Although some of it could be blamed on the sloppy conditions, there’s no other conclusion that can be drawn: the Virginia Cavaliers offense is going to struggle in 2013.
In Saturday’s season-opening 19-16 victory over the BYU Cougars, the Cavaliers totaled a meager 223 yards of offense, and would have lost if not for great defense and special teams. New starting quarterback David Watford threw for 114 yards and a touchdown, but had a QBR of only 19.2. Playing in new offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild‘s balanced attack, Watford looked tremendous at times, but lost at others.
He will need to improve in a hurry if they have any hopes of competing in the ACC in this fall.
The inconsistencies in the passing game are somewhat understandable given the rain that poured throughout much of the game, but the struggles in the run game are alarming. The Cavaliers ran the ball 42 times but only netted 109 yards for a paltry 2.6 yards per carry. Although he scored the game-winning touchdown late, junior Kevin Parks could not get on track most of the day and ended up rushing for just 65 yards on 20 carries.
Both Cavalier touchdowns were a result of outstanding field position. Early in the third quarter, a blocked punt set them up at the 16-yard line, and Virginia took advantage when Watford hit Darius Jennings from 11 yards out. Then, trailing 16-12 late in the fourth, an interception gave the Cavaliers the ball on the 13-yard line with under three minutes to play. Parks scored a play later and Virginia escaped with a miraculous victory.
It was a great victory for head coach Mike London, who is on the hot seat in 2013, but they will need to get better in a hurry. The high-powered Oregon Ducks come to town next Saturday and if Virginia’s offense can’t perform better, it could get ugly in a hurry.
Growing pains are expected with a new quarterback and coordinator, but if yesterday was a sign of things to come, it could be a long season in Charlottesville.