Greg’s Grades 2019: North Carolina

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The grades are in for UVA.
Tanner Cowley and the Hoos came through with a win in Chapel Hill. ~ Photo courtesy Matt Riley/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

There was a lot to like about the 124th game in the Virginia-North Carolina series. It was the first night game in Carolina’s Kenan Stadium between the two and only the second where both teams managed to score 30 points or more. Best of all, it was a Virginia road win that puts the Hoos in the driver’s seat for a shot at the ACC Coastal Division title.

Clearly this was not a day for the ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ crowd. The teams combined for 69 points, 1,056 yards, and 53 first downs. With those numbers, it was also not a good day for defensive coordinators. We’ll come back to that.

Virginia’s offense posted 517 yards, including 134 on the ground. The Hoos went 5 for 5 in the red zone, scoring a championship level 31 of a potential 35 points (88.5%). They averaged 8.3 yards per play on first down (nice way to sustain drives) and 9.2 passing per play. UVA’s 53.8% third down conversion rate was the second highest of the season. Finally, after turning the ball over five times in the last four contests, the Hoos delivered a clean game with zero turnovers.

I discussed in last week’s One More Thing segment Virginia’s struggle to get big plays or sustain drives.

After a below average number of big plays and sustained drive thus far in 2019, the Hoos cranked up the numbers in both categories Saturday with six explosive plays of 20-yards plus and four plays of 30-plus. Virginia also posted six drives of seven plays or more with three for eight plays or more, scoring