Cavaliers Look For 16th Straight Win Over Demon Deacons
Sept. 13, 1999
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia looks to extend one of the nation’s longest home winningstreaks this Saturday (Sept. 18) with a Homecoming match-up vs. WakeForest, a team the Cavaliers have dominated since the mid-1980s. Kickoff isscheduled for 7:00 p.m.
The Cavaliers played their first two games on theroad with mixed results-a 20-17 win over North Carolina in the opener twoweeks ago, and a 33-14 loss to Clemson last Saturday. The Cavaliers are 1-1overall and 1-1 in the ACC in this young season.Wake Forest opened the 1999 campaign with a convincing 34-15 win on theroad over Army last weekend. This is the Demon Deacons’ ACC opener.
Virginia vs. Wake Forest
Sept. 18, 1999 * 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Carl Smith Center, home of David A. Harrison, III Field at Scott Stadium
Television: The game is being televised nationally on ESPN2. Steve Levy,calls the play by play, while Todd Christensen is the color analyst. HollyRowe is the sideline reporter. This is Virginia’s first home game ever on”The Deuce.”
The Series vs. the Demon Deacons
Virginia leads the all-time series 29-11. The Cavaliers have won the last15 games between the two schools, the longest current winning streak by oneACC team over another and tied for the third-longest streak in ACC history.The Demon Deacons are also the only ACC team with which Virginia leads theall-time series.
The Cavaliers have a 14-7 record in Charlottesville, including a 13-7 markat The Carl Smith Center, home of David A. Harrison III Field at ScottStadium. The Cavaliers haven’t lost at home to Wake Forest since 1981 (thesame year that Duke and North Carolina last won in Charlottesville).UVa has outscored Wake Forest 374-135 in the last 10 meetings. TheCavaliers have averaged 37.4 points per game during that stretch.
During their current 15-game winning streak over the Demon Deacons, theCavaliers have won by an average of 19.7 points and have averaged 34.5points and 470.9 yards of total offense per game. Virginia has averaged243.1 yards rushing and 227.8 yards passing over the last 15 matchups.Virginia has scored at least 21 consecutive points against Wake Forest fivetimes this decade-1990 (40), 1991 (41), 1994 (35), 1995 (21), 1996 (42).
Virginia in Home Openers
Virginia is 79-23-7 (.757) all-time in home openers. The Cavaliers havedone well in the first home game of the season under head coach GeorgeWelsh through the years. The Cavaliers are 14-3 in the first game at homeunder Welsh. (Note these games aren’t necessarily the season opener, justthe first home game of the season.)Virginia has won 13 of its last 14 home openers dating back to 1985. (Aloss to Auburn in the 1997 home opener is the only loss during this period.)
In Scott Stadium openers the Cavaliers are 44-20-4 (.676) all-time. Pleasenote the Scott Stadium opener in 1931 was not the home opener that season.
Cavaliers Play ACC Home Opener
UVa begins the home portion of its 1999 ACC schedule with the home openeragainst Wake Forest.Virginia has won its last 12 ACC home openers (the longest current streakin the league) and has a 19-26 all-time record in ACC home openers.Virginia is 14-3 in ACC home openers under head coach George Welsh.More Tidbits on the Series with Wake ForestOne of the contributing factors in the Cavaliers’ run of success againstWake Forest has been their ability to score early. Virginia has scored onits first drive of the game against Wake Forest in two of the last fouryears (and eight of the last 12). The only times since 1987 that Virginiadid not score on its first drive occurred in 1993, 1994, 1997 and 1998.
Also during the winning streak, Virginia has scored first 12 times (andWake three times). And once the Cavaliers have scored first during thewinning streak they have managed to maintain the lead the rest of the way.The 1991 game is the only game where Wake Forest was able to tie the gameafter UVa had scored first.Virginia’s 21-13 win in 1997 is the slimmest victory margin since 1986 whenthe Cavaliers won by two points (30-28).
The Cavaliers have scored 30 or more points in 11 of the last 13 meetingsagainst the Demon Deacons and have won all nine games when Wake Forestscores fewer than 10 points.Since 1987, there have been six games decided by less than 20 points andfive have been in Charlottesville.
Head coach George Welsh has led UVa to 16 wins over Wake Forest. That isthe most victories he has recorded over one opponent while at Virginia.In a curious twist, it seems as if the Cavaliers have fared better againstthe Deacs in Winston-Salem than Charlottesville over the last 13 years.
Virginia has scored at least 30 points in the last seven meetings inWinston-Salem dating back to 1986, while scoring 21 points or less in twoof the last three games in Charlottesville.
Also in the last seven games in Charlottesville, Virginia has won by morethan 20 points only once, while in Winston-Salem the Cavaliers have won byat least 20 points in five of the last six meetings.
UVa Offense Productive Against Wake Forest
Since George Welsh’s arrival on the UVa Grounds in 1982, the Cavaliers haverolled up 500+ yards of total offense in 30 games. Prior to Welsh, Virginiahad only seven such games.Of the 30 games under Welsh in which UVa has gained at least 500 yards oftotal offense, nine have come against Wake Forest. The most impressiveoutput was a 643-yard performance in 1982. In that game, Virginia gained323 yards on the ground and 320 yards through the air en route to a 34-27win. That performance is the fourth-highest for total offense in schoolhistory. It is also the only game in Virginia history where the Cavaliersgained 300 yards both rushing and passing.Three of the seven highest games in school history in terms of totaloffense have come against the Demon Deacons under Welsh.
Cavaliers Pile Up the Offense Against Deacs
The Cavaliers have displayed some impressive offensive performances againstWake Forest during head coach George Welsh’s career at Virginia. TheCavaliers have scored 30 or more points in 11 of the last 13 meetingsagainst the Demon Deacons.A look at Virginia’s current 15-game winning streak over Wake Forest showsthat the Cavaliers are averaging 34.5 points and 470.9 yards of totaloffense per game. Virginia has ground out an average of 243.1 yards rushingand passed for an average of 227.8 yards per game over the last 15 matchups.
The following chart shows Virginia’s total offense (broken down by rushingand passing) and points scored in each game against Wake Forest duringGeorge Welsh’s career at UVa.
Year Points Rushing Passing Total1982 34 323 320 643 (4)1983 34 389 206 595 (10)1984 28 355 156 5111985 20 248 62 3101986 30 149 225 3741987 35 218 220 4381988 34 206 315 5211989 47 331 280 611 (5)1990 49 316 258 574 (14)1991 48 291 310 601 (7)1992 31 315 139 4541993 21 241 218 4591994 42 256 254 5101995 35 107 335 4421996 42 215 307 5221997 21 128 183 3111998 38 270 155 425
(Number) in parenthesis indicates rank on UVa’s top-15 list
Cavaliers Have Won 15 Straight vs. Wake Forest
The series between Virginia and Wake Forest was close before UVa won thelast 15 meetings. The Cavaliers now own a 29-11 series advantage.Virginia’s 15 consecutive wins is the longest current winning streak by oneAtlantic Coast Conference team over another and is the third-longestall-time winning streak in an ACC series.A look at the longest winning streaks in an ACC series is below.
The Teams Streak Dates1. Clemson over Virginia 29 1955-892. Maryland over Virginia 16 1972-873. Virginia over Wake Forest 15 1984-pres. Clemson over Wake Forest 15 1977-91 Maryland over Duke 15 1973-88
UVa Contains Deacs Rushing Attack
While the Virginia offense has posted some impressive rushing numbers, theCavalier defense has done an outstanding job of bottling up the Wake Forestground game this decade, particularly since Rick Lantz became UVa’sdefensive coordinator in 1991.
In the last five games with Virginia, Wake Forest has gained 34 net yardsrushing on 129 carries (that’s just over nine inches per carry) and scoredone touchdown on the ground.
No Deacon ballcarrier has rushed for at least 100 yards against UVa sinceTopper Clemons gained 126 in 1985.Here’s a look at Wake Forest’s ground game against UVa since Rick Lantzjoined the staff as defensive coordinator in 1991.
Year Att. Net Yds. Avg. TD1991 42 178 4.2 11992 45 226 5.0 21993 40 131 3.3 11994 23 -21 ** -0.9 01995 35 59 1.7 11996 29 -45 * -1.6 01997 25 37 1.5 01998 17 4 0.2 0Total 256 569 2.2 5
* lowest total allowed in school history
** sixth-lowest total allowed in school history
Cavalier Rushers Do Well vs. Demon Deacons
In 14 of the last 19 games against Wake Forest dating back to 1980,Virginia has had at least one player rush for 100 yards. In 1980, 1984 and1990, two Cavaliers had 100-yard games.
There have been 22 Cavaliers since 1954 that have run for at least 100yards against Wake Forest, the most by UVa against any ACC team.Terry Kirby gained a career high 214 yards rushing against the Deacons in1992, the most by a Cavalier against Wake Forest.
Wake Forest is the Cavaliers’ opponent this season in their annualHomecoming game. Virginia has won eight consecutive (and nine of the last10) Homecoming games, but overall these games haven’t been too festive forthe returning Wahoo alums. The Cavaliers are 35-37-2 (.486) overall inHomecoming games.The Cavaliers are 6-3 with Wake Forest as the Homecoming opponent and havewon the last four (1982, ’84, ’95, ’97).Wake Forest’s last win as UVa’s Homecoming opponent was also the DemonDeacons’ last victory in Charlottesville. The Deacs downed the Cavaliers24-21 in 1981.
Production on the First Drive vs. WFU
One of the contributing factors in the Cavaliers’ recent run of successagainst Wake Forest has been their ability to score early.Virginia has scored on its first drive of the game against Wake Forest twoof the last four years (and eight of the last 12) in posting a 15-gamewinning streak over the Demon Deacons.
The only times since 1987 that Virginia did not score on its first driveoccurred in 1993, 1994, 1997 and last year.The Cavaliers’ performance on their first drive against Wake Forest in thelast 12 years is outlined below.
UVa obtained ResultYear possession by ... of Drive
1987 opening KO M. Wilson 4 run scoring drive=12 plays, 80 yds., 4:541988 WFU punt M. Wilson 6 run scoring drive=7 plays, 48 yds., 2:491989 opening KO McInerney 26 FG scoring drive=12 plays, 72 yds., 5:341990 WFU punt McInerney 45 FG scoring drive=7 plays, 31 yds., 2:491991 WFU punt Kirby 5 run scoring drive=5 plays, 72 yds., 2:221992 opening KO Kirby 73 run scoring drive=1 play, 73 yds., 0:171993 interception interception1994 WFU punt UVa punt1995 WFU punt Byrd 65 pass fr. Groh scoring drive=4 plays, 80 yds., 1:371996 Downs Garcia 38 FG scoring drive=8 plays, 32 yds., 2:171997 WFU punt UVa punt1998 WFU punt UVa punt
Virginia Lights Up Scoreboard vs. Deacs
During Virginia’s current 15-game winning streak over the Demon Deacons,the Cavaliers have outscored Wake Forest 521-225. Virginia has been mostprolific in the second quarter with 177 points.
A look at the score by quarter is below.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th FinalUVa 110 177 100 134 521WFU 20 77 38 90 225
Virginia has scored at least 21 consecutive points against Wake Forest fivetimes this decade-1990 (40), 1991 (41), 1994 (35), 1995 (21), 1996 (42).
The Cavaliers have also demonstrated an ability to score early and keep thelead against Wake Forest. Virginia has scored on its first possession ineight of the last 12 games dating back to 1987.
Also during the winning streak, Virginia has scored first 12 times (andWake three times). Once the Cavaliers have scored first during the winningstreak, the game has been tied only once (in 1991).
The last 15 games broken down by time of lead is listed below.
Time Percent of TotalWFU lead 88:11 (9.8%)Tie score 117:34 (13.1%)UVa lead 694:15 (77.1%)total 900:00 100%
Turnovers Making a Difference
Virginia has been hampered so far this season by turnovers-three fumbleslost, three interceptions thrown. The Cavaliers are tied for seventh in theACC in turnover margin (-1.00/g).Compounding the turnovers is a double whammy-turnovers in the red zone andan inability to prevent scores after turnovers.
Quarterback Dan Ellis threw three interceptions in the opener against NorthCarolina, two coming inside the red zone (including one returned 89 yardsfor a touchdown).
Last week at Clemson, Thomas Jones lost a fumble inside the Clemson 10-yardline as UVa was attempting to cut into a 17-0 deficit in the second quarter.Of UVa’s six turnovers, the last five have been turned into points by theopposition. Clemson scored two touchdowns and a field goal off Virginiamiscues, while the week before North Carolina’s defense scored on aninterception return.
The opposition has been aided by several Virginia turnovers in Virginiaterritory. North Carolina drove only 30 yards for its only offensivetouchdown, while Clemson scored touchdowns on drives of 20 and 43 yardsfollowing UVa turnovers.
Conversely, Virginia has forced four turnovers this season (threeinterceptions, one fumble) and have scored just two touchdowns as a result.On the other two possessions, Virginia turned the ball back over.
Jones Runs Toward Top Five
As his career at Virginia was coming to a close in 1996, Virginia’sall-time leading rusher, Tiki Barber, mentioned that Thomas Jones (then atrue freshman) would be the one to break his records. Barber seems to bevery prescient regarding the performance of the player who was hisunderstudy three years ago.
Jones rushed for 1303 yards last season, the third-highest single-seasonmark in school history (behind Barber’s two best seasons).So far this season Jones looks poised for another big year. He has rushedfor 246 yards in two games, with a high game of 149 yards against NorthCarolina.
Jones passed Jim Bakhtiar, “The Persian Prince,” with 97 yards lastSaturday against Clemson. Jones surely would have had more yards, but heran the ball just four times in the second half as Virginia had to pass totry (unsuccessfully) to catch the Tigers.
Jones now has 2446 career rushing yards, sixth in school history.His place on UVa’s all-time rushing list is below.
Player Att. Yds. Avg. TD1. Tiki Barber 651 3389 5.2 312. Terry Kirby 567 3348 5.9 243. John Papit 537 3238 6.0 274. Tommy Vigorito 648 2913 4.5 155. Frank Quayle 514 2695 5.2 286. Thomas Jones 515 2446 4.7 21
Coffey Turning into Big Play Receiver
Wide receiver was a big concern for the Cavaliers last season, but TerrenceWilkins blossomed into a clutch receiver.Wilkins wasn’t the only receiver to come into his own last fall. KevinCoffey proved he could make the big catch as well. Witness his 61-yardtouchdown reception in the season opener at Auburn that proved to be thewinning score.For the season, he caught 23 passes for 583 yards (25.4 avg.) and ateam-leading five touchdowns.
A possession-type receiver, Coffey has shown a knack for getting addedyards after the catch. His 25.4-yards per catch average last season wastops among ACC receivers with at least five receptions and is the UVarecord for highest average by a player with at least 20 receptions.He had two receptions of more than 60 yards and only two of less than 10yards, while 21 of his 23 catches went for a first down or a touchdown.
This season seems to be much of the same. Quarterback Dan Ellis made hisfirst career start against North Carolina and frequently looked Coffey’sway. Coffey caught four passes for 101 yards (his second career 100-yardgame) and one touchdown. In addition to his touchdown grab (a 32-yarder),his other three receptions all went for first downs.Over the last two seasons, 29 of 31 receptions (93.5 percent) have resultedin either a first down or touchdown.
For his career, Coffey is averaging 22.2 yards per reception, the top markin school history.
Isabelle Makes 14 Stops vs. Clemson
Junior middle linebacker Yubrenal Isabelle gets better with each game as heattempts to fill the rather large shoes of current NFL starter Wali Rainerin the Cavalier defense.
Isabelle, who saw limited action in his first two seasons behind Rainer,led the Cavaliers with 14 tackles against Clemson last Saturday. The 14tackles is a career high, topping the eight he had against Florida State asa freshman two years ago.
He is second on the team with 17 tackles this season.
Anderson Leads in UVa Tackles
Senior defensive tackle Maurice Anderson is looking like he might have tobe the steadying influence along UVa’s defensive line given all theinjuries the unit has suffered this season.He turned in one of the best performances of his career in the seasonopener against North Carolina.
He led Virginia in tackles for the first time in his career with acareer-high 10 stops vs. the Tar Heels.Plugging the middle of the line, he was able to get into the backfield toharass quarterback Ronald Curry. The elusive Curry managed to get free onscrambles, but completed only 10 of 28 pass attempts for 147 yards.Anderson also sacked Curry on the game’s final play to squelch any attemptby the Tar Heels to win at the buzzer.
He followed that effort with eight tackles vs. Clemson last Saturday-thesecond-most tackles he’s had in a game.Anderson leads the team with 18 tackles, only 13 away from his career highin a season (1997).
First-Time Starters Dot Line-Up
Injuries and graduation have caused head coach George Welsh and his staffto shuffle players around this season.There were five first-time starters in the line-up in the opener vs. NorthCarolina-tackle Brad Barnes, middle linebacker Yubrenal Isabelle,quarterback Dan Ellis, defensive end Ljubomir Stamenich and safety ChrisWilliams.
Several Cavaliers went down with injury against the Tar Heels which createdopenings for three more players in the line-up against Clemson. Making thefirst start of their career against the Tigers were wide receiver DemetriusDotson, cornerback Jermaine Lauzon and safety Shernard Newby.Of the Cavaliers 22 starters, 13 players have started fewer than 10 gamesin their careers. Only Thomas Jones and Byron Thweatt (25), Noel LaMontagne(22) and Travis Griffith (20) have as many as 20 career starts.
Poor Production on Third Down
Virginia has not done a particularly good job on third downs this seasoneither on offense or defense.The Cavaliers are converting just 29.6 percent of their third downconversions on offense, seventh in the ACC. They were just three of 13against North Carolina and five of 14 vs. Clemson.
Defensively Virginia is allowing the opposition to convert on 41.9 percentof its third downs.Clemson’s ability to convert on third down was instrumental in the Tigersbuilding a 33-0 lead in the third quarter. Five times Clemson hadthird-and-seven or longer and converted each time. The Tigers also had asecond-and-21 and converted. Overall Clemson converted seven of 14opportunities, including six of nine in the first three quarters.
Welsh Seventh Among Active Wins Leaders
Head coach George Welsh, tabbed last season by The Sporting News as thenation’s best coach, enters this season ranked seventh in wins among activeDivision I-A coaches.
Welsh has won 177 games in a 27-year career at Navy (1973-81) and Virginia(1982-present), 31st in NCAA Division I-A history.His overall career record is 177-122-4 (.591).
The dean of ACC coaches, Welsh is the only coach in league history to winat least 100 games. He has a 122-76-3 record in 18 seasons at Virginia. His76 wins in ACC games is also a record.
A look at the winningest active coaches is below.
1. Joe Paterno, Penn State (34 years) 310 wins2. Bobby Bowden, Fla. State (34) 2943. LaVell Edwards, BYU (28) 2444. Lou Holtz, So. Carolina (28) 2165. Don Nehlen, West Va. (29) 1926. John Cooper, Ohio State (23) 1797. George Welsh, UVa (27) 177
Workhorse Jones Eases Pressure on Ellis
Dan Ellis’ first start at quarterback was made easier by the presence oftailback Thomas Jones, who could take some of the pressure off Ellis.Jones, the ACC’s leading rusher a year ago, picked up where he left offlast season by rushing for 149 yards on 35 carries against North Carolinain last Saturday’s season opening win. The 35 carries matches Jones’ careerhigh.
Jones ground out yardage, especially in the second half, as Virginiamaintained ball control. In the second half, he carried 22 times for 84yards.He scored on a one-yard plunge late in the third quarter as UVa regained a10-9 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Jones carried four times for 21 yards on UVa’s final drive to help set upTodd Braverman’s game-winning field goal.
Anemic Scoring in First Half
The Cavaliers have managed to score just three points in the first halfthis season.Their only points in the opening 30 minutes came on a 23-yard ToddBraverman field goal in the first quarter of the opener vs. North Carolina.
Virginia was blanked in the first half by Clemson and fell behind 33-0before scoring. Curiously the last time Virginia failed to score in thefirst half was against Clemson in 1997.
In contrast, Virginia’s opponents have scored 17 points in the firstquarter and 12 in the second so far this season.
Experienced Line Opens Holes for Jones
Head coach George Welsh has always emphasized the need to have a strongrunning game and this year is no different.The Cavaliers feature one of the nation’s top running backs in ThomasJones. Jones has rushed for 246 yards this season (123.0/g), tied for 21stin the nation. Last season Jones rushed for 1303 yards and led the ACC byalmost 400 yards.
Leading the way for Jones is a battle-tested line that features threereturning starters and another player who started five games a year ago.Virginia’s top offensive lineman is left guard Noel LaMontagne. A seniortri-captain, LaMontagne is the most experience lineman with 22 careerstarts under his belt.
Joining LaMontagne on the left side of the line is Josh Lawson, afirst-team All-Freshman by The Sporting News last season. He worked his wayinto the starting line-up last preseason and has remained there since.Second-team All-ACC John St. Clair is the center. One of the top (and mostunderrated) centers in the country, he is quietly molding himself into oneof the top center prospects available in the upcoming NFL draft.
Sophomore Evan Routzahn, a starter in five games at left guard last season,has moved to right guard this season and is considered a very promisingplayer by Welsh. He is joined by junior Brad Barnes, the right tackle.Barnes saw limited action in his first two years, but has worked hard toforge his way into the line-up.
Jones Attains Ironman Status
Despite leading the ACC in rushing by nearly 400 yards and standing as thethird-leading returning rusher in the nation this season, Thomas Jonesdoesn’t get the attention he deserves.He ran for 1303 yards last season, the eighth-highest total in ACC history,and tied the ACC record with two 200-yard games.
Going into his third year as the starting tailback, perhaps it’s importantto also note his durability. A testament to his offseason work ethic, Joneshas not missed a game in his career, while starting the last 25 games.His streak of 25 consecutive starts is the longest by a UVa running backsince Terry Kirby got the nod in 30 consecutive games from 1990-92. (TikiBarber had a string of 21 consecutive starts.)
Braverman Redeems Himself Quickly
Place-kickers live a strange existence, always walking on the cusp betweenhero and goat. Over the last two seasons Todd Braverman can surely attestto the fine line kickers walk.
Last season he booted a 30-yard field goal with 49 seconds remaining todefeat Clemson 20-18 in the season’s third week. But from that point on,the up-and-down nature of kickers seemed to be mostly down for him.He missed a field goal that could have sent the Georgia Tech game intoovertime, but to be fair it was from 54-yards out and didn’t miss by much.He then missed an extra point and a 48-yard field goal in the waningseconds of the Peach Bowl loss to Georgia. The field goal, if good, wouldhave won it for Virginia, but instead the ball drifted wide right.(Braverman shouldn’t be blamed for either loss as Virginia held 21-pointleads in both contests.)
The uncertainty of his position continued into the preseason as he had tobattle David Greene for the starting nod. Head coach George Welsh didn’tlet the contestants know the winner until the week of the North Carolinagame.
But things swung upward for Braverman when he was named the starter. Hewasted little time justifying Welsh’s decision and erasing the memories oflast season in the opener against North Carolina with two field goalsagainst the Tar Heels.
Called on to be the hero, Braverman answered the call with a 50-yard bootwith 27.4 seconds remaining to give Virginia a 20-17 victory. The kickdidn’t clear the crossbar by much, but it was enough to make Braverman thesixth kicker in school history to make a 50-yarder.His 50-yard victory kick vs. the Tar Heels is the longest game-winningfield goal in school history.
Thweatt Lone Returning Starter at Linebacker
Butkus Award candidate Byron Thweatt is one of the top returninglinebackers in the nation and is Virginia’s lone returning starter at theposition.
Going into his third season as a starter, Thweatt will be expected toprovide leadership and experience to coach David Turner’s linebackingcorps. He has finished second on the team in tackles in each of his firsttwo seasons and was in on 99 stops last season.Joining Thweatt in the starting line-up are senior Shannon Taylor andjunior Yubrenal Isabelle.
Taylor returns after sitting out last season for personal reasons. He wasrecruited as a quarterback, but moved to linebacker shortly after hisarrival in Charlottesville.He has alternated between linebacker and defensive end during his career,lettering as a linebacker in 1996 and at defensive end in 1997. A giftedathlete who excels at getting to the quarterback, he has been in on fivesacks in his career.
Taylor was one of the few defensive bright spots vs. Clemson. He tied hiscareer high with seven tackles, including two stops behind the line ofscrimmage. He leads the team with three tackles for loss this season.Isabelle was an understudy behind All-ACC performer Wali Rainer the lasttwo years. He saw action in every game last season, making 23 tackles andbreaking up one pass.
He made a team-high 14 tackles against Clemson last Saturday and is secondon the team with 17 tackles.
Scott Second in ACC in Punting
Unlike last season when the Virginia roster didn’t feature a single playerwho had ever kicked, punted or kicked off in a game, this year’s squad hasexperience in all three areas.
The punting will be handled by All-America candidate Donnie Scott. Scottwas outstanding in his first year as the starting punter.He averaged 42.6 yards per punt last season, with 16 over 50 yards(including five of 60+) and 23 inside the 20-yard line.
Scott finished third in the ACC in punting in 1998, but his ability tolimit returns enabled Virginia to rank second in the league in net punting.Since Virginia started keeping track of punts inside the 20 in 1984, onlyWill Brice has had more in a season than Scott. Brice had 26 in 1995.Scott’s five 60-yard punts is the school record for most in a season. RussHenderson (1978) and Brice (1994) had four in one season.This season Scott looks like he might threaten more records. He isaveraging 43.6 yards on nine punts and ranks second in the ACC (19th in thenation).
Against North Carolina in the opener, he buried two punts inside the 20and also had punts of 52 and 54 yards.He averaged 44.3 yards on three punts vs. Clemson and buried one inside the20-yard line.
Defense Bottles North Carolina Offense
Virginia’s defense looked as if it could be a liability following the lossof five key performers in the offseason due to a variety of reasons. Andthe replacements were, for the most part, inexperienced.But the group banded together and turned in an outstanding effort in theseason opening win over North Carolina.The UVa defensive front got the best of the Tar Heel offensive line and wasable to put pressure on quarterback Ronald Curry, constantly forcing him tothrow off balance.
Curry was able to hold the Cavalier defenders at bay with his scramblingability, but was unable to connect on the big play and was sacked threetimes. (North Carolina’s offense scored only one touchdown and had to driveonly 30 yards for the score.)
The Tar Heels averaged just 3.5 yards per rush, while Curry completed only10 of 28 passes and had two intercepted.An indication of how well the Virginia defense played is to look to see howUNC did on first down plays.
The Tar Heels ran 28 plays on first down and only 10 went for more thanthree yards. Conversely, 12 plays gained one yard or less or resulted in anincomplete or intercepted pass.
Braverman, Greene Share Kicking Chores
For the second year in a row, the place-kicking duties this season aresplit between Todd Braverman and David Greene. Braverman is the kicker forfield goals and extra points, while Greene is the kick-off man.Braverman, a left-footed junior, had an up-and-down season last fall. Hemade 12 field goals and 38 extra points to finish second on the team inscoring with 74 points.
He made eight of his first nine field goal attempts in the first half ofthe season, but connected on just four of his last 12 tries, including twomisses in the Peach Bowl.Braverman seems to have put last season’s performance behind him. He madetwo field goals in the spring game and connected on two field goals in eachpreseason scrimmage without a miss.
Named the starting place-kicker just days before the opener against NorthCarolina, Braverman sent the Cavaliers home with a victory by connecting ona 50-yarder with less than 30 seconds remaining to down the Tar Heels 20-17.Greene possesses the stronger leg and does the kicking off just as he didso capably a year ago. Last season in his first action, he did all thekicking off. In 59 kickoffs he had 14 touchbacks, while typically placingthe ball deep.
Building on a fine finish to last season, Greene boomed four of fivekickoffs against North Carolina into the end zone. Two were touchbacks,while three were returned for an average of just 19.0 yards.He sent two of three kick-offs against Clemson into the end zone, one ofwhich Clemson returned.
So far this season Greene has three touchbacks in eight kickoffs, while theopponents are averaging less than 20 yards per return.
Virginia’s Secondary Remains Unsettled
Of prime concern to defensive coordinator Rick Lantz coming into the 1999season is the shape of the secondary. At first glance it seemed that theCavaliers should be set as three very experienced players return-AntwanHarris, Tim Spruill and Dwayne Stukes. But Harris has never played morethan nine games in a regular season due to various injuries. Stukes’ 1998season was marred by injury and he was injured again during springpractice. But early-season injuries to both have created problems for thesecondary.
Against North Carolina in the opener, the three above were joined by ChrisWilliams in the starting line-up. But Stukes left the game late in thesecond quarter due to an injury which forced some rearrangements in thesecondary. Red-shirt freshman Shernard Newby saw a lot of action at safetyas Harris moved from safety to cornerback.
Sophomore Jermaine Lauzon also saw extended action at cornerback, spellingSpruill and Harris on a muggy day.Despite playing in their first collegiate game, both Newby and Williamsbroke up one pass and intercepted another. For the game, Virginia’ssecondary broke up five passes and didn’t allow a completion of more than24 yards.
Lauzon and Newby got the first starts of their careers last week againstClemson due to injuries to Harris and Stukes but Clemson’s no-huddleoffense did an outstanding job of exploiting the Cavaliers’ inexperience asBrandon Streeter passed for a Clemson record 343 yards.Junior Jason Small got into the rotation at cornerback, while true freshmansaw a lot of action at safety as the Virginia coaching staff attempted towork on finding combinations that worked. Evans had UVa’s loneinterception, while Williams made nine tackles, tops among UVa defensivebacks, vs. Clemson.
Under the Lights
The Wake Forest contest is the Cavaliers’ first of as many as three homenight games this season. Virginia has lost its last two home night games-toAuburn and Florida State in 1997.
The first night game played at Scott Stadium occurred on October 9, 1982.Portable lights were trucked in from Iowa for the Clemson game that season.The Tigers won 48-0.
Virginia is 20-8-1 all-time at home in night games.Among the Cavaliers’ 20 home night wins is their 33-28 upset ofsecond-ranked Florida State in 1995.