It was a mixed weekend for Virginia’s fall sports teams. Cross-country impressed at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational, while football, volleyball and men’s soccer all lost their contests. Women’s soccer won its fourth straight game Thursday before falling Sunday. Let’s take a look at some interesting takeaways from just a few of the Virginia teams that were in action this weekend.
The football team’s quarterback rotation is not sustainable in the long term
With sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong out because of concussion protocol, the Cavaliers (1-3, 1-3 ACC) trotted out a trio of quarterbacks in their loss against Wake Forest. Junior Lindell Stone made his first career start, and junior transfer Keytaon Thompson and true freshman Ira Armstead also made appearances, although both were used primarily in the running game. The constant movement in the backfield resulted in an offense that never truly got into a rhythm, which is critical for a team to play well. The offense must move forward with just one quarterback, and it seems like Armstead may be the best choice. Thompson has had issues with his shoulder, making him unavailable to throw, and Stone had a subpar day both through the air and on the ground. Until Armstrong comes back, Armstead gives this team the best chance to win.
Virginia football’s defense must shore up the secondary
Giving up chunk plays has been a major issue for the Cavaliers’ defense so far this season, and the trend continued during Saturday’s matchup. The Demon Deacons had pass completions of 49, 40, 39 and 32 yards, and that does not even include the 75-yard rushing TD by sophomore running back Kenneth Walker III. The defensive backs for Virginia must be better in coverage, as many of those long passes were game-changing plays. Given that Miami and North Carolina — two teams with incredibly fast players at the skill positions — are coming up on the schedule, Virginia’s secondary needs to find a way to contain and even stop explosive plays.
Blocking and reception issues hurt volleyball in loss to Virginia Tech
In the first of the two-game series in Blacksburg, Va., the Cavaliers suffered a 3-1 defeat, although every set was within two points. The Hokies (4-1, 3-1 ACC) controlled the front row of the match, with nine total blocks to the Cavaliers’ four. In addition, problems with receiving serves killed many chances for Virginia (1-3, 0-3 ACC). The Cavaliers had 9 reception errors throughout the game, and Virginia Tech won the game on a service ace. A bright spot for Virginia was sophomore outside hitter Grace Turner, who led the team in both kills and total points, but the Cavaliers must clean up blocking and reception errors moving forward.
The front row was Virginia volleyball’s greatest strength in the second match
Virginia fell again to Virginia Tech in the final game of the two-match series, but the hitters and blockers of the Cavaliers played very well. Virginia led the Hokies in hitting percentage and total blocks with sophomore Mattison Matthews leading all players with eight total blocks. However, both serving and reception problems drove the Cavaliers to another 3-1 loss. If Virginia wants to make a mark on the ACC, the Cavaliers need to combine the back row production from the first game with the front row’s performance from the second game. A more well-rounded Virginia volleyball team would be better positioned to compete with opponents going forward.
Women’s soccer cannot lose the shooting battle in future matches
The Cavaliers (5-2-1, 3-2-1 ACC) fell 4-3 Sunday afternoon to Florida State (6-0-0, 6-0-0 ACC) as both teams’ offenses were firing on all cylinders. The difference-maker in the match, however, was the play inside the penalty box. The Seminoles had a whopping nine shots on goal compared to the Cavaliers’ five. Additionally, Florida State took 14 shots total to Virginia’s six. When the opposing team records more than twice the shots as Virginia, the Cavaliers will struggle to win. Senior goalkeeper Laurel Ivory had a fantastic game for Virginia with six saves, but the Seminoles’ offense was simply too much to keep up with. Virginia’s forwards have to shoot early and often, and the defense must limit opponents’ goal-scoring opportunities. Specifically, since the Cavaliers don’t play again until Oct. 29, expect Virginia to work on limiting corner kicks and crosses into the box. Without these changes, the Cavaliers will continue to struggle against elite teams like Florida State.