After a stunning three overtime comeback win against Syracuse, Virginia (2-5, 1-1 ACC) looked to ride its momentum into its matchup against North Carolina this past Saturday. The team’s confidence was sky high and it seemed primed to put together its first winning streak of the season.
But Virginia ultimately lost against the Tar Heels.
The Cavaliers turned the ball over at an alarming rate, with junior quarterback Matt Johns tossing four costly interceptions and Mizzell losing a fumble.
“Yeah, obviously when you have the turnover disparity that we had — to give them opportunities to get the ball back,” coach Mike London said. “But when you have turnovers like that and you change the field, it causes issues.”
Despite a subpar performance, London is not wavering in his support of Johns. He knows he needs his quarterback to put this game behind him and focus on the upcoming game.
“When you do make a mistake or you do create an error, you have to have the next play, the next opportunity and mentality and the next game mentality,” London said. “That is this one that's coming up against Georgia Tech”.
The Cavaliers have a week to regroup as they face a Georgia Tech (3-5, 1-4 ACC) team that is flying high. The Yellow Jackets, like Virginia, did not get off to a great start, going 2-4 through their first six games, failing to meet expectations after a stellar 2014 season which saw them go 11-3 and finish the season ranked eighth.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off of a stunning victory over a top-ten team in Florida State, in which they recovered a blocked field goal and returned it for the game-winning touchdown as time expired.
Despite the Cavaliers sitting at a lowly 2-5, coach London stressed that all is not lost for this season and that there is still plenty to play for.
“Again, you look at the situation that we're in, 1‑2 in the ACC,” London said. “There are two other teams behind us, one is 1‑3, one is 1‑4. We've played the two 6‑1 teams right now currently in the ACC. Three of our last five games are home games, and I believe three of the last five teams are teams that are .500 or less. There are still games to be played. There are still games to be won.”
If the Cavaliers have any chance this Saturday, they are going to have to lean on some aspects of their game that have allowed them to play competitively against top tier competition like Notre Dame and Pittsburgh.
“One of the positive things for us when we get down to the red zone [is] that we are pretty efficient in the red zone,” London said. “On the other side defensively, when teams get down in the red zone, we are pretty efficient in red zone defense as well.”
However, London knows the Cavaliers will have to play better football than they have recently if they want to win this game. The Yellow Jackets are a dangerous team coming off of a huge win.
“This is an offense, again, time of possession will grind up the clock, and they'll go for it on fourth downs,” London said. “So it's important that our opportunities that we're on the defensive side of it, that we do play assignment-oriented football”.
On the offensive end, he said they will have to limit turnovers and take advantage of their offensive possessions.
“So it's important that when we do have the ball that we advance the ball to the opportunities to score points,” London said.
This will be a big game for both the Yellow Jackets and the Cavaliers, as Virginia looks to bounce back from a disappointing loss and Georgia Tech looks to build on an impressive win.
The game will be held at Scott Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. Saturday.