50 Virginia Football Thoughts Before Kickoff: Third Down Comparison

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Virginia saw its third down defense step back last season.
Bryce Hall runs with an interception. ~ Kris Wright

The down marker flips. The scoreboard flashes for more noise. Virginia football or other fans stand. The offense reads the defense and tries to remain composed. The defense reads the offense and tries to create confusion.

This scenario plays out multiple times a game. It’s the chess match that is third down. If the defense wins, it gets off the field. If the offense wins, it keeps a chance for points going. The “50 Virginia Football Thoughts Before Kickoff” series looks at third down more closely.

13 – Third Down Comparison

Third downs are attention getters. It’s the critical point of any drive. It can control field position, spark momentum, and ignite the crowd if things go well. It can ruin drives, cause mistakes, and hurt the chances of winning if things go poorly.

How did UVA do in this critical category last season? It was a mixed bag.

On offense, the Cavaliers put together a great season on third down. They ranked sixth nationally in third down conversion percentage, gaining a first down 49.12% of the time. Virginia converted 84 of 171 attempts. Within that stat is another important nugget – those 171 third down attempts tied for 91st nationally among 130 FBS teams. In other words, UVA kept itself out of third down situations frequently last season,