Greg’s Grades 2022: Virginia Vs. ODU

Virginia Xavier Brown Grades
Virginia freshman Xavier Brown helped the running backs pick up a solid grade against ODU. ~ Photo By Kris Wright/TheSabre.com

No doubt Virginia’s 16-14 win over ODU was U-G-L-Y. But it’s a win and as the season progresses we may look back on the game as a critical juncture in the season. The outcome would not claim any beauty contest prizes but all the operations made headway in the grades. The critical element, however, was the victory. Without the “W” we might have ignored some very positive progression for the UVA football team.

The progress was well timed heading into Friday night’s game against 3-0 Syracuse as a 10.5-point underdog (and growing in some books). The question is, can the ugly be fixed in time?

Let’s look at this week’s grades.

Greg’s Grades

Overview

Offense Grade: 82.26 (B-)

  • Highlights: Brennan Armstrong broke the program’s career passing record with a 17-yard completion to Lavel Davis Jr., passing Matt Schaub (7,502) on UVA’s all-time list. Armstrong now has 7,534 passing yards for his career.
  • Not so bright: Ball security (duh) and Virginia’s plus-field and red zone offensive efficiency were a disaster. More on this in the “One More Thing” segment.

Virginia’s offense had its best performance of the season. I realize the team gained just 8 more yards than it did against Richmond, but the look and feel, the eye test said better. The run and pass blocking were better, the running game was better, the pass protection by the line and running backs was much better, the diversified quarterback play was better. The play-call mix was better, the formations and sets were better and the assorted counters to the pass rush were refreshing.

The other “not so bright” element of the game was UVA’s wide receiver play. The receivers made some big plays. But Armstrong’s 57% completion rate should have been 67% absent the 7 drops I charted. Every pass is not going to be thrown perfectly while receivers are running their routes. Stipulating that, these issues of dropped passes, route confusion, and inability to consistently create separation from defenders needs to be corrected.

Defense Grade: 88.74 (B+)

  • Highlights: UVA has held its first three opponents of 2022 to 55 points. The last time the Cavaliers held the first three opponents to below 56 points was 2019 when they held Pittsburgh, William & Mary, and Florida State to 55 points to start the season.
  • Not so bright: 44% of ODU’s offensive yardage (144 of 324) came on 17 plays (25% of total plays) during two end-of-half drives that totaled 2:38 of time of possession. On the remaining 52 plays, the Monarchs gained an average of 3.46 yards per play.

Virginia’s defense recorded the highest operational grade of the season with an 88.74 effort against the Monarchs. About the only fault you could find was the fact that ODU scored on 100% of its red zone possessions. Of course, part of the problem with that is the visitors only got into the red zone once in 11 drives. Considering the Orange are 11 and 11 converting red zone possessions into points, it would be a good idea to keep SU out of the red zone as well.

After 13 havoc plays in game one, the Hoos have recorded 21 and 17 against Illinois and ODU respectively. That’s a sign I think that the players are becoming more comfortable in coach John Rudzinski’s defense.

Bottom line, the defense played well against the run, well against the pass, kept the opposition out of the red zone, were solid on third down, held ODU to 5.6 yards per attempt passing (94.8 grade) and 4.5

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