At some point tonight, Jason Babin will drive to the local Kentucky
Fried Chicken in Kalamazoo, Mich., buy a 10-piece bucket and return home,
where he will devour the whole thing in one sitting, including most of the
Healthy? No. Odd? Sure. But it’s what the Western Michigan senior defensive end and All-America candidate does the night before every game in a ritual that started more than a decade ago.
“When I was 10, we’d go to my grandmother’s house for dinner. Since I was the youngest, I was supposed to bring the chicken bones and steak bones to her dogs. That was my job,” Babin said.
“Once, I had a game the next day, and my cousin Kevin told me I needed to play mean and nasty. I was 10. I didn’t know what he meant. He said, ‘Mean and nasty, like grandma’s dogs.’ That night I kept some of the chicken bones and ate them myself. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
It seems to work. Babin, now 21, has developed into one of the most ferocious pass rushers in college football. He had five sacks in one game as a sophomore. Last year, as a junior, he made 15 sacks and was named the Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year.
Saturday he will lead the Broncos (1-1) against Virginia (1-1) at Waldo Stadium. Though the Cavaliers have a clear edge in overall talent, Babin may be the best player on the field. He will almost certainly be the most intense.
“I get pretty nuts before a game. It’s almost as if I’m watching myself from outside my body,” he said. “My pregame ritual is kind of hard to describe — head butts, some choice words, stuff like that — but I’m just trying to make sure that all the fellas are ready for the game.”
Babin’s passion is what sets him apart, says Western Michigan coach Gary Darnell.
“His numbers are good — his height [6-4] and weight [276 pounds] — but without question it goes beyond the numbers with Jason,” Darnell said. “He really loves to play football. He takes advantage of all his talent, and the good thing about Jason is he makes a bunch of the rest of us look good.”
Though the Broncos went 4-8 last season, Babin helped them finish first in the MAC in total defense. He had multiple sacks in five games, including three against Purdue, and he ended up with 26 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, second most in the country. He also blocked two punts and even caught a pass as a tight end.
UVa coach Al Groh said Babin reminds him of Duke defensive end Shawn Price, who led the ACC in sacks last season, because of his speed and agility. Already this season, in two games, Babin has 21 tackles, including six behind the line of scrimmage and two sacks.
“He’s a 4.5, 4.6 guy [in the 40-yard dash] even though he weighs 275. That’s kind of unusual,” said WMU defensive line coach J.C. Harper. “His first three steps are really explosive and he’s great in space.”
The Cavaliers will try not to give Babin too much space to operate. He usually lines up at left end, meaning sophomore right tackle Brad Butler will have the primary responsibility of blocking him. But you can expect Butler to get some help from UVa’s tight ends and running backs.
“We’re going to have to do something about this guy,” Groh said, “or he’s going to cause us a lot of trouble.”
Babin, who grew up 20 miles from Kalamazoo in Paw Paw, Mich., had trouble getting bigger programs to notice him after he broke his leg in the first game of his senior season in high school. He grew up rooting for Michigan State, but he settled for Western Michigan and says he has never regretted it.
The Spartans may regret not recruiting Babin. He had four tackles for a loss, including a sack, as the Broncos nearly upset Michigan State on the road two weeks ago before falling, 26-21. He had another sack, the 25th of his career, in last Saturday’s 56-24 rout of William & Mary.
Virginia’s quarterbacks may want to watch out. Jason Babin is hungry.
“I don’t know if the chicken thing helps me, but it gets me in the right frame of mind,” he said. “Back then, I didn’t know better. Now my grandparents are dead and I kind of do it to honor them.”
Martinez, Cavaliers aim to bounce back against Broncos
Cavalier Daily Senior Writer
The Virginia football team looks to bounce back from last week's loss to South Carolina when they take the field against Western Michigan tomorrow at 2 p.m. The Cavaliers also will try to end their current four-game road losing streak and notch their second victory against a Mid-American Conference team in the last two years. Virginia defeated Akron last season 48-29 in Charlottesville.
Virginia coach Al Groh expects the Cavaliers to bounce back from a tough loss as they were able to show their resiliency several times last season.
"This team's always had a pretty strong resolve," Groh said. "This is not the first time that this team has lost a game. We've had a good resolve afterwards. These are many of the same players who have been a part of that resolve in the past. I anticipate much of the same."
On offense, this improvement and resolve starts with the offensive line, which needs to keep pressure off quarterback Anthony Martinez to give him hope at completing some early passes. If this can happen, the running game of Wali Lundy, Alvin Pearman and Marquis Weeks should open up quite nicely. Virginia's linemen under-performed against South Carolina, a far cry from the dominating performance that helped Virginia to 202 rushing yards against Duke.
"We just have to really buckle down and stay focused as a team," Junior running back Alvin Pearman said. "We all have to do our jobs and do our part and step up."
Unfortunately for the Cavalier linemen, they should have their hands full containing Broncos defensive end Jason Babin. On the season, the senior has six tackles for loss, including two sacks.
"He's a lot like Shawn Johnson from Duke last year," Groh said. "Except that he had three more sacks than Johnson had. Johnson led [the ACC] in sacks last year."
When Virginia is on defense, they will need to keep senior quarterback Chad Munson under wraps. On the season, Munson has put up Heisman-like numbers; he is averaging nearly 400 yards per game and has thrown eight touchdown balls.
"[Munson] is a real good player," Groh said. "I was trying to think when I was watching the tape when was the last time I saw a guy throw for 450 yards. And these weren't on catch and run plays, the big chunks were on vertical balls. He's very impressive. He's got a quick release, he's got a fast arm, and he's got a real tight spiral."
Munson's favorite target is Greg Jennings. The red-shirt sophomore is averaging 116.5 ypg and has four touchdowns on the season.
For the Cavaliers to contain the potent Broncos attack, they need to be more proactive on defense and force mistakes by the Broncos. Against the Gamcocks, Virginia's defense made more mistakes than it forced, including giving up a ninety-nine yard touchdown pass that changed the complexion of the game.
Western Michigan coach Gary Darnell expects the Cavalier defense to correct last week's mistakes.
"They're not about to give up the long pass," Darnell said. "They are going to do the match-ups along the front and make sure that our quarterback doesn't have a big day."
When it's all said and done, Virginia should leave Kalamazoo victorious. But the Cavaliers know that the Broncos should not to be overlooked. Another ACC team was upset by a directional school from the MAC earlier this season when Maryland lost its opener to Northern Illinois.
2003 Western Michigan - UVa Preview
by Jeremy Williams
Sep 11, 2003
Coming off of Saturday’s difficult loss at the hands of South Carolina, Virginia head coach Al Groh and company will need to pick up the pieces heading into Kalamazoo, as they face a high scoring Western Michigan squad. Coming into the season, this game could have been circled as a potential upset bid, especially with the way the Cavaliers play on the road, and when you add in the fact that Virginia won’t have senior quarterback Matt Schaub, an upset appears to be more than possible.
That aside, Western Michigan only returned nine starters to a team that wasn’t very good last season. The Broncos finished 4-8 overall last season, and 3-5 in a MAC conference that is known for their big upsets over the years. Their record in the MAC was the exact same as that of Akron, who the Cavaliers struggled with early last season, only to put them away in the second half. If they are destined to win, Virginia will have to play a similar type of game to get by the Broncos.
This figures to be a difficult game for the Cavaliers, if only because they have a huge unknown heading into Saturday. Against South Carolina, Virginia simply couldn’t move the ball with Anthony Martinez at the helm. If the Cavaliers hope to have success against the Broncos, Martinez will have to show some improvement on Saturday, or once again the defense will spend too much time on the field, which would be big trouble for Groh’s team.
The opponent just might be the perfect solution for that problem. Western Michigan gave up 24 points and 349 total yards against a William and Mary team that, in all honesty, is not very good on offense. A week before, the Broncos gave up 26 points and 421 yards against Michigan State, which figures to have a down year in the Big Ten. The first two weeks have shown that the Western Michigan defense is vulnerable against most any offense. This gives Martinez a second chance to show that he can move the ball and set up some scoring drives for the Cavaliers.
One player that Martinez and company must certainly look out for is the returning MAC defensive player of the year, defensive end Jason Babin, who led the MAC with 15 sacks last season. Babin is dominant player and one of the reasons the Broncos led the MAC in total defense last season. So far this season, the All-American candidate has two sacks and four tackles for loss, which means it is imperative that D’Brickashaw Ferguson has a good game and keeps Babin off of Martinez’ blind side.
“He is a lot like [Shawn] Johnson of Duke last year,” Groh said of the stellar defensive end. “Anybody that has that many sacks has to be doing something right out there.”
Babin has helped lead a defensive line that has only given up an average of 125 net yards on the ground in their first two games, and only 3.5 yards per carry on the ground, which is quite the impressive feat. Jonathan Jones, Paul Moersch, and Jack Gitler join the MAC defensive player of the year on an imposing defensive line. Virginia’s offensive line must pick up their play if they hope to keep the defensive line across the line of scrimmage and out of the backfield.
Paul Tithof and Mike Giorgianni form a relatively young linebacking corps that mans the middle of Western Michigan’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme. Both players are young in experience and off to slow starts so far this season, meaning Virginia could find some holes in the middle of that Western Michigan defense.
In the Bronco defensive backfield, where they start five players on defense, All-MAC candidate Jason Feldpausch heads a group that only gave up 191 yards through the air against William and Mary. Feldpausch already has one sack and three tackles for loss on the year. The senior safety has a commanding presence over a secondary that will look to keep Martinez and Virginia’s offense down for another week.
“We know it’s going to be a tough test,” Martinez said earlier in the week. “They have a lot of different looks that try and confuse an offense, but we are going to practice hard this week to prepare for whatever they can bring against us. We just have to go out this week and play hard and do whatever we have to do to get a win. We need to rebound this week.”
While last week’s biggest challenge appeared to come at the hands of the South Carolina defense, this week it will be the Virginia defense that will have its work cut out for it. While the Gamecocks dropped pass after pass from Dondrial Pinkins last Saturday, it appears that the Cavaliers won’t be as lucky this week when facing Western Michigan’s potent pass attack.
In their first two games of the 2003 season, the Broncos passed for 411 yards a game, including almost 500 against William and Mary. Coming into the season, there were question marks surrounding quarterback Chad Munson, but after two superb passing performances, those questions appear to be answered. Going into this week’s game Munson is ranked 13th in the country in quarterback efficiency. After Munson threw for 450+ yards in his last game, Groh had a tough time remembering such a great performance.
“This guy's a really good player,” Groh said of Munson. “I was trying to think of the last time I saw a guy throw for over 450 yards. This guy is a really good deep thrower and pass defense will be a real key.”
The senior out of Long Beach has plenty of receivers to throw the ball to, but Munson has a great first option in the form of redshirt sophomore Greg Jennings. In a display of how deep Western Michigan’s receiving corps is, Jennings ranks 11th in the country in receiving yardage, and he doesn’t even start for the Broncos.
Senior Antonio Thomas, who does start for the Broncos, ranks 68th in the country in receiving yardage, giving Munson and Western Michigan a strong 1-2 punch. Tyrone Walker and Kendrick Mosley round out a terrific corps of wide receivers. “Muffin” Curry and Jermaine Winborne will have a difficult time keeping up with so many deep threats, but will have to be up to the challenge if they hope to shut down a potent passing attack on Saturday.
With such a terrific passing attack, Western Michigan hasn’t relied on their running game this season. While the Broncos have a battle-tested runner in senior Phil Reed, the offensive line has had a tough time opening holes for him. Against Michigan State in week 1, the Broncos had only 72 yards gained. As far as net yards on that day, Western Michigan could only muster six net yards. Reed, who has averaged 4.4 yards a carry so far this season, will need his offensive line to play better and give the Broncos a more balanced attack against a solid Virginia defense.
If there has been one weakness for Gary Darnell’s team this season, it has to be the offensive line. While the big men up front have given Munson enough time to go vertically down the field this season, they have also given up nine sacks and eight tackles for loss. These numbers are not very good, to say the least, and Virginia will have to capitalize on such an important weakness. If the Cavaliers can get into the Broncos backfield, they can disrupt the passing game, and keep Munson out of any kind of rhythm on offense.
“It’s going to be important to get into their backfield and break up anything that they are trying to do,” Virginia starting linebacker Darryl Blackstock said. “We have to be aggressive and play smart on defense, because we know those guys can pass the ball. After the way everyone played last week, we want to go out and have a good game on defense.”
The Low Down
This is an incredibly difficult game to read because there is no way to tell how Anthony Martinez will bounce back from a rough outing against South Carolina. If there is much of the same, and little movement of the ball on offense, Virginia could be in for a very long day, because Western Michigan has some firepower. While the Gamecocks dropped plenty of passes against a weary Virginia defense, the Broncos won’t figure to do the same. If the Cavalier defense is worn out from being on the field most of the game, it could get very ugly.
The good news for the Cavaliers is that Western Michigan’s defense does not figure to be nearly as tough as what Virginia saw last Saturday. While Waldo Stadium (capacity 30,200) will not be an easy place to play, there certainly won’t be 80,000 screaming fans to throw the offense off. Virginia will need much better play from the offensive line and the running game, even with the expected eight or nine men in the box.
If Martinez has a tough time in the early going against a MAC secondary, it may be time to give Marquis Hagans a try at helm. It is unclear how well he would play after a switch from wide receiver, but Virginia needs someone to move the offense. It will be important for Martinez to get a first shot at the Broncos, however, so he can prove to everyone that he is a fighter and a good quarterback.
One thing is for sure, this game will not be a walk in the park for the Cavaliers. While they are certainly not the underdogs, after the way they played last week, one might think they should be. In any case, it will be interesting to see how Martinez responds after another week of practice and how well the Virginia secondary can keep up with a great set of wide receivers. Al Groh will find out a lot about his team this Saturday.
Weeks shines in backfield, on kickoffs
Fourth-year junior seeks more work
BY JEFF WHITE
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Sep 12, 2003
CHARLOTTESVILLE Marquis Weeks is aware that a faction of Virginia's fan base considers him the most talented tailback in Al Groh's program. Weeks' supporters believe he should play more, and they don't hesitate to say so.
"I hear it a lot," Weeks said.
A fourth-year junior from Ber wyn, Pa., near Philadelphia, Weeks rushed 808 times for 6,193 yards and 71 touchdowns at Conestoga High. Only twice at U.Va., however, has he carried as many as 10 times in a game.
His 19 rushes against N.C. State on Nov. 16 netted 129 yards and helped the Cavaliers upset the 20th-ranked Wolfpack. A week later, in Virginia's rout of No. 18 Maryland, Weeks gained 47 yards on 10 carries before spraining an ankle early in the second half.
Weeks rushed for a modest 210 yards last season but averaged a team-high 5.1 per carry. He also averaged 30.5 yards on his 13 kickoff returns, the most memorable of which was the 100-yard touchdown that opened the second half against North Carolina. That sparked an epic comeback in which U.Va. erased a 21-0 deficit en route to a 37-27 victory.
"It seems like when he gets his hands on the ball, he's able to make big plays," said Matt Gibson, who coached Weeks at Conestoga High in 1999.
Sophomore Wali Lundy and junior Alvin Pearman still rank ahead of Weeks on the depth chart at tailback, but U.Va.'s coaches seem determined to get the 5-11, 210-pound speedster on the field more. He's started alongside Lundy in the backfield in each of the Cavaliers' two games this season.
Weeks may not see a fullback staring back when he looks in the mirror, but technically that's where he lines at times.
"All of his carries have come as a tailback, but he's probably had an equal amount of plays in the game as a fullback," Groh said. "He's got the ability to make some plays for us, and this just doubles our opportunity to get him in the game."
Weeks also starts on four of Virginia's six special-teams units. He's earned more acclaim for his kickoff returns, but the former high school defensive back is a sure tackler, too. Whatever it takes for Weeks to get on the field.
In high school, Weeks said, he played special teams "because I had to. Now it's because I like it. It's a big part of the game, and you don't really realize that in high school."
After carrying only four times in 2001, Weeks won the starting tailback's job last summer. But he carried only once in the 2002 opener against Colorado State before giving way to Lundy and Pearman.
Two weeks later, Weeks carried six times against South Carolina. Then he disappeared from the rotation until re-emerging, to the surprise of virtually everyone, against N.C. State more than two months later.
"It was hard, but I didn't dwell on it," Weeks said of his demotion. "I didn't want to let it affect me to the point that I just started messing up and not working as hard in practice."
His coaches noticed that Weeks didn't pout, one reason they went back to him late in the season.
"Obviously this is a player with good talent, and I think he's very strong personally," Groh said. "He's really a good kid. I was certainly sympathetic to his circumstances; any coach who's ever played would be.
"The way he responded when his opportunity came makes the very best statement about him and the way he handled those things."
Weeks has carried 10 times for 63 yards this season, and he's gained 72 yards on two kickoff returns. He's also caught two passes for 14 yards.
Pearman and Lundy each have 30 carries, but Lundy has been bothered by a hamstring injury. So Weeks' role at tailback could grow tomorrow when U.Va. (1-1) plays at Western Michigan (1-1).
A sociology major, Weeks said he plans to play for U.Va. as a graduate student in 2003. He's nothing if not patient, and remains convinced he'll get another chance to show he can handle more than occasional work at tailback.
"Oh, yeah," Weeks said. "There'll be a time when I get my carries."
Cavaliers Lay It on the Line
Offensive Front Is Regrouping After a 'Terrible' Performance
By Jim Reedy
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, September 12, 2003; Page D05
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Sept. 11 -- Virginia Coach Al Groh was candid when asked before the season opener how many of his offensive linemen were playing well. "Two and a half," he said. "Right now I pretty much like most of what we're getting from Elton [Brown]. Then you can cut up the other 1½ amongst the remaining four."
The line redeemed itself in the Cavaliers' 27-0 win against Duke, paving the way for 204 rushing yards and protecting rookie quarterback Anthony Martinez from harm. But last weekend at South Carolina, the quintet was mediocre at best in a 31-7 loss.
"It was terrible. It was a lot of mistakes that were very avoidable," said Brown, a junior right guard.
Virginia (1-1) ran for only 116 yards against the Gamecocks, averaging 3.1 yards per carry, and Martinez was sacked twice in the first start of his career. The offensive line was not entirely to blame -- Groh said he didn't think anyone on offense played well -- but Brown and his linemates are eager to prove Saturday at Western Michigan (1-1) that their performance last weekend was an aberration.
"I can't really explain it. I wish we knew where it came from," junior center Zac Yarbrough said. "It just seemed like really none of us had it all together and were working together like we had planned to. But we'll go ahead and put that behind us. It's over now. We can't do anything about it."
Virginia's offensive line -- which also includes tackles D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Brad Butler and left guard Brian Barthelmes, all sophomores -- is an experienced yet still relatively young group. But it is not yet at what Groh called a "juggernaut stage." Brown, a 6-foot-6, 325-pound all-ACC selection, is the only member of the group who could be described as physically dominant; the other four have gotten bigger since last season but still rely more on athletic ability, technique and speed.
Throughout the offseason, Groh, the linemen and tailbacks Wali Lundy, Alvin Pearman and Marquis Weeks said the Cavaliers needed to "run the ball with authority." That seems even more important with the Virginia passing game in flux since senior quarterback Matt Schaub separated his throwing shoulder on the season's first possession. His replacement, Martinez, is 16 of 35 for 130 yards in two games with one touchdown and two interceptions. Like most young quarterbacks, he has struggled with the complexities of reading defenses and executing on the fly.
Until Schaub returns -- perhaps as early as Sept. 27, when the Cavaliers host No. 20 Wake Forest after a bye week -- Martinez is the quarterback, perhaps with help from shifty sophomore Marques Hagans. The Cavaliers will need more help from the rest of the offense, Groh and several players said.
"Even with an experienced quarterback, you've got to give him a great run game so it opens up the passing game," Barthelmes said. "You've got to give him a lot of time so he can make his reads and find people."
Only one reserve lineman -- freshman guard Ian-Yates Cunningham -- played any meaningful downs in the first two games, but Virginia expects to add another this week when fifth-year senior Kevin Bailey plays for the first time in more than a year. Bailey was penciled in as one of the ACC's best offensive linemen before he blew out his left knee in the second week of last season and missed the rest of the year. In December he slipped on a wet floor at the library, re-injured the knee and needed a second surgery.
Bailey is listed as the second-string center and might also work some at tackle. He has resumed a full practice schedule, Groh said, getting into and out of a few line-of-scrimmage pileups this week without problems. And no doubt the sight of him in full pads was enough to motivate the starting linemen.
"That's usually the case -- most particularly in this circumstance because he's capable of being in competition at a number of spots," Groh said. "But there's competition out there every Saturday and just the week before [against Duke], they had a pretty good spark lit underneath them. That's why the performance [at South Carolina] just in terms of the overall efficiency of it was disappointing."
DeVree emerges as playmaker for Broncos
Thursday, September 11, 2003
BY SCOTT JUNGMAN
The loss of tight end Tony Scheffler to a broken collar bone in the season opener took away a down-field receiving threat from Western Michigan's football team.
But it also allowed another one to emerge. After Scheffler went down, the coaches turned to a highly-touted true freshman from Hudsonville. Since then, Tyson DeVree has provided speed and playmaking ability at the tight end position.
"The coaches said 'You're the man now, you've got to step up,' " DeVree said. "I'm just going to try and fill (Scheffler's) shoes now the best I can. He's a great player and there's a lot I've already learned from him."
DeVree, who set career receiving records at Hudsonville as a wideout and earned Class A all-state honors last year, was surprised to find himself on the field at Spartan Stadium in the Broncos' season-opening loss to Michigan State.
"I didn't expect it," DeVree said. "I came in preparing like I was going to play, but I was thinking that I'd probably get that redshirt.
"It's fun to play, though, so I'm glad I'm out there."
DeVree showed his talents during last week's 56-24 victory over William & Mary at Waldo Stadium. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound freshman used his size and speed to provide an added threat that compliments WMU's talented corps of wide receivers. He caught three passes for 29 yards in his first full game.
"It just adds another dimension to our offense to have a tight end that can stretch the field," WMU tight ends coach Tony Kimbrough said.
DeVree's biggest highlight Saturday came in the second quarter. While his parents watched from the stands, the tight end outleaped several defenders in the end zone to come down with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Chad Munson.
"It was definitely a great feeling," DeVree said of his first career score. "It's something growing up that I dreamed about doing in front of a lot of fans."
DeVree's speed down the field mixes well with the power the rest of the Broncos' tight ends provide. Senior Anthony Kiner (6-5, 280), junior Erik Oleson (6-3, 250) and sophomore Ross Farren (6-4, 245) all excel as blockers.
"The whole unit is very, very good," Kimbrough said. "The thing about those guys is that they work hard. They do what I tell them, there's no back talk, and they're a family. That's what you need within a unit and within a team."
Hagans saga full of possible twists
Groh worried about tired arm
By DOUG DOUGHTY
Exclusive to roanoke.com by 5 p.m. Thursdays
Here's the question I've got that nobody can answer until Saturday:
Let's say Virginia inserts Marques Hagans at quarterback and he leads the Cavaliers to victory at Western Michigan. Will Hagans continue to cast a shadow over the UVa quarterback pool?
Not this year, he won't. As soon as Matt Schaub has decent range of motion, he will return to the starting job and remain the Cavaliers' quarterback as long as he is one piece.
But, what happens in the spring, particularly if Hagans distinguishes himself this week? Does he automatically go back to wide receiver and stay there for his final two seasons?
Nevertheless, if Anthony Martinez isn't any more effective Saturday than he has been in his first 7-1/2 quarters, it's hard to see him going into the spring as a clear-cut No. 1.
That would make for an interesting battle between Martinez, transfer Chris Olsen and redshirt freshman Kevin McCabe (provided he doesn't play this season), but do you absolutely forget about Hagans if he already has a history of demonstrated performance?
That's what I don't understand about the current situation. If Hagans hasn't thrown a pass since the Continental Tire Bowl, exactly why hasn't he thrown a pass?
I can see why head coach Al Groh thought Hagans and the team would be best-served by a move to wide receiver, but why not have him throw on the side in the event of an emergency, such as Schaub going down on the first series of the first game?
GROH SAID THAT Hagans was unable to practice at quarterback last week because of a nagging, undisclosed injury, and this week Groh said he is worried that Hagans might develop a sore arm.
"He's really only played quarterback, extensively, one day in the last nine months," Groh said. "We'll have to see how it goes.When quarterbacks are getting ready for training camp, it's usually emphasized to them that they make sure their arm is in real good shape because they're going to be throwing a lot of balls.
"In order to get ready to possibly participate at quarterback, obviously, Marques has had to throw a lot of balls. Yet, he didn't have that amount of time to get his arm in shape. I'm interested to see how that goes during the course of the week.
"We're trying to work a good equation between getting him the looks necessary to be prepared but not have him throw so much that he shows up Friday or Saturday with a sore arm."
That was what Groh said about Hagans on the ACC coaches' teleconference Wednesday. On Thursday, he had a teleconference with the UVa beat writers, some reporters from Michigan and assorted online scavengers who never identify themselves. During that time, he was asked by veteran Newport News reporter Dave Johnson about the "Marques-specific" package to which Groh had referred one week earlier.
"We're not creating new plays for him," Groh said. "If you try and create new plays for the quarterback, then what you're doing is creating a whole new set of plays for the other 10 guys, too. Now, one position has thrown 50 percent of your team out of whack.
"What we're doing is selecting from those plays he's most comfortable with. When you start making your plan, you've got to ask, 'What are the plays and the players you have the most confidence in?' Not, 'What are the players and the plays that the coach likes the best?'
"We'll start by going back to those plays from when he was the full-time quarterback, that he remembers as being the most comfortable with. After practice today, we'll evaluate, along with Marques, as to 'when the calls come in, what are the calls you want to hear and what are the ones you're hoping that we don't make.' "
TO HEAR THOSE statements, you would swear Hagans is going to play Saturday. Of course, to watch Martinez, you would have sworn Hagans was going to play last week.
My theory was that Groh didn't want to send the wrong message. He wanted Hagans to concentrate on becoming the best receiver he could be -- Lord knows, the Cavaliers need one -- and he didn't want his young quarterbacks, Martinez and true freshman Kevin McCabe, to think the staff didn't trust them.
When I ran that by Groh on Sunday, he said that wasn't the case at all. He reiterated that he was committed to making whatever moves give the team the best opportunity to win. That's when he said Hagans was injured. There may be some gray area in there, but I'll give Groh the benefit of the doubt.
If South Carolina coach Lou Holtz was convinced Hagans was going to play and spent practice time working on the option, then the early week talk of Hagans served some benefit.
CHRIS OLSEN, UVa's transfer quarterback from Notre Dame, was a topic of discussion this week on "The Season," an ESPN program that this year is being devoted to Notre Dame.
Olsen and his brother, Greg, both left Notre Dame in the preseason, with Greg, a tight end, transferring to Miami. There was some question whether Chris Olsen was still the No. 2 quarterback behind Carlyle Holiday, but not according to offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick.
"He was No. 2 all along," Diedrick said. "He would have been the first one in."