The Sunday Sampler 2011 – NC State

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That was the mood around Hooville after Saturday’s 28-14 loss to NC State. One week after exposing a ranked Georgia Tech team in a 24-21 upset, the Virginia football team crashed to earth in disappointing fashion. Four turnovers and an overall lackluster offensive performance doomed any chances of winning back-to-back ACC games for the first time in two years.

All of which resulted in more frustration for Hoos everywhere. A missed opportunity. Actually, I should say another missed opportunity. Another missed opportunity in what feels like more than a decade’s worth of them. The 5-7 records in 2001, 2006, and 2008 – oh so close to bowl games. The second place ACC finish in 2002. The rise and fall of 2004. The title game shot and chance for 10 wins in 2007. Last season’s 4-4 start and outside shot at postseason play with a strong finish flamed out with four straight losses to end the season.

Missed opportunity after missed opportunity after missed opportunity.

Now this. If the Cavaliers could have gotten a win against the Wolfpack, they would own a 5-2 record with five chances to earn bowl eligibility for the first time since 2007. They would be one win from bowl eligibility for the first time since October of 2008. And make no mistake, as I said in the preseason, making a bowl game would be a major accomplishment for the program. Considering the rebuilding position for Virginia, I believed then and believe now that earning a postseason spot is something the program needs. The hopes of turning the program around can still be accomplished regardless of what happens in 2011, but the road would be much easier if this season can be stamped as a bowl bid success.

Of course, there are also the side benefits lost from Saturday’s setback. Think two straight conference wins might start to win back some fans (only 46,030 showed up Saturday)? To convince folks of progress? Or as coach Mike London himself put it last week, change how people think about you? Alas, all of that must wait for a new opportunity too.

So in short, it was a huge opportunity. Instead, the frustration of another moment gone by leaves people thinking “same old Virginia.” From the fans to the coaches to the players, everyone is left to rue