10 Things I Learned 2010 … Duke

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Keith Payne scored three more times this week.

After last week’s game, I warned that Virginia fans should not get ahead of themselves after the Miami win, particularly given that three of the next four games were on the road and UVa arguably had less talent on the field than all four of its remaining opponents. I guess you now can see why I offered that warning.

This was a painful day. A day that will be hard for the team – especially the defenders – to leave behind. And now, it is a day we have to break down.

1. The Day. You lose your third straight game to Duke – Duke!!! – and there are going to be questions that need to be answered. Beyond that, when you have almost 650 yards of offense, score 48 points, have 7 more first downs, rush for more than 200 yards, convert on 65% of your third and fourth downs combined, have 5 sacks, pass for more than 400 yards, gain more than 7 yards per play, and so on and so on and so on, the question that has to be answered is how the heck did we lose that game?

The answer is not complicated: penalties, turnovers, and breakdowns on defense.

The penalties have become a particularly troubling trait for this year’s squad. In this game, the results of the penalties would cause any coach to roll his eyes:

  • Gave the Blue Devils a first down when they were stopped on 3rd-and-14, the drive ultimately ending with a touchdown.
  • Put UVa in a deep hole on its first drive, which ended on an interception on 3rd-and-16.
  • Put UVa in 1st-and-19 and 1st-and-15 on the same drive.
  • Put the UVa offense in 2nd-and-27, 1st-and-15, and 3rd-and-15 on other drives.
  • Wiped out a first down catch.
  • Gave Duke a first down on 3rd-and-5 without requiring Duke to run a play.
  • Gave Duke a first down on 2nd-and-10 on a drive that ultimately resulted in a field goal.

You have to keep in mind that the proliferation of penalties is, in part, an outgrowth of the staff stressing that the players must play far more aggressively than in the past.