While I don't claim to be an expert in reviewing film, I went back and re-watched the game and noticed a few more obvious things (I'll leave the real film breakdown to French)...
- There's a lot of talk about how UVA won't be better than us next year. Honestly, they weren't better than us this year. That's not to say they didn't earn the win, they definitely did. But they earned it by playing a cleaner game than we did. They had one major mistake in the game, and it wasn't an "unforced" mistake - it came when Floyd hit Perkins and Conner picked off the pass. We, on the other hand, had multiple unforced mistakes that killed us:
a) Connor could have scored on that pick or at least been inside the 10, but someone (I think Ashby) was called for a blindside block that cost us 40-50 yards or so.
b) Our first drive of the game where our O was moving the ball and looking good ended with a Turner fumble.
c) UVA had 0 first downs during entire 2nd quarter and through the first 11 minutes of the 3rd. Our D was dominant. Then, with 4min left in the 3rd, Perkins hit Reed for a huge 40+ yard play that gave them momentum. From what I gathered from Bud's post-game presser, we were in 3-deep coverage, but Chatman missed his assignment and played man rather than being in the deep zone. It's tough to speculate how the rest of the game would have gone, but at that point our O was rolling (we had just had back to back TD drives) and their O had done nothing in their past 6-7 drives. Maybe it's a different game altogether if they don't get that play to spark their O. Or, if nothing else, just one more UVA punt vs a UVA TD on that drive could have made the difference.
d) I know this has been mentioned already, but easily the most frustrating sequence in the game came with 5 min left in the 4th. Game is tied at 30 and we had driven pretty easily to the UVA 40. Then, everything falls apart - TT drops what would have been a 1st down catch, then we have back-to-back false starts. Then, on 3rd & 20, HH throws a pick. Very frustrating sequence, we were in position to win this thing even after the previously mentioned mistakes.
e) Early in the game, TT scored on a jet sweep that was called back for a hazelton false start. We settled for a FG, cost us 4 points that we really could have used later.
...like I said, UVA earned the W by playing clean, and we didn't.
- An unsung hero from this game is Robinson, especially on punt returns. In the 2nd quarter, he had back-to-back huge punt returns and single-handedly flipped the field. Our O went 3-and-out on back-to-back drives, but still got a FG because of the field position created by 83.
- HH threw from the pocket a lot in this game, much more than I remembered from watching the game live. He looked good doing it too, lots of good throws and down-field completions. It looked like we were running the "Willis" offense because we thought UVA was taking away the misdirection game, and HH performed very well and made good throws for the most part except for the final drive. If he can be that good from the pocket, that's even more reason for optimism for next year
- As good as Perkins has been, I get why many programs didn't view him as a QB. On an 3rd & 7 he threw an out to Reed that would have been an easy first down, but the ball floated and took forever to get there, allowing Chatman to make an easy tackle short of the 1st down. There were other examples too - he made some good throws, but doesn't have enough zip on slants and out routes.
- I thought this game was the most effective our WR screen game has been all season. UVA corners were playing way off whenever we had multiple WRs to the same side of the field. Turner had a big gain off of one, and Robinson almost scored on one. Wish we had used this more, and then maybe eventually lure them into the pump-n-go that we used vs UNC.
- The deep post from HH to TT was a thing of beauty. HH stood in the pocket, about to get hit, and delivered a beautiful pass. TT adjusted perfectly and boxed out the corner to make the catch, then shrugged him off for a walk-in TD.
- Brian Johnson was 3/3 in this game and hit a 47 yard FG to give us 30-27 lead, he's much improved from last year.
- With 3 min left in the game and tied at 30, Perkins changed his mind from give to pull on a read play, and ended up running for 10 yards. So often you see a fumble when a QB changes his mind at the last minute like that. Guess it was just their day.
- The "3 sack" drive - personally I put that on the OL, not on HH. The first two sacks, a defender came through completely unblocked. The OL seemed confused, and HH had no chance to even throw it away. On the third sack (in the end zone) - it looked like we finally had all the right assignments, but it was 3rd & 21 so the routes needed time to develop, and Tenuta couldn't hold his block.
- In fact, on the next drive (now down 39-30 with one minute left), HH again showed he can throw from the pocket if given time, working the sidelines and the middle of the field. There was one sack on a stunt where 2 OL passed the DT to each other and he came in unblocked, but otherwise HH had time and made good throws and the OL protected him - again bodes well for the future if HH can throw this well from the pocket.
- I know we're down about this loss, but there's really no way to overstate the turnaround the team had this year. We all talk about the Duke game, but the BC, ODU, and Furman games were ugly too. That's not the same team that took the field vs Miami, URI, UNC, ND, Wake, GT, Pitt, and UVA. These coaches and players deserve ton of credit. I hope they'll be remembered as the team that turned the season around, kept the bowl streak alive, and posted back-to-back shutouts in 2 of Bud's last 3 , rather than the team that lost to UVA.
- There are other posts looking ahead to next year, and the outlook is awesome. We return talent everywhere, we'll know our offensive game plan from the offseason (vs having to re-tool it mid season), and we'll practice hard from the start (none of the pre-duke stuff that CJF had alluded to). Immense potential for next year. I think this is the most excited I've been about a team / season since 2011.
- Damon, Caleb, Divine - please, please, please don't leave us. Please. Please.
- Fuente & Cornelson are very good coaches, IMO. Still learning? Yes. But I'm glad we have those two guys. We are a long, long way from the offenses that drove us crazy and couldn't score under Stiney. I feel like the "fire Cornelson" sentiment picked up steam early when the O was bad in the first 4 games, but I don't think it's at all warranted with how we've been scoring against good defenses later in the year. And Fuente is a very good coach, who manages different game situations well, and I think his players like him and respond to him.
- Bud is the man. I hate that we lost his last one vs UVA, but love the position he's left the defense in, and (obviously) what he's done for the program. Let's send the man out with a bowl win that we can build off of. Here's to 9-4 and a happy retirement day for Bud!