Wednesday, January 30, 2013
2012 report cards: Virginia
By Andrea Adelson
OFFENSE: Hopes were high for the Virginia offense headed into 2012. The Hoos returned their starting quarterback, Michael Rocco, who made significant strides the previous season. They returned starting running back Perry Jones, one of the top rushers in the ACC. They returned both their starting tackles, too. But everything that worked so well for 2011 worked miserably for UVa in 2012. This team could not run the ball. And the specter of backup quarterback Phillip Sims loomed large, until finally he replaced the struggling Rocco as the starter midway through the season against Duke. But when Sims struggled, too, coach Mike London decided to alternate his quarterbacks at the end of the season. In the end, Virginia was a dysfunctional group on offense, ranking in the conference No. 8 in total offense, No. 7 in rushing offense and No. 9 in scoring offense. London could not have handled the quarterbacks worse -- Rocco ended up transferring to Richmond after the season. Compounding the problems were all the mistakes. Virginia turned the ball over 26 times -- including a combined 15 interceptions -- to finish last in the ACC in turnover margin. Given the returning talent at the skill positions, UVa fell way, way short of its potential in 2012. GRADE: D.
DEFENSE: Hiccups were expected on defense with a majority of its starters gone, particularly in the defensive backfield. So seeing the struggles did not come as a major surprise. Virginia failed to sustain success in two key areas: pass rush and creating turnovers. Virginia had only 17 sacks last season, ranking No. 98 in the country. And the Hoos only gained 12 turnovers in 12 games -- ranking No. 113 in the country. Only three teams out of 120 were worse. The bottom line -- there was simply no consistency out of this group. Virginia would alternate between giving up 40 points, and then 16 and 6, and then back to 40. Only linebacker Steve Greer got recognition on the first or second All-ACC team among Virginia defenders, winning a spot on the media's first team and the coach's second team. Though Virginia ranked No. 4 in total defense, it also ranked No. 8 in scoring defense. Virginia may not have given up chunks full of yards, but it did give up chunks full of points and did nothing to put the offense in better position. GRADE: D.
OVERALL: The question going into the year was if Virginia could keep up the momentum from its 2011 bowl season. It never happened. After opening the season 2-0, Virginia dropped six straight. The Hoos tried to turn around their season following their bye, with two straight wins -- including a stunning 33-6 victory over NC State. Alternating Sims and Rocco worked -- temporarily. With bowl hopes on the line, Virginia had a huge opportunity on a Thursday night at home against North Carolina. Driving for the tying score, Virginia was stuffed at the goal line and the Tar Heels cruised. Virginia then dropped its rivalry game against Virginia Tech for the ninth straight season and only won four games, a season after winning eight. Cutting your win total in half is not going to get you a passing grade. GRADE: D.