It would be unfair to say the Virginia football team has struggled to score in the second halves of games this season. Really, the Cavaliers have struggled to score in any quarter other than the first.
Virginia is averaging 7.8 points in the first quarter this year. The Cavaliers are not averaging more than six points in any other quarter. So perhaps it would be most accurate to say Virginia is struggling to score, in general. Only three teams in the ACC are averaging fewer points per game than the Cavaliers (26.7). On the national level, Virginia is tied with Syracuse at No. 73 in scoring offense.
But of late, the Cavaliers’ scoring troubles have been most apparent in the second half. Virginia has scored touchdowns on two of its first three possessions in each of the past three games. The Cavaliers have scored 11 points combined in the second halves of those three contests.
Coach Mike London could not point Monday to any specific reason why an offense that ranks No. 3 in the ACC in total yards per game (433.5) is having so much trouble reaching the end zone – or even splitting the uprights – after halftime.
“I guess you could say in terms of just a little more execution,” London said. “The game plan is what it is. The ability to run a power play in the first quarter that worked is the power play in the third or fourth quarter. It should work [then], as well. I just think it’s just a matter of playing a good four quarters of good football, of executing good football.
“It is good that the first couple of possessions, you want that to reflect the way you’re going to play the whole game, and as it turns out, it was very important that we got up on [Georgia Tech] early as we did. They settled into doing some things to try to negate what we were doing.”
The Cavaliers are in luck – sort of – this week as they prepare to host North Carolina State on Saturday. The Wolfpack is tied for last in the ACC in scoring defense (30.2 points per game allowed), but would anyone like to guess in which quarter they’ve given up the most points?
That’s right, N.C. State is giving up an average of 9.2 points in the first quarter, which is a higher mark than opponents have tallied against the Wolfpack in any other quarter this season. In fact, N.C. State has outscored its opponents, 121-89, in the second half thus far in 2011.
The N.C. State offense is interesting in that it does not accumulate significant yardage (374.8 total yards per game; No. 11 in ACC), but it does score a fair amount of points (32 points per game; No. 4 in the ACC).
Virginia’s defense turned in an impressive showing against Georgia Tech, but senior defensive tackle Nick Jenkins acknowledged Tuesday there is nothing the Cavaliers can take from that game and apply to future contests because the Yellow Jackets’ offense is so unique.
That said, it is possible Virginia could find itself in need of points in the second half Saturday against N.C. State. Barring some adjustments, that might not bode well for the Cavaliers.
“That’s something that is pointed out,” London said of his team’s low second-half scoring output. “We have to be more consistent with it. We’ve got to put more points on the board, particularly in the third and fourth quarter. Because you never know. You might get into the game and you’re going to have to have a shootout, you’re going to have to score more points than the other team. So we will address that. Right now there’s no concrete reason right now. But, as I said, point noted.”