The Defense: Virginia

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Vishnu Parasuraman (aka 2003alumgocanes) Follow on Twitter and Facebook

Here is a look at what went right and wrong defensively, against Virginia, followed by some conclusions (opinions).

Possession #1

1st and 10 at UVA 6 VIRGINIA penalty 3 yard Illegal Shift accepted. 0 0
1st and 13 at UVA 3 Perry Jones rush for 3 yards to the Virg 6.
2nd and 10 at UVA 6 Michael Rocco pass complete to Darius Jennings for 25 yards to the Virg 31 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 31 Kevin Parks rush for 11 yards to the Virg 42 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 42 Kevin Parks rush for 2 yards to the Virg 44.
2nd and 8 at UVA 44 Michael Rocco rush for 2 yards to the Virg 46.
3rd and 6 at UVA 46 Michael Rocco rush for no gain to the Virg 46.
4th and 6 at UVA 46 Jimmy Howell punt for 39 yards, punt out-of-bounds at the MiaFl 15.
DRIVE TOTALS: VIRGINIA drive: 6 plays 40 yards, 03:50 VIRGINIA PUNT

Summary:  Not a good possession, although Virginia didn’t score.  With Virginia pinned deep, the defense missed an opportunity to give the offense great field position by allowing a huge gain on 2nd and 10 followed up with a gashing run out to near midfield.

Possession #2

1st and 10 at UVA 26 Michael Rocco pass complete to Kris Burd for 15 yards to the Virg 41 for a 1ST down. 0 0
1st and 10 at UVA 41 Perry Jones rush for 1 yard to the Virg 42.
2nd and 9 at UVA 42 Michael Rocco pass complete to Jeremiah Mathis for 5 yards to the Virg 47.
3rd and 4 at UVA 47 Michael Rocco pass complete to Darius Jennings for 53 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. 6 0
Robert Randolph extra point GOOD. 7 0
Chris Hinkebein kickoff for 70 yards returned by Travis Benjamin for 17 yards to the MiaFl 17.
DRIVE TOTALS: VIRGINIA drive: 4 plays 74 yards, 01:55 VIRGINIA TD

Summary:  On 3rd and 4, Miami brought a heavy blitz and Virginia had the right play called.  It still could have possibly been tackled downfield, but it appeared that Ray Ray took a bad angle.  Telemaque was wiped out downfield, and Virginia scored the long TD.

Possession #3

1st and 10 at UVA 23 Kevin Parks rush for 15 yards to the Virg 38 for a 1ST down. 7 0
1st and 10 at UVA 38 Kevin Parks rush for 3 yards to the Virg 41.
2nd and 7 at UVA 41 Michael Rocco pass incomplete to Tim Smith.
3rd and 7 at UVA 41 Michael Rocco pass complete to Kevin Parks for 14 yards to the MiaFl 45 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MIA 45 Clifton Richardson rush for 10 yards to the MiaFl 35 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MIA 35 Clifton Richardson rush for 2 yards to the MiaFl 33.
2nd and 8 at MIA 33 David Watford rush for 4 yards to the MiaFl 29.
DRIVE TOTALS: VIRGINIA drive: 13 plays 72 yards, 04:50 VIRGINIA FG
3rd and 4 at MIA 29 Michael Rocco pass incomplete to Kris Burd. 7 0
4th and 4 at MIA 29 Jacob Hodges rush for 20 yards to the MiaFl 9 for a 1ST down.
1st and Goal at MIA 9 Kevin Parks rush for 4 yards to the MiaFl 5.
2nd and Goal at MIA 5 Perry Jones rush for no gain to the MiaFl 5.
3rd and Goal at MIA 5 Michael Rocco pass incomplete to Colter Phillips.
4th and Goal at MIA 5 Robert Randolph 22 yard field goal GOOD. 10 0
Chris Hinkebein kickoff for 66 yards returned by Travis Benjamin for 29 yards to the MiaFl 33.

Summary:  Virginia mixed up substantial run and pass plays to get into Miami territory.  After failing on 3rd and short, a fake punt took them inside the 20 where they settled for a FG.

Possession #4

1st and 10 at UVA 23 Michael Rocco pass complete to Tim Smith for 11 yards to the Virg 34 for a 1ST down. 10 0
1st and 10 at UVA 34 Perry Jones rush for a loss of 3 yards to the Virg 31.
2nd and 13 at UVA 31 Kevin Parks rush for 2 yards to the Virg 33.
3rd and 11 at UVA 33 Michael Rocco pass complete to Kris Burd for 12 yards to the Virg 45 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 45 Clifton Richardson rush for 3 yards to the Virg 48.
2nd and 7 at UVA 48 Michael Rocco pass incomplete to Darius Jennings.
3rd and 7 at UVA 48 MIAMI FL penalty 16 yard Roughing Passer on Olivier Vernon accepted, no play.
1st and 10 at MIA 36 Clifton Richardson rush for a loss of 1 yard to the MiaFl 37.
2nd and 11 at MIA 37 Perry Jones pass complete to Tim Smith for 37 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. 16 0
Robert Randolph extra point GOOD. 17 0
Chris Hinkebein kickoff for 59 yards returned by Davon Johnson for 21 yards to the MiaFl 32.

Summary:  2 3rd and longs converted.  The first on 3rd and 11, and the 2nd on a dubious roughing the passer penalty, where it appeared that Vernon tried to avoid contact and was actually pushed into the QB.  A half back pass worked for the TD.  It was a curious play given that Ray Ray Armstrong didn’t bite on the fake initially, but also did not get enough depth on his drop.  It was also a nice throw by the RB.

Note:  I excluded the 1 play drive at the end of the half where Virginia ran it into the middle of the line.

Possession #5

1st and 10 at UVA 37 Perry Jones rush for 37 yards to the MiaFl 26 for a 1ST down. 17 7
1st and 10 at MIA 26 Clifton Richardson rush for 11 yards to the MiaFl 15 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MIA 15 Clifton Richardson rush for 2 yards to the MiaFl 13.
2nd and 8 at MIA 13 Michael Rocco pass complete to Kris Burd for 6 yards to the MiaFl 7.
3rd and 2 at MIA 7 Michael Rocco pass incomplete to Ray Keys.
4th and 2 at MIA 7 Robert Randolph 24 yard field goal GOOD. 20 7
Chris Hinkebein kickoff for 65 yards returned by Travis Benjamin for 54 yards to the Virg 41.

Summary:  Virginia immediately ripped off 2 long runs to get into FG range, where they curiously threw on 2nd and 3rd down, and kicked a FG.

Possession #6

1st and 10 at UVA 15 Kevin Parks rush for a loss of 3 yards to the Virg 12. 20 7
2nd and 13 at UVA 12 Kevin Parks rush for 7 yards to the Virg 19.
3rd and 6 at UVA 19 Michael Rocco pass complete to Tim Smith for 7 yards to the Virg 26 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 26 Michael Rocco pass incomplete to Darius Jennings.
2nd and 10 at UVA 26 Clifton Richardson rush for no gain to the Virg 26.
3rd and 10 at UVA 26 Michael Rocco pass complete to Kevin Parks for no gain to the Virg 26.
4th and 10 at UVA 26 MIAMI FL penalty 15 yard Roughing the Kicker on Kacy Rodgers accepted.
1st and 10 at UVA 41 Perry Jones rush for 8 yards to the Virg 49.
2nd and 2 at UVA 49 Kevin Parks rush for 7 yards to the MiaFl 44 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MIA 44 Michael Rocco pass incomplete to Colter Phillips.
2nd and 10 at MIA 44 Perry Jones rush for 9 yards to the MiaFl 35.
3rd and 1 at MIA 35 Clifton Richardson rush for 2 yards to the MiaFl 33 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MIA 33 Kevin Parks rush for 17 yards to the MiaFl 16 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MIA 16 Clifton Richardson rush for a loss of 1 yard to the MiaFl 17.
2nd and 11 at MIA 17 Perry Jones rush for 2 yards to the MiaFl 15.
3rd and 9 at MIA 15 Michael Rocco pass incomplete to Kris Burd.
4th and 9 at MIA 15 Robert Randolph 32 yard field goal MISSED.
DRIVE TOTALS: VIRGINIA drive: 15 plays 70 yards, 07:52 VIRGINIA FGA

Summary:  This drive was the back breaker that officially put Miami into big trouble, and it didn’t even result in points.  This drive ate up a majority of the 3rd quarter.  The defense really needed a 3 and out to give the offense good field position.  Instead, they allowed for a conversion on a dubious spot.  After finally getting a stop, a roughing the punter penalty re-ignited the drive.  After that, Virginia went to the ground game, stringing together several successful runs.  This drive culminated with another red zone stop, and Virginia missed a short FG.

Possession #7

1st and 10 at UVA 14 Perry Jones rush for 6 yards to the Virg 20. 20 14
DRIVE TOTALS: VIRGINIA drive: 3 plays 86 yards, 01:21 VIRGINIA TD
2nd and 4 at UVA 20 Kevin Parks rush for 2 yards to the Virg 22. 20 14
3rd and 2 at UVA 22 Michael Rocco pass complete to Perry Jones for 78 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. 28 14
Two-point conversion attempt, Michael Rocco pass to Tim Smith GOOD. 28 14
Chris Hinkebein kickoff for 58 yards returned by Travis Benjamin for 30 yards to the MiaFl 42.

Summary:  With a chance to give the ball back to the offense and have an opportunity to take the lead, the defense went on an all out blitz on 3rd and short and got burned for another TD.  Gaines got beat by RB Perry Jones.  To compound the problem, Virginia converted the 2-point conversion for a 14 point lead.

Possession #8

1st and 10 at UVA 8 Kevin Parks rush for 4 yards to the Virg 12. 28 21
2nd and 6 at UVA 12 Kevin Parks rush for 3 yards to the Virg 15.
3rd and 3 at UVA 15 Michael Rocco rush for 1 yard to the Virg 16.
4th and 2 at UVA 16 Jimmy Howell punt for 37 yards, fair catch by Travis Benjamin at the MiaFl 47.
DRIVE TOTALS: VIRGINIA drive: 3 plays 8 yards, 02:10 VIRGINIA PUNT

Summary:  The only 3-and out of the game.  Virginia got to 3rd and short again, but finally failed to convert.

Possession #9

1st and 10 at UVA 16 Perry Jones rush for 6 yards to the Virg 22. 28 21
2nd and 4 at UVA 22 Timeout MIAMI FLORIDA, clock 2:02.
2nd and 4 at UVA 22 Kevin Parks rush for 10 yards to the Virg 32 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at UVA 32 Timeout MIAMI FLORIDA, clock 1:56.
1st and 10 at UVA 32 Kevin Parks rush for 2 yards to the Virg 34.
2nd and 8 at UVA 34 Perry Jones rush for a loss of 4 yards to the Virg 30.
3rd and 12 at UVA 30 Timeout MIAMI FLORIDA, clock 1:21.
3rd and 12 at UVA 30 Kevin Parks rush for a loss of 1 yard to the Virg 29.
4th and 13 at UVA 29 Timeout VIRGINIA, clock 0:38.
4th and 13 at UVA 29 Jimmy Howell punt for 36 yards, downed at the MiaFl 35.
DRIVE TOTALS: VIRGINIA drive: 4 plays 11 yards, 01:45 VIRGINIA PUNT

Summary:  Needing a 3 and out to have a realistic shot at winning the game, the defense came up short.  Eventually forcing a punt after 5 plays and most of the clock had expired.

Overall observations

The themes that have haunted this defense all year re-emerged.  Way too many long running plays and poor 3rd down defense.  The ‘Canes gave up an unbelievable 7 rushes of 10 yards or more, on their way to conceding over 200 yards on the ground.

And on 3rd downs, Virginia was 6-15, which is not great.  Unfortunately, the 3rd downs that they did convert were monumental.  Of those 6 3rd downs.

  1. 3rd and 4 – 53 yard TD Pass
  2. 3rd and 7  – 14 yard Pass completion lead to an eventual FG
  3. 3rd and 11 – 12 yard Pass completion lead to an eventual TD*
  4. 3rd and 7 – Roughing the Passer lead to an eventual TD* – does not count as 1 of the 6 conversions
  5. 3rd and 6 – 7 yard completion lead to no points, but did sustain an 8-minute drive that would have ended with less than a minute going off the clock.^
  6. 3rd and 1 – Rush for 2 yards lead to no points, but did sustain an 8-minute drive that would have ended with less than a minute going off the clock.^
  7. 3rd and 2 – 78 yard TD pass.

*, ^ = same drive

So, while the conversion percentage wasn’t that outstanding from UVA, the magnitude of the conversions was.  2 TDs on long plays as well as several 3rd and longs to sustain TD drives where you expect to get off the field.

These 2 problems have plagued and continue to plague the Miami defense.

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