The closer they got, the tougher times seemed to be.
It was not how Virginia coach Mike London expected things to unfold.
During the 34-point loss to North Carolina a week ago, things did not go as planned. The team ended up 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the ACC after the dreadful production inside the opponent’s 20-yard-line.
Virginia managed just two first downs once its offense moved into the red zone against UNC.
London says the lack of production is something that must be addressed.
“It’s critical. It’s huge when you get in the red zone to come away with points,” he said. “And it’s frustrating when you’re 2 for 6.
“It’s frustrating when you get down there and you can’t even get a field goal and you’re driving and you have opportunities to score touchdowns, because that’s what it’s all about.”
Virginia has converted at a 68 percent clip inside the 20-yard line for the season, a figure that ranks last in the ACC. A select group including New Mexico, UAB and Wyoming trails the Cavaliers.
Making matters worse, Virginia stands just 113th in the country as it has converted just 68 percent of its chances for points.
“When you get inside the 20- or the 25-yard line you’re thinking we’ve got points,” London said. “The minimum of three points at least. When you can’t capitalize and you can’t make a throw or a guy misses a block and he’s tackled for a loss or whatever it is, it’s a blow to you.”
At Georgia tech a week prior, Virginia went against the grain and did not hand the ball off to running back Keith Payne on a 4th-and-goal play. The Cavaliers’ coaching staff attempted to alter the playbook against UNC, but the same non-point producing option emerged.
On a 4th-and-goal against UNC in the third quarter with the team trailing by 27, Payne lost two yards and ended yet another drive.
London’s biggest gripe from the operation’s miscues was the lack of points in general against UNC after things had advanced that far. Virginia would have scored four additional touchdowns in the best-case-scenario or settled for 12 points from four field goals in the process.
It did not work as planned for the Cavaliers, a team that has lost three straight games.
“We are better than that,” Virginia quarterback Marc Verica said. “We can and we have to find to a way to take advantage of those opportunities inside the red zone.
“Games are won and lost inside the red zone. That’s where we lost it.”
6 Cavs make Steele list
Analyst Phil Steele released his midseason All-ACC team this week, and six Virginia players made the cut. Kick returner Raynard Horne was the lone first-team honoree. Offensive guard Austin Pasztor and cornerback Chase Minnifield made the second team, while running back Keith Payne, wide receiver Kris Burd and defensive end Cam Johnson were third-team selections.