From The 50 With Mac McDonald
FROM THE FIFTYUniversity of South Carolina @ University of VirginiaGame 3 News and Notes
Virginia fans are hoping the same thing that occurred in Columbia, South Carolina will take place in Charlottesville. Legendary Coach Lou Holtz’s direction and transformation of the Gamecock football program is well documented. Last year, Holtz’s third season, USC won nine games…the second most victories in school history. The 17 wins over a two year period, 2000 and ’01, represent the most successful two years in USC history and their #13 ranking in the final AP poll was their highest finish since 1984. Holtz, who led Notre Dame to the 1988 national title, lost every game in 1999 in Columbia…and went 8-4 the next year. What’s head scratchin’ strange about all this is the `Cocks had ten winning campaigns before the 0-11 debacle in ’99. Hey…in college football…strange things happen and nothing really makes sense.
Explain this….South Carolina lists four All Southeast Conference candidates on defense. Last year the Gamecocks finished second in the league in scoring defense and third in total defense. However, New Mexico State ripped USC for 419 yards of total offense and averaged 6.2 yards per play. The Aggies rushed for 212 yards…passed for 207 and converted 9 of 16 third down situations. The word from Columbia is that a shakeup in the secondary is forthcoming.
Carolina is good. Offensively they’re led by a running back turned quarterback who posted 279 yards of total offense against NMSU. Corey Jenkins is a 26 year old star…a Boston Red Sox first round draft choice who spent some time with the Chicago White Sox before returning to junior college to play football. Jenkins, a local product from Columbia who originally signed with the `Cocks out of high school in ’95, played the backup role last year. He was a two time JUCO All American and earned the starting spot in spring practice. He rushed for 113 yards against the Aggies last week and threw for 166. Throw him in the mix with a 255 pound running back who has 21 career touchdowns and you have offense. The OL is good…the five starters are over 300 lbs and the unit features three all conference candidates.
The Cavaliers camp is a bit shaken. Not from the 40-19 loss to FSU, but from the list of injuries that reads longer than War and Peace. The most notable, at the time of this writing, is center Kevin Bailey who has established himself as one of the better blockers on the East coast. Bailey is hurting from an ankle injury in Tallahassee and was still on crutches Tuesday. Al Groh doesn’t talk about it, the training room won’t discuss it, and the players all look the other way and seem to just focus on winning. “It can be an excuse,” Groh has said many times. “No use to dwell on it.”
Groh told the media Monday and his talk show audience Monday night that the UVA season and schedule has been broken down in parts. The first three games….then the off week. The next six…Akron through Georgia Tech in October…another off week…then the final stretch. Groh thinks he will have a good feel of his players and team make up after this game.
Bottom line? Matt Schaub is 1-6 as a starter…and when he throws for over 100 yards the Cavaliers are 0-7. But something might have happened in Doak Campbell last week. The West Chester, Pennsylvania native directed three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. FSU was still playing a lot of regulars even though admittedly, considering the party atmosphere there, most of the `Noles’ defenders were making Saturday night plans. But in two games Schaub is leading the ACC in TD passes with 4…and he is completing 66% of his throws. More than likely he starts Saturday night….and for some strange reason I think this young Wahoo team finds a way. Virginia needs a wake up call. I think ESPN, 62,000 fans, and a backs to the wall attitude is just what the doctor ordered.