Football Prepares for Clemson
Sept. 14, 1998
Virginia (1998 record: 2-0 overall/1-0 in the ACC) plays its second consecutive home game Saturday against Clemson (1998 record: 1-1 overall/0-0 in the ACC) at 3:30 p.m.
Last Week: The Cavaliers downed Maryland 31-19 at home in their ACC opener, while Clemson lost at home to Virginia Tech 37-0.
In the Polls: Virginia is 10th in both The Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls this week. The Cavaliers were 12th in both polls last week.
The Series: Clemson leads the series against the Cavaliers with a 32-4-1 record. Virginia has posted a 4-3-1 record against the Tigers in the 1990s.
Virginia is 2-14 at home against the Tigers.
The Cavaliers snapped a 29-game losing streak to Clemson with a 20-7 win at home in 1990. Television: Saturday’s game is being televised regionally on ABC. Terry Gannon calls the play by play, while Tim Brant provides the analysis.
Radio: All UVa games are heard on the Virginia Sports Network originating at WINA/WQMZ in Charlottesville. Mac McDonald calls the play by play. Frank Quayle, the 1968 ACC Football Player of the Year, provides the color commentary, while former UVa signal caller Mike Groh provides sideline analysis and conducts the postgame interviews.
The Series vs. the Tigers
Virginia looks for its second consecutive win over the Tigers on Saturday. The Cavaliers downed the Tigers 21-7 in Death Valley last season, their second consecutive win in Clemson. Virginia held the Tigers to their lowest point total of the season and handed Clemson its biggest loss of the year.
Still, Clemson leads the all-time series 32-4-1 in a rivalry that dates back to 1955. After losing the first 29 games of the series to the Tigers, the Cavaliers defeated ninth-ranked Clemson 20-7 in 1990 in Charlottesville for their first win in the series.
After years of frustration against Clemson, Virginia has had much greater success against the Tigers this decade. UVa is 4-3-1 in the 1990s against Clemson.
Virginia hasn’t defeated Clemson in Charlottesville since 1994. The Cavaliers have beaten Clemson twice in Charlottesville, but curiously have never won on grass at home. UVa’s home wins over Clemson in 1990 and 1994 occurred when the Scott Stadium playing surface was artificial turf.
In both of their home wins, the Cavaliers held the Tigers to seven points or less. In fact, in all of their victories over Clemson, the Cavaliers have not allowed more than seven points to the Tigers.
In what might be a good omen for Virginia, the Cavaliers have won the last three games played in September in the series.
Poindexter Makes the Tigers Pause
Anthony Poindexter has had some of the best games of his career against Clemson.
In the 1995 game, Virginia’s first win ever at Clemson, he filled in for the injured Jamie Sharper (now with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens) at linebacker and registered a game-high 15 tackles, including 11 solo stops.
Two years ago, Poindexter was in on 14 tackles against the Tigers in a 24-16 Virginia loss in Charlottesville.
Last season Poindexter had 12 tackles as the Cavaliers won 21-7 for their second win in a row at Death Valley. He intercepted a Clemson pass in the third quarter to set up what proved to be UVa’s game-winning touchdown.
In three games vs. Clemson, Poindexter is averaging 13.7 tackles per game, his highest average against any team.
Clemson is also the only team against which he has reached double figures in tackles three times. (He has 12 games with at least 10 tackles in his career.)
Cavaliers Slow Clemson Passing Game
Clemson has historically been a team that bases its offensive attack on a strong ground game. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the Tigers have had better success running against Virginia than passing.
Virginia had never defeated Clemson until a 20-7 win in 1990 and has been successful against the Tigers during this decade due in part to holding Clemson’s passing game in check. Clemson has thrown only one touchdown pass against UVa in the 1990s (vs. 12 interceptions).
Here’s a look at Clemson’s passing statistics against UVa during this decade.
Year Att. Comp. Pct. Yds. Int. TD1990* 31 12 .387 123 0 01991 23 15 .652 196 1 01992 17 5 .294 88 0 01993 9 4 .444 109 3 11994* 24 7 .292 107 3 01995* 36 19 .528 213 2 01996 16 8 .500 43 1 01997* 33 26 .788 206 2 01990s 189 96 .508 1085 12 1*=Virginia win
UVa Must Stop the Clemson Running Game
One of the Cavaliers’ keys to success against Clemson in the 1990s has been their ability to contain the Tiger rushing attack. Clemson has typically been a power running team and has put up some impressive numbers against Virginia over the years, but Virginia has done a good job of containing the Tigers on the ground in winning three of the last four meetings.
The only times in the last 20 meetings (dating back to 1978) that Clemson has rushed for fewer than 200 yards are the only four times Virginia has defeated the Tigers.
Clemson rushed for 181 yards in 1990 and lost to UVa 20-7. Virginia held Clemson to 60 yards rushing and won 9-6 in 1994. In 1995 the Tigers totaled 180 yards on the ground and lost to the Cavaliers 22-3. Last season the Cavaliers held the Tigers to 100 yards rushing in a 21-7 win at Death Valley.
Clemson has averaged 302.6 yards rushing per game and 5.1 yards per carry in winning 15 of the last 20 contests.
The last three wins for each team illustrate how important the ground game is. In Virginia’s last three victories (1994-95-97) Clemson has averaged 113.3 yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry, while scoring one rushing touchdown. Conversely, in their last three wins, the Tigers have averaged 342.0 yards per game, 6.1 yards per carry and have scored nine rushing touchdowns.
Interception Streak Building Again
The Cavaliers set an NCAA record by intercepting a pass in 39 consecutive games from 1993-96.
They have a modest streak going now of four consecutive games and have intercepted a pass in 50 of the last 54 games going back to 1993.
Completing Less Than 50 Percent
Virginia’s two opponents this season have completed just 46.9 percent of their passes (23 of 49) and have not thrown for a touchdown.
Auburn quarterbacks completed just 12 of 26 attempts (.462) in a season opening loss to Virginia.
Maryland completed 11 of 23 passes (.478) last Saturday.
In last season’s final game, the Virginia defense held Virginia Tech under 50 percent (.444, 12 of 27).
You have to go deep into the UVa record book to find the last time the Cavaliers held at least four consecutive opponents under 50 percent passing. In 1979 Virginia held six consecutive opponents to under 50 percent (VMI, Duke, Clemson, James Madison, Navy and Georgia). That season the Virginia defense allowed its opponents to complete just 44.0 percent of their passes.
Turnovers Propel UVa to Victory
The Cavaliers have forced six turnovers so far this season (four fumbles, two interceptions).
Anthony Poindexter’s second quarter interception against Auburn set up UVa’s first touchdown drive. The resulting touchdown proved to be all UVa needed in a 19-0 win.
Last Saturday against Maryland, the defense recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass that added up to 10 points for UVa.
The Cavaliers answered a Maryland field goal with a two-yard touchdown run by Tyree Foreman early in the second quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, reserve defensive back Duane Fisher knocked the ball from Cliff Crosby. Jason Small recovered the ball for Virginia on the Maryland 29-yard line. Two plays later Aaron Brooks hit Kevin Coffey for a scoring strike as the Cavaliers capitalized on the Maryland miscue.
Late in the second quarter Maryland drove deep into Virginia territory, but had a pass intercepted by linebacker Byron Thweatt at the Virginia five-yard line. The Cavaliers ended up punting, but the interception snuffed a potential scoring opportunity for the Terrapins.
Maryland’s turnover troubles continued in the final two minutes of the second quarter. Poindexter sacked quarterback Ken Mastrole, causing a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Wali Rainer. The Cavaliers kicked a field goal with 18 seconds left to take a 17-3 halftime lead.
Conversely, the Cavaliers have only turned the ball over twice (both on fumbles) and have not allowed the opposition to capitalize on the mistakes.
Sack Attack Gets Six, Leads ACC
The Virginia defense sacked Maryland’s Ken Mastrole six times last Saturday and has nine quarterback sacks so far this season, tops in the ACC.
The six sacks are the most by Virginia since recording seven against Clemson last season.
Under head coach George Welsh, the Cavaliers have never lost when recording at least five quarterback sacks. They are 19-0 since 1982. Unfortunately sack records prior to 1982 are incomplete.
Wilkins Leads Receiving Corps
As the most experienced member of the Virginia receiving corps, it should come as no surprise that Terrence Wilkins is Virginia’s leading receiver this season. He has caught seven passes for 115 yards (16.4 avg.).
Wilkins paced the Cavalier receivers with four catches for 67 yards against Maryland. Three of his four receptions went for first downs.
He had a nifty leaping grab of an Aaron Brooks toss early in the second quarter at the Maryland 22-yard line that helped set up a Tyree Foreman touchdown run five plays later.
Scott Booms 66-Yarder
Coming into this season, one of head coach George Welsh’s main concerns centered around the kicking game. No player on the Virginia roster had ever punted or kicked in a collegiate game prior to this season.Donnie Scott won the punting job over Mike Abrams in a fierce preseason competition and his performance so far has helped allay some of Welsh’s fears.Scott kicked the first punt of his career 55 yards in the season opener at Auburn in front of a crowd of nearly 80,000. He coolly dropped his second punt in that game at the Auburn one-yard line. For the game he averaged 38.5 yards on six punts.Last Saturday against Maryland he was even better, averaging 47.5 yards on six punts.
Scott buried two punts inside the 20-yard line against the Terrapins and set off a rocket of a punt of 66 yards (that carried approximately 88 yards off his foot before landing deep in the end zone).His 66-yard boomer has been topped only 13 times in school history and is Virginia’s longest punt since Will Brice nailed a 67-yarder in 1996.Scott is averaging 43.0 yards per punt (12 punts) this season, with three over 50 yards and four inside the 20-yard line.
Coffey Makes the Big Play
Wide receiver Kevin Coffey has not caught a lot of passes in his brief career (seven receptions), but he has made the most of his opportunities.He caught four passes last season, including a touchdown grab against Maryland on his first career reception. He also had a big 20-yard reception against Georgia Tech during a third quarter touchdown drive.
This season Coffey has caught three passes for 106 yards (35.3 avg.).He teamed with Aaron Brooks for a 61-yard touchdown play in the opener against Auburn. The touchdown proved to be the game-winner in a 19-0 UVa win.
He hauled in another Brooks scoring strike last Saturday against Maryland, this time for 29 yards in the second quarter. Coffey’s final reception against Maryland was a 16-yarder in the fourth quarter during UVa’s final touchdown drive. His grab on third-and-seven helped set up Thomas Jones’ 21-yard touchdown scamper.
Poindexter Named to Jim Thorpe Award List
Safety Anthony Poindexter is one of 44 candidates for the 1998 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back. The list was compiled through a survey of All-American picks and watch lists contained in preseason publications including Athlon, Lindy’s, Bob Griese’s Yearbook, Street & Smith’s, Sport, Preview Sports, The Sporting News and the Football Writers Association of America.A preseason All-American, Poindexter has been a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection the last two seasons. He finished second among ACC defensive backs in tackles last season with 78. Poindexter also led the team, and was tied for third in the ACC, with four interceptions in 1997.He started this season by recording eight tackles in the Cavaliers’ 19-0 season-opening win at #25 Auburn on September 3. His interception of an Auburn pass in the second quarter set up Virginia’s first touchown drive. He also broke up a pass in the end zone as Virginia held the homestanding Tigers to 18 net yards rushing and 179 yards of total offense.
Poindexter was spectacular last Saturday against Maryland. He tied his career high with 19 tackles, caused a fumble and broke up a pass. Included in his 19 tackles were two quarterback sacks and two additional tackles for lost yardage.Poindexter now has 10 career interceptions, tied for 12th on UVa’s all-time list. His 296 tackles are 10th in Virginia history (and ninth in ACC history for a defensive back).
Virginia in the National Polls
The Cavaliers jump to 10th in both The Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls this week. They were 12th in both polls a week ago.This is the highest Virginia has been ranked this early in the season in the AP poll.
The last time the Cavaliers were ranked in the top 10 was a #9 ranking during the week of October 2, 1995.With Florida State’s loss to N.C. State last Saturday, the Cavaliers are one spot ahead of the Seminoles in the AP poll. This is the first time since Florida State joined the ACC in 1992, that the Seminoles are not the highest ranked ACC team.
The Cavaliers’ ranking week by week is below.
Date AP USA Today/ESPNPreseason 16 19Sept. 7 12 12Sept. 14 10 10
Braverman Sloughs off Shaky Start
Place-kicker Todd Braverman joins punter Donnie Scott as first-time performers for UVa this season. Braverman won the kicking chores for field goals and extra points over David Greene in a competition that went right down to the wire.He had a tough start to his career by hitting an upright with the first extra point attempt of his career against Auburn in the season opener.
Since then, he’s been good on five consecutive extra points, while making three of four field goal attempts. His 35-yard field goal late in the first half against Maryland is the longest of his career.
Seven Make Starting Debut in Opener
With 14 returning starters from a year ago, Virginia’s starting line-up didn’t figure to feature many new faces. But seven players, including both kicking specialists, made their first career start against Auburn on September 3. Four of the seven were playing in a college game for the first time in their careers.Kevin Coffey started at one wide receiver position and turned in a big play in the second quarter. He was on the receiving end of a pass from Aaron Brooks and raced 61 yards for the game’s first touchdown. It was his only catch of the evening.Anthony Southern made his first start in the backfield, starting at fullback. He left the game before halftime after aggravating a leg injury.
Red-shirt freshman Josh Lawson started at left tackle in the first game of his career. He helped open holes for the ground attack as Virginia rushed for 165 yards and allowed only one sack.On defense, Kofi Bawuah stepped into a starting defensive tackle position. He had one sack as a member of a tackle rotation that included Maurice Anderson, Antonio Dingle and Monsanto Pope.Red-shirt sophomore Tim Spruill made his collegiate debut as a starter. He replaced Antwan Harris who aggravated a leg injury in pregame warm-ups and did not play. Spruill made two tackles in the contest.
Punter Donnie Scott boomed the first punt of his career 55 yards and buried his second at the one-yard line. He averaged 38.5 yards on six punts in his first game.New place-kicker Todd Braverman hit the right upright with his first career extra point attempt, but came back to make field goals of 24 and 32 yards in the second half.George Seals made his first career start at center against Maryland last Saturday in place of an injured John St. Clair.
Jones Reaches Century Mark vs. Auburn
Tailback Thomas Jones is the ACC’s leading returning rusher this season. He rushed for 692 yards last season to lead the team and rank fourth in the ACC.After an offseason in which he gained strength while maintaining his speed, he got off to a good start in the season opener against #25 Auburn.
He rushed for 100 yards on 21 carries (4.8 avg.) and scored an insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter. Jones had just 32 yards in the first half, but seemed to get stronger as the game wore on. With the score close in the second half, he rushed 16 times for 68 yards as Virginia controlled the ball for more than 20 minutes in the second half.
His performance against Auburn was his second 100-yard game in a row. He ended last season with 102 yards in a win over Virginia Tech.The Cavaliers are 4-0 when Jones rushes for at least 100 yards. Through the first two games of 1998, Jones is averaging 89.0 yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry. He has scored two rushing touchdowns to lead the team.
Welsh Sixth Winningest Active Coach
Virginia head coach George Welsh, recently tabbed by The Sporting News as the best coach in the country, is tied for sixth in wins among active coaches with Ohio State’s John Cooper.Welsh has won 169 games in a 25-year career at Navy (1973-81) and Virginia (1982-present). He is 39th in NCAA Division I-A history in wins.
The dean of ACC coaches, Welsh is the only coach in league history to win at least 100 games. He has a 114-72-3 record in 17 seasons at Virginia. His 70 wins in conference games is also a record.
Brooks Moves Up Career Lists
Quarterback Aaron Brooks should make steady progress up virtually every passing category in the Virginia record book this season. He has tossed 24 touchdown passes in his career, tied with Bobby Goodman for fourth on UVa’s all-time list.His 3244 yards passing are sixth all-time in school history. He needs 145 yards to pass Scott Secules for fifth place.Brooks has completed 56.1 percent of his passes (233 of 415), and is fifth in completion percentage.His is eighth in career completions (19 away from sixth place) and ninth in attempts (23 away from eighth place).He has passed for at least 200 yards in each of his last five games.
Brooks Nears Perfection Lately
Quarterback Aaron Brooks used a torrid final month to lead the ACC in passing last season. And he’s using an error-free beginning to 1998 to lead the ACC in passing after two weeks of this season.In a perfect example that there is no substitute for experience, Brooks is picking up where he left off last season.
In four games last November, Brooks completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 1065 yards, 14 touchdowns and only one interception.So far this season, he has completed 32 of 54 passes (59.3 percent) for 445 yards and three touchdowns. Just as important is the fact that he has not thrown an interception this season.Since throwing a career-high three interceptions against Duke in the sixth game last season, Brooks has thrown only two interceptions in the last seven games (a span of 172 attempts).
Home Sweet Home
Saturday’s game vs. Clemson is Virginia’s second home game of the season. The Cavaliers have had remarkable success at home since George Welsh took over as head coach in 1982. Now in his 17th season patrolling the Virginia sidelines, Welsh’s Cavalier squads have compiled a 70-25 (.737) record at home. In ACC play, UVa is 41-16 (.719) under Welsh at home.The Cavaliers are 17-3 (.850) at home against ACC competition since 1993.
Defense Keys Win over #25 Auburn
Virginia’s defense was instrumental in its 19-0 win over Auburn on September 3. While the UVa offense sputtered at times early in the game (five first half punts), the Cavalier defense stuffed Auburn’s offense almost from the opening gun.Virginia allowed Auburn to gain only eight first downs. The Tigers rushed 27 times for 18 yards (0.7 yards per carry) and completed 12 of 26 passes for 161 yards. The Cavalier defense also recovered two fumbles and intercepted one pass.UVa allowed Auburn inside its 40-yard line only three times all night, for a total of six plays. Auburn’s deepest penetration in Virginia territory was to the 24-yard line.
Poindexter Turnover Spurs Cavaliers
All-American safety Anthony Poindexter wasted no time in making a big play this season in the opener against Auburn. With no score on the board and both offenses having trouble getting going midway through the second quarter, Poindexter turned in a big play for the Cavaliers.He picked off a Ben Leard pass at Virginia’s 24-yard line in the second quarter. The interception was the 10th of his career, enabling him to become the 18th player in school history with at least 10 thefts.The Cavaliers capitalized on the turnover, marching 76 yards in four plays to score the game’s first touchdown (and what eventually proved to be the winning score).Of his 15 career turnovers (including fumbles recovered and interceptions) and his five blocked punts (including two in bowl games), 13 have led to UVa touchdowns and another to a field goal.Two Named to National Award “Watch” Lists
Two members of the Virginia defense have been named to several “watch lists for national awards this season.All-America safety Anthony Poindexter has been named to the “watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Award, given annually by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) to the nation’s best defensive player. Poindexter, a senior co-captain from Forest, Va., was named a first-team preseason All-America selection by several publications and entered the season ranked 12th in the nation in tackles among active players.Defensive tackle Antonio Dingle is on the “watch list” for the Outland Trophy, presented each year by the FWAA to the nation’s best interior lineman (either offense or defense). A senior from Fayetteville, N.C., he was a first-team All-ACC selection last season and led UVa defensive linemen with 48 tackles.
Rainer, Thweatt Named to Butkus Award List
Linebackers Wali Rainer and Byron Thweatt are among 68 players named to the initial list of candidates for the 1998 Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation’s outstanding linebacker by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando (Fla.).
The list will be trimmed to 10 semifinalists on October 15 and the three finalists will be announced on November 12. The winner of the Butkus Award will be announced on December 11.
“Hoo Vision” Makes Debut
One of the first things fans attending games at the Carl Smith Center, home of David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium, have noticed is “Hoo Vision,” the new large screen videoboard installed on the 100-foot high scoreboard tower above the stadium’s recently renovated north hillside. The LED videoboard is 21 feet high and 28 feet wide and was purchased from Opto Tech Corporation of Taiwan.”Hoo Vision” begins two hours prior to kickoff at every home Virginia football game. Replays, features on Virginia football players and coaches of the past and present, score updates from other games across the country, and postgame interviews will be shown on the videoboard. A mobile television truck with four cameras, slow motion tape decks, and full graphics capability serves as the production house for Hoo Vision.
Hoo Vision is the largest videoboard in the state of Virginia and the first in the Commonwealth at a college or university. It is also the second videoboard installed among the Atlantic Coast Conference’s nine member institutions. Clemson installed a videoboard prior to the 1997 season.
The 21’x 28′ dimension is the size typically found in NFL stadiums.The new videoboard, scoreboard, and renovated hillside are part of the first phase of the three-year expansion project at the Carl Smith Center, home of David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium. When completed in the fall of 2000, the stadium’s seating capacity will increase to 60,000.