Last week cleared up a few things. Virginia Tech is still alive for a bowl berth, needing to beat Virginia this Saturday. The Cavaliers, at 4-7, cannot reach the postseason. The Hokies are out of the Coastal race. Georgia Tech, once 1-3 in league play, will go to the ACC championship game now that Miami decided to self-impose a bowl ban.
Oh, and apparently Maryland is heading to the Big Ten. Did not see that one coming.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s a look at what’s going on with the Cavaliers …
** The Cavaliers are a tough bunch to figure out. They were given up for dead after a six-game losing streak that saw them drop games to Duke, Maryland and Wake Forest. Then they surprised everyone by throttling N.C. State 33-6 in Raleigh and out-lasting Miami 41-40 at home.
Those good feelings were short-lived. Virginia fell flat in its first home Thursday night game in six years, losing to North Carolina 37-13 in a game that knocked it out of bowl consideration.
** As you know, they use two quarterbacks. And really, with apparently no rhyme or reason. Michael Rocco has 1,740 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Alabama transfer Philip Sims has 1,253 yards nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
Rocco started the year, gave way to Sims in the middle of the season, and now both play on a rotational basis. Rocco has seven starts, Sims has four. At one point, Rocco completed 18 straight passes against Miami. He was still removed from the game to give Sims a series. That rotation didn’t work against UNC.
UVa still has the 36th-ranked passing offense in the country, though, averaging 275.4 yards per game.
Running back Perry Jones remains a big threat in the passing game, with a team-high 46 catches for 379 yards. Receivers Darius Jennings (45 catches, 545 yards, 5 TD) and Dominique Terrell (35 catches, 448 yards) are also having solid seasons.
** The offensive line is more of an issue than you think it would be. With tackles Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses, UVa figured to be set up front this year, but the interior line has struggled all season.(Now, Moses left the stadium last week on crutches after a left leg injury late in the game, so his status is to be determined.)
UVa hasn’t run the ball well. The Cavaliers are 89th nationally in rushing offense, averaging 137.5 yards per game. Kevin Parks (713 yards, 5 TD) leads the way. Jones (445 yards, 2 TD) is next, although he’s averaging only 3.4 yards per carry.
** Defensively, the Cavaliers have been a mixed bag. They rank 34th nationally in yards allowed, giving up 357.9 yards per game, but they’re 80th in scoring defense, allowing 30 points per game.
Georgia Tech scored 56 on this team. Duke scored 42, Miami 40 and North Carolina 37. But against Maryland, Wake Forest and N.C. State, the Cavaliers allowed 235, 213 and 216 yards. (Granted, the Wolfpack is the only one of those three with a capable offense.)
UVa is about equal against the run (142.7 ypg, 41st nationally) and the pass (215.6 ypg, 38th nationally). But it has struggled to put pressure on the quarterback. The Cavaliers have only 14 sacks this year (102nd nationally). They’ve been especially bad at turnovers, giving the ball up 24 times and forcing only 14, ranking 111th nationally in turnover margin.
Linebacker Steve Greer leads the team with 103 tackles and eight TFLs. The senior is second in the ACC in tackles.
** As if you’ve forgotten this, Virginia Tech has dominated the series lately. The Hokies have won eight straight and 12 of the last 13.
The last time they lost was 2003, when UVa won 35-21 in Charlottesville. That was also the last time Virginia Tech lost at least five games in a season.
** Vegas favors Virginia Tech. The Hokies opened as 10-point favorites, which is pretty high, but not too surprising when you consider how much better they’ve played at home versus on the road. It looks like it’s been bet up to 10.5 at some places.
Tech entered last week’s game at Boston College as a 10-point favorite too. The Hokies are 3-8 against the spread this year, for those of you who follow such things. All three covers are at home.