More than egos bruised in Cavaliers' loss to
/ Daily Progress staff writer
Sep 2, 2002
The Virginia football team wasn't just beaten by Florida State on
Saturday. It was beaten up.
UVa coach Al Groh said he had a "fairly long list" of injured players
in his hands Sunday, including several who might be out for an extended
period. He did not name them, however, saying he needed to talk to the
trainers and the players first. Groh also has a policy of not discussing
injuries with reporters.
Among the Cavaliers who were hurt in the 40-19 loss to the Seminoles
were some of the team's top players: All-ACC receiver Billy McMullen,
center Kevin Bailey, linebackers Angelo Crowell and Raymond Mann, safety
Chris Williams and tailback Alvin Pearman.
Crowell and nose tackle Andrew Hoffman returned to the game after
suffering minor injuries. McMullen and Pearman also could have played had
the score been closer toward the end, Groh indicated Saturday.
But others appeared to have serious injuries. Starting left guard Mark
Farrington and defensive back Marcus Hamilton left Doak Campbell Stadium
on crutches. Bailey and Mann also had leg injuries, though they limped off
the field without help.
"In a game like this, you're going to get hit and bruised up,"
quarterback Matt Schaub said. "We've got a lot of tough guys on this team.
We'll just try to get healed and get ready for South Carolina."
The Cavaliers (0-2) have a third straight tough test coming up Saturday
night against the 22nd-ranked Gamecocks (1-0) at Scott Stadium.
Over the years, many coaches have noted that playing Florida State
often exacts a physical toll that carries over into the next week and
beyond. That looks like it may be the case for Virginia.
Still, one player who hopes for some carryover is Schaub, who turned in
one of his best performances against the Seminoles. In relief of starter
Marques Hagans, the junior completed 19 of 25 passes for 247 yards and
Groh did not say whether Schaub will regain his starting job against
South Carolina, but the coach clearly was impressed with the quarterback's
"Matt did a very good job. Obviously 19 for 25 would be a day we'd like
to have every week," Groh said. "He made plays. He did a real nice job
getting the ball to guys who were tightly covered. … I thought McMullen
[five catches, 101 yards] made a couple of great catches and Matt made a
couple of great throws - more than a couple."
While Schaub improved after struggling as the starter against Colorado
State, some of the freshmen who shined in the opener had a tougher time
against the Seminoles. Hagans completed just 1 of 7 passes in his first
start and fumbled twice. Wali Lundy gained 20 yards on 13 carries and also
fumbled, as did Hamilton and Michael Johnson. In all, 19 freshmen played
against Florida State, and many played like, well, freshmen.
"We're not going to glass in any of their lockers and retire their
jerseys yet," Groh joked.
Nevertheless, Groh said playing the Seminoles should have been a
valuable learning experience for his young players. At least the ones who
"It's rough on-the-job training for them," Groh said. "They're learning
Seminoles run past Cavs to take win
Virginia thwarts Florida State's passing game, but 'Noles find ground game to
blow by Cavaliers
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State chopped up Virginia for the first three
quarters on Saturday before quarterback Matt Schaub replaced starter Marques
Hagans, and was able to direct the Cavaliers toward three aerial touchdowns in
the game's final stanza.
The Seminoles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) continued their dominance over both Virginia
and the ACC on Saturday, defeating the Cavaliers (0-2, 0-1) 40-19 in front of
79,406 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. It was the
Seminoles' 10th victory in 11 all-time meetings.
Florida State's offense was surprisingly driven by an explosion of its
ground game, which proved especially confounding to a Cavalier defense that
prepared predominantly for the Seminole passing game.
"If [the Cavaliers] study history, that's exactly what they'll expect,"
Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden said.
"When you get to be 72, you get more patience. Our plan was to come out
throwing, but it was pretty obvious they were trying to stop that."
Indeed, Virginia succeeded in holding Florida State quarterback Chris Rix
to 10-of-18 passing for only 117 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Seminole running game, however, amassed a staggering 397 rushing yards on
60 carries -- an impressive 6.6 yards per run.
Junior Greg Jones led the way, mixing in a few shifty side steps along with
his traditional hard rushes up the gut. He recorded a career high 173 yards on
21 attempts, chalking up two touchdowns. Two other running backs, senior Nick
Maddox and freshman Willie Reid, contributed 61 and 51 yards, respectively.
Part of what opened up the ground game so well for Florida State was Rix's
own scrambling abilities. He scampered his way to 58 rushing yards and a
"Rix is a good player," Virginia freshman defensive end Kwakou Robinson
said. "It's a tough deal to get off a guard or tackle and find Rix."
Furthering Virginia's difficulties was a simple lack of experience on the
front line. Florida State had four seniors starting on its offensive line,
while Virginia had only one man on its entire defensive line depth chart who
had even seen game action prior to this season.
"We knew the matchup would be overwhelming," Groh said. "That's one of
their most experienced positions. I've stood on the sidelines on a lot of
Sundays and haven't seen anything that looked like that, in terms of size."
The other recurring problem for Virginia was turnovers. The Cavaliers
fumbled five times, losing three of them. Four times it was either a true or
redshirt freshman who lost his handle of the football, suggesting Virginia's
newest players need to adjust to the size and strength of football at the top
"I think they found out that they were going to get a hit a little bit
harder in this league than where they came from," Groh said.
Still, though, Virginia had plenty to be encouraged about from Saturday's
second half, after Schaub relieved an ineffective Hagans.
Hagans, in only his second collegiate game, was given the tough chore of
scoring against a tough Florida State defense. He completed only one of seven
passes and ran for 16 yards before Schaub entered.
"His play in the first game warranted the opportunity," Groh said. "Last
week Hagans was everyone's darling. He's a second-game quarterback going up
against a very tough team."
Schaub showed no ill effects of not starting and perhaps even benefited
from the extra preparation -- much like he seemed to do last year when
replacing Bryson Spinner in games. Schaub proceeded to complete 19-of-25
passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns.
"I was going to be ready the same way," Schaub said of substituting as
opposed to starting. "The beginning of the game gives you a chance to see how
the defense is playing."
Senior co-captain Billy McMullen was Schaub's favorite target, connecting
five times for 101 yards -- including a 59-yard strike down the left sideline
when Virginia had the ball on its own 1-yard line.
Schaub's passing was a blessing for Virginia, which struggled to gain much
territory on the ground. Wali Lundy again led Virginia rushers, this time with
20 yards. Michael Johnson and Marquis Weeks each had 19.
Virginia freshmen go through growing pains
|Cavalier Daily Sports
By now it should be easy for most students to imagine the first day of
college classes -- the confusion, the nervousness, the uncertainty.
But for a moment, imagine that on your first day of your first year, still
wet behind the ears, you find that all of your classmates are Lawn residents,
aspiring Rhodes scholars and future millionaires. Intimidated?
Now you know what it's like to be one of the 12 true freshmen who have
played in Virginia's first two football games of the season.
Many of these players, like freshmen tailbacks Wali Lundy and Michael
Johnson, were part of the Virginia recruiting class that was widely considered
one of the best in the nation.
Lundy, Johnson and their classmates were not only expected to develop into
strong players -- they were expected to do it in a matter of weeks, and
Virginia Coach Al Groh admitted as early as the spring that he would be
looking for significant contributions from the incoming freshman class.
Virginia's last-minute fall to Colorado State and Saturday's 40-19 loss to
Florida State might indicate that these freshmen couldn't cut it.
Exactly the opposite -- the new Cavaliers have showed exactly the kind of
toughness and potential that, when coupled with a little experience, can put
Virginia football in serious contention with even the conference-dominating
Consider a few of the bright spots in Saturday's loss, provided by
Lundy and Johnson shot right out of the gate, Lundy with an 11-yard run on
the Cavaliers' first possession and Johnson right on his heels to keep
Virginia on the advance.
Lundy finished the game as the team's lead rusher, with 34 yards on 13
carries. Johnson added 25 rushing yards, the team's second best against a
stiff Florida State defense.
Against Colorado State, Lundy was the team's rushing leader with 94 yards,
and Johnson put up 37 yards on only five carries.
In a group of tailbacks in which sophomores Alvin Pearman and Marquis Weeks
are the most experienced veterans, Lundy and Johnson have helped the backfield
make an impression.
"We don't just have ball-carriers in the backfield," Groh said. "We have
The Cavaliers' defensive line has only one lineman who can boast any game
experience, sophomore nose tackle Andrew Hoffman. So, true freshmen Kwakou
Robinson, Braden Campbell and D.J. Bell have stepped up to make contributions
in the past two games.
Freshman Darryl Blackstock, who made more than 50 sacks in the two years
before coming to Virginia, finished the Colorado State game with seven tackles
and started against Florida State, finishing with six tackles and one sack.
The numbers may not be overwhelming, but they are solid, and they are
significant in light of Virginia's competition.
We "put four or five of those freshmen linemen out there against five
fifth-year seniors," Groh said. "That's what I like about [our] team. Those
kids, they didn't back down. They had to deal with it out there. They had to
take those guys on, and they kept going out for more, so that's why I feel
The determination of the freshman class is certainly something for Virginia
to feel positive about. Faced with a 33-0 deficit at the end of the third
quarter against Florida State and with Cavalier veterans falling to injury
left and right, the team, even the freshmen, didn't give themselves up for
The Cavaliers' three late touchdowns came from veterans, but Johnson and
Lundy both had significant first-down receptions. Freshman cornerback Marcus
Hamilton and freshman safety Willie Davis teamed up to slow a late Florida
State drive and hold the Seminoles.
"We had heart and we fought back," Davis said of his team. About his
freshman classmates, he added, "We did good, but we can do better. Always,
always look for improvement."
No doubt Virginia should expect improvement from its freshmen (and veterans
as well), especially with two of the toughest matches on the Cavalier schedule
behind them. Groh joked with reporters after Saturday's game that he should
add a "patience coordinator" to his staff in order to make sure that
week-to-week expectations for his new players are realistic. But even now it
is not unrealistic to believe that these freshmen are what Virginia needs to
rise to the head of the class.
For starters, Groh seeking consistency
By DOUG DOUGHTY
THE ROANOKE TIMES
Just once, Virginia football coach Al Groh would like to pick a starting
quarterback and have him play well enough to finish a game.
Actually, it did happen once, when Matt Schaub started and went the
distance last year at North Carolina, but once in 14 games is not the
Groh stopped short of anointing Schaub as the starter for the
Cavaliers' game this Saturday with visiting South Carolina, but - based on
Groh's statement that his decisions are based on performance - it should be
Redshirt freshman Marques Hagans, making his first start, completed
one of seven passes Saturday against Florida State before giving way to
Schaub for the last 2 1/2 quarters.
It continued a pattern established last year when the relief
quarterback, whether it was Schaub or Bryson Spinner, invariably was more
"I was thinking about that quite a bit last night," said Groh in a
Sunday teleconference. "I want to ask [Schaub] what his thoughts are about
that. It's certainly worthy of asking the question."
Schaub completed 19 of 25 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns,
all in the final 13:43, in a 40-19 UVa
loss to the Seminoles.
"He had a real good look in his eye, both during that second half and
after the game," Groh said. "He threw corner routes, he threw a go route, he
threw the slant, he threw the out. He made some good decisions on guys
coming free underneath.
"He made most of the throws a guy's got to make and made them very
accurately. Here he sits after two games with a 69-percent completion
[percentage]. That ought to be pretty good for his confidence."
Is there any question Schaub will start?
"Since I won't see them until tomorrow, I'd rather tell them
personally," Groh said. "The ball coach [Steve Spurrier] announces those
things on TV, but I think I'll wait and tell the players."
Of Schaub's four career 200-yard passing days, three have come in
games he did not start. Schaub has thrown for 100 yards or more in seven
games the past two years and the Cavaliers have lost all seven.
ROUGH BAPTISM: Freshman punter Tom Hagan, pressed into service in the
first minute of the Cavaliers' opening game against Colorado State, didn't
find his first trip to Florida State to be any less stressful.
"I'm not going to forget that for a while," said Hagan, the victim of
a breakdown in protection Saturday when one of his first-quarter attempts
was blocked out of the end zone for a safety.
"You're trying not to think about it, but it's still in the back of
your mind. Punting out of the end zone however many times didn't help."
Hagan had to punt out of the end zone on two second-quarter attempts
and was standing inside his 5 before the block. Also in the second quarter,
he took off running after an errant snap and was tackled short of a first
down at the Cavaliers' 25.
"I don't think two points swing the momentum dramatically," Groh said
"It's bigger in terms of aggravating me than it was a turning point."
UVa has not attempted a field
goal in two games. Sophomore Bryan Smith was considered the likely choice,
at least for short field goals, until he missed two of three extra points
Saturday. Redshirt freshman Kurt Smith, reliable so far on kickoffs, may get
INJURY REPORT: Groh had not spoken with the team's medical staff when
he talked with the media Sunday, but five players with knee injuries may
have difficulty rehabbing in time for the Gamecocks.
They are guard Mark Farrington, center Kevin Bailey, wide receiver
Billy McMullen, outside linebacker Raymond Mann and cornerback Marcus
Hamilton. Hamilton was injured on the kickoff following
UVa's last touchdown with 29 seconds
Hagan, son of Roanoke orthopedist Hugh Hagan, required treatment
after the game for an injury to his right thumb.
"We better hurry up and get you back to Virginia, so you can see a
real hand guy," said longtime UVa
team physician Frank McCue, who has the same specialty, hands, as Hagan's
Cut off at the pass? Fine, FSU just runs
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
Bobby Bowden called one play in Florida State's 40-19 victory over Virginia.
"It was intercepted," Bowden said of Chris Rix's first deep pass. "Our plan
was to come out throwing. But then it was very obvious they were going to play
deep. Thank goodness we were able to run."
FSU has rushed for 636 yards in two games. That is more rushing yardage than
FSU put together the last five games of the 2001 season. FSU earned more rushing
yardage than passing in both games after doing that just five times in the
previous four seasons.
The Seminoles run because they have Greg Jones, Nick Maddox and Willie Reid.
But FSU also has Rix's usually golden arm, a bevy of receivers and a
well-deserved reputation for throwing the football. Pick your poison, and in the
first two games Iowa State and Virginia figured FSU's running game wouldn't be
"If they study (FSU's) history, that's exactly what they think," Bowden said.
Even Virginia, which allowed 318 rushing yards a year ago, figured the best
way to stop FSU was to disarm the bomb. "That's what blows games wide open,"
Bowden said. "Look at us against Iowa State. The quarterback at Iowa State
(Seneca Wallace), he completed 20 in front of us and two behind us. Them 20
didn't hurt us. Those two behind us hurt."
It gets down to Bowden's tried-and-true philosophy of taking what defenses
give. Instead of a steady diet of eight men in the box - which makes it
difficult to run - FSU saw Virginia's 3-4 defense drop its safeties. The
strategy also reflects the ACC's recent influx of NFL coaches, including
Virginia's Al Groh.
"They back the safeties way back," Bowden said. "Every time we went deep,
they intercepted. Just about. I think we're going to start seeing more of it -
the 3-4. If you're in that, it's easier to drop eight.
"It's very solid. If you play three down people, you got four linebackers and
you can get a lot more flexibility of double coverage and dropping back in a
certain zone. (That strategy is) 'we are not going to give Florida State
"You can't get as good a rush. Thank goodness we have been able to take
advantage of the people who don't bring that defensive back up there to stop the
With Jones rushing for more than 100 yards against Iowa State and Virginia,
and Rix passing for just 117 yards, Bowden would be surprised to see defenses
"Next week we're liable to play a team that refuses to let us run," Bowden
said. "The thing that it showed (Saturday) - it looks like we have the ability
to do both."