Say what you want about Pitt’s poor execution, devastating turnovers and sloppy play, but make no mistake this was a game where one team was simply overmatched by another. On paper there may not be a huge gap between the Hoos and Panthers, but between the ears, between the rib cage, and between the lines, there is a huge difference.
It wasn’t a perfect effort by the Cavaliers, far from it. But it resembled a giant step in a season of baby steps. Not so much because of the execution, which was pretty solid, but because of the style of play.
Yes, the special teams and defense gave the offense short fields to work on but what I liked was the aggressive play-calling and the business-like attitude of the offense; it went out and executed the plays. I love the killer instinct, the fact that Virginia played to win, and pushed the issue when Pitt made mistakes. Call it a “make them pay” mentality and that’s exactly what the Hoos did. I love how physical the Virginia offensive line has played. Destroying people with blocks, owning the edge, and keeping the quarterbacks upright.
There were signs of life from the special teams – especially the return units, which helped Virginia dominate field position. If the coaches can get a few things corrected, the kicking game could become a huge asset down the stretch.
Finally, the Cavalier defense was again very solid. They gave up a big play or two, but for the majority of the 30 minutes that Pitt had the football, the Panthers did nothing. Eight of Pitt’s 11 measurable drives ended in five plays or less, including four three-and-outs. Of Pitt’s 288 yards of total offense, 25% (70 yards) came on the final two drives against Virginia’s prevent defense.
Overall Grade: 88.18 (B+)
- The Pitt game marked the fourth consecutive contest the Cavaliers have scored on their first two drives of the contest.
- Virginia’s 44 points were the most scored against Pittsburgh this season. The Panthers entered Saturday’s game ranked 18th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 16.0 PPG.
- The Cavaliers entered the game allowing more points (19.8) than they were scoring (19.2), but managed to score four touchdowns in the first 21:08 on the game. In five contests this season, Virginia is outscoring opponents by a 72-12 mark in the first quarter.
Red Zone Efficiency: 92.85...
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