Virginia loves to split up and declare war on itself. Some things never change, eh? - Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
Before they visited Amon Carter Stadium the Cavaliers were 2-1 and thinking ACC contention. What happened after that?
Welcome to After the Frogs, where we'll be looking at how tough TCU's schedule actually was and how each team on the schedule fared after facing the Frogs. Grambling State was a bit of a non-entity as a FCS level school, but they only proved themselves to be a bad FCS level school, winning just a single game all year. Last week we looked at the 1-11 Kansas Jayhawks season, while this week we move on to TCU's BCS-Automatic Qualifier scalp- the University of Virginia Cavaliers.
The Frogs put together a strong defensive performance, forcing four turnovers and allowing just one touchdown in garbage time. Otherwise the Virginia offense sputtered in the crucial moments, balancing decent runs with impotent passing in sharp contrast to TCU, who put up big numbers through the air only to struggle mightily on the ground in their first game without Waymon James. Still, Casey Pachall ably shredded the Virginia secondary and, despite throwing his first pick of the year, Casey was good enough to make sure that TCU was never really threatened by the Cavs. Offensive ineptitude turned out to be a hallmark of Virginia through the year as the Cavs lost four more games in a row before collecting their first ACC win, ending their coastal division dreams.
When they played TCU: They were 2-1, but coming off of an absolute drubbing in a 36 point loss to Georgia Tech.
When they finished the season: They were 4-8 and in the cellar of the ACC coastal division, finishing below Duke (ouch). Still, they weren't the worst team in the ACC as Boston College put together a 2-10 season, but Mike London has to be sweating the 2013 season a good bit more than he was the 2012 season- Virginia is patient, but the Cavaliers haven't beaten Virginia Tech since 2004, and long losing streaks to rivals don't breed job security.
Best moment: The Cavaliers have always seemed to give the Miami Hurricanes issues, but this year the Hurricanes were busy winning the conference (well, mostly) while the Cavaliers were comfortably in the cellar. And yet, once again the wahoos went down to Florida and pulled out an amazing last minute win. In a complete turnaround from the TCU game the Cavaliers got great performances from both of their quarterbacks, with both completing over 75% of their passes and not throwing an interception between them. Starter Michael Rocco notched four touchdowns through the air, while backup-who-plays-a-lot Phillip Sims ran for another. A great win in an otherwise forgettable season for the Cavs.
Worst moment: Losing to Duke is one thing, as six programs did that this year, but being blown out by the Blue Devils i quite another thing entirely. Virginia actually led at the half 17-14, but things turned sour very quickly for the wahoos in the second half as Duke scored four unanswered touchdowns to ring up a convincing 42-17 win. This was a game where Duke was unable to stop the Virginia rushing attack as the Cavs had three backs average 5+ yards a carry, but still the Cavaliers were smeared all over Durham in the second half
Next Season?: Virginia returns both quarterbacks from its up and down season, meaning there will be an old fashioned quarterback controversy storyline all through the fall for the Cavs as the steady but unspectacular Michael Rocco attempts to hold off the flash and recruiting hype of Alabama transfer Phillip Sims. The non-conference schedule contains two dates which could be problematic for the Wahoos, opening the season with BYU and making an early trip to surprisingly resilient Penn State before closing with an FCS school and MACrifice Ball State. The conference schedule will be tough as well, as the Cavs get Clemson for their Atlantic crossover opponent along with traditional rival Maryland, while for the second year in a row the Cavs will play @ Miami due to the whole ACC expansion fiasco. It will be tough for the Cavs to be a coastal division contender this year, but at least with Virginia Tech potentially on the downswing there could be an opportunity to score a key win over their rivals at home, which should give the Cavs plenty of momentum heading into 2014.