Inbounds with Mac McDonald - Nov. 3
Nov. 3, 2004
A group of reporters huddled around Virginia safety Jermaine Hardy, one of the veteran Cavaliers who has seen plenty in ACC competition. The questions kept coming about the Maryland rivalry, the so-called bad blood between the teams, and maybe this football game carries a bit more intensity than others.
Hardy and his teammates, for the most part, wouldn’t take the bait.
“In regards to recruiting, we run into them probably more than any other school,” Groh told the assembled media Monday. “What they (Maryland) accomplished (last) Saturday clearly gets our player’s attention. There is little I have to say to the team this week.”
“It (the Florida State win) demonstrates how good a team we are playing. I saw it. So many teams are capable of having a great week,” Groh said.
Maryland can play. Forget about the three -week stretch when their offense was non-existent. Don’t think twice about how inconsistent sophomore quarterback Joel Statham has been. And forget the notion the Terps could not possibly pull off back to back upsets. Defense wins games…. and defensively some offensive coordinators might actually fear the turtle.
“Maryland demonstrated the value of patience they had in Statham,” Groh said. “Other people were trying to do (Ralph) Friedgen’s job for him.”
Against the `Noles Maryland took everything FSU gave them. Not to mention Maryland’s defense was outstanding. They held Florida State’s track meet rushing attack to only 50 yards, and the secondary dominated. Senior cornerback Domonique Foxworth made several plays that have probably been rewound several times in the McCue Center this week.
And the Terrapins were patient as well. The offense hit a couple big plays, Nick Novak gave them the field goals they needed and as they say…the rest was history.
“Maryland’s offense is varied with volume,” Groh explained. “They have several different schemes and personnel groups. It does increase our preparation.”
“The defense doesn’t give up a lot of points. It’s a 4-3 in concept but they can do a lot with it. Shawn Merriman is impressive…he’s the hybrid defensive end.”
Virginia will have some questions. How good does Marques Hagans‘ shoulder feel? Will the minor changes on defense that were made prior to the Duke game stay the same? Can the Cavs get pressure on Statham? Will UVA be able to run against the Terps? UVA fans are anxious, no doubt about it!
“We have to play to a certain standard,” Groh said. “More and more players have to take the responsibility to become playmakers. To keep your starting spot there is a certain level you have to play to. It’s not a new thing, we’ve always done that.”
“In competition, players feel threatened. There are certain opponent’s we have with a certain prowess that makes games more competitive. Bench presses, 40 times, 3rd game scores make no difference. It’s how we stand on November 7th.”
And this is where game plans and preparation are so vital to success. It’s also an area where the Al Groh regime seems to succeed.
“I don’t want to be predictable. The majority of the team is indoctrinated to our culture and what we emphasize. Every week changes dramatically.”
However one thing never changes…the Maryland-Virginia intensity.
UVA returns home for the first time in 30 days. The 30-day stretch between home games is the longest since 1975.
The Cavaliers have won 10 of the last 12 meetings in this series. Maryland has only topped 200 yards rushing three times since 1987 and since 1992 have thrown 18 interceptions and allowed 22 sacks.
Wali Lundy needs just 82 yards rushing and he will pass Jim Bakhtiar in 7th place on the all time rushing list. Next in Lundy’s sights? Former Virginia running back and Virginia Sports Network analyst Frank Quayle. (343 yards from Quayle for 6th all time)
Tight end and fullback Tom Santi became the first true freshman to start this season for UVA when he lined up in the backfield in the Duke game.
Look for two Cavalier greats this weekend…. Atlanta Falcons defensive end Patrick Kearney and Falcons’ quarterback Matt Schaub. Since the Birds have the bye week the duo is planning a Charlottesville pilgrimage.