Virginia comes out firing, Pack falls flat

jgiglio@newsobserver.comNovember 3, 2012 

— Tom O’Brien expected Virginia to be revived after its bye week. He even warned his team that the Cavaliers weren’t a regular “six-loss” team.

That warning fell on deaf ears.

“It doesn’t matter what they did,” O’Brien said. “Don’t tell me they lost six straight. That has nothing to do with it. This is a week-to-week profession. They had a week off, they prepared for this and they beat us.”

The Cavaliers hadn’t won since Sept. 8, a 17-16 decision over Penn State, in what was a calamity of kicking errors by the Nittany Lions. They had lost to Georgia Tech, TCU, Louisiana Tech, Duke, Maryland and Wake Forest before Saturday’s win.

Turnovers have been Virginia’s biggest problem. The Hoosiers entered the game No. 120, last in the NCAA, in turnover marring (minus-16). The Cavaliers forced four turnovers in the first eight games of the season but had five on Saturday, including three interceptions. In the first eight games, UVa only had one interception.

A new UNC hangover: N.C. State had problems in the past following up a win over North Carolina with a win. O’Brien won his first five games against the Tar Heels, and was 1-3 in subsequent games (the 2009 meeting was the season finale for State).

After the first loss to UNC in six years, the Wolfpack looked flat, especially early on Saturday.

O’Brien said he didn’t get the feeling in practice that the players were dwelling on the 45-37 loss at UNC last week, but he didn’t rule it out as a factor on Saturday’s loss.

“It shouldn’t but I don’t know that,” O’Brien said. “Could it have been? I don’t know. Tough loss last week.”

Numbers and notes: Virginia running back Kevin Parks ran for 115 yards. It was the fourth straight game in which N.C. State’s defense has allowed a 100-yard rusher. … For all of N.C. State’s issues in the first quarter, it gave up only two points on Saturday. In nine games, the Wolfpack has given up 16 points in the second quarter, compared to 97 in the first. … Unofficially, N.C. State dropped eight passes on Saturday, including three by receiver Bryan Underwood. O’Brien said Monday the coaches counted 10 drops in last week’s loss at UNC. “It’s just a lack of focus,” said Underwood, whose eight-game touchdown streak came to an end. … Virginia finished the game with six sacks. The Cavaliers’ defense had seven for the season before Saturday.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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