To shake Wake, Cavs must hang on tight
/ Daily Progress staff writer
Sep 28, 2002
Who will giveth, and who will taketh away?
Tonight's Virginia-Wake Forest game at Groves Stadium could be
determined by one of the simpler aspects of football: Holding onto the
With these teams, that is easier said than done. The Cavaliers and
Demon Deacons are tied for first in the nation with 16 takeaways, an
average of four per game. Virginia has recovered 11 opponent fumbles and
snagged five interceptions. Wake Forest has picked off seven passes and
fallen on nine opponent fumbles.
Neither defense is particularly adept at stopping anyone - in fact,
they are the ACC's worst in yards allowed - but both are opportunistic and
ball-hungry. Each defense emphasizes what UVa coach Al Groh calls "ball
disruption" - stripping the carrier or otherwise going after the ball.
By forcing turnovers, both teams prevent opponents from scoring even
more often than they already do.
"Unless you're really an overwhelmingly dominant team, I think you'll
find that teams having a good season have two thing in common," Groh said.
"They are usually pretty injury-free, and they have a positive turnover
Neither team has been free of injuries. The Cavaliers lost their best
offensive lineman (Kevin Bailey) and outside linebacker (Raymond Mann) to
knee injuries in the second game. Wake Forest's top tailback (Tarence
Williams) and receiver (Jason Anderson) have been hurt most of the season.
But both teams have forged out 2-2 records due in large part to
positive turnover ratios. In its first two games, both losses, Virginia
committed nine turnovers while forcing six. The Cavaliers turned that
around in their past two games, both victories, forcing 10 turnovers while
committing only two.
The Demon Deacons have been careful with the ball all season. They have
lost just four fumbles and senior quarterback James MacPherson has not
thrown an interception. Meanwhile, their defense has swarmed to the ball
when opponents make mistakes.
"I think it's probably half dumb luck and half effort on the part of
the defensive kids," said Wake coach Jim Grobe, whose team leads the
nation in turnover differential at plus-3 per game.
Both defenses figure to have trouble making stops tonight without
forcing turnovers. Virginia's main problem is stopping the run. The
Cavaliers are last in the ACC in rushing defense, while the Demon Deacons
are first in rushing offense.
Wake's weakness is preventing the pass. The Deacons have given up a
league-high eight touchdown passes; Virginia has thrown for 13 scores,
most in the conference.
So for both offenses, yards should not be hard to come by. The trick
will be getting the ball in the end zone before the defense can take it
"We really, really emphasize taking care of the ball, and that's what
we'll have to do against Virginia," Wake offensive coordinator Troy
Calhoun said. "They have an awful lot of ways to create havoc and they get
two or three guys around the ball. … I think the team that makes the
fewest mistakes is going to win."
Patience paying off for Virginia’s Schaub
MILLER, The Virginian-Pilot
© September 28, 2002
the crowd around Matt Schaub’s locker at Virginia’s weekly media day last
Monday was deeper than the crowd around any other player’s.
And, as usual, Schaub answered all queries with patience and
thoughtfulness. The Cavaliers’ quarterback is nothing if not even-keeled.
He says he tries not to get too high or too low, “not only in sports, but
in any situation.”
That personality trait has come in handy for the 21-year-old junior,
who will lead Virginia in an ACC game at Wake Forest tonight. Last year,
he lost his starting job twice and was pulled from games half a dozen
Just four games into this season, he’s already lost his job once. But
since regaining it, he’s shown no sign he’ll relinquish it.
Once known for being consistently inconsistent, Schaub has been
reliable and accurate lately. Over the past 10 quarters, he’s completed 57
of 80 passes (71.3 percent), thrown for 11 touchdowns and just two
Has Schaub turned a corner?
“I’ve been doing this since 1968, and I don’t feel like I’ve turned the
corner yet,” coach Al Groh said. “So I wouldn’t say that my quarterback
has turned the corner after 2 1/2 games.
“But he is in a nice groove right now.”
Groh declared Schaub the starter after he completed 18 of 23 passes in
the second half against Florida State on Aug. 31. Schaub and Marques
Hagans had shared the position before that.
Schaub said being named the clear No. 1 had a relaxing effect. He no
longer worries that his next mistake will get him yanked.
“In sports, you can’t really hold back,” he said. “When you’re out
there, you’ve got to let it go.”
Groh said Schaub is making throws he wouldn’t have made a year ago. His
decision-making has also improved. He hasn’t been sacked in two weeks, an
indication that he’s not holding the ball as long as he used to.
Schaub ranks seventh in the nation in passing efficiency, fifth in
Virginia’s success in spreading the field the past two weeks has also
opened up things for its running game. The Cavaliers averaged 159.5 yards
rushing per game, 53 more than a year ago.
“Coaches like to talk about the techniques we teach and the schemes we
use,” Groh said. “But one thing all those great running games have in
common are great running backs that can make yards on their own. Runners
are a big factor.”
True freshman Wali Lundy gives Virginia the type of elusive back it
lacked last season. Sophomore Alvin Pearman has also shown an ability to
make tacklers miss.
“BYOB” may mean one thing to many Virginia students. But to Lundy and
Pearman, it means something else entirely.
“Be Your Own Blocker,” Lundy said. “Coaches are always telling us
Lundy ran for 103 yards against Akron last week, and Pearman had 81.
“You can go hard, knowing the guy behind you can also produce,” Lundy
Or, in Schaub’s case, knowing the guy behind you isn’t likely to
replace you anytime soon.
Cavaliers' Groh returns to site of growing pains
Al Groh returns to a familiar setting today when his Cavaliers face the
Demon Deacons today in Winston-Salem, N.C.
By DOUG DOUGHTY
THE ROANOKE TIMES
When Virginia visits Wake Forest today for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff, UVa
football coach Al Groh will step onto the grass at Groves Stadium for the
first time since his last game as coach at Wake Forest in 1986.
He has been on a Winston-Salem, N.C., campus since then, but not at
"The last time I was here was to work out Oronde Gadsden," said Groh,
who was an assistant coach with the New England Patriots in 1994 when Gadsen
was a senior at Winston-Salem State.
Gadsen became a proven wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins, although
neither Groh nor anybody else was impressed enough to draft him. Gadsden had
been out of college for four years and was with the Portland (Ore.) Forest
Dragons of the Arena League before Miami signed him in 1998.
Certainly, Groh has other memories from his days at Wake Forest,
where he had just joined John Mackovic's staff in 1981 when Mackovic
resigned on the eve of spring practice and Groh was elevated to head coach.
Groh stayed for six years, 1981-86, and compiled a 26-40 record. He
could have stayed, too, but had irreconcilable difference with then-athletic
director Dr. Gene Hooks.
"The first time I was a head coach, I was of an age that, when I look
back on it, my evaluation is that I didn't know [squat]," Groh said this
Groh is a UVa graduate and when his son, Mike, signed with the
Cavaliers, father Al had even more reason to pull for the Cavaliers against
One of his fondest memories is from a UVa-Wake game he did not
attend. Groh had just returned from a Patriots defensive meeting in 1994
when he saw the message light blinking on his hotel phone.
The message was from his son, Mike, who, Al was to learn later, had
replaced injured starter Symmion Willis and tossed three touchdown passes in
a 42-6 Cavaliers' victory at Groves Stadium.
That was the same stadium where Mike had carried the cord for his
father's headset as a pre-teen. Today, Mike Groh will be wearing his own
headset as the receivers coach on his father's staff.
When the Grohs were in Winston-Salem, the Deacons defeated Virginia
38-34 in 1983 and then didn't beat the Cavaliers again for 17 years in the
second-longest streak of that nature in ACC history. (Clemson's 29-game
winning streak over UVa was the longest.)
When the Deacs ended the streak last year in Charlottesville, 34-30,
it marked the first game in Charlottesville for UVa alumnus Jim Grobe as
Wake coach. At the time, it was the fifth straight loss for Virginia and
left the Cavaliers 3-6 and with no hope of a winning season.
"Seventeen years seems like a long time not to beat somebody, but I
know we were fortunate to beat them last year," Grobe said earlier this
week. "These guys will be after us. We've got a little bit of a target on
UVa was a 4 1/2 -point favorite against the Deacs last year. Wake is
a two-point favorite today - the first time it has been favored against the
Cavaliers since the early 1980s.
The teams tied for seventh place in the ACC last year, and they have
identical records (2-2, 0-1 ACC) this year. When the Cavaliers were picked
eighth at the ACC's Football Kickoff this summer, they were one spot behind
Groh obviously has other things on his mind than the Groves Stadium
"It was a place I enjoyed coaching," Groh said, "but that was then.
This is now."
ACC voters miss
again on UVa standout
Brill is addled
Exclusive to roanoke.com by 5 p.m. Thursdays
The ACC took such great offense
when I questioned the selection process for the 50th anniversary football team
that I'm not going to suggest that the voting was rigged for the men's
Assistant commissioner Mike Finn
swears the team followed the voting and I respect Finn implicitly, but I've
got to question the sanity of the 125 "voters" who made up the selection
Who are these people?
Actually, I know who some of
them are. One of them is my esteemed, longtime former boss, Bill Brill, now of
Durham, N.C. I know some of the players that Brill left off his football
ballot and it just confirms what everybody already knew, that Brill was a
But, you even have to wonder
about that with the revelation that Brill did not include Virginia's Bryant
Stith on his list of the top 50 basketball players.
Stith was a three-time,
first-team All-ACC selection from 1990-92 who scored 2,516 points in his UVa
career -- fourth on the conference's all-time list and 71 points out of first.
"If I'd thought about it, I
would have put Stith on there," Brill said Thursday.
(Think he forgot anybody from
Of the top 10 scorers in ACC
history, eight made the 50-member 50th anniversary team. The two who didn't
were both from Virginia, Stith and No. 10 Buzzy Wilkinson.
Wilkinson scored 2,233 points in
78 games from 1953-55 and his 28.6-point career scoring average is the highest
in ACC history.
I'm not saying that the voting
should be based solely on statistics, but I think it's pretty hard to overlook
the No. 4 scorer in conference history. Maybe the Cavaliers didn't win an ACC
title during Stith's career (or most other players' careers) but they won 20
games in all four of his seasons; played in the NCAA Tournament three times,
including an appearance in the final eight (Brill covered it), and won the
I have no argument with the
three Virginia players who did make the team: Ralph Sampson, Barry Parkhill
and Jeff Lamp. Parkhill's statistics didn't compare to some of the other
choices, but he was the player who put UVa basketball on the map.
Sampson and Lamp played together
and I can tell you what Lamp was. He was Bryant Stith one decade earlier. Lamp
was a little better shooter who didn't have the benefit of the 3-point shot,
but Stith was a better rebounder.
Six UVa players have had their
numbers retired. They are Sampson, Parkhill, Lamp, Stith, Wilkinson and Wally
Walker. Some people may think Walker belonged on the team; after all, he led
the Cavaliers to their lone ACC championship, but the biggest oversight was
FORK UNION FOOTBALL COACH John
Shuman can understand why there's been so much commotion about FUMA defensive
tackle Robert Armstrong. "He came here as a sleeper and now he's probably a
pro," Shuman said Thursday.
Shuman also said there was no
substance to the rumors that Armstrong had backed out of his commitment to
Virginia and would sign with Pittsburgh.
"If a guy were going to do that,
don't you think he'd step up a rung [and] try to go someplace hot, like a
Virginia Tech or Tennessee," Shuman said.
Shuman said that players were
unable to talk with recruiters by phone or e-mail until this week. He
speculates that Armstrong had been talking with teammate Curtis Lewis, a 2001
Pitt signee now at Fork Union, and may have led a Pitt assistant to believe he
"It seems he may have sprinkled
some stuff out there," Shuman said, "but he talked to [Virginia] coach [Al]
Groh and coach [Mike] London today and they know he's firmly committed. I'm
with him most of the day but there's about a 45-minute break when he could
have gone to the computer lab."
There have been occasions when a
school has placed a player at Fork Union and then cooled on him but there's no
way that was the case with Virginia and Armstrong, Shuman said. London scouted
Armstrong (6-3, 304) at a recent Fork Union game.
"That's a guy they need to be on
full in force," Shuman said. "He feels a little slighted. He knows that
[Ahmad] Brooks can go there [from Hargrave] after half year and he's got to
stay here with coach Shuman. He's real smart. I can see him qualifying the
Shuman passed along an
interesting statistic on the seven ex-Fork Union players now at Virginia, all
of whom have started at least one game this year. Three scored touchdowns in
the Cavaliers' 48-29 victory over Akron: wide receiver Billy McMullen and
defensive players Darryl Blackstock and Art Thomas.
Three of the four players vying
for playing time at cornerback -- Thomas, Jamaine Winborne and Muffin Curry --
played for Shuman. Thomas, who has two defensive touchdowns in his UVa career,
is the biggest enigma.
"He drives you crazy," Shuman
said. "At times he looks like a pro; then, at other times, you wonder what's
VIRGINIA, AN UNDERDOG to Wake
Forest for the first time in close to 20 years, will visit Winston-Salem,
N.C., on Saturday without one of the Cavaliers' projected playmakers, junior
outside linebacker Raymond Mann.
Mann has not played since
suffering a knee injury Sept. 7 in Virginia's 40-19 loss at Florida State.
When asked Thursday whether Mann would make an appearance before the end of
the season, Groh responded, "I hope so."
"I don't have any specific date
myself, so I couldn't give you one," said Groh, confirming that Mann will not
play Saturday. "This was a player, going into the year, that we anticipated
would be one of our better players. And, [he's] played six quarters now."
Mann, if he did not play again
this season, would meet the criteria for a successful hardship appeal.
However, it's likely that the Cavaliers would want him back as soon as
possible, given that Blackstock and second-year Bryan White are getting
virtually all of the time at outside linebacker.
There was no discussion of
another outside linebacker, Dennis Haley, in any of Groh's news conferences
this week. Haley, who did not dress Saturday for Akron, was in the locker room
Monday for the media's weekly visit and showed no signs of injury.
Haley started the opener against
Colorado State but has not dressed since then for what Groh termed "personal
reasons" and later "a complex matter."
A STEADY RAIN DID NOT keep the
Cavaliers from practicing outside Thursday, although it is possible that
inclement weather will have left the area by the time UVa and Wake tee it up
Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
"We'll go outside today under
any circumstances," said Groh in his 11:30 a.m. teleconference. "I was
remarking to one of our assistants that between games and practices and
whatever, it's been so long since we've had a football outside when it's
raining that it's beyond my memory.
"Since we haven't dealt with it
in some time, it would be my preference to go in it."
Never too late
to uncover a "sleeper"
Exclusive to roanoke.com by 5 p.m. Fridays
The coverage of football recruiting
has reached the point where there are few real "sleepers" nowadays, but
lineman Lewis "L.A." Watson from Heritage High School comes close to meeting
East Carolina has offered a
scholarship to -- and is the team to beat for -- Watson, a 6-foot-5,
290-pounder who did not play as a junior as the result of a torn growth plate.
The only place I have seen
Watson listed, before his grandfather wrote me, was in the new preseason
yearbook that The Sporting News has devoted to high-school football.
Watson did not have a head coach
to promote him until Heritage named Chris Jones, formerly the head coach at
Bath County, which won the 2001 Group A Division 1 state championship.
Before going to Bath County,
Jones coached at Sussex Central, where he developed a relationship with Trey
Magee, which explains the East Carolina connection. Magee is a redshirt
freshman offensive lineman for the Pirates.
Watson made his first appearance
on recruiters' computer screens when he was timed in 5.0 seconds for 40 yards
at the Nike camp in State College, Pa. He also bench-presses more than 400
pounds and "has unbelievable strength," Jones said.
Watson has a 3.1 grade-point
average and a score of 1,100 on the SAT. Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Virginia
and Maryland all have expressed interest, but only East Carolina has offered.
"Nobody knew about him," Jones
If Jones accomplishes what he
hopes at Heritage, he thinks he can attract recruiters on a more regular
basis. He's already touting junior Don Alexander, a 6-7, 190-pound wide
receiver who has two touchdown receptions and also plays safety.
AN EFFORT TO KEEP UP with the
state's top 100 football prospects and their postgraduate destinations has
whittled to seven the number of players who are unaccounted for (SEE UPDATED
Among those players whose
whereabouts I have been able to determine are 6-3, 355-pound Hampton High
School offensive lineman Steve Williams, rated the 51st-best prospect in the
state. Williams is at St. Augustine's in Raleigh, N.C.
Others are No. 53 Jesse Pellot-Rosa,
a wide receiver from George Wythe High School in Richmond (Fork Union); No. 75
Onrea Jones, a wide receiver from Bruton in Williamsburg (Hampton); No. 84
Brandon Carter, a defensive back from Smithfield (Fork Union); and No. 97
Travis Akers, a defensive tackle from Radford (West Virginia walk-on).
Carter is the younger brother of
former Virginia Tech tight end Derek Carter, and Jones once was the chief
target of Hokies' quarterback Bryan Randall.
"The best hands I ever saw,"
said Bruton coach Kyle Neve, rejecting any questions about Jones' speed.
"Somebody missed out on him because he can play at the I-A level."
Neve said Jones' speed was
evident when he won the 110-meter high hurdles at the Group AA state track
meet, but Jones had academic issues that were not resolved until most teams
had met their allotment of scholarships.
HARGRAVE MILITARY ACADEMY
football coach Robert Prunty said Virginia and Virginia Tech have expressed
interest in Chris McDuffie, a 6-4, 310-pound offensive lineman from George
Washington (Danville) who was rated second on The Roanoke Times "waiting list"
of players with Top 25 talent whose academic status was in question.
McDuffie is repeating the 12th
grade and Prunty thinks he'll qualify. Prunty also said that Tech and North
Carolina State have offered scholarships to Michael Hinton, a 6-3, 186-pound
Hargrave cornerback from Burlington, N.C., and that Virginia has expressed
enough interest to suggest an offer might be imminent.
Prunty said the Hokies are
interested two of his other players: Ma'tron Church, a 6-2, 235-pound
linebacker from St. Petersburg, Fla., and Shane Lucas, a 6-3, 305-pound
defensive lineman from Angier, N.C. Virginia has a commitment from Hargrave's
Ahmad Brooks, a 6-4, 236-pound linebacker from Woodbridge who was rated the
state's No. 1 prospect last year.
"I heard about how good he was,"
Prunty said. "I didn't realize he was as fast as he is."
EVEN SOME VIRGINIA TECH insiders
were surprised by the suddenness of the commitment the Hokies got this week
from G.W.-Danville running back Kenny Lewis Jr., whose father was a 1,000-yard
rusher for the Hokies during the late 1970s.
The word I'm getting is that
when Tech assistants would ask about Lewis, head coach Frank Beamer would
respond that he was taking personal responsibility for Lewis' recruiting.
Injuries have kept Lewis from becoming the phenom that was projected in 1999,
but he has three things going for him: speed, pedigree and grades.
FOR THOSE READERS who have been
following the misadventures of Roanoke Times sportswriter Randy "Nappy" King,
we are saddened to report that King's trip to Texas A&M this past weekend did
not pass without incident.
As it turns out, King has been
hobbled all week by an injury suffered when he fell asleep in a Continental
Airlines jetliner. King was struck by a beverage cart guided by a flight
attendant who did not see King's knee in the aisle.
King accepted the flight
attendant's offer of a free beverage -- actually, beverages -- and reportedly
was feeling fine by the time he returned to Roanoke, only to awaken in pain
(from his knee) the next morning.
IN THE SAME VEIN, it wasn't till
Friday morning (today) that I saw Gregg Doyel's column from the Monday
Charlotte Observer entitled, "Beamer shouldn't be in game of selling Virginia
I know that reporters find it
difficult to compete with BeamerBall.com for scoops but it hasn't affeceted me
much because most of what I write about Tech deals with recruiting. School-
and presumably coach-affiliated sites are not allowed to report on recruiting.
What struck me about Doyel's
column was the following paragraph:
"Imagine Beamer and the Virginia
Tech beat writers bellying up to a bar in Kalamazoo, Mich., this Friday night,
the eve of the Hokies' game at Western Michigan. Bragging, Beamer cackles to
one of the hacks, 'I've been scooping you like melted sherbet,' and a brawl
All that analogy lacks is a
OUR THOUGHTS ARE with Tucker
McLaughlin, portly sports editor of the News & Record of South Boston, who
will undergo surgery Monday for a torn quadriceps muscle. The injury, suffered
while walking down the steps at the newspaper, was expected to keep McLaughlin
from the Taco Bell 300 as well as other assorted upcoming media feedbags.
Cavs look for road, ACC win
Virginia looks for its first conference win against Wake Forest as Demon
Deacons prepare to take on the Cavaliers, Schaub will hope to lead Virginia to
third straight offensive success
The Virginia football team plays their first match in a crucial five-game
stretch of conference football as they head south to take on Wake Forest
tomorrow at Groves Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
Virginia and Wake Forest enter with identical records (2-2 overall, 0-1
ACC) and are beginning the primary stretch of their ACC schedule.
"It's going to be a challenge
-- we're back in the ACC," senior linebacker and co-captain Angelo Crowell
said. "If we want to be in the ACC race, we're going to have to beat this
It was not always a challenge for the Cavaliers to knock off the Deacons;
Virginia had boasted a 17-game winning streak against the team until Wake
Forest won last year, 34-30, at Scott Stadium. Virginia enters with the
momentum of soundly defeating Akron last week, while Wake Forest will ride the
wave of their 24-21 upset of Purdue.
"They're a hard team to beat these days," Crowell said. "We knew even
before they beat Purdue that this was a pretty good ball team."
Virginia's offense clicked against Akron en route to a decisive 48-29
victory. Junior quarterback Matt Schaub looked especially impressive, tossing
five touchdown passes. Particularly notable is the wide arsenal of weapons at
Schaub's disposal, as a different receiver caught each touchdown pass.
Freshman Wali Lundy and Sopomore Alvin Pearman led the way for the Cavalier
ground attack, combining for 183 of the team's 212 rushing yards. More
surprisingly, however, was the presence of reshirt freshman quarterback
Marques Hagans occasionally aligned as a running back. Hagans also returned
two punts and intercepted a pass on Akron's failed punt fake.
Hagans is "very versatile for us," Schaub said. "With his talent, it's hard
to keep him off the field."
Returning to the conference schedule generally means teams are more
familiar and better acclimated to each other's style of play -- this is
usually the case, but Virginia's bounty of freshmen have faced only powerhouse
FSU in the ACC before. But Coach Al Groh is confident the team will be able to
get its bearing, based on Wake Forest's similarities to recent opponents and
strategies culled from archived game tapes.
"Their defensive system is along the same style as South Carolina and
Clemson," Groh said. "There are some notable differences, but it gives us a
good orientation point with the players."
Wake Forest presents a unique style of offense, combining several different
formations and types of rushing plays. The Deacons led the ACC in rushing last
year (221.6 yards per game) and are averaging even more this year (230.5 ypg).
They have employed a host of featured backs, five of whom have aaccumulated at
least 125 but no more than 225 rushing yards.
"Offensively, they're probably quite unique to the teams that we've played
this year," Groh said. "I can see elements of bi-formation, power running,
wishbone offense and a little wing-T. In terms of comparison, they're a blend
of Air Force and Nebraska. They run it more and pass it less than anybody."
Wake Forest relies on senior quarterback James MacPherson to spread the
wealth, handing off frequently and being a reliable passer -- his 56.2
completion percentage, zero interceptions and 128.2 quarterback rating attest
to his proficiency in taking care of the ball.
Senior wideout Fabian Davis is both their leading receiver (14 catches, 213
yards) and third leading rusher (172 yards and 9.6 yards per carry). The head
of the team's running back by committee is junior Nick Burney.
Grobe not feeling nostalgic
about visit from Cavaliers
WFU coach, who played for Virginia, focused on winning
Jim and Holly Grobe have friends coming into town this weekend, mostly
old college pals from the days when Jim was a student at Virginia.
is, Jim is scheduled to work tonight. He said he hopes his friends have a good
time, but only up to and after tonight's football game between Wake Forest and
Virginia at 6:30 at Groves Stadium.
As head coach at Wake Forest, Grobe's goal is to see that no one rooting
for Virginia enjoys the game itself.
"It would be fun to try to be nostalgic and all that kind of stuff," Grobe
said. "But the fact is, when (the Cavaliers) roll in here on Saturday at 6:30
and they try to break our nose, it's not going to be a deal where you can
afford to be.
"There aren't a lot of warm fuzzies in football."
Al Groh, the head coach at Virginia, has long since learned the same
lesson. His trip down memory lane to Wake Forest, where he coached for six
years (1981-86), will merge back into the here and now by kickoff and he goes
about trying to win the game.
Both teams are 2-2, so both need the victory badly. Raising the stakes is
the fact that it's a conference game, and since assuming their current duties
at the start of last season, both Grobe and Groh have won only three ACC games
It was last year's 3-5 conference record, Grobe said, that kept the Deacons
from playing in a bowl following their 6-5 regular season. For this year's
team to avoid a similar fate, a victory tonight may well prove critical.
Virginia is talented, but young, with six freshmen listed on the first team
and six more on second team. If Wake Forest lacks the Cavaliers' overall level
of talent, then at least the Deacons are more experienced.
The 22 players listed as first team for Wake Forest have, among them,
started 269 games in college. Five Deacons - fullback Ovie Mughelli, tight end
Ray Thomas, defensive end Calvin Pace, nose tackle Montique Sharpe and free
safety Quintin Williams - have started more than 20 games each.
But the experience thins out quickly at linebacker, where the Deacons may
be playing without senior Jamie Scott. Scott sustained a concussion this week
in practice, and Grobe said yesterday that Scott's availability for tonight
will be determined during warm-ups. If sidelined, Scott will be replaced at
outside linebacker by junior Jamaal Argrow.
Also Quintin Williams has a broken thumb, but will play with a cast
covering his wrist and forearm.
Both starting quarterbacks, after a stumbling start, apparently have hit
Junior Matt Schaub of Virginia, who was so ineffective in the
season-opening 35-29 loss to Colorado State that he lost the starting
assignment against Florida State, is on a streak of 57 completions on 80
attempts for 560 yards and 11 touchdowns. He threw for five touchdowns in last
Saturday's 48-29 home victory against Akron, and is ranked seventh in NCAA
Division I-A in passing efficiency (164.3).
"I really like their quarterback," Grobe said. "Schaub's playing well right
Grobe also had nice things to say about his own quarterback, James
MacPherson, who last Saturday completed nine of 12 passes for 120 yards in a
24-21 victory at Purdue. MacPherson suffered through one of his most dismal
performances the week before at N.C. State (seven completions on 15 attempts
for 104 yards), but was about as good against the Boilermakers as he has been
since assuming the starting position midway through last season.
Wake Forest's offensive scheme doesn't require that the quarterback
accumulate gaudy statistics, but Grobe is looking for one who can direct the
team with a steady hand and avoid mistakes. MacPherson has completed 41 of 73
passes this season (56.2 percent) for 547 yards and two touchdowns, and has
yet to throw an interception.
"I hate to say it because I don't want him to read it, but yeah he was more
Saturday (against Purdue) like the old James of last year," Grobe said. "He
seemed to have a little more determination and he had a little more fire in
his eyes. He, of course, threw the ball so much better Saturday.
"We saw glimpses of it in the East Carolina game and then I thought he took
a step backward against N.C. State. Any time you've got a guy who completes 75
percent of his throws, you should be able to move the football a little bit."
Getting to the points
Cavs turn to big tight ends for touchdowns
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Sep 27, 2002
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- Among the former University of Virginia
football players at Scott Stadium last weekend was Chris Luzar, whose
brother, Kase, starts at fullback for the Cavaliers. After U.Va.'s
48-29 victory over Akron, the older Luzar chatted with Pat rick Estes,
who, like Heath Miller, had caught a touchdown pass in the homecoming
"He pointed out that we had seven touchdowns between the two
of us," Estes said. "I think he was a little jealous."
Miller, a 6-5, 256-pound redshirt freshman, and Estes, a 6-7,
258-pound sophomore, play tight end for Virginia. Luzar, a rookie,
plays that position for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, so he doesn't
begrudge his successors their success. Still, their ability to find
the end zone - with ball in hand - hasn't escaped Luzar's notice.
During his U.Va. career, Luzar had 53 receptions for 598 yards.
Never, however, did he catch a touchdown pass. None of Virginia's
tight ends, in fact, had any in 2000 or'01.
Times have changed. Miller has caught a TD pass in every game he's
played for the Cavaliers (0-1, 2-2), who visit ACC rival Wake Forest
(0-1, 2-2) tomorrow night. Estes, a former Benedictine High star,
didn't break through as a true freshman, but he has three TD catches
this season. Miller leads the Wahoos with 24 points, and Estes is
second with 18.
By comparison, Virginia's All-America wideout, Billy McMullen, has
"Heath and I have been fortunate to get the opportunity to get the
ball in our hands by the goal line," Estes said. "Because we've made
the catches, I think they're going to keep going to us."
U.Va. would be foolish to do otherwise.
"They both run very good routes," junior quarterback Matt Schaub
said. "They know how to get open out in the middle of the field, and
they both have good hands. They're big targets, so it's hard to miss
Estes has yet to start a college game, but offensive coordinator
Bill Musgrave frequently employs two-tight end sets. In one such
instance, in Virginia's Sept. 7 win over South Carolina, Miller threw
a 20-yard touchdown pass to Estes on a trick play.
U.Va. coach Al Groh said he's not sure what percentage of the time
Estes and Miller play together. "But when their plays are tallied at
the end of a grading session, they're close enough to make it very
apparent that they're in there a lot together," Groh said.
Like all players, Estes, who rooms with Miller on the road, would
like to start. He realizes, though, that he and Miller are unusually
similar in size and speed and talent. "So it doesn't really bother me
at all," Estes said, "because I know we'll both be in there together
and we'll both have our turns in there by ourselves."
As a Benedictine senior, Estes had schol arship offers from
Tennessee, Ohio State and Florida State, among others. But he couldn't
resist the pull of his father's alma mater, even after George Welsh -
to whom Estes had committed - retired in December 2000.
"Even though I went through the whole recruiting process, I kind of
knew in the back of my mind that Virginia was where I wanted to go,"
Mike Estes, U.Va. class of'74, couldn't be happier. He didn't push
his son toward Virginia, "but he loves it," Patrick Estes said. "He's
really excited after every game. The whole family, they love coming up
and watching the games."