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College Football: Short week suits Cavaliers fine
VIRGINIA’S PLAYERS EAGER TO FACE TAR HEELS WITH BOWL CHANCES ALIVE
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
CHARLOTTESVILLE—University of Virginia football coach Mike London prefers to have six days off before his team plays a game.
London said his program gets enough television exposure on Saturdays, so the extra stress of cramming for a Thursday night game isn’t worth it.
NORTH CAROLINA (6–4) at VIRGINIA (4–6)
WHEN: Thursday, 7:30
WHERE: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville
RADIO: WGRQ-FM 95.9
But after Virginia earned a dramatic 41–40 victory over Miami last Saturday to keep alive its hopes of a second straight bowl bid, the Cavaliers’ players are ready to retake the field as quickly as possible.
Virginia (4–6, 2–4 Atlantic Coast Conference) will host North Carolina (6–4, 3–3) on Thursday at Scott Stadium at 7:30 p.m. It’s the first time in six years the Cavaliers have hosted a Thursday night contest.
“I think the tank is still full,” Cavaliers’ senior linebacker Steve Greer said Monday. “I think we’re full steam ahead. We’re excited and motivated and playing with confidence right now.
“We all kind of knew what type of team we could be if we eliminated mistakes and quit holding ourselves back. We focused on that in the bye week and that N.C. State game [two weeks ago] definitely gave everybody on our team confidence.”
The victory over the Wolfpack snapped a six-game losing streak and gave the Cavaliers a glimmer of hope they could run the table over the final four games and clinch a bowl bid.
While that may have seemed far-fetched then, the Cavaliers are two games away from making it a reality. The Tar Heels are coming off a 68–50 loss to Georgia Tech. Virginia visits rival Virginia Tech in the season finale.
If Virginia defeats North Carolina and the Hokies beat Boston College this week, the winner of the Commonwealth Cup will earn a bowl bid.
“Right now, we’re kind of looking at it as a tournament,” Greer said. “It’s win or go home each week.”
NO REGRETS FOR LONDON
Virginia junior quarterback Michael Rocco completed 29 of 37 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns against Miami while splitting time with sophomore Phillip Sims.
Since Rocco and Sims began randomly rotating in the N.C. State game, the Cavaliers have averaged 37 points per game. The only interception in the two contests was thrown by running back Perry Jones.
Rocco has been remarkably efficient, especially in a stretch where he threw a school-record 18 straight completions against the Hurricanes. His performance earned him ACC offensive back of the week honors.
Still, London said he doesn’t regret the three losses prior when Rocco threw a combined 15 passes (none in a 16–10 loss to Wake Forest).
He said he’s proud that Rocco has rebounded from adversity, including being booed at home. He said he tried to “safeguard” Rocco by giving him opportunities to be successful.
“You can always look back and try to second-guess yourself,” London said. “But as I said, both of those players, Michael and Phillip, made it easy [to rotate them] because they’re selfless players. As we go into this [North Carolina] game, both quarterbacks will play, because that seems to be a formula that’s successful for us right now.”
NEXT LEVEL AWAITS
Nineteen NFL scouts will attend Thursday’s game. Many of their eyes will be fixed on the offensive lines of both teams.
Virginia boasts senior left tackle Oday Aboushi, a preseason all-ACC selection. North Carolina’s offensive line features guard Jonathan Cooper, widely regarded as one of the best in the nation at his position.
London said Aboushi graded out at 97 percent against Miami and Cooper is “an excellent player.”
“A lot of scouts come in and they ask us about who are some of the better players that you’ve played against,” London said. “We haven’t played him yet this year, but you look at him on film, he’s a guy that makes pancake blocks, takes guys down to the ground, very light on his feet, very athletic. He’s as good as advertised.”
CANADY HONORED AGAIN
Virginia true freshman cornerback Maurice Canady was named ACC co-defensive back of the week following the win over N.C. State.
Canady shared the honor once again this week, the ACC announced Monday. Against Miami, Canady recorded nine tackles, one pass breakup, and he forced and recovered a fumble on the Cavaliers’ 2-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526