The Virginia football team's 2006 season was hindered by a sluggish offense that never got on track through offensive line struggles and quarterback changes. The bad news is that the Cavaliers started 2007 in that same offensive quagmire, which led to a 23-3 defeat against Wyoming on Saturday.
Jameel Sewell struggled in Wyoming with just 87 yards passing and 2 INTs.
How bad was it in the opener? Statistically? Check. Visually? Check. Any way you slice it? Check.
Yes, that bad.
The Cavaliers put up just 110 yards of total offense and it was late in the fourth quarter before they stayed in triple digits. On the ground, the Cavs produced just 7 yards on 7 attempts. In the air, it wasn't much better - the visitors had just 103 yards.
UVa produced 5 first downs in the game and converted just 3 of 13 third down chances. The Hoos also had two interceptions (including one that squandered a great kickoff return by Andrew Pearman) and four penalties for 35 yards. They also allowed three sacks.
"We left some guys open there in the first half. We had a couple of seam routes that were open," Virginia coach Al Groh said during postgame radio coverage on the Virginia Sports Network. "That's the story a lot in the passing game. If guys are open, we've got to be able to throw and we've got to be able to catch it."
Individually, Cedric Peerman had 18 yards rushing on seven carries. Staton Jobe (27), Dontrelle Inman (21), and Maurice Covington (20) all had at least 20 yards receiving.
Jameel Sewell finished 11-of-23 passing for 87 yards with 2 INTs, including the one that slipped out of his hand after Pearman's return. True freshman Peter Lalich played briefly in the final moments and completed 3 of 5 passes for 16 yards. Groh bristled at the 'who will start next week' line of questioning, but did say that the quarterback production must improve.
"It's been an excellent period of preparation for [Jameel] and we still have a lot of confidence in him; I know the team does. We'll just be looking for more here in the next week," Groh said before continuing on a later question. "Our mentality is we're going to do whatever it takes. We're very upbeat about what Jameel can do, but clearly we needed a better performance at that position today. Whatever we have to do to get it - more practice reps, more competition, more preparation … we'll try to take whatever means necessary."
With the offense dancing in quicksand, the defense was left to fight what must have felt like The Neverending Story. The D spent 40:19 and 88 plays on the field, facing a spread offense that mixed up its attack and its tempo to keep the Hoos off balance.
In the end, UW piled up a solid set of statistics that were only negated by some, though not enough, Virginia defensive plays. UVa's defense forced two turnovers and recorded three sacks, putting them on pace for its 36-36 goal. That wasn't enough to stop the onslaught of numbers, though.
Wyoming finished with 23 points, 471 total yards (218 rushing and 253 passing), and 27 first downs. The Cowboys converted 10 of 20 third downs and 1 of 2 fourth downs. Devin Moore led the way on the ground with 125 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Karsten Sween paced the aerial attack with 253 passing yards and 1 TD thanks to a 25 of 34 showing.
Jeffrey Fitzgerald had a solid day, but the UVa defense spent too much time on the field to be truly effective.
"I was very impressed by their team. They got a lot of plays out of their quarterback position and they got a lot of plays out of their running back position. They got some plays on defense and plays determine games," Groh said. "They made a lot of plays and we certainly didn't make very many."
"They just outplayed us. They made plays when they needed to," UVa linebacker Jon Copper said on postgame radio coverage from the Virginia Sports Network. "We didn't stop the run, they got a long pass on us, they took care of the football fairly well so it was execution on our part."
Wyoming jumped on the board first with a 12-play drive that produced a field goal. The Pokes extended the drive twice with third down conversions, something that was not a strength for them a season ago; Sween had a hand in both conversions as he completed a 7-yard pass and scrambled for 13 yards on the two plays. Billy Vinnedge, who missed a kick later in the half, eventually capped things off with a 48-yard field goal.
The rest of first half scoring bookended the second quarter. UW started the quarter with a 4-yard touchdown reception by Greg Bolling, who hauled in a fade pass over the head of Vic Hall on third down. The end zone visit at 13:35 gave the hosts a 10-0 lead.
Virginia provided the other end of the quarter's scoring with a late field goal. Chris Gould set up his own kick by pinning the Cowboys at the 1-yard line with a perfect 50-yard punt that stopped short of the end line. UVa smothered Wyoming and called three timeouts to get one last possession out of the half. Three pass completions and a spike later led to Gould's 42-yarder as time expired.
The Cowboys quickly matched Virginia's late score with a quick second half field goal. That pushed the lead back to 10 points at 13-3. They added another score in the late afternoon when Moore burst through an ever-tiring Cavalier defense for a 49-yard TD run. A late Vinnedge field goal provided the icing on the cake in what amounted to a whipping from Wyoming, which easily avenged last season's 13-12 overtime loss in Charlottesville.
"We're disappointed. We'll have about 24 hours to stay there and then we have to get back to work on Monday," Copper said. "Like I said earlier, we have a lot of work to do. I know I do individually. I feel like I can play 10 times better than what I did today and I think as a team, we have a lot of work to do before Duke next week."
Statistics | UVa Media Relations Notes (PDF)
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