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Nov. 13, 2002



Saturday’s quarterback match up between Matt Schaub of Virginia and NC State’s Phillip Rivers might not go down in the record books as one of the greatest ever…but if you love passing games, offense…wide outs, and the chess game that goes on to stop such attacks, I would make sure you have a ticket. Two of the best quarterbacks in the ACC go head to head in Charlottesville and they will figure prominently in the outcome.

Both teams are 4-2 and both teams are smarting from two game losing streaks…. but Schaub and Rivers have the moxie to motivate, lead and produce. Rivers, the Athens, Alabama junior has been the Wolfpack staple for three years setting and breaking records like they were old ’45 rpm’s. Schaub, meanwhile, has had to wait his turn before grasping the reigns of a Bill Musgrave designed offense and proving he can play.

I know…in football it takes an entire team…a good offensive line, a defense that stays and plays together…a sound kicking game…and running backs who can help you in about 12 different ways. That’s why Saturday will be a whole lot of fun.

The ‘Pack has some question marks…Jerricho Cotchery, State’s leading receiver and punt returner has a high ankle sprain and is listed as doubtful…T.A. McClendon…the first year phenom running back who has rolled up 864 yards already is suffering from a shoulder bruise and is also listed day to day and questionable for Saturday. However, the Wolfies have enough players to beat anybody. After winning nine consecutive games to start the season for the first time in school history there were a lot of kids who got playing time. Scheduling UMASS…Navy…and East Tennessee State helped with confidence and experience.

NC State’s defense is good. Their corners have been playing so much man to man and succeeding…that it has been their coverage that head coach Chuck Amato attributes to the ACC leading 39 sacks. Dantonio Burnette leads the linebackers…and Terrence Holt might be the best free safety in the country. “A game breaker” UVA Coach Al Groh called him who knocks down passes, blocks kicks, and is always in the right place to make a play.

Virginia enters the NC State game without running back Alvin Pearman, who last week at Penn State told coach Groh he had shaken off the first half knee injury and could return in the second half. One carry…a juke step….bam!Gone for the year….

“That was my fault,” Coach Groh told the media Monday at his press conference. ” I really didn’t feel good putting him back in but he told me he could go.”

Wali Lundy and Michael Johnson will get a lot of work Saturday…and Marquis Weeks, who has been patient logging time on special teams, might see some time in the backfield.

Virginia’s defense will have to be creative…the State passing game is so precise…so quick….that a front line player or linebacker does not have a lot of time to sack Rivers. The Pack has given up 11 sacks in 9 games…a stat that leads the ACC.

Chess match? You bet! Saturday’s game is between quarterbacks, coordinators, and kicking games. This one will be close down the stretch.

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