The Sunday Sampler 2011 – Auburn

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Kris Burd celebrates his second touchdown against Auburn in the bowl.

Virginia returned to postseason play Saturday for the first time since the Gator Bowl followed the 2007 season. While the 43-24 loss to Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl isn’t the result the Hoos wanted, one bright spot proved to the offense.

UVa produced more first downs, more passing yards, and more third down conversions than the opponent. The total yards shook out with the Tigers gaining 454 yards to the Cavaliers’ 435. Statistically, that stacks up as a decent night on that side of the ball. The biggest blemish came on two turnovers, an early fumble by Perry Jones and a late interception from Michael Rocco when a pass attempt was bobbled into the air.

Rocco finished with 312 passing yards, a career-high total and his second career game over the 300-yard mark. Rocco completed 26 of 41 passes to set a new Virginia bowl record for completions (Marques Hagans had 25 in the 2005 Music City Bowl). He is now tied with Scott Gardner and Symmion Willis for No. 11 on the program’s career charts with seven 200-yard passing games in his career. Receiver Kris Burd registered 6 receptions for 103 yards and finished the season at No. 4 on the program’s all-time charts for receptions (66) and receiving yards in a season (913).

For the season, Rocco posted 2,671 passing yards, good enough for No. 4 all-time at UVa for a season.

Within that statistic is a major story. The offense is an area that has continued to improve since Mike London and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor arrived two seasons ago. Consider that in two seasons on the job, Lazor has guided two different quarterbacks to two of the best passing numbers in a single season in school history. In addition to Rocco’s No. 4 effort in 2011, Marc Verica recorded 2,799 passing yards in 2010 to hold the No. 3 spot on the list. Only Matt Schaub has posted better passing seasons in school history and he holds the top