CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WAVY) – They may not be world-beaters just yet, but the University of Virginia football team is at least gaining some notoriety after a thrilling 23-21 home win over a Louisville team ranked no. 21 when they made the trip to Charlottesville.
The Cardinals (2-1) have the Cavaliers to thank for no longer being ranked in the Associated Press top 25.
Not much was expected from a Cavalier team that won all of two games in 2013, and one that hadn’t won an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup since November of 2012. But a smothering defense, and maybe some recruiting classes started to take form, have UVA at 2-1 and confident they can get more.
“I feel like a lot of these teams are over-looking us,” said senior safety Brandon Phelps on Monday, “I’m confident in our team, our offense, defense, special teams.”
All three units played a big role in the Cavs’ home win. The defense gave up only 282 total yards, and turned the Cardinals over four times on Saturday. The offense, though inconsistent at times, managed a modest 285 yards of total offense, but scored when they needed to. Redshirt Sophomore quarterback Greyson Lambert lead the charge with 162 passing yards, as well as a passing and a rushing touchdown.
The special teams had maybe the biggest hand- and the biggest foot- in the decision. Junior Ian Frye booted field goals of 35, 47 and 42. The last make provided the winning points, while the special teams unit recovered a Louisville muffed punt that put Frye in position to make the final kick.
Maybe the most important factor, a number of players point to the team’s chemistry and unity, which have both strengthened as a result of last season’s tumultuous go-around.
“I think we really have a special group this year,” said Phelps.
The Cavs are on the road for the first time this season on Saturday. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s another top 25 team lurking in Utah; one that might have payback on its mind after traveling to Charlottesville at the start of last season.
“We still have a long way to go, because we’re getting ready to play another top 25 team in BYU,” said head coach Mike London, “Going through last week’s practice, and the amount of energy that was put into it, we’re going to have to do the same thing again.”