Inbounds with Mac McDonald - Nov. 11
Nov. 11, 2004
Three weeks ago following the Duke game University of Virginia head football coach Al Groh decided to give a game ball to Evan Marcus, the Cavaliers’ strength and conditioning coach. It’s not something we haven’t all seen…UVA is tougher, faster, better conditioned, and now many teams are inquiring about the ‘Hoos off-season program.
“There is a certain level of conditioning now with our team,” Groh told the assembled media Monday. “In the fourth quarter against Maryland for example our offensive line was fresh. We’re not a big heavy line…we’ve only got one guy over 300 pounds. There’s a certain model now and we are trying to fill that.”
After watching the ABC broadcast of the Virginia-Maryland game I was in awe of how UVA’s offensive front controlled the same team that held Florida State to 50 yards on the ground. The Cavs’ defensive front and linebackers made things difficult for the Terps on offense…hence a shut out. Well, welcome to the big time Roy…it’s time to turn up the heat.
The Miami Hurricanes blow into Charlottesville prepared to make a statement. The front page of their media notes even outlines how they are going to be invited to a BCS bowl at the end of the year. I think the quote reads…the ‘Canes still control their own destiny, and they can win out and finish 6-2.
UVA might have something to say about that.
It’s been quite a while that a Virginia football game has received as much hype, but the players have handled it well and the preparations have been solid. Coach Groh understands the mission and the quality of opponent that is coming to town.
“It’s about their (Miami’s) speed. It’s tremendous and just keeps on coming. A whole lot of players have it and it can create several problem match-ups. There are issues on both sides but the speed shows up everywhere.”
“Their firepower on special teams is such that they can produce a prohibitive point total.”
We’ve heard the names… Hester, Moss, Gore, and Parrish. However Clemson and North Carolina did one thing that made a difference. They kept the point total down. For example, against the Tigers last week in the Orange Bowl, Miami and the Brock Berlin led offense only produced three plays over 20 yards.
“We are going to try and conduct the game in a manner where we are not victimized by their speed,” Groh said.
“We know this is a dynasty. In the true sense of the word the New York Yankees and the Miami Hurricanes are dynasties. I know they’ve lost two games but they are two plays from being the number three team in the country. Their psyche probably isn’t hurt that bad.”
Virginia is going to run the ball. Duh! Clemson ran on the ‘Canes…so did North Carolina. The Tigers put up 371 yards of total offense…113 on the ground thanks to Reggie Merriweather who fought leg cramps and rolled up 114 yards. Miami is giving up 148 yards per game on the ground.
Virginia senior right guard Elton Brown probably said it best when surrounded by reporters Monday, “We have nothing to celebrate yet.”
All of Virginia’s games this year have been decided by at least 16 points, including seven that have been by 20 or more. UVA is outscoring the opposition by nearly 20 points (33.5-13.8)
The Cavalier’s two turnovers in the first quarter against Maryland last week marked the first time that Virginia had more than one turnover in a game dating back to last year’s NC State game…a span of 12 contests.
Under Al Groh, UVA has rushed for over 200 yards 13 times…seven games this year. The Cavaliers increase of 124 yards per game running the ball over last year is the third best increase in the NCAA this season.
Miami’s back-to-back losses dropped the ‘Canes to their lowest position in the polls since 1999. Miami has not lost three straight games since 1997.