Virginia-Penn State: Report card

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia escaped Penn State in a mistake-filled game by both teams Saturday at Scott Stadium, saving face for itself and the ACC in the process. 

The Cavaliers were excellent defensively, but the offense hurt itself all game long, but came through in the end with a clutch 12-play, 86-yard scoring drive for the 17-16 victory. Here is the report card for Virginia’s second victory in as many outings this season:

Virginia offense: Ugh. Seriously, other than two drives, the unit was not very good. It turned over the ball four times, three times giving Penn State possession in the red zone, and most of the Cavaliers’ 10 penalties were on offense. But junior quarterback Michael Rocco redeemed himself after being yanked in the third quarter by engineering the game-winning drive. He completed 21 of 33 pass attempts for 258 yards and the game-winning touchdown, a 6-yard strike to tight end Jake McGee with 1:28 remaining in the contest. Grade: C-

Virginia defense: Other than a few drives these guys did a fine job. They repeatedly were forced to defend the red zone and did an excellent job. And if not the red zone, PSU started too many possessions in Cavalier territory. On the day, the Wahoos allowed 330 yards, blocked an extra point that proved crucial, and put plenty of pressure on the Nittany Lions’ quarterbacks all game even though they registered just two sacks. Grade: B

Virginia intangibles: Solid special teams play including the blocked PAT, but four turnovers, 10 penalties and some questionable calls from the sideline will bring down the grade. But Mike London put Rocco back in for that final possession and it paid off. The team showed a lot on that drive. Grade: C-