The Sunday Sampler 2011 – Southern Miss

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The defense couldn’t come up with some crucial stops in the loss on Saturday.

When it looked back at the game film, the Virginia football team must have lamented its third down defense during Saturday’s 30-24 loss to Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles converted 10 of 21 chances on third down in their win and nine of those conversions came on scoring drives. The Cavaliers’ inability to get off the field proved costly as they fell to 2-2 on the season.

Throw in the fourth down conversion on a fake punt during USM’s second touchdown drive and it’s clear that the Hoos needed to come up with a crucial stop, but couldn’t in too many key situations.

“We had a plan. We had a great plan. Coach Reid drew up a great plan. Their offense had a great scheme,” Virginia linebacker LaRoy Reynolds said. “I just feel like we didn’t capitalize on the plays that we knew we could capitalize on, especially the plays that we worked on so much in practice. They hit us with the screen play twice.”

“The thing about it is you run your best pass defense in situations where you’ve got to stop them,” UVa defensive coordinator Jim Reid said when asked about the third down defense. “The last one was the big one. It’s the one everybody will remember.”

The last one definitely will not be quickly forgotten. Virginia, trailing 27-24 with just more than 3 minutes to play, backed Southern Mississippi into a 3rd-and-23 from its own 41-yard line. But the Hoos couldn’t make the stop. Instead of getting the ball with more than two minutes remaining in need of just of a field goal to tie, the Cavaliers didn’t line up on their final offensive possession until 1:24 and they needed a touchdown drive to win.

On the 3rd-and-23 play, USM dialed up a screen play for Tracy Lampley that turned into a 41-yard gain to the UVa 18. The Golden Eagles set up the two-sided screen play with a two-back look out of a shotgun set. The running back released to the right of the formation, while Lampley