The Cavaliers had their chances. Virginia’s coaches put their players in position to pull out a victory and were it not for a poor punt here, some missed tackles there and an untimely penalty or two, Greg would be saying, “I told you so” today.
Virginia’s offense put up more yardage passing (296) and more total yards (407) than any Miami opponent this season. The Cavaliers averaged an impressively efficient 10.2 yards per passing attempt and 18.5 yards per catch, in large part due to Emmanuel Byers ‘ 90-yard touchdown pass to Deyon Williams . Virginia converted 44% of its third-down chances against one of the top third-down defenses in the nation.
But the ‘Hoos were helpless against Miami quarterback Kyle Wright, who completed 77% of his passes, averaging 8.3 yards per attempt. The problem wasn’t so much the passes Wright completed; it was Virginia’s inability to make tackles and limit Miami’s yardage after contact that doomed the ‘Hoos. Thirty-five percent of the Hurricanes’ 399 yards of total offense (140 yards) came after the initial hit on the receiver or rusher.
Still, even with mistakes and missed opportunities, the Virginia offense and defense did enough in my estimation to win. The poor play in what arguably may have been the Cavaliers’ strongest phase entering the game, special teams, was the difference.
Though the numbers do not necessarily reflect it, Marques Hagans closed out his regular-season career as a Cavalier doing what he’s done over the last four years – he made plays to put his team in position to win. Hagans completed 53% of his passes, had a modestly efficient 7.4 yards per attempt and converted 6 of 14 third-down opportunities. Not great numbers, but the 42% conversion rate is still 17 points higher than the ‘Canes were allowing entering the game. Hagans made relatively good decisions throughout the game and though he only netted 14 yards rushing, he was charged with 30 sack yards, most of which were protection sacks. He was charged with two fumbles, though...
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