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The Bryce Perkins We’ve Been Waiting For

By Jim Johnson
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In a 38-31 win at North Carolina, to regain the inside track in the race for the ACC Coastal, Bryce Perkins played the game of his life.

In a 38-31 win at North Carolina, to regain the inside track in the race for the ACC Coastal, Bryce Perkins played the game of his life.

The senior compiled 490 yards of offense and five total touchdowns, completing over 75% of his passes and posting a 183.7 passer rating, the second highest of his career and the highest against a power conference team.

He also became just the twelfth player since the turn of the century to rack up at least 350 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, 100 rushing yards, and two rushing scores in one contest.

And, of the twelve, he’s the fifth to do so against a P5 opponent, joining the likes of ACC legends Lamar Jackson and Tajh Boyd.

This is the Perkins that we saw flashes of in 2018. This is the Perkins that saw Virginia picked as the division favorite, back in July at the ACC Kickoff. This is the Perkins we expected to see on a regular basis -- perhaps not to this extent, but to a greater degree than we previously had -- throughout 2019.

Instead, what we got prior to this game was a season-high passer rating of 141.1, against Notre Dame, which would rank 60th in the FBS for the year. His overall passer rating ranked 92nd. He wasn’t running the ball as efficiently, he was turning the ball over more and scoring less, and after a loss to Miami that also saw star cornerback Bryce Hall go out for the season, the Cavs’ division run was in jeopardy.

A blowout of Duke in their next game started to assuage some of those concerns, but then, a week later, a second ACC loss, this time at Louisville, raised even more questions than there were before.

Hall’s presence was sorely missed in that game against the Cardinals, as UVA’s usually stingy pass defense allowed just under ten yards per attempt. One’s secondary doesn’t usually get better after losing the best cornerback in college football, so if the offense couldn’t pick up the slack, their chances of representing the Coastal in Charlotte were looking increasingly slim.

Fast forward to Saturday… the offense picked up the slack. UNC’s freshman signal caller had a field day of his own against the Hall-less defensive backfield, recording a 199.5 passer rating with 353 yards and four touchdowns on 29 attempts, while each of the Tar Heels’ top two ball carriers, Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, diced the front seven for over six yards per carry.

Obviously, Perkins was dominant through the air, but he also effectively represented Virginia’s entire rushing attack. All told, he accounted for 95% of the Cavaliers’ total offense, and 92% of their points.

He and Terrell Jana had a special connection in this one, targeting him 16 times, 13 of which were caught for 146 yards. Hasise Dubois also exploded for 97 yards and a touchdown on six receptions, while Joe Reed added another 55 yards, and Tanner Cowley went for 53 and a TD on three grabs.

He spread the ball around to his top playmakers effectively, didn’t give the ball away, and, quite literally, carried Virginia to a win, and the sole division lead.

In a game for the ages, when it counted the most, we finally saw the Bryce Perkins we’ve been waiting for.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP