Virginia quarterback Marc Verica said his team needed to return to one place: the drawing board.
The Cavaliers were also en route to the practice field on Sunday, which one player said was not the original plan as the program enters the first of two bye weeks the season’s schedule allots.
Arguing that Virginia (1-2) had earned the right to do otherwise would be rather tough after the Cavaliers were throttled, 45-10, by Connecticut in their first road game on Saturday.
Just seven days after blanking the University of Richmond in the season’s lone win, Virginia’s defense allowed its second 500-plus yard offensive performance. The Huskies churned out 506 yards of total offense as they methodically picked apart the Cavaliers’ defense.
“That was just fun,” said UConn quarterback Tyler Lorenzen. “It was like playing backyard football, going up and down the field. When the offense works like that, it is fun.”
It was anything but “fun” for Virginia coach Al Groh, who watched his defense allow 382 rushing yards.
“Every aspect of defense was poor,” he said. “Clearly, it is going to take a lot of work.”
Virginia will not play for 12 days and a much improved Duke (2-1) program suddenly appears to be a tougher road task than expected on Sept. 27.
“We do have the bye week to get better, but this was a bad performance overall,” said UVa linebacker Clint Sintim. “It was just a bad, bad performance.”
The Cavaliers’ had just as many problems on offense, posting just two scoring drives against the Huskies.
Newly-appointed quarterback Marc Verica completed the third-most completions for a first-time starter in the program, but accounted for only one point-producing drive. He eventually was benched for senior Scott Deke.
Verica, who replaced Pete Lalich after an odd mid-week benching, finished 22-of-30 for 158 yards passing in his starting debut.
“He made some decent throws; there were a lot of open guys out there where the ball might have gone, too, but as I said it is not about any individuals,” Groh said.
“He had a good head about him throughout the course of the game. Some plays he made clearer decisions and more accurate throws, but it didn’t have anything to do with poise or confidence.”
With or without Lalich, Virginia has room for improvement, as it did last year when it dropped its first road game at Wyoming.
“We had a decent week of practice, but it just didn’t go our way,” Verica said. “UConn did a nice job defending us. We just have to go back to the drawing board.”
And the practice field.
Groh said Lalich was at the Cavaliers’ practice session Sunday afternoon. Lalich has a hearing scheduled for September 26 in Charlottesville General District Court. Groh also indicated he will rotate all three quarterbacks in practice leading up to the Duke game.