What Might Have Been Feeling Envelops Virginia After Loss At Pitt

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When the Virginia football team and its fans look back on the 2021 season whenever it reaches its ultimate finish line, it’s likely to be with a heavy dose of what might have been.

The Cavaliers have unleashed an offense that has posted 500+ yards in nine different games. It features quarterback Brennan Armstrong, now the program’s single season record holder in passing yards and passing touchdowns (4,044 yards and 30 touchdowns), receiver Dontayvion Wicks (1,148 yards), now just 43 yards away from the single season receiving yards record, tight end Jelani Woods (7 touchdowns), now just two scores away from matching the program’s season record for touchdowns by a tight end, Billy Kemp IV (171 receptions), fourth on the program’s all-time receiving list, Keytaon Thompson (899 yards), who is closing in on 1,000 yards receiving this season himself, Ra’Shaun Henry (523 yards), and more. That’s been countered by a struggling defense that’s trying to be opportunistic with timely take-aways and stops, but that’s been gashed often. What might have been.

The Hoos scraped their way to a 6-2 season start. They led at halftime against then top 25 ranked teams at UNC and BYU, only to see the leads melt away. They had no shot against Notre Dame when the offense couldn’t get on track without Armstrong, who suffered a rib area injury on a late scramble at BYU where he wasn’t even hit. What might have been.

Yet after two straight losses, they remained in the thick of the ACC Coastal Division hunt in a year where Clemson, the league’s overwhelming force for the past decade, has not been dominant. Armstrong returned. Virginia battled with division leader Pittsburgh. Opportunities existed throughout the game – and the second half in particular – to seize the moment. The Hoos couldn’t quite get it done.

A kickoff return touchdown allowed in the second quarter. An interception on the second play of the second half set up the offense inside the Panther 15-yard line, but the offense couldn’t punch it in. A pass interference penalty by the defense on a 4th-and-1 play and an offsides penalty by the field goal block unit on a 4th-and-4 play extended a key Pitt drive in the fourth quarter. An errant snap on a late