They played hard, but their mistakes cost them.
They lost 17-14, but they showed how good they could be.
Virginia came into this game with everything against them. The last time they played USC they were crushed, at home, 52-7. They were traveling to play in a historic, but also loud and hostile, stadium. No Virginia team had ever played on the West Coast, ever, which meant the players had to get their bodies used to the time change. This game kicked off at 10:30pm Charlottesville time, and ended at close to 2am. And those were just their own physical and psychological hurdles. Let’s not forget that they were about to square off with the no. 16 team in the country who, after getting torched by Hawaii’s offense the week before, was looking to prove something.
And as if all that weren’t enough…they were still without superstar corner Ras-I Dowling and starting safety Rodney McLeod for another game.
So that was all the nonsense leading up to the game, what actually happened on the field? It was ugly, for both teams.
Virginia came out of the locker room playing tough. They were playing inspired hard-nosed football. They were definitely not intimidated by the surroundings, or the Trojans. The Cavaliers were aggressive, but they were making stupid mistakes, as were the Trojans.
The first quarter ended in a scoreless tie, but each team had missed opportunities. The Cavs missed a field goal and quarterback Marc Verica threw a drive killing interception in the endzone. USC had a long touchdown called back because of a holding penalty. The refs would get a lot of work calling penalties. Twenty-two were called overall, thirteen on USC and nine on Virginia.
Penalties and missed opportunities were the story of most of the first half. All of the scoring in that half was done inside of the last four minutes. USC struck first with a touchdown pass from Matt Barkley to star receiver Jordan Cameron. The Trojans tried to go to Cameron a lot, especially when he was covered by Chase Minnifield. I guess they heard Minnifield’s comments from last week. Minnifield was getting burned consistently, but was aided by a few drops and a few of the many penalties USC committed. The Trojans couldn’t seem to take advantage of the mis-match.
Keith Payne scored a touchdown for the Cavaliers, capping a nice sustained drive. USC scored with a second left on the clock and took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
Neither team could get any traction in the second half either. The Trojans added a field goal with about six minutes left in the game. The Cavs scored a touchdown with four seconds left, but it was too little too late. They lost, 17-14.
The Cavaliers can take a lot away from this game. Their play is starting to match the personality of head coach Mike London. They are playing tough. They running the ball well and playing with intensity on defense. They need to dial it down a bit though, so they don’t keep committing stupidity. Many of their penalties were of the late hit and roughing variety. A few of them came on plays that would have ended Trojan drives. Virginia had chances to win this game, they were just a little too wired.
They also showed that they aren’t going to be the cupcake of the ACC that they have been in recent years.
Speaking of cupcakes, this week the Cavaliers have a bye, and then host the Keydets of Virginia Military Institute, a team that got housed by William & Mary yesterday, 45-0.
About the Author
Written by Gabriel Rodriguez
Born in Germany, early childhood in NYC, raised in the D.C. area, currently reside in Charlottesville, VA. Big fan of the NY Giants and San Antonio Spurs.