Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Three questions about the Cavs with UVA beat writer Andrew Ramspacher

Learning more about UVA from Daily Progress beat writer Andrew Ramspacher.

1) Was the close game against UL last week a natural progression of things generally headed in the right direction for this UVA team or was it some random aberration?

I lean toward the latter there. Let's not forget: Virginia was 2-5 and a 32-point underdog heading into last week. When the Cardinals arrived at Scott Stadium, the place was half-empty, lacking the atmosphere of any other venue they've played in to this point of the season. Naturally, the Cardinals weren't 100 percent dialed in from kickoff. They had a couple major dropped passes in the first quarter, allowing UVa to avoid an early deficit.

Give credit where it's due, though. Even when the Cavaliers lost their second half lead, they came back to again take advantage with 1:57 left in the fourth quarter. But when Louisville responded like a College Football Playoff contender should, it gave a Virginia a familiar feeling. The Cavs have now taken a loss by eight points or fewer to a Top 10 team in three straight seasons. The near-upset with No. 7 UCLA in 2014 was part of a 5-7 season. The near-upset of No. 9 Notre Dame in 2015 was part of a 4-8 season.

The 2016 version is already 2-6. There's enough of a sample size to prove the Louisville effort was a flash in the pan. If I'm wrong it's because of a new coach. Mike London couldn't get his UVa teams to build off near-upsets. Maybe Bronco Mendenhall can.

2) After grabbing a pair of wins, UVA has since lost three in a row to top-level ACC teams. Do you sense the team will stay focused coming to Winston-Salem to play a Wake Forest team that doesn't have the same 'name' appeal?

When you're 2-6 and need all four of your remaining games to reach your first bowl in five years, the focus will be directly on Wake Forest. The Cavaliers have already learned their lesson this season in overlooking an opponent. Richmond, an FCS program, dominated UVa in the opener, 37-20. Focus hasn't been an issue since then. Execution, however, has been. Virginia's just been inconsistent in 2016. It'll be really good for a half or quarter and then disappear the next. It'll probably happen again Saturday.

3) From a numbers perspective, Taquan Mizzell appears to be UVA's top offensive weapon. What sets him apart?

I don't think Mizzell's lived up to his five-star recruiting rating, but he's really turned into a high-quality running back for Virginia. His versatility sets him apart. As a junior, he developed a north-south running style that's added a sense of power to his game. He's always been good in the open field, but now he has the confidence to try running defenders over.

Mizzell's at his best, though, when he's coming out of the backfield. Receivers included, he has the best set of hands on Virginia's roster. He catches everything, a skill that tells me he's got a chance for success at the next level.


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