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Oct. 3, 2006

Virginia concludes its three-game road trip this weekend against East Carolina in Greenville, N.C. The game is being televised by CSTV and is scheduled to kickoff at approximately 6 pm. This game is the first in a home-and-home series; East Carolina is scheduled to make a return trip to Charlottesville in 2008.

This is the Cavaliers’ second game in a row in the Tar Heel state. They shutout Duke 37-0 last week in Durham to end a two-game losing streak. With the win the Cavaliers improved to 2-3 this season and can move to .500 with a win against East Carolina. Virginia is also attempting to even the series vs. ECU at a win apiece.

Virginia turned in an outstanding defensive effort in getting back on the winning track with the win over Duke. The Cavaliers intercepted three passes, recovered two fumbles and blocked a punt. These big plays resulted in a short field for the Cavaliers who scored 27 points off them; all of these drives required just 55 of total offense, an amazingly low figure for so many points. The Blue Devils ran just seven plays (out of 61) in UVa territory and got no closer than the Virginia 41-yard line, while generating just 100 yards of total offense.

Redshirt freshman Jameel Sewell is expected to make his third start in a row this week, the first freshman UVa signal caller to start at least three games in a season since Bryson Spinner started three as a redshirt freshman in 2000; his were not consecutive.

The Pirates had a bye last week, the second week in a row Virginia is playing a team coming off a bye. East Carolina is 1-3 overall and lost to West Virginia 27-10 the last time out.

Virginia remains near the bottom in the country in total offense (115th) nationally, but has gotten good play from the defense in the first half of the season. The Cavaliers are 20th nationally in total defense, allowing 263 yards per game, which is on track to be the fewest yards allowed by UVa in a long time. Big plays have hurt the defense, however. Nearly 30 percent of the yards allowed by Virginia this season have come on just seven plays. (390 of 1317). DE Jeffrey Fitzgerald has been a standout so far. He leads all freshmen in the country in tackles for loss (1.40/g) and is sixth among rookies in sacks (0.50/g).

East Carolina has moved the ball effectively through the air and rank 19th nationally with an average of 268.8 yards passing per game. Like Virginia, the Pirates have had trouble running the ball and average fewer than 100 yards per game.

In an interesting contrast, Virginia doesn’t turn the ball over very often, while East Carolina excels in creating turnovers. The Pirates are fourth in the country with 14 takeaways (more than three per game), while Virginia has committed only nine turnovers this season (fewer than two per contest).

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