Columbia, SC — There is only one thing that can be said about Saturday’s game against South Carolina. It was a
tough day to be a Cavalier in Columbia. And if there is one thing that is to be said after Virginia’s 31-7 loss, it
has to be that a team at this level will have an incredibly tough time winning a ball game when they only throw for 43
yards on the day. Redshirt freshman Anthony Martinez’ first start as a Cavalier will have to be one that he will
forget, as he struggled mightily against a game South Carolina team.
The Cavaliers had trouble moving the ball all day, as they had an amazing nine three-and-out possessions and ten
punts on the day. The Cavaliers were able to run the ball at times, as they racked up 124 yards on the ground, but the
passing attack suffered greatly, as Martinez completed only 7 of 17 passes for 43 yards including two critical
interceptions in his first start as a Cavalier.
In the first half, it appeared as though Virginia might be able to get out in front and hold on without the benefit
of a passing game. Early in the second quarter, after four ineffective drives, the Cavaliers got a break when a bad punt
by USC’s Josh Brown gave Virginia great field position at their own 45 yard line. Junior Alvin Pearman proceeded to
run the ball for 45 yards over four plays, including a 4th and 1, to give Virginia their first and only
score, and more importantly a 7-3 lead. Pearman ended up with a team high 91 yards on only 17 carries.
The momentum that came with Virginia’s first score continued to build on South Carolina’s next offensive drive,
as senior cornerback “Muffin” Curry intercepted Gamecock quarterback Dondrial Pinkins’ pass at the Virginia
44 yard line and returned it into South Carolina territory. Some of that momentum was lost, however, as Martinez threw
two incompletions, which stalled the drive right where it started.
After yet another stop on defense, Virginia couldn’t move the ball yet again with good field position, but punter
Tom Hagan came up with a big play. Like he did five times the week before, Hagan pinned the opposition deep, this time
at the one-yard line. That momentum would not last, however, as Dondrial Pinkins hooked up with speedy wide receiver
Troy Williams on for a 99-yard touchdown, which seemed to break the Cavaliers’ back.
While Virginia’s offense continued to struggle at the beginning of the second half, the Cavalier defense tried to
keep the team in the game. Led by a strong pass defense, Virginia forced South Carolina to go three and out to open the
3rd quarter, and after an Anthony Martinez interception, the defense kept the Gamecocks out of the scoring
column yet again when they forced USC to attempt, and miss, a long field goal.
As Martinez continued to struggle midway through the third quarter, Groh appeared to be confident that the young man
could get the job done, as he didn’t turn to any of his other quarterbacks on the bench. The Virginia offense was
still unable to put a drive together, however, as they couldn’t move the ball past midfield throughout the second
half. Virginia only mustered 39 yards on offense in the third quarter.
After the two teams exchanged positions in the middle of the third quarter, Virginia made a mistake that might have
put the game away. With three minutes to go in the quarter, Martinez fumbled the ball on a bad handoff exchange, and
when Moe Thompson recovered the loose ball, the Gamecocks had the ball on Virginia’s 11-yard line.
After bailing out the Virginia offense for most of the game, the defense could not make a stop deep in their
territory, and Daccus Turman scored from six yards out to give South Carolina a 17-7 lead, which seemed to put the
struggling Cavaliers away for good. Turman ended up with a game high 123 yards on 18 carries, most of which came in the
fourth quarter when the Cavalier defense was worn down. After Turman’s score Virginia would amazingly only be able to
gain 14 yards for the rest of the game, which was the story of the game for Virginia.
South Carolina punished a tired Cavalier defense to the tune of 14 points in the last quarter, as it became obvious
that Virginia’s defenders had been on the field for too long throughout the game.
On the day, Virginia only managed 170 total net yards, most of those coming on the ground. If the Cavaliers hope to
stave off a tough Western Michigan team in their next outing, they must improve their passing offense this week. They
must also try to stay away from bad penalties, which have plagued the Cavaliers for two straight weeks.
It is unclear when senior quarterback Matt Schaub will return from his shoulder injury, but many indications are that
he will be ready to go by Virginia’s next ACC game against Wake Forest.
Check back early in the week for a full analysis of the South Carolina game.