10 Things I Learned … Wake Forest

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Coming off a difficult loss to Miami, UVa was in need of a bounce back performance against Wake Forest. Unfortunately, while Virginia did bounce back during the course of the Wake Forest game, it was bouncing back not from the Miami loss but from the 28-3 halftime deficit the team was facing. Not exactly the bounce back the team – or the Hoo fan base – was looking for. What did we learn from a road loss in Winston-Salem?

1. Ugh. When you are down 28-3 at the half, a lot has gone wrong. In fact, just about everything has had to go wrong. And despite the Hoo offense putting 14 points on the board in the fourth quarter, the numbers still were not pretty by the end of the day.

One can argue all day about the importance of certain statistics … but however you want to value statistics, several were telling on Saturday. While time of possession admittedly can be an overrated stat, for example, when you lose the time of possession battle in every single quarter, that really is saying something. Turnovers are far from being an overrated stat, I think most would agree, and having four of them in a game is way too many, especially on the road. And don’t get me started on the penalties (OK, maybe I will get started on them below). Put those numbers together and that is how you outgain a foe in terms of first downs and yards and still lose handily.

Still, as bad as those numbers were, the numbers 143-28 were the ones that really stuck out to me. Last week in answer to a question about the Wake game, I wrote the following in a post: “My gut feeling is that the team that does the better job running the ball wins the game so long as their kicking game does not let them down.” So how did that prediction pan out? On Saturday, Wake won the rushing battle even more decisively than Obama beat McCain, piling up 143 rushing yards to a paltry 28 by UVa. Of Wake’s 16 first downs, 11 of those first downs came as a result of rushing the ball. Heck, Wake Forest’s advantage on the ground was so complete that its suspect kicking game never even had to enter the equation in any meaningful sense as Wake’s kicker only had to kick four extra points, never even having to attempt a field goal. Even in the second half, when the Wake offense could not get into the end zone, the running game continued to chew up the clock and made a