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Sept. 18, 2002

Quick…Can you name the nations sixth leading passer in percentage? I will give you a hint…he is 15th in the country in efficiency…first in the ACC in percentage and his seven touchdown passes are tied for eighth in D-1 tackle football.

Too easy? Thought so….

Matt Schaub, who has yet to really earn any respect since most announcers and fans refer to him as “SCHWAB”, has had a couple of good weeks. Thanks to offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, an improving offensive line, and receivers who fight for everything now, the West Chester, Pennsylvania native has posted very respectable stats. Schaub’s confidence is growing and he is showing the coaching staff those leadership traits that have been missing. Schaub has thrown six td passes the last two weeks to increase his career total to 17. Four more and he quietly creeps into Virginia’s top ten, all time. Schaub will pass Scott Secules, Gene Arnette, and Bill Dudley….and might do it this week.

Akron has been pretty good in the past…but not this year. The Zips are 0-3 for the first time since ’97 and are coming off a 24-17 loss to Central Michigan…a game where the Zips led 17-0 at half. They were blown out at Iowa 57-21 and also lost to Maryland 44-14. Speaking of quarterbacks, Akron features Charlie Frye, an accurate thrower and elusive runner who averages 196 yards per game passing for his career…an Akron record. Frye has thrown for 2700 yards in only 14 games. He could make a difference….however Virignia showed a lot of pride in defeating South Carolina and the Cavs will not let this one slip.

UVA’s defense is improving. The ‘Hoos sport eight sacks, nine recovered fumbles, and three interceptions in three games. The corners are providing run support, the young defensive line is providing pressure, and of course the Cavalier linebackers continue to make plays. This team , and especially the defense, is a work in progress and the transformation has been entertaining to watch. Al Groh is taking each day slowly and methodically making sure Virginia football walks before it runs. As he explained in his Monday press conference it’s all about “positive performance”. Who is….and who isn’t relating to getting the job done. That’s who plays!

UVA is averaging 142 yards on the ground. Not an eye popping number however two of the featured runners are first year players….Wali Lundy and Michael Johnson. Alvin Pearman has only had 28 carries in three games, Marques Weeks only nine. Last year UVA had only five rushing TD’s…this year the Cavaliers have had three in three games. Also in 2001, Virginia averaged only 106 yards on the ground….and I think this year’s number will be higher due to all of the players Groh is using. Against Akron UVA should get over 200 yards rushing.

Kicking game? Whoa…..don’t ask. A lot of attention has been paid to this area over the past few days…and Groh is searching for the cream. In three games UVA has attempted one field goal…a Kurt Smith miss of 36 yards against USC…and Kurt and Bryan Smith have hit only six of nine point after touchdowns. Plus Tom Hagan, the first year from Salem, Va. is only averaging 36.8 yards per punt…with a net of 30.8. Those numbers have to improve. So far this season Virginia’s average starting field position is the 26. Our opponents? Their own 38. 11 times our opponents have started drives on our side of the field.

So it’s Homecoming….Game number 4 and Virginia is a heavy favorite. As the Cavs look to improve in all areas the Akron game kicks off a very important six game stretch…phase two of the season.

Time to move forward.

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