|"It is the most important victory of my career." -- Head Coach Dick Voris, after the
Hoos’ 15-12 victory over Duke on September 27, 1958. Voris finished his UVA career
with a record of 1-29.
|"We've stopped recruiting young men who want to come here to be students first and
athletes second." -- Former Virginia head coach Sonny Randle, describing his strategy
for turning around UVA's football program
|UVA Football - Random Musings|
|"As the score mounted, to 20-0 and finally 26-0, his movements slowed. With two
minutes to go and South Carolina threatening once more, Voris stood behind several
rows of substitutes, staring at his shoes." -- Sports Illustrated, describing Coach Voris’
stellar coaching performance during the Hoos’ 26-0 loss to South Carolina in 1960
|"Really, Texas wasn't as good as I thought they'd be." -- Ted Manly, Virginia's
freshman quarterback, after Texas had spanked the Hoos 68-0
|UVA Football’s Top 20 Stomach Punch Games (1989-2008)
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|#20: UNC 7, UVA 5 (October 22, 2005)
The first entry in the Top 20 is a little unique from the rest. It's the only game featuring a
baseball score, and one of the few that does not contain a blown lead. UVA was awful
on offense right from the start, amassing only 199 total yards, and the Hoos eventually
succumbed to a significantly inferior UNC team. Fans generally regard this game as
one of poorest performances of Al Groh's coaching regime. Little did we know that it
portended a future where consistently high performances would become more and
more elusive under his leadership.
The 2005 season was a key transition year for the UVA football program. While
Marques Hagans returned at quarterback, numerous key playmakers on both offense
and defense had departed after three consecutive seasons of eight or more wins.
This season would help shed some light on whether Al Groh could roll up his already-
cropped sweatshirt sleeves and continue to compete in the upper echelon of the ACC.
The first half of the year included wins against lackluster competition and two bad
losses at Maryland and BC in which the Hoos gave up 73 points. Then, just as fans
thought UVA was headed back into the realm of mediocrity, Biscuit passed for over 300
yards and almost single-handedly took down #4 Florida State, 26-21. After the game, in
one of Bobby Bowden's all-time great sound bites, he quipped, "we just couldn't stop
that dadgum number 18." I'd love to know if he ever caught Marques’s actual name.
With the FSU win in hand, UVA fans were juiced. It finally appeared Groh was
loosening the reins on Hagans, and that he was going to let his athletic gunslinger win
games with his arm and his feet, by any means necessary. The team was 4-2, (2-2 in
the ACC), with three very winnable games coming up on the schedule. Win those, and
the team could be 7-2 going into the Virginia Tech game with quite a bit on the line.
Not too shabby for a transition year.
UNC was 2-3 (1-1 in the ACC) at the time of this contest and in the midst of another
season of unmet expectations under Coach John Bunting, who was another in the
long line of Tar Heel coaches who were not Mack Brown. They were coming off a
tightly contested loss to Louisville, where the game wasn't as close as the 69-14 score
would indicate. To UVA fans who had grown accustomed to beating UNC on a regular
basis, the game appeared to be a relatively easy win for the Hoos.
Here's how this top-20 stinker graded out:
Size of Lead Lost – 0 out of 10 Points
UVA never led in this game, mostly because their offense was horrific right from
the start. UNC made several mistakes to help keep Virginia in the game,
including snapping a punt through the end zone for a safety to make the score 7-
2 at halftime. A field goal early in the fourth quarter by Connor Hughes gave UVA
fans a sense of, "yeah, our offense is putrid, but UNC stinks and now we don’t
even need a touchdown to win this trainwreck of a game." Unfortunately, those
hopes were dashed by a steady diet of mind-numbingly conservative play calls.
Level of Choke – 8 out of 10 Points
The Hoos did not play tentative on this day, but watching the gameplan and
playcalling unfold made most UVA fans want to bash in their heads with an
empty pint bottle. The constant barrage of slow-developing sweeps by running
backs Wali Lundy and Cedric Peerman was unbelievable to see, especially in
comparison to the gameplan a week earlier against FSU. Lundy and Peerman
combined to rush for 64 yards on 29 never-ending attempts. And it honestly
seemed like 64 carries for 29 yards.
To put the performance in even greater context, this was the first time UNC had
held a team under 200 yards of total offense in 5 years. It was also the fewest
points UNC had scored in a victory since 1971.
Singular Moment – 4 out of 10 Points
There was not a single play that determined our fate in this game, unless you
consider the fact that Offensive Coordinator Ron Prince called for the same,
single sweep play over and over and over again with no success. But Ron still
kept running it, didn't he? Yep, yep he did.
Painful Finish – 5 out of 10 Points
The game stayed close, thanks in large part to the ineptitude of the Tar Heels.
The final nail in the coffin occurred as UVA drove into UNC territory with less than
2 minutes left and Hagans threw a ball that was tipped and intercepted.
Although the INT was painful, many UVA fans were just relieved not to have to
watch another sweep.
Season Killer – 3 out of 10 Points
UVA had a week off to recover from the UNC performance and managed to beat
Temple and Georgia Tech at home to go to 6-3 and become bowl-eligible. They
finished 6-5 and went to the Music City Bowl and defeated Minnesota in another
game where Hagans was allowed to air it out. Beating UNC would probably not
have generated a better bowl for the Hoos in 2005, but another 8-win season
would have looked much better on Groh's resume.
Long-Term Implications – 6 out of 10 Points
The lasting impression from the 2005 UNC game was the coaching and game-
planning associated with the team's offensive performance. From this point
forward, it was difficult to argue that Groh and Prince could be rather stubborn in
their adherence to the power running game. When asked about the Groh years,
UVA fans will quickly point to this game as a prime example for why Groh leaves
something to be desired as a head football coach. It didn’t help that the game
was against a traditional rival that UVA has had great success against over the
last 20 years.
It's fair to say that the 2005 UNC game would not have made the list if UVA had not
beaten #4 ranked FSU the preceding week. Coming off one of the top wins of the Groh
Era, fan expectations spiked and there was a great deal of anticipation entering this
game. Emotionally for the fanbase, it was a terrible time to blow a tire. UNC was a
bad team in 2005, and they didn't play particularly well on this day. Even with their
checkered history, UVA usually won these games. But the stubborn, unimaginative
offense ultimately ruled the day. And as a result, many UVA fans would never view
Coach Groh in the same light again.
|Overall Score – 26 out of 60 Points (Stomach Punch Factor -- 42%)