Greg’s Game Grades: Music City Bowl

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Just in case any of you missed my prediction in last week’s preview, I noted that “Groh and what’s left of his coaching staff have always performed well in difficult situations. I have a hunch they will do so again, so if you’re placing a wager on this one, take the over and the underdog 35-31.”

OK, I was off by one point, but with Sabre analysts Nick Sauer (37-27) and John Galinsky (31-20) going with the favorite, I was pleased with my Nostradamus-like conclusions. This was a fine effort overall by the Cavaliers and if grades could be given on sheer heart, they would all be A+’s.

Quarterback (A)

Marques Hagans

Were it not for an ill-advised interception with just under six minutes remaining in the game, the Virginia quarterback position would have generated a blemish-free performance. Marques Hagans had the best passing game of his career, throwing for 358 yards and two touchdowns. But it was his well-known play-making ability and elusiveness that put his team in a position to win Friday. Hagans completed 83% of his pass (excluding two drops) and converted 75% of third-down attempts when he ran or passed. His most memorable third-down completion came late in Virginia’s game-winning drive. With 3rd and 6 at the UM 43, Hagans avoided a sure sack to complete an 18-yard strike to Emmanuel Byers for a drive-sustaining first down. “I don’t even remember how I got out, I just know that I got out,” Hagans said. Superb decision-making, virtually flawless execution, tremendous heart and well-deserved MVP honors describe Hagans’ farewell performance.

Consequential Plays

  • 3Q – Opening drive of the half – 3rd and 4 at VA – 22 Marques Hagans rush for 8 yards to the UVa 30 for a 1st down.
  • 4Q – Second drive of quarter – 1st and 10 at VA – 14 Marques Hagans pass intercepted by Kyle McKenzie at the VA 40, returned for 2 yards to the VA 38....