at RB). Christ still on the depth chart at DE even though he's been working at OT for weeks. And of course Jordan Mack the starter at MLB even though he's suspended the first half.
Coastal Power Rankings
A lot of movement after another shakeup week, with UVA losing at Louisville, Miami winning at Pitt, and Duke losing at UNC.
1. North Carolina (Prev: 5) - 4-4 (3-2) - After spending last week in Coastal purgatory (#5), punishment for a 6OT loss in Blacksburg, the Heels move back up to #1 with a win over rival Duke. They're tied for the best Coastal record, but given that one of their losses is to Clemson, they get the nod for consistency. Put one way, they have yet to lose in regulation to any non-Clemson ACC opponent.
2. Virginia (Prev: 1) - 5-3 (3-2) - The Hoos barely cling to a spot above the rest of the fray by virtue of their three league wins plus tiebreakers over Pitt and Duke. But even leaving aside the road ND loss, the Hoos have dropped two of their last three league games and are a road loss at UNC away from dropping straight to the middle of the pack.
3. Pitt (Prev: 2) - 5-3 (2-2) - The Panthers were stalking the Coastal with only one loss and solid momentum before a homecoming loss to struggling Miami snapped their 4-game win streak. This is still your daddy's Pitt team, good but short of great, a threat to win and lose in equal measure in any given ACC game.
4. Duke (Prev: 3) - 4-4 (2-3) - A tough loss for the Blue Devils, who had a chance to bounce back from their disastrous road trip to UVA with a win over the uneven Tar Heels. It was not to be
5. VT (Prev: 4) - 5-2 (2-2) - Virginia Tech is on an apparent upswing, a 3-game winning streak including UNC. But the body of work still suffers for that blowout loss to Duke, whereas the ACC losses for all of the teams above them have been of the 1-score variety.
6. Miami (Prev: 7) - 4-4 (2-3) - The Canes kept their outsider's shot at the Coastal alive with a road win at Pittsburgh this weekend, one that saw them keep the Panthers out of the endzone entirely. They still have to answer for losses to UNC, VT, and GT, but don't count them out yet. They still have a legit QB controvery though.
7. GT (Prev: 6) - 2-5 (1-3) - After moving up out of the cellar last week, they slide back down over their bye week as Miami gets a big road win to jump them. The only team without at least 2 league wins, and the Citadel loss still being held against them, GT needs to upset Pitt this weekend to keep their season alive. Remember, they still have Georgia awaiting them next month.
Non-UVA Games to Watch this Weekend
With UVA having the ACC's nightcap this week, your Saturday afternoon is open for checking in on the rest of the league with some good Coastal-relevant clashes dotting the schedule. Only Duke has the weekend off from the division. One Top 10 SEC clash is thrown in for good measure.
Virginia Tech at #16 Notre Dame - 2:30 PM Eastern - NBC: Virginia Tech has rebounded the last few weeks after making a quarterback switch to Herndon Hooker, winning at Miami, over Rhode Island, and over UNC. They've most recently had a bye before this big road trip to South Bend, looking to continue to build confidence for their stretch run.
#8 Georgia at #6 Florida - 3:30 PM Eastern - CBS: A great non-ACC matchup, these two teams are fighting to keep their slim Playoff hopes alive, and the winner will have the inside track to the SEC East bid to the conference title game vs Alabama or LSU.
Miami at Florida State - 3:30 PM Eastern - ABC: Miami continues to vex the nation, losing to VT, beating UVA, losing to GT, winning at Pitt... A road trip to similarly-inconsistent FSU gives the Canes a chance to continue to hunt both bowl eligibility and their outside shot at the Coastal.
Pitt at Georgia Tech - 4:00 PM Eastern - ACC Network Extra: When last we saw the Yellow Jackets, they were scoring their first ACC win of the season in Miami. Now they're home vs a Pittsburgh team humbled at home by Miami. Pitt will be the favorite here, but crazier things have happened.
The Remaining Schedule
Saturday, Nov 2 - at North Carolina: Win confidence 4 - Hoos are 2-7 in true road games going back to last year, Perkins isn't 100%, the offense is lacking identity and consistency, and now we're without Jordan Mack for a half. This is not setting up well for the Hoos.
Saturday, Nov 9 - Georgia Tech: Win confidence 8.5 - The Jackets did get that road win at Miami so it isn't a sure thing, but that may be as much about Miami (who's even more inconsistent than UVA is) than it is about GT. Let's see how the Jackets do this week hosting Pitt before we annoint them as a major threat in two weeks.
Saturday, Nov 23 - Liberty: Win confidence 9 - No real changes here after the Flames saw their five game win-streak (all against mid-majors) snapped in a road loss to B1G bottom-feeder Rutgers. The Flames kept it close into the third quarter, so they'll come to Charlottesville with some fight, but UVA still ought to win this one.
Friday, Nov 29 - Virginia Tech: Win confidence 4.5 - As the year drags on, the more this UVA team starts to look like good-but-not-great UVA teams of years past. Maddeningly inconsistent offenses, the inability to win on the road or in bad weather. Good Septembers that cool off in October. And that means that, until proven otherwise, we have to assume that means this is the same UVA that can't beat VT either.
Predicted final record: 7-5 (4-4)