Greg’s Game Grades ’07: UNC

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Chris Long had another strong outing for the Hoos.

Virginia’s 22-20 win over UNC on Saturday displayed some encouraging improvements as well as some continued concerns. On both sides of the ball, the run game and run defense performed well. The Cavaliers produced big numbers against what had been a decent Carolina run defense and shut down the Tar Heels’ weak running attack.

The Cavalier passing offense was adequate in getting the job done but T.J. Yates’ ability to shred the Virginia defense through the air gives cause for concern. UVa’s early season struggles in the red zone are especially troubling. While Virginia has scored on 8 of 9 red zone trips in three games, the Cavs have scored just 39 of a possible 63 points in the zone.

Two other areas that must be addressed before this week’s showdown with Georgia Tech: fumbles and penalties. Virginia, the least penalized team in the ACC the last four years, is currently the league’s biggest offender both in volume and yardage lost. The team that has fumbled the football fewer times than any other Division 1-A team in the nation the last two-plus seasons has put the ball on the ground more times in two games than in the prior 25.

What should give fans hope is that each week it seems that the team has addressed the previous week’s concerns. In week two, the offense that was slumbering in Wyoming came to life. This week, the special teams unit that could execute nothing against Duke executed a record tying field goal day and held special teams superman Brandon Tate to mortal-like numbers.

The grades tell us that the big question entering the upcoming contest with the Yellow Jackets is can the Cavaliers fix their penalty issues, stop self-destructing in the red zone, and rediscover the lost art of tackling an opposing receiver?

Tar Heels fans can crow about what could have been all week long but this game should have never been close. Two dropped interceptions were followed by UNC touchdowns and two Virginia scoring drives stalled in the red zone because of penalties that turned second-and-mediums