Week 10 is in the books with the Hoos scoring a big road win at North Carolina. Time to recap the victory and reevaluate both the coming week and remaining road ahead:
Quick Hit Thoughts from the Game
Virginia had lost three straight road games and was going into a stadium where just a few weeks prior, mighty Clemson had struggled to escape alive. The Hoos getting the win in Chapel Hill is a big deal.
The offense had been much-maligned over the previous ~5 games, only putting together a seemingly complete game against Duke when it was gifted with a half-dozen short fields. This week, the offense put together a complete game all by itself.
Bryce Perkins was the ACC player of the week after accounting for 490 total yards and 5 TDs, both through the air and on the ground, against no INTs and only one (UVA-recovered) fumble. It was the Perkins it feels like we've been waiting all season to see.
Running backs were barely utilized. Taulapapa had his lowest usage of the year, just 5 carries for 21 yards and a fumble (recovered by the offense). Look for him to get more work against a Georgia Tech team that allows over 200 yds rushing per game, worst in the ACC.
Have yourself a day, Terrell Jana. The "third" wideout got a ton of love from the scheme, grabbing 13 catches for 142 yards, and saving UVA's bacon with a fumble recovery. I think we've seen next year's #1 demostrate his full potential.
O-Line played improved. Still allowed 3 sacks, but did create some running lanes for Perkins (whether by design or scramble openings). The stability at the tackle spots (Haskins at LT, Reinkensmeyer at RT) is paying dividends.
Defense struggled to consistently generate pressure on Howell, but it felt like UNC had some pretty good blocking schemes when it kept extra blockers in for blitz pickup. Of course Mack missed the first half after his suspension
All told, allowing 539 yards to UNC is concerning for the defense. UNC is an above average offense, Howell is going to challenge for an all-ACC team spot, and was at home. UVA's secondary was once again in flux, which explains a lot, as does Mack's absence. By the yardage numbers UNC is the best ACC offense on our schedule, 446 yards per game.
Re: the secondary, with the season-ending injury to Brenton Nelson, UVA is now without seven scholarship DB's, the others being Germane Crowell, Myles Robinson, Bryce Hall, Darrius Bratton, Antonio Clary, and Heskin Smith.
That leaves four scholarship upperclassmen (CB Nick Grant, and safeties De'Vante Cross, Chris Moore, and Joey Blount) along with a trio of freshmen (RS Fr Jaylon Baker, and true freshmen Tenyeh Dixon and Fentrell Cypress) on the 2-deep. Also in the wings are converted RS Soph wideout DJ pratt and promising RS Fr Joseph White (recovering from injuries earlier in the year). They'll have three weeks to develop chemistry and confidence prior to facing VT's solid passing attack.
Hoos sit atop the Coastal after that win, and control their own destiny. However, another Coastal loss and UVA needs a lot of help to win the division. This will most likely still be in the balance come Thanksgiving.
Depth Chart Moves
On the offensive side of the ball, the offensive pecking order is solidified at WR where Terrell Jana seized his starting spot after a big game at UNC, and Bobby Haskins continues to solidify his position as starting LT. On the defensive side, more shuffling in the secondary with another season-ending injury to overcome (Brenton Nelson), as we now have our four remaining upperclass DBs as our four starters, and four freshmen backing them up.
Coastal Power Rankings
UVA vs UNC was a heavyweight matchup for the division lead, while Pitt over GT and Miami's intra-coastal win over FSU further refined the pecking order:
1. Virginia (Prev: 2) - 6-3 (4-2) - Finishing 2-2 on the road in conference play is a big win for the Hoos, as road losses threatened to derail their Coastal aspirations. The Hoos now are in the driver's seat for the division, but that's far from guaranteed with both Pitt and VT having real shots to steal it before the end of the month.
2. Pitt (Prev: 3) - 6-3 (3-2) - The Panthers survived a sloppy trip to Atlanta to bounce back from their homecoming loss to Miami and keep their Coastal hopes alive. The Panthers have good ACC wins over Duke and Syracuse, and as the only other bowl eligible Coastal team, stay high in these rankings.
3. VT (Prev: 5) - 5-3 (2-2) - The Hokies rode some fortunate bounces to a near-upset in South Bend and are confident going into a home stretch including four ACC games in four weeks. They need to split the stretch (Wake, @GT, Pitt, @UVA to get bowl eligible) The QB position continues to be a game of musical chairs after starter Hendon Hooker missed the Notre Dame game with injury and backup Quincy Patterson struggled.
4. North Carolina (Prev: 1) - 4-5 (3-3) - Another week, another one-score game for the Tar Heels, who continue to be pretty 50/50 overall. As such, it feels fitting to peg them 4th out of 7, smack in the middle of the rest of the division. They need to find a road win at either Pitt or NC State this month to get bowl eligible. Sam Howell has already locked up Rookie of the Year honors.
5. Miami (Prev: 6) - 5-4 (3-3) - The Canes were so dominant in Tallahassee that it got Willie Taggart fired by FSU. Miami is still inconsistent but playing better, with road conference wins now both at FSU and Pitt plus the home win over division-leading UVA. If they win out (Louisville, @Duke) and get some help, they still have an outside shot at the Coastal crown.
6. Duke (Prev: 4) - 4-4 (2-3) - A bye week for the Devils see them jumped by Miami and VT who had encouraging road showings, while Duke has been fairly unimpressive since their big September blowout win at VT. They went 1-3 in ACC play in October, losses to Pitt, UVA, and UNC, and only a win over last place GT to brag about. The Devils are just playing for their bowl eligibility lives right now, and a visit from Notre Dame doesn't make those prospects look good at all.
7. GT (Prev: 7) - 2-6 (1-4) - Records don't lie and that one road win over Miami feels very fluky. They've lost every other ACC game by double digits and are effectively no longer playing for even slim postseason chances. A 20-10 win over Pitt when they couldn't capitalize on three Panther turnovers was disappointing; UVA will have a chance to put the nail in their coffin this week.
Non-UVA Games to Watch this Weekend
Virginia plays in the early 12:30 timeslot this weekend, so there's an opportunity to spend the afternoon and evening checking in on a lot of other big games around the league and college football. The Coastal sees UNC and Pitt on a bye week (they clash next Thursday instead) and Duke playing a non-conference game vs Notre Dame that likely won't be too interesting.
#5 Penn State at #13 Minnesota - 12:00 PM Eastern - ABC: The first of two national games today facing undefeated teams, both the Nittany Lions and Golden Gophers enter this one 8-0. Minnesota has feasted on the league's bottom half, but a win over Penn State would have major CFP implications.
Louisville at Miami - 3:30 PM Eastern - ESPN2: Miami sits quietly just one game behind UVA in the Coastal standings with (a) a tiebreaker over UVA should we end up tied and (b) only two ACC games left, both winnable (the other @Duke). Miami can make the season's closing weeks very nerve-wracking with a bowl-clinching win here.
#22 Wake Forest at Virginia Tech - 3:30 PM Eastern - ACC Network: Wake is quietly 7-1 and the ACC's clear 2nd best team. Virginia Tech has found new life over the last few weeks with wins over Miami and UNC and a near-upset of Notre Dame. Wake's a tough out, but VT tends to play best as an underdog.
#1 LSU at #2 Alabama - 3:30 PM Eastern - CBS: A #1 vs #2 regular season game comes along only once or twice a decade, and it's essentially a playoff game to likely knock one of these teams out of CFP contention and annoint the winner as front runner.
The Remaining Schedule
Saturday, Nov 9 - Georgia Tech: Win confidence 8.5 - The Jackets continue to show a pulse despite their 2-6 (1-4) record, but UVA's defense has feasted at home and the Yellow Jackets' QB situation is a mess after throwing for only a combined 8 of 21 for 108 yards against Pitt last weekend.
Saturday, Nov 23 - Liberty: Win confidence 9 - Liberty got bowl eligible this past weekend with a lopsided win over 1-8 UMass. Their offense under former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze is fun to watch, but they still lost on the road to 2-7 (0-6) Rutgers, so there's no real expectation for them to win in Charlottesville.
Friday, Nov 29 - Virginia Tech: Win confidence 5 - Back to calling this one a true toss up. I'd feel better if our secondary weren't so banged up because VT has some legit wideouts, and their OL pass-protects pretty well. Our offense will need to show up, and it's been pretty hit-or-miss at times this year. Psychology of this one matters too.
Predicted final record: 8-4 (5-3)