Greg’s Game Report 2011: FSU

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Last week I noted that the Cavaliers proved they could defeat a decent team when not playing their best. Saturday against FSU, Virginia proved it could take down a very, very good football team, on the road when not playing its best. I’ve seen many Virginia games in Doak and I’ve always sensed a level of intimidation every time I’ve watched the Cavaliers play in Tallahassee. The thing that was evident to me Saturday was this Virginia team had no fear and was not intimidated. To the contrary, the Hoos came into to the game and matched Florida State’s intensity and frankly, was the more physical team. The Cavaliers played like a team about to play for divisional championship game.

The other huge difference Saturday night was Virginia’s ability to execute in situational play. UVa executed in the red zone on offense and defense. The Hoos executed in the final four minutes of the game and FSU did not. The Cavaliers got the job done on third down and in short yardage (offense and defense), while the Seminoles did not.

The Hoos held the Noles to their fewest points of the season (tied with Oklahoma in a game where QB EJ Manuel was injured) and FSU’s 23% third down conversion rate was the team’s lowest since Nov. 28, 2009 against Florida, a span of 25 games. Yes the Noles had some big plays but the Cavalier defense turned Jimbo Fisher’s club away from pay dirt every time but one. Make no mistake, this was a dominant performance by the Virginia defense.

Bill Lazor’s offense was not overwhelming but it was effective. Virginia moved the ball, altered field position when necessary and scored when it had too. The Hoos were opportunistic with the running game and attacked one of the nation’s top pass defenses head-on. Lazor exposed the coverage weakness of FSU’s linebackers with his running backs and went vertical against a very good tandem of cornerbacks.

This is not the first time I’ve relayed this story to Sabre readers but I think it bears repeating. Early in his tenure at Virginia, I asked baseball coach Brian O’Connor about his level of satisfaction following a highly competitive 1-2 series loss to baseball power Miami on the road. Paraphrasing Coach O’Connor he said, “We didn’t come to Miami to be competitive; we came to Miami to win.” Today, perennial ACC baseball powers like Miami, Florida State, North Carolina

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