10 Things I Learned 2011 … NC State

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Going into the NC State game, UVa was 4-2 and good feelings abounded. Coming out of the NCSU game, UVa is 4-3 and uncertainty seems to reign. What a difference a week can make, eh?

Other than the Tim Smith TD catch, there wasn’t too much to celebrate this week against NCSU.

1. Ouch. Last year, Virginia beat a ranked Miami team and then went on the next week to lay an egg against Duke. This year, UVa beat a ranked Georgia Tech team and then goes out the next week and loses to NCSU. Deja vu all over again?

I don’t think so.

Last year, I felt like the team came out a bit flat against Duke and proceeded to find ways to lose the game. This year, I never got the sense that the team was flat, but I instead got the sense that the team – really, the offense – just could not get any momentum rolling. Good plays happened, but they almost always were followed by a bad play or two. As a result, drives never really got going on offense with the exception of one first half drive, after which the quarterback immediately was pulled (more on that below). Other than that one drive and one lightning strike in the third quarter … well … really, that was it.

On defense, however, where I always have felt like you really can see if a team lacks energy, I always felt like the energy was there. Too aggressive at times? Yes. Some missed plays? Sure. Needing some help from some slippery fingered NCSU receivers? At times. But lacking energy or aggression? I did not see it.

To me, this was just one of those games that a team that is trying to rebuild loses sometimes. The staff makes some mistakes, the offense makes some mistakes, the defense makes some mistakes and in the end, the team simply is not good enough at this stage to overcome those mistakes. In a few years, you hope that there are fewer mistakes and that the team is sufficiently talented to overcome the mistakes they do make. This year, against a team coming off a bye week that clearly presented some match-up issues, the mistakes were too