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Virginia’s horses hung with the Tigers for a half but in the second frame, Clemson’s stallions were way too much for the Hoos. In what has become a weekly occurrence, the offense could not match the effort of the UVa defense which was able to hold No. 23 Clemson to one of its least productive offensive outings in the last six weeks.
Perhaps the most telling sign of a united football team is a fundamental understanding between the offense and the defense about what the other side has to contend with. Maybe that’s why the Cavaliers are 3-8; Virginia’s offense and special teams haven’t seemed to comprehend what the defense goes through week in and week out. While the defense was fighting to keep the Tigers out of the end zone, Virginia’s offense and special teams were mired in a losing battle to help Clemson get closer. To be sure the defenders had their lapses and the other two operations made some plays, especially in the first half, but a lack of concentration and execution have become habitual with the special teams and offense. So have the results, which continue to be losses in a disappointing 2009 season.
Third down conversion offense. After a season low 16.67% in the loss to Miami, the Hoos have seen a steady increase in their third down offensive success over the last two games. UVa converted 35.71% of its third down chances against BC and 46% at Clemson. One of the biggest differences is a drop in the average yardage to go on third down from 10.3 against Miami to 8.4 vs. BC and 8.3 in Death Valley. Production has improved as well, especially in the passing game where Virginia increased its completion percentage, its yards per play (YPP) from 5.5 to 6.3 and its conversions from 3.1 to 3.5 per game.
Kickoff coverage. With an offense struggling to score, field position is obviously a huge component in an attempt to mitigate the lack of production from the offense. One area where big chunks of hidden yardage can be gained is in the kickoff and coverage operation. After three quality outings against Maryland, Georgia Tech and Duke, the Cavalier coverage unit has been on a steady decline as the chart shows.