1) After the slow start, Virginia missed its chance to make Saturday’s game competitive.
There was a 71-yard touchdown run, a blocked punt that turned into another touchdown and an interception that gave Oregon a third score, but Virginia missed its shot at putting a scare into the Ducks after falling behind 21-0. In fact, once Cavaliers tailback Khalek Shepherd cut the deficit to 21-7 with a 45-yard touchdown run, Oregon all but asked Virginia to get back into the game.
The Ducks’ offense went uncharacteristically quiet, and Virginia’s defense forced two-straight Oregon punts. The Cavaliers’ response: a 23-yard drive that ended with a bubble screen to wide receiver Dominique Terrell on fourth and four (it ended up losing a yard) and a three-and-out.
Before Virginia could blink, Oregon then went on an 80-yard touchdown drive that lasted all of 41 seconds. It gave the Ducks a 28-7 lead and squelched any momentum the Cavaliers had. That sequence, more than the 31-0 beatdown Oregon inflicted on Virginia in the second half, led to Saturday’s blowout score.
2) No matter what QB David Watford says, Virginia’s offensive struggles were not all his fault.
The first thing Watford did during his postgame chat with reporters was credit his offensive line, his running backs and his receivers. He then placed all the offense’s struggles on his shoulders.
Coming from a quarterback, especially one who accounted for three interceptions and a fumble, it wasn’t all that surprising. But it also wasn’t accurate.
As Coach Mike London said after the game, Virginia’s problems run much deeper than its first-year signal-caller. For a second week in a row, the Cavaliers were held to less than 300 total yards, with a rushing game that couldn’t consistently churn out tough yards and a passing attack that struggled to complete downfield passes.
Really, they are the systemic issues that troubled Virginia’s offense a year ago under former offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
“We need to find out what our identity is going to be,” London said. “Does it entail the quarterback running more? Is it a personnel issue, or schematic, or whatever it may be? We want to run the ball. We want to be committed to running the ball, but we’ve got to find those guys that can run it and move the chains for us. I think with the open week we can address those issues.”
Watford insisted offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild’s game plan wasn’t too conservative, and that he simply was taking what Oregon’s defense gave him by feeding his tight ends. Virginia’s longest passing play went for 16 yards.
On the ground, the Cavaliers averaged only 2.1 yards per carry without Shepherd’s 45-yard touchdown run. Judging from London’s rhetoric, and his offseason goal of building this offense around a power rushing attack, there could be some changes coming on the right side of Virginia’s offensive line.