Aug. 1, 2002
“Matt Schaub’s pass complete to Billy McMullen for another Cavalier first down!” Virginia fans hope public address announcer Chuck Young will utter that phrase often throughout the upcoming season. The junior quarterback and senior wide receiver worked together throughout the summer to improve many facets of the passing game.
“We worked out four times a week throwing,” said Schaub, who completed 58 percent of his passes last season. “We worked on our timing, on routes, trying to get things down. We also worked on different plays that will hopefully produce points for us this year. We worked on those things and he and I have both been on the same page all summer long.”
In addition to working with Schaub on the passing game, McMullen also spent his summer honing individual techniques that will help all aspects of Virginia’s offense.
“There were a lot of things I worked on,” the pre-season All-American said. “A lot of things the average fan won’t see, such as blocking and running after the catch. Just little simple things that can improve my game that much more.”
The Richmond native is already Virginia’s all-time leading receiver after catching a record 83 balls last season. No one in the Cavalier football program is surprised by McMullen’s success based on his demanding work-out regimen.
“Something about Billy that he has done ever since we got here and that caught my eye is his work ethic,” Schaub remarked. “He goes above and beyond anything we’re asked to do. I go in the weight room maybe twice a day and he’s always in there. He’s always in there doing something to help himself get better. Then we’ll go up and watch film. I like my receivers to know my progression and my reads on certain plays and Billy knows them. He knows those kinds of things. He’s a very intelligent player when it comes to the game.”
While most fans are counting the days to the August 22 kickoff against Colorado State, Schaub’s countdown has lasted months. The junior shared time at quarterback last season with Bryson Spinner, who has since left the program. Schaub is excited to be UVa’s number one signal caller and he knows the Cavaliers must be a strong team to start the season. Virginia is the only squad in the country whose first three opponents won bowl games last year.
“I watched a lot of film,” Schaub said. “I’ve already watched all the games of our first couple opponents, got notes on them. I also worked on my footwork, my quickness, and especially my endurance so I can go a full four quarters because there weren’t many times last year when we were asked to do that as quarterbacks.”
Schaub and McMullen expect to have very productive seasons based on the improvements they made during spring practice and summer workouts. They are also comfortable with assuming roles as leaders. Schaub as the starting quarterback and McMullen as a team co-captain. In the true spirit of teamwork, number 7 and number 11 do not covet individual honors. They simply want to help Virginia win football games this fall.
“What’s really going to be exciting to me is when we start winning ball games,” McMullen said. “All of the other hype will come later once we start winning.”