'Noles punish Cavaliers
Virginia leaves Florida bruised and battered after FSU rolls up 397 yards on
By DOUG DOUGHTY
THE ROANOKE TIMES
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The tone for Virginia's afternoon Saturday was set
when athletic director Craig Littlepage fainted while observing the
Cavaliers' pregame warm-ups.
Littlepage quickly came to his senses and was not in any discomfort
by the time the Cavaliers' traveling party congregated for its return flight
The same could not be said for a half-dozen
At least nine Virginia players were helped from the field Saturday at
Doak Campbell Stadium and few were around for the finish as fifth-ranked
Florida State defeated the Cavaliers 40-19.
Coach Al Groh could have taken heart in a fourth-quarter comeback led
by relief quarterback Matt Schaub; that is, if there weren't wall-to-wall
players in the UVa training room.
"We are concerned," Groh said. "You saw a lot of [UVa's
best players] go off today."
Among the injured were wide receiver Billy McMullen, center Kevin
Bailey, running back Alvin Pearman, inside linebacker Angelo Crowell and
outside linebacker Raymond Mann. Of that group, only Crowell played again
after being injured.
Crowell set a school record for tackles last season, McMullen set a
school record for receptions and was the Cavaliers' lone first-team All-ACC
player, Pearman led the team in rushing, and Bailey is the Cavaliers' most
Bailey's backup is the starting left guard, Mark Farrington, who was
on crutches by the time Bailey was hurt. Zac Yarbrough, whose only previous
duty had come as a snapper for field goals and extra points, was the center
on two of UVa's three touchdown
Schaub, replaced in the starting lineup by redshirt freshman Marques
Hagans, tossed three touchdown passes in the final 13:43 and finished
19-of-25 for 243 yards.
Hagans played the first six series and was 1-for-7 before giving way
to Schaub with 7 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter. Hagans did not
It continued a pattern going back to the 2001 season, when Schaub and
Bryson Spinner shared time, with the reliever invariably playing better than
"I don't have any answer for that one," Groh said. "I felt, based on
the way [Hagans] practiced and performed in the [opening] game, he showed he
warranted the opportunity. That's what we go on - performance.
"I had to chuckle. On the basis of the way he played last week, he
was everybody's darling. I've been around enough to know there might be some
hurricanes before the enshrinement took place. He's a second-game
quarterback playing against a real good team."
The Seminoles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) led 33-0 following a 42-yard Xavier
Beitia field goal with 3:25 remaining in the third quarter, and that was
with a pair of turnovers inside the Cavaliers' 5-yard line.
Moreover, Florida State was penalized 13 times for 113 yards.
"Without the penalties, without the interceptions, without the
fumbles, I thought we played pretty doggone good offensively," said FSU
coach Bobby Bowden after his 325th career victory. "We probably rushed for
more yards than we've ever rushed."
Florida State began the second half with 15 consecutive running plays
and finished with 397 yards on the ground, including a career-high 177 yards
by junior Greg Jones on 21 carries.
Jones had the first of his six career 100-yard games last year
against Virginia, when the Seminoles rushed for 303 yards in a 43-7 victory
in Charlottesville. Chris Rix, intercepted twice in the first half, had two
second-half attempts Saturday.
"Virginia chose to cover receivers, rather than rush the passer,"
Bowden said. "So, now, every time [Rix] looked out there, he sees people
double-covered here and double-covered there. That allows you to run, so,
thank goodness, we were able to run."
The Seminoles finished with four turnovers, including two fumbles.
Virginia, off to its first 0-2 start since 1987, did not yield an
interception but fumbled five times, losing three. The Cavaliers have lost
seven fumbles in two games, compared to 10 in 12 games last season.
Hagans lost a fumble Saturday, his second in two games, as did
freshman running back Wali Lundy and freshman punt returner Marcus Hamilton.
"I had the same message for all of them," Groh said. "Not to get
after them, I told them that they're going to get hit harder in this league
than where they came from."
Several of the UVa freshmen
took their lumps, including punter Tom Hagan, whose first effort was blocked
out of the end zone for a safety. On a later effort, Hagan took off running
after an errant snap and was stopped short of a first down at the
In the second quarter alone, Florida State started four consecutive
drives in UVa territory.
"A lot of teams have come in here, gotten down 33-0 and had it finish
up 68-3," Groh said. "We're always disappointed when we lose. We came to
win. You ever play for any other purpose, you set a bad precedent."
Loss of Decker shouldn't deflate Cavs
By DOUG DOUGHTY
THE ROANOKE TIMES
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The resignation of Virginia head strength coach Tony
Decker has given head football coach Al Groh one more chance to put his
stamp on the Cavaliers' program.
Decker, who was preparing for his fourth year at
UVa, has taken a teaching position at
his alma mater, East Stroudsburg (Pa.) State, at least partly to help care
for his ailing father.
Decker's final day at UVa was
earlier this week.
"Tony didn't see it coming, so it was a surprise to Tony," Groh said
earlier this week. "Therefore, it was somewhat a surprise to us, but we've
had enough lead-in time to deal with it."
Groh does not expect the position to be filled until after the
"The programs had been set up by Tony for the next 15 weeks," Groh
said. "The in-season program is more assembly-line lifting: 'This is what
you do your first lift of every week. This is what you do your second lift.'
Then, there's developmental lifting for the younger players."
"Where it becomes a lot more individualized is during the off-season
program during the winter. With that in mind, we're in no particular rush to
put somebody in the position. I think we're well on top of it for right now.
"I would suspect that we would have substantial input."
At UVa, the head strength
coach deals primarily with football. In fact, when ex-UVa
star Anthony Poindexter was named a graduate assistant in the weight room,
Decker deferred all questions to Groh.
It would be virtually impossible for
UVa to hire the strength coach of
another Division I-A team with the season in its early weeks.
"I think to do so would be to dramatically limit the pool of
candidates available to us," Groh said. "This gives us the opportunity to
pursue what we would consider the very best strength coach. We already have
a pretty strong short list."
GETTING A RIDE: Groh confirmed earlier this week that he has awarded
scholarships to seven walk-ons, including deep snapper Ryan Childress, a
fourth-year junior from Shawsville High School.
The others are running back Brad Durbin, offensive lineman Heath
Boucek, defensive back Trey Moeller, punter Bryce Coffee, linebacker John
Thompson and quarterback Dave de Laureal. Durbin and Boucek are fifth-year
seniors, Moeller is a fourth-year junior and the others are third-year
Two other walk-ons, defensive back Alex Seals and fullback Kase Luzar,
were awarded scholarships before the 2001 season. The Cavaliers now have 80
players on scholarship, five under the Division I-A limit. That counts
defensive back Randy Jones, who plans to rejoin the team in the spring after
sustaining extensive injuries in an October 2001 auto accident.
WHITHER HALEY: Salem High School grad Dennis Haley, who started the
Cavaliers' opening game, was not in uniform Saturday but made the trip to
Florida State and was on the sidelines. It was announced in the press box
that Haley was not playing for "personal reasons."
Haley's reasons or Groh's reasons? Haley declined comment.
"It's best I not say anything about it," said Groh, who indicated
that Haley would be available next week, "and I don't anticipate that I ever
will. I hope he'll be back. Haley and [ Raymond ] Mann [who was injured]
play the same position."
VIRGINIA NEXT WEEK: The Cavaliers (0-2, 0-1 ACC) will seek to avoid
their first 0-3 start since 1982, ex-coach George Welsh 's first season,
when they entertain South Carolina at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at Scott Stadium.
It will be the first meeting of former ACC colleagues
UVa and South Carolina since 1987.
The Gamecocks opened the season Saturday with a 34-24 home victory against
New Mexico State.
Florida State is too much for Virginia
By Dave Johnson
Published September 1, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. --
Earlier in the week, Virginia coach Al Groh
predicted the weather for Saturday afternoon's game at Florida State
would be the hottest of his team's season. Turns out he was wrong. The
Cavaliers' home opener nine days earlier was far stickier.
But here's a prediction that would have been safe: Virginia, one of the
youngest teams in college football, had no chance against the
fifth-ranked Seminoles. With a power running game and a defense that
didn't so much as bend until the fourth quarter, FSU pounded Virginia
40-19 in Doak Campbell Stadium.
The Cavaliers (0-2, 0-1 ACC) were fortunate to trail only 23-0 at
halftime and 33-0 going into the final period. The Seminoles (2-0, 1-0)
had four turnovers, two coming deep in Virginia territory, and committed
13 penalties. On the other hand, the Cavs scored 19 fourth-quarter
points to avoid complete humiliation.
"A lot of teams when they come into this place and fall behind 33-0 end
up finishing up 68-3," Groh said. "That was their first-team defense in
at the end, so that wasn't a gimmie score. I'm pleased with how the
players approached the whole week. They prepared to win and came in to
Virginia has lost seven straight games in this series, but Saturday's
three-touchdown margin was actually the smallest since a 31-24 loss here
in 1996. Still, the one thing Groh didn't need was to see his kids
hobble - or, worse, be carried - off the field. At least nine Virginia
players were injured Saturday.
Groh refuses to discuss injuries, but cornerback Marcus Hamilton and
left offensive guard Mark Farrington both left the field on crutches
after hurting their knees. Center Kevin Bailey also went down with a
knee injury late in the fourth quarter, but it could not be determined
how severe it was.
"We saw a lot of them go off today," Groh said. "We can't afford that,
certainly at some positions."
Virginia also couldn't afford to give the Seminoles anything, yet seven
minutes into the game a former walk-on named Jared Hetzel blocked Tom
Hagan's punt out of the end zone for a safety. After the Cavaliers
kicked off from their 20-yard line, FSU drove 60 yards on nine plays,
eight of them runs, and went ahead 9-0 on Torrance Washington's 4-yard
It was downhill from there.
"We knew going into this game that the first five minutes were going to
be the key," Virginia safety Shernard Newby said. "I guess they felt
they were disappointed in the way they played last week, so I knew
they'd be up for this one."
Florida State, which stopped Iowa State at the goal line on the final
play to win its opener 38-31, pounded Virginia with a running game that
netted 397 yards. Tailback Greg Jones, who at 248 pounds is a polar
opposite of Travis Minor and Warrick Dunn, ran for a career-high 173
yards on 21 carries.
"He made a lot of things happen," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "He's
going to get better. He's just now learning how to run."
Virginia's defense needs to learn how to tackle. After two games, the
Cavs are giving up 5.8 yards per rushing attempt - 6.4 if you throw out
the five sacks.
"What would you guys do if you were playing against a team that had one
lineman who had never been in a game before?" Groh, who starts two
freshmen up front, asked reporters. "I'm not giving any team a scouting
report. They figured that out when they read Street and Smith."
Offensively, the Cavs had 203 of their 313 total yards and 12 of their
16 first downs after falling behind 33-0. Groh rewarded freshman Marques
Hagans with his first career start and the results were fairly
predictable. Facing a national caliber team in a hostile environment,
Hagans completed 1-of-7 passes and lost a fumble in six series.
Matt Schaub entered midway through the second quarter and hit on
19-of-25 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns.
Though the Cavaliers finished strong, that only means so much. Just like
last week when Virginia rallied from 19-7 down only to lose 35-29 to
"I look at the whole game," safety Jerton Evans said. "We can't accept
the fight-back motto. We have to get a new thing, to get ahead and stay
Groh, Cavaliers take loss as a learning experience
Published September 1 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- One play summarized 31/2 hours of dreadfully predictable
football Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.
It began as a routine play. Florida State tailback Greg Jones took a handoff
from Chris Rix, slanted toward his left and encountered Virginia linebacker
Their collision was anything but routine. Jones lowered his shoulder and ran
over Blackstock on his way to an 11-yard gain.
Now tailbacks don't often treat linebackers like tackling dummies. But when
the tailback is a 248-pound junior and the linebacker is a 226-pound true
Well, to paraphrase Virginia coach Al Groh, you figure it out.
The fifth-ranked Seminoles certainly did, punishing the undersized and
inexperienced Cavaliers 40-19.
Florida State rushed for 397 yards, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. They ran
the ball 15 consecutive times to open the second half.
Hey, when did Woody Hayes' ghost move to pass-happy Tallahassee? Are the 'Noles
about to install the wishbone? Should Rix request a transfer to Florida?
Actually, Florida State had little choice. Virginia started perhaps the
youngest defensive line in program history and often played a three-man front.
The Seminoles, meanwhile started four senior offensive linemen (average weight
318 pounds) and a senior tight end.
You knew the Cavaliers (0-2 for the first time since 1987) were doomed when
Rix rushed for 50 yards on Florida State's first possession. Never mind that
the drive ended with a punt. If Rix, no Tommie Frazier he, hits your defense
for half-a-hundred early, it's gonna be a long day.
Sure enough, tailbacks Jones (173 yards) and Nick Maddox (61) combined to
average 8.4 yards per carry.
Making matters worse for Virginia: a deer-in-the-headlights performance by
freshman quarterback Marques Hagans.
Hagans, in Groh's mind, earned his first collegiate start with a sterling
relief effort in the season-opening loss to Colorado State. But coming off the
bench at home against Colorado State pales to starting on the road at Florida
"I was glad Coach gave me the opportunity to start," Hagans said. "But I mean
Hagans did not finish the sentence. Nor did he finish the game. He played six
series, completed 1-of-7 passes for 4 yards, lost a fumble and generated 44
total yards before incumbent starter Matt Schaub replaced him.
"Florida State is a little faster than Colorado State," Hagans said with a
Groh's decision cut two ways. Either he showed ultimate faith in Hagans, or he
risked crushing the young man's confidence.
Much depends on Hagans. After passing for 247 yards and three touchdowns
against Florida State, Schaub figures to get the start next Saturday against
South Carolina. Will the memories of Tallahassee and a probable demotion haunt
or inspire Hagans?
"I don't lose my confidence," he said firmly. "I take this as a learning
Groh also spoke of resolve -from his entire squad. He said many teams in
similar straits would have lost 68-3. He said Virginia's 19 fourth-quarter
points came against many of Florida State's front-line defenders. He said his
overmatched defense "didn't back down and kept going out for more."
Groh may be right. In time, the touted athletes he starts on defense may gain
the technique and experience necessary to compete against the likes of Florida
Regardless, this was curious spin from a coach who, after losing to Colorado
State, insisted he is not a "silver-lining" guy.
And I'm not sure how silver Saturday's lining is. For a second consecutive
game, Florida State (2-0) had startling stretches of disinterest.
The Seminoles committed four turnovers and 13 penalties, and Rix did not
complete a pass to a wide receiver until midway through the second quarter.
No, Virginia never threatened Florida State. But if the Seminoles are to
return to national contention after last season's 8-4 slide, the lethargy has
to go. Then again, as bad as the ACC appears, perhaps Florida State need fret
about only two games -Oct. 12 at defending national champion Miami, and Nov.
30 against Florida.
No such luxury awaits Virginia. Eleven games remain, 11 days to fret.
Seminoles smother Cavaliers
/ Daily Progress staff writer
Sep 1, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A learning experience. That's what Virginia coach
Al Groh and his players called Saturday's 40-19 loss to No. 5 Florida
State. If so, the Seminoles, as teachers, evidently believe in corporal
The final score did not accurately reflect FSU's physical dominance.
More telling was the home team's 397-62 advantage in rushing yards, and
the fact that about 10 Cavaliers limped out of Doak Campbell Stadium, two
on crutches (left guard Mark Farrington and cornerback Marcus Hamilton).
"They were big, even bigger than I thought they'd be," said defensive
end Kwakou Robinson, one of 12 true freshmen to play for UVa. "Pretty
That certainly describes 248-pound junior tailback Greg Jones, who ran
behind Florida State's monstrous offensive line for 173 yards and two
touchdowns. Three other Seminoles rushed for at least 50 yards; all five
of their TDs came on the ground.
The result was a pretty thorough beating for the Cavaliers, who dropped
their ACC opener for the first time in five years and are off to their
first 0-2 start since 1987. While the outcome came as no surprise, given
the opponent and the venue, the number of injuries could have long-term
ramifications for Virginia's season, depending on their severity.
"We are concerned," Groh said. "We can't afford that, certainly at some
At least Groh could take some solace in a strong finish that included
three Matt Schaub touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. Many of the
young players gained valuable experience and played better toward the end
of the game.
"There have been a lot of teams that came into this place that when the
score was 33-0, it finished up 68-3," Groh said. "I appreciated the fact
that the players took the attitude that they were going to get in a fight
and stay in a fight and I thought they did that."
For Virginia, it could have been worse. Much worse. The Seminoles
committed 13 penalties and four turnovers, two deep in UVa territory. They
started seven drives inside midfield, scoring 24 points on those
Had Florida State not squandered so many opportunities, it could have
scored nearly twice as many points, such was the disparity in talent.
"What stopped us time after time was us," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden,
whose team finished with its most rushing yards in a game in seven years.
The Seminoles were just as dominant on defense. The Cavaliers totaled
96 yards in the first half, 49 of which came on one pass from Schaub to
Redshirt freshman Marques Hagans, who sparked Virginia off the bench
last week, started at quarterback but was ineffective. He completed just 1
of 7 passes, as UVa netted 44 yards on its first five possessions.
Schaub played the rest of the way and completed 19 of 25 passes for 247
"It's disappointing the way we started. It kind of fell apart on us,"
Schaub said. "It's good we kept fighting and kept battling out there. ...
I think it definitely helps the younger players to play a top-5 team in
their house and do some good things at the end. We can take this and build
The Cavaliers learned some hard lessons early. Freshman Tom Hagan had a
punt blocked for a safety midway through the first quarter for the game's
Florida State then seemed content to let its offensive line take
control. Torrance Washington, Chris Rix and Jones each rushed for
touchdowns as the Seminoles took a 23-0 halftime lead.
Jones opened the second half with consecutive runs of 12, 13, 13 and 16
yards. Nick Maddox then rushed three times for 21 yards and Jones capped
off the 80-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring run.
Florida State, known for its pass-happy attack, didn't throw in the
second half until its 16th play. It didn't have to. The Seminoles passed
for just 157 yards, giving the Cavaliers a clinic in power football.
"Everyone expects Florida State to throw the ball because of the guys
they used to have," Robinson said. "But I'm not surprised. I think they'll
be a running team this year because of the backs and the offensive line
they have. They're huge."
Virginia's QB carousel keeps spinning
/ Daily Progress staff writer
Sep 1, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The starter struggled. The backup did better.
That was the case for Virginia's quarterbacks on many occasions last
year, and this season is proving to be no different.
Why? No one seems to know. But Matt Schaub and Marques Hagans have
flip-flopped those roles in the first two games, much as Schaub and Bryson
Spinner did a year ago.
One thing's for sure: The QB carousel goes round and round. Last week,
it was Schaub making mistakes as the starter and Hagans moving the ball in
relief. Saturday it was quite the opposite.
Hagans, a redshirt freshman making his first start, played the first
five series against Florida State and did little right. He rushed seven
times for 14 yards and completed just 1 of 7 passes for 4 yards. He also
fumbled twice, with the Seminoles recovering one and teammate Alvin
Pearman falling on the other one.
"It was pretty rough. I made a lot of mistakes; I'll own up to them,"
Hagans said. "It's a learning experience. I'll have to watch the film and
see what I could do better."
Groh said he planned to start Hagans all week, though he didn't tell
Hagans until the day before the game at the team hotel. He said the
decision was based on Hagans' performance against Colorado State, when he
threw for 120 yards and rushed for 45 more.
Still, Groh knew things would be more difficult for the small but
speedy Hagans against the fifth-ranked Seminoles.
"I kind of chuckled because in the first game last week [Hagans] was
everyone's darling," Groh said. "I've been around long enough to know
there would probably be a few hurricanes before the enshrinement took
place. He's a second-game quarterback playing against a really good team."
With Hagans behind center, the Cavaliers produced two first downs, both
on their initial possession. After four possessions that produced 11
yards, Groh turned to Schaub, who had been ineffective against the Rams.
Schaub promptly completed his first pass down the left sideline to
Billy McMullen for a 59-yard gain, the second longest of his career. He
fumbled a snap, spoiling that drive, but he heated up in the second half
and finished 19 of 25 for 247 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions
- statistically, his finest outing.
Schaub threw scoring passes to Heath Miller, Patrick Estes and Ottowa
Anderson in the fourth quarter, making the final 40-19 margin respectable.
"I'd say he gave us a good spark," Groh said.
It was similar to some of Schaub's best games last year, when he
relieved Spinner and played well against Maryland and Virginia Tech. Based
on performance, he likely will start next week against South Carolina,
though Groh may want to think twice.
After all, Schaub is 1-6 as a starter but has been a super sub. Just
don't ask him to explain it.
"I personally think it's the same either way. You have to go out and
execute the plays," Schaub said. "I'm always going to come in prepared,
whether I'm starting or not."
/ Daily Progress sports editor
Sep 1, 2002
Virginia athletics director was reported fine and scheduled to return
to Charlottesville with the team after being taken to a Tallahassee
hospital before the game.
Members of Virginia's sports information department confirmed that
Littlepage passed out on the field at Doak Campbell Stadium prior to the
game and was attended to by team physicians in a first aid station. He was
taken to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure, treated and
No further details were available.
At least nine Cavaliers suffered injuries in the game and at least a
couple appeared serious.
Starting left guard Mark Farrington and true freshman cornerback Marcus
Hamilton left the field on crutches. Farrington suffered a leg injury,
while Hamilton left the stadium with his left leg in a cast from mid-thigh
Starting center Kevin Bailey left the game and did not return after
suffering either an ankle or knee injury, while linebacker Ray Mann left
in the third quarter and did not return with a leg injury.
Backup tailback Alvin Pearman had a banged up back/hip but could have
returned as starting wide receiver Billy McMullen did. Safety Chris
Williams suffered a sprain late but his status was unknown.
Nose tackle Andrew Hoffman and linebacker Angelo Crowell both left the
game with injuries but did return.
Backup linebacker Dennis Haley, a sophomore, did not play in the game
for "personal reasons." He was at the game but did not dress. Coach Al
Groh said he hopes that Haley will be back but did not elaborate on why
Haley didn't suit up.
The Cavaliers have fumbled 11 times in the first two games and lost
seven. Virginia lost three of five fumbles against FSU, but unlike last
week, only one of the turnovers led to a touchdown. That one came with
8:52 to play when Hamilton fumbled a punt, giving the Seminoles the ball
at the UVa 34. Five plays later, FSU made it 40-7 with 6:40 to play.
"Hamilton, Johnson, Lundy, Hagans ... I have the same message in a
teaching way, not to get after them," said Groh. "I think they found out
they are going to get hit a little bit harder in this league than where
they came from."
Virginia's 12th true freshman of the season played in Saturday's game,
cornerback Marcus Hamilton, but could be out of action for quite a while.
Hamilton left the game with his leg in a cast after seeing considerable
action late in the contest. He played on special teams, returned two punts
(one for 14 yards, fumbled the other), and played cornerback on the last
series of the game.
The other true freshman to see his first action of the season was
backup right offensive tackle Brad Butler of Lynchburg.
Ten true freshmen played in the opener against Colorado State and all
10 played again Saturday.
In contrast, FSU played seven true freshmen.
l Virginia used a formation that featured both freshmen tailbacks, Wali
Lundy and Michael Johnson a couple of times in the game.
l Freshman safety Willie Davis made his debut as a punt returner. He
ran back five for 107 yards, including a 26-yarder.
l The Cavaliers kept intact the fact that they are the only ACC team to
have never given up 50 points to Florida State.
l FSU sophomore kicker Xavier Beitia's streak of 47 kicks made (12
field goals, 35 extra points), which dated back to last season's UVa game,
was snapped in the third quarter when he missed a 26-yard field-goal
attempt. He later connected on a 42-yarder.
Florida State now holds a 10-1 advantage on the Cavaliers and has won
every game in the series since UVa's upset over the Seminoles in 1995 in
Thanks to a pair of Wahoo touchdowns in the final 4:21 of the game,
Virginia broke the mold of losing by an average of 28 points to FSU since
that '95 game.
Groh said he was proud of how his team fought to the end.
"There have been a lot of teams that came into this place that when the
score was 33-0, it finished up 68-3," said Groh. "That was the first team
defense that was out there at the end, so those were no gimme scores that
we got. I appreciated the fact that the players took the attitude that
they were going to get in a fight and stay in a fight and I thought they
Virginia, now 0-2 and 0-1 in the ACC, ventures out of conference again
Saturday when the Cavaliers host South Carolina of the Southeastern
Conference in a 7:45 p.m. kickoff. The game will be televised by ESPN.
Feeling the heat -- and pressure -- FSU's defense
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
Stanford Samuels knew what it was like to be a slab of ribs at his
coach's barbecue restaurant. He and his fellow Florida State defensive backs
were raked over the coals last week while defensive coordinator Mickey
Andrews did a slow burn. They probably even felt a little burnt around the
edges. They certainly were at the hands of Iowa State's Seneca Wallace in
the season opener FSU barely won.
If the old FSU defense wasn't back, Andrews was, after his defense
jump-started Wallace's Heisman Trophy campaign. A model of patience a year
ago, FSU's defensive coordinator threatened to go through defensive backs as
he did waiters. Wife Diane said six servers left the coach's restaurant in
the first week after it opened.
Samuels had no choice but to take the grilling and the heaping doses of
Andrews' legendary verbal hot sauce.
"He was screaming, but that's Mickey," Samuels said of last week's
This promises to be more of a coconut-cream-pie kind of week for Samuels
and Company. That's the dessert that Andrews unabashedly pushes on
customers. He embraced his defense's play - at least in the first three
quarters - in similar fashion Saturday evening after that group countered a
lackluster first-half effort by Chris Rix. FSU allowed just 108 yards and
led 33-0 before Virginia began its final drive of the third quarter. The
Cavaliers added 19 points and 215 yards after that.
"I should have left after the third quarter, went to the restaurant and
served barbecue," Andrews said. "It looked like I stopped coaching; that's
"Fourteen points in the fourth quarter last week, 19 this week. That's
not a good sign. We don't know how to finish yet."
But mostly, Andrews admitted, his defense made progress. A lot of
progress, he said. We can once again use words such as aggressive and
dominating to describe FSU's defense during the 40-19 victory over Virginia.
Can sack-happy be far behind?
Virginia isn't Miami-good, maybe not even Louisville-good. But after
Saturday's effort, fans who suggested departing president Sandy D'Alemberte
take the defensive staff with him should feel better about Oct.12.
FSU's defensive front, rejuvenated by the return of nose guard Jeff
Womble, pressured Wallace wannabe Marques Hagans into submission - and an
early exit. Defensive end Kevin Emanuel pounded the diminutive Virginia
quarterback into a second-quarter turnover. Claudius Osei, who came off the
bench, and Samuels - victims on separate Iowa State touchdown passes in the
opener, combined to deny Virginia receiver Billy McMullen on one key play.
That put FSU in good field position to score its third touchdown of the
"Oh, man, we were putting pressure on the quarterback for three
quarters," Samuels said. "It was beautiful out there for three quarters. For
three quarters. If we can do that for four, we can be beautiful all season."
Even without backup cornerback Leroy Smith, who was serving a one-game
suspension, FSU's secondary was deep enough and healthy enough for Andrews
to serve platters of man coverage. Virginia earned just 164 yards in three
quarters as FSU's defense but failed to earn its first shutout in 23 games.
It's too soon to say FSU's defense is cooking. There were enough dropped
interceptions and missed tackles to remind us that this is mostly the same
group that gave up 356.4 yards per game a year ago. The fourth-quarter
letdown can't be repeated against better teams. But the heat of criticism
can be turned down as FSU prepares for a national championship run with a
better chance defensively than a week ago.
"After the game, everybody shook our hands," defensive tackle Darnell
Dockett said. "But we're not satisfied with that. Not satisfied at all."
In a runaway
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
A redshirt freshman playing quarterback, a true freshman playing tailback and
another true freshman punting out of his own end zone - that's not the ideal way
to approach a road game at Doak Campbell Stadium.
But that's exactly how Virginia attempted to knock off Florida State. It
didn't even come close to working.
The Seminoles (2-0, 1-0 in the ACC) shut down the Cavaliers (0-2, 0-1) -
allowing only 96 first-half yards - en route to a 40-19 win on Saturday in front
of 79,406 fans.
The Cavaliers' ineptitude in moving the ball was equalled by FSU's ineptitude
in passing when the game was still relatively close. That's when Greg Jones
broke things open and finished with 173 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The
team finished with an uncharacteristic 397 yards rushing.
"Greg ran good; he made a lot of things happen," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said.
"He gained yardage when it looked like he was stopped. He was a big factor out
there today. He is going to get better. He is just now learning how to run."
Virginia redshirt freshman quarterback Marques Hagans was named the starter
just prior to kickoff, and he was continually harassed by the FSU defense,
managing only a 1-for-7 passing day for 4 yards. He was replaced by junior Matt
Schaub in the second quarter. True freshman tailback Wali Lundy rushed for 20
yards on 10 carries in the first half of play, while true freshman punter Tom
Hagan had his second punt blocked and repeatedly forced wobbly punts out of his
own end zone.
While there were several youngsters in the lineup for Virginia, it was the
Cavs' well-seasoned defensive backfield - especially the safeties - that helped
shut down the Seminoles' Chris Rix for much of the first half. Senior safeties
Jerton Evans, Chris Williams and Shernard Newby came into the game with 71
starts between them, while cornerbacks Jamaine Winborne, Jermaine Hardy and Art
Thomas also have significant experience.
"The strength of their defense was their linebackers and their secondary; the
defensive line was very young," Rix said. "So their best game plan was to shut
down the passing game, and they did that for the most part. They took a chance
with the running game, but the O-Line opened up the holes as good as they could
have and the backs ran the ball effectively. We needed the running tonight to
They forced Rix into 10-of-18 passing for only 117 yards, while Hardy and
Williams each picked off a pass. It was the lowest passing yardage total for Rix
since last year's North Carolina game.
Rix routinely struggled with Virginia's defensive backs, who provided
smothering coverage the entire first half. But instead of taking coverage sacks,
Rix scrambled well, rushing for 58 yards in the first half alone - but for most
of the game, the only successful passes he could get off were short tosses to
the running backs.
Once Jones softened up Virginia's defense, Rix improved. Rix had only 16
yards passing in the first quarter.
Three rushing touchdowns and an opportunistic play on special teams put the
game away early for the Seminoles.
Just four minutes into the first quarter, FSU's Jared Hetzel blocked a Hagan
punt out of the end zone, and the rout began.
Jones almost single-handedly marched his team down the field on the team's
second possession of the game, rushing for 41 yards - including a 20-yard carry
- to move the Seminoles to the Virginia 4. Madison County product Torrance
Washington then scored the first touchdown of his FSU career on a 4-yard carry.
FSU's defense held the Cavs to 28 first-quarter yards and only 98 in the first
"We got settled down and started hitting them, and they started coughing the
ball up," FSU linebacker Kendyll Pope said. "I think we really shocked them and
knocked the fear into them. That's what we always try to do around here. We
always try to knock the fight out of them early so we can dominate the whole
The defense and special teams helped set up the second FSU touchdown. Hagan
was forced to punt out of his own end zone, managing a punt of only 24 yards,
with Nick Maddox returning it 8 yards to put FSU in prime scoring position.
Jones scored on the next play, dancing 19 yards for the touchdown with 10:38
remaining in the second quarter, putting FSU up 16-0.
Rix then added another touchdown run about three minutes later when he
punched it in on a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line. In the third quarter,
Jones added a 5-yard scoring run and kicker Xavier Beitia kicked a 42-yard field
goal, making up for a 26-yard miss earlier in the quarter. Willie Reid scored on
a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter in mop-up duty.
Virginia did manage 19 fourth-quarter points as Schaub worked against FSU's
backups. He ended up throwing for 247 yards and three touchdowns, but the game
was basically over by the time he became effective.
"I don't think we were demoralized and I think the way we finished was a
pretty good example that we weren't demoralized about anything," Virginia coach
Al Groh said. "Disappointed - certainly. We are always disappointed when we
lose. We came to win."
'Noles run over, around, through Virginia defense
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
The Greg Jones fan club has a new president.
Warrick Dunn, who set the standard for rushing at Florida State, needed one
half to see what the powerful tailback is about. Virginia's defense didn't even
need that long. Jones rushed five times on FSU's first scoring drive to finish
with a career-high 173 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries to help FSU to a
40-19 victory over Virginia.
"He's a beast," said Dunn, the Atlanta Falcons back who left the sideline at
halftime. "He's a different back from what you're used to seeing. He has the
physique of a linebacker. He's fast, and he has great power.
"The thing that's scary is that he's so big, but he'll still put a move on
No play demonstrated that ability on Saturday more than Jones' 19-yard
touchdown run in the second quarter to put FSU ahead 16-0. Jones bounced to the
outside and zipped around the corner to leave Trey Moeller and Chris Moeller in
"It was just magnificent running," coach Billy Sexton said. "He ran to
daylight well and when he encountered the enemy, he broke tackles."
While the FSU passing game struggled to find consistency, Jones carried the
offense. He accounted for 41 of FSU's 60 yards on the first touchdown drive, and
59 of 80 on the Seminoles' last drive. Jones' single-game rushing total tied as
the 16th-best in FSU history and it was the most since Dunn's 185 in 1996.
"I'm not really worried about 100-yard games or anything like that," Jones
said. "I didn't even know I had 173 yards. It didn't really feel like it during
It marked the fourth consecutive game that Jones rushed for at least 100
yards. It's the best such streak since Dunn rushed for at least 100 yards in six
consecutive games during the 1995 season.
FSU's ground attack more than doubled the yardage earned on the arms of
quarterbacks Chris Rix and Adrian McPherson. Jones and Company rushed for 397
yards while the Seminoles threw for 157 yards. The rushing total was the most by
FSU since 1995 when it rolled up 401 in a 72-13 victory over Wake Forest. The
school record is 479, set in 1981 against Western Carolina.
Nick Maddox rushed for 61 yards, and Willie Reid added another 51. Rix
totalled 58 yards on the ground.
Virginia defensive players credited the rushing success to FSU's offensive
"They have a fabulous line," Virginia defensive end Brennan Schmidt said.
"Their size and talent got the best of us."
And, consequently, so did Jones and Company.
FLORIDA STATE 40
QB won't rule out medical hardship
Adrian McPherson won't be redshirted this season. That's not possible after
playing in Saturday's fourth quarter. But the backup quarterback, still
complaining about a sore ankle, said he isn't ruling out a medical hardship. The
sophomore completed 4 of 5 passes for 40 yards. "They put me in the game, so I
went in," McPherson said. "I'm still going to let the coaches decide what's
going on. My concern is to just try to get a little bit better. I know what I'm
capable of, and my job is just to be ready because you never know what will
happen." Coaches were reluctant to redshirt McPherson because Fabian Walker has
not played up to expectations. Wide receiver Chauncey Stovall didn't play
Saturday and said he would redshirt.
Mr. Washington goes to the end zone:
The wham is back in FSU's ground attack. Torrance Washington earned his first
collegiate touchdown on a wham play in the first quarter, and sent a signal he
wants to be the starting fullback. Washington, a true freshman from Madison
County, put FSU ahead on a 4-yard blast. Washington lost a fumble but a replay
showed he hit the ground before losing the football. He finished with two
carries for 7 yards. "He's just got some things to learn, and he's going to be a
great fullback," coach Billy Sexton said.
Willis' injury leads to juggling:
A broken hand kept Alex Barron from earning his first starts at the end of
the 2001 season. The sophomore finally earned his first start Saturday when
split tackle Brett Williams was moved to Ray Willis' tight tackle position.
Barron moved into the starting split tackle position. Willis missed the game
with a sprained ankle. Nose guard Jeff Womble, expected to be out at least two
games with a grade-two knee sprain, accelerated his rehabilitation to start
against Virginia. His return made FSU's defensive line better. It also helped
FSU that defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was in better health after being
slowed by an Achilles heel. "I wasn't full speed, but this week I turned it up
full speed and gained my confidence," Dockett said. "To get (Womble) next to me
helped tremendously." Backup nose guard Tony Benford made FSU's only sack.
DEFENDING THE PASS
Seminoles use more man coverage:
Rover Jerome Carter made his first career start, adding to a heathier
secondary. As a result, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews was able to rely
more heavily on man coverage after employing zone defense against Iowa State.
THE SKY ISN'T FALLING
Dunn not worried about 'Noles:
Warrick Dunn has some advice for FSU fans still up in arms about the
season-opening nail-biter against Iowa State. "Every national championship team,
every year, has to win a close one," he said. Dunn, in town for his induction
into the FSU athletic hall of fame, watched the first half of the FSU-Virginia
game before heading back to Atlanta's training camp.
This and that:
FSU has outscored Virginia 276-98 since being upset by the Cavaliers in 1995.
... Special-teams player Jared Hetzel enjoys playing against Virginia. He
blocked a punt that led to a safety Saturday. He made three tackles and
recovered a fumble against the Cavaliers a year ago. ... Seven true freshmen
have played this season. A.J. Nicholson and Thomas Clayton saw their first
action Saturday. Kicker Xavier Beitia saw his streak of 47 consecutive
successful kicks - 12 made field goals and 35 extra points - end Saturday. ...
Robert Morgan bruised his ribs and will undergo X-rays for a possible fracture.
... Freshman linebacker Buster Davis did not dress out for Saturday's game. He
will meet with head coach Bobby Bowden this week regarding his status.
"We're checking with Ohio State and Nebraska on
how to do rushing notes. We don't know how to do them."
-Sports information director Rob Wilson joking after FSU racked up 397
Facing U.Va.'s 'D' a moving experience
Sep 01, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Remember when Virginia's Cavaliers stopped
Warrick Dunn at the goal line back in 1995?
Think that was maybe the
last time U.Va. stopped somebody lugging the ol' pigskin for Florida
Or most anyone else, for that matter?
Sorry to throw so many questions at you. If you were U.Va.'s
defense, I'd just run the declarative statements down your throat.
That's what FSU did yesterday. It did so to the tune of 397 yards
rushing on Doak Campbell Stadium's turf and 40-19 on the scoreboard.
It rang up 303 yards on the ground last year against the Cavs.
Spread-the-Field U. becomes Battering Ram U. when it lines up against
the orange and blue these days.
And the'Noles aren't alone.
Opponents ran for 202.8 yards per game and 4.3 per carry against
U.Va. in Al Groh's maiden voyage as coach last year. Colorado State
rambled for 187 and 4.6 per snap in this year's opener. Taking notes
down in Columbia, S.C., Lou Holtz doesn't have to be but so wily to
devise a blueprint for South Carolina's visit to Charlottesville on
Saturday night. Translation: Expect to see a whole lot of Gamecocks
bulldozer Andrew Pinnock.
Dunn was in the house yesterday and spoke to FSU's squad before the
game. Betcha he didn't suggest his alma mater trot out a game of pitch
FSU had 100 rushing yards in the first quarter alone. It began the
third period with a monotone drive of eight straight runs that ate up
12, 13, 13, 16, 9, 8, 4 and 5 yards in order till monster back Greg
Jones (21 carries, 173 yards) had plowed into the end zone for the
touchdown that made it 30-zip. It didn't attempt a pass till fewer
than five minutes remained in the quarter.
The'Noles have now outscored U.Va. 278-98 since that historic upset
in'95. Not before during this stretch have they made their sinewy
wideouts feel so lonely and uninvolved.
"We have to improve," was U.Va. defensive end Kwakou Robinson's
take on the proceedings. "You saw the numbers they put up. We have to
come together as a unit."
This is somewhat like asking a kindergarten class at Holton
Elementary in September to line up properly outside the cafeteria. The
Cavs started a redshirt freshman (Brennan Schmidt), a sophomore
(Andrew Hoffman) and a true freshman (Robinson) along the defensive
line against FSU. The'Noles countered with an offensive line that
boasts four seniors and a sophomore and as much beef and talent as any
collection of blockers in the country.
Advantage, Florida State.
By nearly a quarter of a mile.
"We knew some months ago we were going to play with eight, nine
first-year linemen," Groh observed. "That's the most inexperienced
part of our team. Their offensive line is probably the most dominant
and experienced part of their team."
The gap was overwhelming yesterday, although U.Va. did its cause no
good whatsoever by featuring its bad-hands people for a second
straight week. This time, the Cavs put the ball on the ground five
times and lost three of the bobbles to FSU. Marques Hagans - such an
impressive change of pace at quarterback against Colorado State -
fumbled twice, lost one of them, gave a skittish performance overall
and was replaced after six junky possessions by former No. 1 Matt
Schaub tossed three TD passes in the fourth period against mostly
FSU backups, so the quarterback issue remains on the front burner. But
who's calling signals won't matter much if the Cavs keep surrendering
acres of real estate.
"Our D-line right now is real young," Schmidt said. "I think we're
all learning real quick here how to play college football. We're
learning how to handle the expectations, the elements, the crowd. All
of us have many years to come in this game. But we want to win as much
as we can as soon as we can."
In time, maybe they will. The ability is there. The bulk is there.
The want-to is there. But right now, they're a movable object. That'll
have to change. And then some.
Contact Bob Lipper at (804) 649-6555 or
SCARY MOMENT: Perhaps it was foreshadowing on a day
when nearly a dozen Virginia players got hurt in a 40-19
loss to fifth-ranked Florida State. About an hour before
kickoff yesterday at Doak Campbell Stadium, U.Va.'s
second-year athletic director, Craig Littlepage, fainted
on the field.
Littlepage, who turned 51 last month, was
quickly revived but was later taken to a hospital for
tests. Virginia men's basketball coach Pete Gillen
accompanied Littlepage to the hospital. Littlepage was
released and flew home with the football team last night.
U.Va. officials at the game said they didn't know what
caused Littlepage to faint.
SHORT-HANDED: Three of the four U.Va. linebackers who
started the opener against Colorado State missed all or
part of yesterday's game. Outside linebacker Dennis Haley,
who was ineffective against CSU and lost his starting job
to Darryl Blackstock, didn't play against FSU for what
officials called "personal reasons." Inside linebacker
Angelo Crowell and outside'backer Raymond Mann left in the
second half with injuries, thought Crowell later returned.
Second-year coach Al Groh declined to say why Haley,
who was on the sideline in street clothes, didn't play.
But Groh said he hoped Haley would play again.
TALENT POOL: Groh was an assistant at U.Va. and North
Carolina in the'70s and spent six seasons as Wake Forest's
head coach in the'80s. That was before Florida State
joined the ACC, though, and yesterday's game was the first
at Doak Campbell for Groh.
During his NFL coaching career, Groh visited
"It was always a two-day visit," he recalled with a
smile. "You couldn't get it all done in one day. And there
were so many scouts and agents and players and what not
for those functions, it was almost as if it was a home
NUMBERS GAME: Groh said he recently put seven walk-ons
on scholarship. Even so, the Cavaliers still have fewer
than 80 scholarship players, and the NCAA allows Division
I-A teams to have 85.
U.Va. probably would have room to add a 25-player
recruiting class in 2003. But Groh said he wants to have
"balance from year to year" in his classes and won't
necessarily sign the full complement of 25.
"It's like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet," he
said. "If you get greedy, you don't have room for the full
The Cavaliers have 22 scholarship freshmen this season
and hope to add a 23rd, linebacker Ahmad Brooks, in
TWELVE, AND COUNTING: In addition to the 10 true
freshmen who played in the opener, U.Va. brought four
other newcomers to FSU: defensive lineman Ron Darden,
cornerback Marcus Hamilton, quarterback Anthony Martinez
and offensive tackle Brad Butler.
Hamilton and Butler saw their first action, and two
classmates who'd played against Colorado State - tailback
Wali Lundy and Blackstock - made their first starts.
Hamilton suffered what appeared to be a serious injury
with 21 seconds remaining and left the field on crutches
with his left knee immobilized.
POINT OF CONTENTION: Nearly seven years later, former
FSU tailback Warrick Dunn still disputes the officials'
call on a historic play at Scott Stadium.
On Nov. 2, 1995, U.Va. won 33-28, FSU's first loss in
ACC play. On the final play, Dunn took a direct snap and
jetted toward the goal line. Replays seem to indicate that
Dunn was stopped with the ball inches short of the end
zone, and officials saw it that way, too, but he believes
ESPN Classic keeps "replaying the game, and guys say,
'Did you get in?'" Dunn told the Tallahassee Democrat. "Of
course I got in. It was a home call."
Dunn, now with the Atlanta Falcons, was inducted this
week into FSU's athletic hall of fame.
UP NEXT: U.Va. (0-2) plays host to South Carolina next
Saturday at 7:45 p.m. ESPN will televise the game, which
is sold out. Coach Lou Holtz's 22nd-ranked Gamecocks
opened last night at home against New Mexico.
Groh was South Carolina's offensive coordinator in
1988, when it went 8-4. USC leads the series 19-12-1 and
won the teams' most recent meeting, 58-10, in 1987. The
teams will meet in Columbia, S.C., next season. - Jeff