Virginia vs. Florida State Football Preview
Oct. 25, 1999
Oct. 30, 1999 - 7:00 p.m.Charlottesville, Va.
The Game: Virginia attempts to snap a two-game home losing streak against top-ranked Florida State on Saturday (Oct. 30). The game is slated to begin at 7:00 p.m. The Cavaliers, who were off last week, are 4-3 overall this season, including 3-2 in the ACC. Virginia is coming off a rousing 47-26 win at N.C. State on Oct. 16. Curiously Virginia has done better on the road this season than at home. The Cavaliers are 1-2 at home this fall and look to avoid a three-game home losing streak for the first time since 1986. Florida State is the first #1 team to come to Charlottesville to take on Virginia in the storied 68-year history of the Carl Smith Center, home of David A. Harrison, III Field at Scott Stadium. The Seminoles are 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the ACC.
The Cavaliers have only played the nation’s top-ranked team twice before: Army in 1958 and Purdue in 1968.
Television: The game is being televised nationally on ESPN.
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 Player of the Year, provides the color commentary, while former UVa signal caller Mike Groh provides sideline analysis and conducts the postgame interviews.
Keeping Up With Thomas Jones: Heisman Update 1999 Highlights
- A true “student-athlete,” graduated with a degree in psychology in May in just THREE years
- Very underrated on the national scene and doesn’t get the recognition he deserves
- Led ACC in rushing by a wide margin in 1998 with 1303 yards and is at it again in ‘992nd in nation in rushing, averaging 158.4 ypg, (tops in ACC)
- Leads ACC in touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and all-purpose yards
- 1109 yards through seven games is the best mark in school history after seven games
- Rushed for 149 against North Carolina in the season opening win
- Scooted for 164 yards vs. Wake Forest
- Ran for 210 yards vs. BYU, the eighth-best total in school history
- Scooted for a career-high 221 yards vs. N.C. State in UVa’s last game
- That is the fourth 200-yard game of his career, setting the ACC record
- Started the last 30 games at tailback dating back to the start of the 1997 season
- Has never missed so much as a PRACTICE while at Virginia
- Third in school history with 3309 rushing yards (16th in ACC history)
- Needs 81 yards to break Tiki Barber’s school record of 3,389 rushing yards
The Series vs. the Seminoles
Florida State leads 6-1 in the short series with Virginia that began when the Seminoles joined the Atlantic Coast Conference for the 1992 season. Virginia handed the Seminoles their first conference loss, ending a 29-game league winning streak, with a 33-28 win in Charlottesville in 1995.
The Seminoles made sure the Cavaliers wouldn’t make it two in a row in Charlottesville in 1997’s game, the most recent in Jefferson’s Country. Florida State 21 points in its first five plays to build a big lead and gain a 47-21 win.
Contrary to the 1997 finish, the Seminoles scored the game’s final 24 points last season to win 45-14. The Cavaliers trailed the Seminoles 21-14 at halftime, but the homestanding Floridians turned three pass interceptions into points to put away Virginia.
The Seminoles’ scoring outburst in last season’s game shouldn’t come as a surprise as they have scored at least 21 consecutive points in four of the seven meetings (1993-30, 1994-34, 1997-21, 1998-24).
Florida State is averaging 35.0 points per game in the series, the second-highest total for any opponent Virginia has played more than once in its history (Michigan has averaged 37.3 points in three games vs. UVa).
FSU head coach Bobby Bowden compiled a 2-0 record against Virginia while the head coach at West Virginia (1972, 48-10, 1973, 42-17).George Welsh lost to Florida State 38-6 in 1978 while the head coach at Navy.
Virginia’s win over the #2 Seminoles in 1995 marks the highest ranked team the Cavaliers have ever beaten.
A Look Back at Last Year’s Game: FSU 45, UVa 14
Nov. 7 – Tallahassee, Fla.
Virginia suffered its second conference loss of the season as sixth-ranked Florida State broke open a close game with 24 unanswered second-half points to pull away for a 45-14 victory. FSU’s defense helped make the difference, holding 12th-ranked Virginia to just 64 yards of total offense after intermission and intercepting four passes, all of which led to Seminole touchdowns. Florida State intercepted three passes in the second half to set up scoring drives of 47, 28 and 20 yards.
The Cavaliers trailed 21-14 at the half. A 37-yard run by tailback Thomas Jones and two FSU penalties worth 28 yards helped set up UVa’s first score, a two-yard run by running back Anthony Southern in the first quarter. Virginia added another touchdown in the second quarter, scoring on an eight-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Brooks to Jones.
FSU played the entire second half with backup quarterback Marcus Outzen after starter Chris Weinke was injured late in the second quarter on a sack by defensive end Patrick Kerney.
Facing a strong pass rush all afternoon, Brooks completed 10 of 20 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. He threw three interceptions. Jones led Virginia with 66 yards rushing while Casey Crawford was UVa’s leading receiver with four catches for 43 yards.
The Cavalier defense registered five quarterback sacks, including three by Kerney. Wale Elegbe had a team-high 11 tackles, while Wali Rainer and Donny Green each finished with nine tackles, including a sack.
Donnie Scott had four punts for an average of 48.5 yards, including a 61-yarder.
SCORING SUMMARY and STATISTICS Virginia 7 7 0 0 - 14Florida State 14 7 7 17 - 45
First QuarterFSU-Peter Warrick 79 pass from Chris Weinke (Sebastian Janikowski kick), 6:47UVa-Anthony Southern 2 run (Todd Braverman kick), 5:43FSU-Lamarr Glenn 2 run (Janikowski kick), 1:18
Second QuarterFSU-Weinke 1 run (Janikowski kick), 13:23UVa-Thomas Jones 8 pass from Aaron Brooks (Braverman kick), 6:47
Third QuarterFSU-Travis Minor 1 run (Janikowski kick), 7:42
Fourth QuarterFSU-Janikowski 22 FG, 6:59FSU-Jeff Chaney 8 run (Janikowski kick), 4:46FSU-Raymont Skaggs 18 run (Janikowski kick), 3:21
Attendance-81,120 UVa FSUFirst Downs 16 20Rushes-Yards 41-151 51-196Passing Yardage 96 210Comp-Att-Int 10-21-4 13-22-1Punts-Yards 5-212 4-168Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0Penalties-Yards 4-49 11-99
Rushing-Virginia, Thomas Jones 16-66, Aaron Brooks 8-35, Antwoine Womack 8-25, Anthony Southern 4-19, Tyree Foreman 4-12, Terrence Wilkins 1-(-6). FSU, Travis Minor 28-130, Jeff Chaney 5-33, Raymont Skaggs 2-20, Peter Warrick 1-9, Lamarr Glenn 4-8, William McCray 1-5, Marcus Outzen 6-2, Chris Weinke 4-(-11).
Passing-Virginia, Aaron Brooks 10-20-3-96, Dan Ellis 0-1-0-1. FSU, Chris Weinke 8-16-0-143, Marcus Outzen 5-6-1-67.
Receiving-Virginia, Casey Crawford 4-43, Thomas Jones 2-11, Ahmad Hawkins 1-18, Terrence Wilkins 1-14, James Johnson 1-8, Anthony Southern 1-2. FSU, Peter Warrick 5-123, Ron Dugans 4-48, Marvin Minnis 2-30, Laveranues Coles 1-7, Travis Minor 1-2.
Florida State Moves by the Pass
Florida State has gained more yards passing than rushing in each of the last six games against Virginia, including gaining more than 300 yards through the air on five occasions.
The Seminoles have turned in three of the top-10 single-game passing performances against Virginia, including a 487-yard performance in 1995, the top performance ever against UVa. The Seminoles’ 397 yards passing in 1994 is fourth all-time against Virginia, while their 355 yards in 1993 is 10th.
In the last six meetings Florida State has averaged 345.0 yards passing per game, while completing 60.2 percent of its passes. The Seminoles have averaged 166.8 yards rushing and 4.5 yards per carry during that time.
FSU has scored 16 touchdowns passing and 15 rushing in the last six meetings vs. UVa.
After intercepting three passes in their win in 1995, UVa has picked off FSU quarterbacks only three times in the last three games (98 attempts).
Jones Tops 1000 Yards Rushing
As his career at Virginia was coming to a close in 1996, Virginia’s all-time leading rusher, Tiki Barber, mentioned that Thomas Jones (then a true freshman) would be the one to break his records. Barber seems to be very prescient regarding the performance of the player who was his understudy three years ago.
Jones, who has 1109 yards rushing this season, is the eighth player in school history to top the 1000-yard plateau. (Virginia has had 11 1000-yard seasons: Barber and Terry Kirby each had two.)
Jones joins Barber has the only players in school history to put together back-to-back 1000-yard seasons. (Terry Kirby had two 1000-yard seasons but they weren’t consecutive.)
Jones is third in school history with 3309 yards rushing, 81 away from eclipsing Barber’s record.
Jones is averaging 158.4 yards rushing per game this season, tops in the ACC. If he can keep up this pace he will eclipse the ACC single-season record currently held by former North Carolina star Don McCauley. McCauley rushed for 1720 yards and averaged 156.4 ypg in 1970.
Barber also holds the UVa single-season rushing record with 1397 yards in 1995 (12 games).
Jones needs to average just 72.3 ypg the rest of the way to top Barber’s single-season mark.
Below is the list of all 1000-yard rushers in UVa history.
Player, year Yds Rushing 1. Tiki Barber, 1995 1397 2. Tiki Barber, 1996 1360 3. Thomas Jones, 1998 1303 4. Barry Word, 1985 1224 5. John Papit, 1949 1214 6. Frank Quayle, 1968 1213 7. Terry Kirby, 1992 1130 8. Thomas Jones, 1998 1109 9. Marcus Wilson, 1989 1098 10. Tommy Vigorito, 1979 1045 11. Terry Kirby, 1990 1020
McMullen Puts Publicity Gnomes to Work
True freshman wide receiver Billy McCullen had two touchdown catches in UVa’s 47-26 win over N.C. State in its last game. He led the team with 109 yards receiving (a career high), while his four receptions tied Ahmad Hawkins for team honors.
McMullen’s performance sent the publicity gnomes of the University of Virginia athletic media relations office scrambling to find out how that compared with the performances of other true freshmen in UVa history (or at least going back through available records to 1940).
Research has concluded that McMullen is only the fourth true freshman to catch two TD passes in a game for Virginia. The others are Germane Crowell vs. Florida State in 1994 (his first college game), Demetrius “Pete” Allen vs. Navy in 1992 and John Ford against VMI and Virginia Tech in 1984.Three other true freshmen have scored two touchdowns (all rushing) in one game: quarterback Scott Gardner vs. VMI in 1972 (also his first college game), Antonio Rice vs. Georgia Tech in 1982 and Durwin Greggs vs. William & Mary in 1986.
McMullen leads the team with 265 yards receiving and is second with 16 receptions (one behind leader Kevin Coffey).
Coffey’s Production Falls Off Recently
After turning in a fine season last year, when he caught 23 passes (25.4 avg.) and a team-leading five touchdowns, wide receiver Kevin Coffey looked forward to turning in a big year this season. Quarterback Dan Ellis made his first career start In the season opener against North Carolina and frequently looked Coffey’s way. Coffey caught four passes for 101 yards (his second career 100-yard game) and one touchdown. In addition to his touchdown grab (a 32-yarder), his other three receptions all went for first downs.He had four catches for 48 yards and one touchdown the following week against Clemson, but since then his numbers have fallen off dramatically.
Coffey has caught just nine passes in the last five games, and is averaging 11.0 yards per catch (well off his career average of 19.9 yards).
His lone catch vs. Brigham Young last month was a 25-yard scoring reception as well as his last touchdown.
Against Virginia Tech, featuring one of the nation’s top defenses, he caught two passes for just 20 yards, while he had just two catches for 16 yards in the overtime loss to Duke. He was held to one catch for 10 yards the last time out by N.C. State.
Kiddie Corps Get Pickoffs
Virginia has intercepted 11 passes this season, including seven by freshmen safeties.
The safety tandem of Shernard Newby and Chris Williams (both red-shirt freshmen) have teamed to intercept passes in the same game twice?North Carolina and Wake Forest. The North Carolina game was the first college game for both.
True freshman Jerton Evans intercepted a pass against Clemson in the second game of his brief college career and came back with two crucial interceptions against Brigham Young to help lead UVa to the win.
Evans’ first interception vs. the Cougars came in the first quarter and set up UVa’s third touchdown in a 21-point first quarter, while his second pick came in the end zone with 1:37 to play in the game that ended BYU’s hopes for a comeback win.
Tim Spruill’s interception vs. BYU was the first by a cornerback and the first by a non-freshman for Virginia this season.
Defensive tackle Maurice Anderson and cornerback Dwayne Stukes got their first interceptions of the season last Saturday against Duke. For Anderson it was the first of his career, while Stukes’ occurred on his second play from scrimmage after missing the previous four games.
Yubrenal Isabelle picked off an N.C. State pass the last time out, the first interception by a UVa linebacker this season.
Overall Virginia is tied for 13th in the nation in interceptions.
Coming Out of an Off Week
The Cavaliers return to action this Saturday against top-ranked Florida State after having last week off.
Off weeks have been a mixed bag for Virginia under head coach George Welsh. The Cavaliers have posted an 11-10 record under Welsh in games following an off week.
It should be noted, however, that Virginia’s win over Florida State in 1995 was preceded by an off week.
Things are better when the Cavaliers are at home after an off week as evidenced by their 9-3 record in Charlottesville after off weeks under Welsh.
Greene Sends Kickoffs to the End Zone
For the second year in a row, David Greene is handling the kick-off duties for the Cavaliers, while Todd Braverman is the kicker for field goals and extra points.
Greene possesses the stronger leg, which makes him the ideal kick-off man. Last season in his first action, he did all the kicking off. In 59 kickoffs he had 14 touchbacks, while typically placing the ball deep.
Building on a fine finish to last season, Greene has boomed 26 of 36 kickoffs this season into the endzone, resulting in 15 touchbacks. The opponents are averaging 22.6 yards per return against UVa’s kickoff coverage team.
Anderson Quietly Turning in Fabulous Year
As the oldest member of the defensive front, Maurice Anderson has used the wisdom that comes with age and experience to his advantage this season.
He has turned in the best season of his career in 1999 despite a series of nagging injuries that might sideline other players.Throughout most of his career he has had to play behind more heralded linemen including Antonio Dingle, Patrick Kerney and Todd White, but this season he is showing what he can do.
Anderson began the year in fine fashion by leading Virginia in tackles for the first time in his career with a career-high 10 stops vs. North Carolina.
He turned in his second double-digit outing of the year against Duke with 10 tackles.
Adept at plugging the middle of the line, Anderson has made at least seven tackles in five games this season.
With two games of at least 10 tackles, he is the first UVa defensive tackle to have as many as two double-digit performances since Todd White had two in 1995. He is also the first UVa defensive tackle to lead the team in tackles in a game since White in 1994 and is the first Cavalier defensive tackle to lead twice in a season since at least 1989.
Anderson is fourth on the team with 46 tackles, far surpassing his previous career high of 31 in 1997. The 46 tackles are the most by a UVa defensive tackle since Dingle had 48 in 1997.
Showing surprising athleticism for such a big man, Anderson has blocked two extra point kicks this season, including one against N.C. State the last time out.
Virginia by the Numbers
0 — Thomas Jones’ durability is best typified by the fact that he hasn’t missed so much as a PRACTICE during his career. He has also started 30 consecutive games at tailback.
1 — UVa head coach George Welsh is the winningest coach in ACC history. The only coach in league history to win 100 games, he has a 125-78-3 record at Virginia. Welsh has also won 78 ACC games, the most in league history.
2 — Fullback Anthony Southern is second among ACC running backs with 14 receptions this season (trails Maryland’s Lamont Jordan by one). He has been Virginia’s receiving leader twice this season?Wake Forest, Duke. A good receiver out of the backfield, Southern has caught 41 passes in his career.
3 — Thomas Jones earned his undergraduate degree in psychology in just three years. He received his degree in May of 1999.
7 — UVa head coach George Welsh is seventh among active Division I-A coaches in wins. He has won 180 games in a 27-year career at Navy (1973-81) and Virginia (1982-present).
10 — Players have made the first start of their careers this season for Virginia. Five first-timers started the opener vs. North Carolina, the most since 1997 to start an opener. William Clark became the most recent member of this new club, making the first start of his career against Virginia Tech.
12 — Consecutive seasons with at least seven wins by UVa, the longest streak in ACC history. UVa is one of only four Division I-A programs (Fla. State, Michigan, Nebraska) to post at least seven wins in each of the last 12 seasons. It is also tied for the eighth-longest current streak of winning seasons in the nation.
13 — Virginia is tied for 13th in the nation with 11 interceptions. True freshman Jerton Evans leads the team with three pickoffs.
81 — Thomas Jones needs 81 yards rushing to break Tiki Barber’s UVa career rushing record. Jones has topped 100 yards five times this season, including a career-high 221 yards against N.C. State in his last game. Barber rushed for 3389 yards in his career, while Jones has 3309.
Jones Shows Up Every Day
Despite leading the ACC in rushing by nearly 400 yards and standing as the third-leading returning rusher in the nation this season, Thomas Jones fails to 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.And the player with the common name continues to display his uncommon abilities.
Jones leads the ACC in rushing, by about 400 yards, again this season as he threatens the ACC single-season rushing mark of 1720 yards by North Carolina’s Don McCauley in 1970.
In his third year as the starting tailback, perhaps it’s important to also note his durability. A testament to his offseason work ethic, Jones has not missed a game in his career, while starting the last 30 at tailback.
By starting his 31st consecutive game against Florida State as expected, Jones will set another school record: most consecutive starts by a tailback. Terry Kirby got the starting nod 30 straight games from 1990-92 and holds the record. (For reference, Tiki Barber had a string of 21 consecutive starts.)
Just as amazing as his streak of consecutive starts is the fact that Jones has never missed so much as a practice during his career at Virginia.
Turnovers Important to Outcome
Virginia has been involved in several games this season that have been influenced greatly by turnovers: both for and against UVa.The Cavaliers have compounded their turnovers with a double whammy: turnovers in the red zone and an inability to prevent scores after turnovers.
Dan Ellis threw three interceptions in the opener against North Carolina, two coming inside the red zone (including one returned 89 yards for a touchdown).
Against Clemson, Thomas Jones lost a fumble inside the Clemson 10-yard line as UVa was attempting to cut into a 17-0 deficit in the second quarter.
After having just two turnovers in the next three games, mistakes proved to be the Cavaliers’ undoing in the overtime loss to Duke earlier this month.
An Arlen Harris punt return for a touchdown early in the game was brought back due to a penalty.
On Duke’s next possession, Dwayne Stukes intercepted a pass to give UVa the ball on Duke’s 44-yard line. Following a first down, Ellis had a pass intercepted in the end zone to end that drive.
Punter Donnie Scott was unable to handle a bad snap in his end zone and tried to pass. The pass was incomplete, giving Duke possession on the 11-yard line. The Blue Devils scored a touchdown four plays later.
Tim Spruill blocked a Duke punt to give the Cavaliers the ball at the Duke 35-yard line. But Thomas Jones lost a fumble at the 12-yard line to kill another drive. Duke drove down field to kick a game-tying field goal.
Virginia’s final possession of the game ended as Ellis threw his second interception of the day in the second overtime.
In UVa’s most recent game against N.C. State, the Wolfpack turned the ball over on three of their first four second half possessions. Virginia turned the miscues into 22 points (in a 30-point quarter). The 30 points helped erase a 19-10 halftime deficit as Virginia rolled to a 47-26 win.
Of UVa’s 12 turnovers, eight have been turned into points by the opposition. Clemson scored two touchdowns and a field goal off UVa miscues, while the week before North Carolina’s defense scored on an interception return and scored its lone offensive touchdown following an interception. Brigham Young returned Ellis’ only interception for a touchdown three weeks ago, while Duke scored a just one field goal off three UVa turnovers last Saturday.Virginia has forced 16 turnovers this season (11 interceptions, five fumbles) and blocked one punt. From these mistakes the Cavaliers have scored just eight touchdowns.
Jones Second in Nation
Heisman Trophy candidate Thomas Jones is putting together one of the best seasons in school history in 1999. He has rushed for 1109 yards in seven games (158.4 per game) and ranks second nationally in rushing.
He reached the 1000-yard mark in just seven games, joining John Papit (1949) as the only players to get to 1000 yards in seven games.
Jones’ 1109 yards are the most yards after seven games in school history. John Papit had 1040 yards after seven games in 1949. (As an aside, Jones’ 1109 this fall are already eighth-most in a season for Virginia, and he still has four games to play.)
Not surprisingly, Jones has been the game’s leading rusher in every game for Virginia this season.
He was at his best in UVa’s last game: a 47-26 win over N.C. State two weeks ago. He carried the ball a school-record 38 times for a career-high 221 yards and three touchdowns.
The 221 yards proved to be a milestone as it was the fourth 200-yard game of his career?an ACC record. He also tied the ACC record with his second 200-yard game of the season.
His effort against the Wolfpack barely topped the game he had against Brigham Young last month when he rushed 35 times for 210 yards and two touchdowns in a Virginia win.
Jones’ 1109 yards (through seven games) is the second-best total after EIGHT games in school history.
In addition to leading the ACC in rushing, Jones leads the ACC in all-purpose yards and is second in rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns.
Below is the list of the best performances through eight games in school history.
Player, year Yds thru 8 games 1. John Papit, 1949 1153 Thomas Jones, 1999 (7 games) 1109 3. Tiki Barber, 1996 1037 4. Thomas Jones, 1998 1002
Jones in ACC All-Time Top-20
As his career at Virginia was coming to a close in 1996, Virginia’s all-time leading rusher, Tiki Barber, mentioned that Thomas Jones (then a true freshman) would be the one to break his records. Barber seems to be very prescient regarding the performance of the player who was his understudy three years ago.
Jones rushed for 1303 yards last season, the third-highest single-season mark in school history (behind Barber’s two best seasons).So far this season Jones is turning in another big year. He has rushed for 1103 yards, and has had five 100-yard performances (including two 200-yard efforts). He rushed for a career-high 221 yards vs. N.C. State the last time out.
Jones now has 3309 career rushing yards, third in school history and 16th in ACC history.
Jones’ place on the ACC and UVa all-time rushing lists is below.
ACC UVa Player, school Yds. 11. Tremayne Stephens, N.C. State 3553 12. 1. Tiki Barber, Virginia 3389 13. 2. Terry Kirby, Virginia 3348 14. Michael Ramseur, WFU 3325 15. Charlie Wysocki, Md. 3317 16. 3. Thomas Jones, Virginia 3309
Welsh Seventh Among Active Wins Leaders
Head coach George Welsh, tabbed last season by The Sporting News as the nation’s best coach, is ranked seventh in wins among active Division I-A coaches.
Welsh has won 180 games in a 27-year career at Navy (1973-81) and Virginia (1982-present), tied for 27th in NCAA Division I-A history.
His overall career record is 180-124-4 (.591).
The dean of ACC coaches, Welsh is the only coach in league history to win at least 100 games. He has a 125-78-3 record in 18 seasons at Virginia. His 78 wins in ACC games is also a record.
A look at the winningest active coaches is below.
1. Joe Paterno, Penn State (34 years) 315 wins2. Bobby Bowden, Fla. State (34) 3003. LaVell Edwards, BYU (28) 2494. Lou Holtz, So. Carolina (28) 2165. Don Nehlen, West Va. (29) 1946. John Cooper, Ohio State (23) 1837. George Welsh, UVa (27) 180
Ten Make First Start This Season
Injuries and graduation have caused head coach George Welsh and his staff to shuffle players around this season.
There were five first-time starters in the line-up in the opener vs. North Carolina?tackle Brad Barnes, middle linebacker Yubrenal Isabelle, quarterback Dan Ellis, defensive end Ljubomir Stamenich and safety Chris Williams.
Several Cavaliers went down with injury against the Tar Heels which created openings for three more players in the line-up against Clemson. Making the first start of their career against the Tigers were wide receiver Demetrius Dotson, cornerback Jermaine Lauzon and safety Shernard Newby.
True freshman Jerton Evans joined the list of first-time starters against Wake Forest pushing the total to nine players who have made their starting debuts this season.
William Clark replaced Yubrenal Isabelle in the starting line-up against Virginia Tech, making him the 10th player to receive his first career start this season.
Of the Cavaliers’ 22 starters, eight players have started fewer than 10 games in their careers. Only Thomas Jones and Byron Thweatt (30), Noel LaMontagne (27), and John St. Clair (20) and the injured Travis Griffith (20) have as many as 20 career starts.
Isabelle Reaches Double Digits Four Times
Junior linebacker Yubrenal Isabelle gets better with each game as he attempts to fill the rather large shoes of current NFL starter Wali Rainer in the Cavalier defense.
Isabelle, who saw limited action in his first two seasons behind Rainer, led the Cavaliers with 14 tackles against Clemson last month. The 14 tackles is a career high, topping the eight he had against Florida State as a freshman two years ago.
He paced the team against with 10 tackles against Wake Forest as Virginia held Morgan Kane, the nation’s leading rusher coming into the game, to just 65 yards.
Putting up Rainer-like numbers, Isabelle’s 14 stops vs Brigham Young led the team for the third week in a row.
He did not play against Virginia Tech due to the death of his mother, Deberah, but returned vs. Duke to lead the team once again with 10 tackles.
Isabelle missed reaching double figures against N.C. State in the last game, but still led the team with seven tackles.
A very smart player who is still learning on the job, Isabelle leads the team with 58 tackles despite missing the Virginia Tech game.
A look at his game-by-game stats are below.
Solo Ast. TTL otherN. Carolina 2 1 3 PBUClemson 9* 5* 14* FRW. Forest 7* 3 10*BYU 7* 7* 14* hurryVa. Tech DNPDuke 5 5 10* QBS, hurry, PBUN.C. State 4 3 7* FR* led team
Experienced Line Opens Holes for Jones
Head coach George Welsh has always emphasized the need to have a strong running game and this year is no different.
Virginia features one of the nation’s top running backs in Thomas Jones. Jones has rushed for 1103 yards this season (158.4/g), second in the nation, after leading the ACC by almost 400 yards last season with 1303 yards.
Leading the way for Jones is a battle-tested line that features three returning starters and another player who started five games a year ago.
Virginia’s top offensive lineman is left guard Noel LaMontagne. A senior tri-captain, LaMontagne is the most experienced lineman with 27 career starts under his belt.
Joining LaMontagne on the left side of the line is Josh Lawson, a first-team All-Freshman by The Sporting News last season. He worked his way into 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 most underrated) centers in the country, he is quietly molding himself into one of 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 promising player 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 to forge his way into the line-up and is considered by Welsh the most improved player on the offensive line. Barnes was selected the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his play in UVa’s win over N.C. State two weeks ago.
Braverman Boots 50-Yard Winner
Place-kickers live a strange existence, always walking on the cusp between hero and goat. Over the last two seasons Todd Braverman can surely attest to the fine line kickers walk.
Last season he booted a 30-yard field goal with 49 seconds remaining to defeat 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 into overtime, 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 waning seconds of the Peach Bowl loss to Georgia. The field goal, if good, would have won it for Virginia, but instead the ball drifted wide right. (Braverman shouldn’t be blamed for either loss as Virginia held 21-point leads in both contests.)
The uncertainty of his position continued into this preseason and he wasn’t announced as the kicker for this season until the week of the North Carolina game.
But things swung upward for Braverman when he was named the starter. He wasted little time justifying Welsh’s decision and erasing the memories of last season in the opener against North Carolina with two field goals against the Tar Heels.
Called on to be the hero, Braverman answered the call with a 50-yard boot with 27.4 seconds remaining to give Virginia a 20-17 victory. The kick didn’t clear the crossbar by much, but it was enough to make Braverman the sixth kicker in school history to make a 50-yarder. His 50-yard victory kick vs. the Tar Heels is the longest game-winning field goal in school history.
He has made all 22 extra points and and five of eight field goal attempts this season. After missing the first extra point attempt of his career (last season vs. Auburn), he has made 60 in a row in regular season games, the longest streak since Jake McInerney made a school-record 88 PATs from 1989-90.
Taylor Returns with a Vengeance
Linebacker Shannon Taylor sat out last season for personal reasons. But the lay-off hasn’t seemed to be a setback based on his performance this season.
He was recruited as a quarterback, but moved to linebacker shortly after his arrival in Charlottesville and has alternated between linebacker and defensive end during his career. He lettered as a linebacker in 1996 and at defensive end in 1997. A gifted athlete who excels at getting to the quarterback, he has been in on seven sacks in his career.
He was one of the few defensive bright spots against Clemson last month. He tied his career high at the time with seven tackles (since broken) against the Tigers, including two stops behind the line of scrimmage.
His career high for tackles didn’t last long, however because he followed that with a 10-tackle performance against Wake Forest. He had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including his second sack of the season.
The big plays for Taylor continued against Brigham Young as he turned in eight tackles, including two more tackles behind the line. That marked the third game in a row Taylor had two tackles for loss.
Taylor is tied for second on the team with 48 tackles (6.9/g), and leads the team with seven tackles for loss. He is also tied with Maurice Anderson for the team lead with four sacks.
Miscellaneous 1999 Statistics”Red Zone” Performance(all series first & 10 from opponents’ 20-yard line and in)
Opp. Att. Result Pct.OffenseNo. Carolina 2 TD, FG 100.0Clemson 5 2 TD, fum., FGA, downs 40.0W. Forest 4 4 TD 100.0Brigham Young 3 3 TD 100.0Virginia Tech 1 TD 100.0Duke 3 TD, FG, fumble 66.7N.C. State 5 4 TD, FG 100.01999 23 16 TD, 3 FG 82.61998 stats 37 23 TD, 7 FG 81.1
DefenseNo. Carolina 1 TD 100.0Clemson 5 3 TD, 2 FG 100.0W. Forest 2 FGA, interception 0.00Brigham Young 3 3 TD 100.0Virginia Tech 4 3 TD, fumble 75.0Duke 6 3 TD, FG, FGA, int. 66.7N.C. State 3 3 TD 100.01999 24 16 TD, 3 FG 79.21998 stats 28 12 FG, 11 TD 82.1
UVa Kickoffsplayer KO TB Ret.-Avg. Avg. starting positionGreene 36 15 19-22.6 25-yd. line