Defense Shines in Wyoming Win

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Virginia’s defense stayed aggressive against Wyoming and it paid off.

Virginia’s defensive scheme has been bashed roundly by critics of the 3-4 and some have moaned about the aggressiveness of the play-calling to boot. Well for at least one September afternoon, the 3-4 left little to be critiqued as the Hoos defeated Wyoming 13-12 in overtime.

Saturday’s performance against Wyoming was an impressive showing by the Cavalier D. In what Al Groh calls the most important defensive category – points allowed – Virginia held WU to just 12, which came on just one touchdown. That scoring pass came in overtime when the offenses get to start at the 25-yard line.

It’s that kind of performance that Groh has always wanted out of his defense.

“That game right there is the kind of game we’ve been trying to get here for six years. That is, get our defense playing so that we can win a game on defense,” Groh said. “That was a terrific job by the defense. Those guys were resilient, resourceful, and hung in there under every circumstance.”

The other statistics were also impressive. Virginia held the Cowboys to 313 yards of total offense on 70 plays, an average of 4.5 yards per play. The Pokes accumulated just 145 yards passing on 23 completions and converted just 4 of 16 third downs.

Wyoming did gain 168 yards rushing with an average of 4.4 yards per carry. But that stat is inflated because the Cowboys’ John Wendling piled up 60 yards on two fake punts. Without those yards, the Pokes gained just 108 yards on 36 carries, which is just 3.0 yards per carry.

“Our defense definitely stepped up. We had a couple of flaws last week, but we got that straightened out. … This week we didn’t allow the big plays and played solid,” Jeffrey Fitzgerald said.

The Hoos also forced two turnovers, both of which came inside their own 30-yard line. Marcus Hamilton came up with the ball on each occasion, making what could be considered huge plays in a game that proved low-scoring and closely contested.