A Look at the Virginia Cavaliers

The Virginia Cavaliers come into Death Valley Saturday evening with an unimpressive 1-1 record. A tough loss on the road to the Wisconsin Badgers and a one point win at home against the Richmond Spiders are all we have to go by heading into this weekend's game. With almost 3 weeks gone by since the Cavs last game, you can expect they'll be prepared for this one.

The Virginia Cavaliers:

Record: 1-1 Lost 26-17 to Wisconsin; Beat Richmond 17-16

Expected Attendance: 75,000+

Key Injuries: RB Antoine Womack, out; LB Merrill Robertson (questionable)

The Virginia Cavaliers will visit the Clemson Tigers Saturday evening for a nationally televised game on ESPN2. The Wahoos started the season with a tough road loss against the Wisconsin Badgers, and then rebounded with a closer than expected one point win over rival Richmond. A missed extra point by the Spiders' kicker cost Richmond a chance at the upset, but don't be too fooled by that score. Richmond recovered an onside kick and several turnovers late in the game to storm back from a 17-0 deficit.

QB Bryson Spinner has secured his spot on the first team as he completed 20-of-29 passes for 178 yards and a score in the Cavs win two weeks ago. Spinner has a very strong arm and good mobility, however he doesn't combine those two attributes of his game very well. In other words, he isn't very accurate with his passing once he escapes the pocket. He tends to be off-target and high with his passes. But if he decides to run, he can become an extremely dangerous weapon.

The UVA offensive line is big, almost like a line you would expect to see in the Big 10 conference, but they are also slow, and the Tigers have taken advantage of that over the last two seasons. Look for the Hoos to try and establish a running game behind Arlen Harris, a capable back who seems to only get better as the game goes on. Harris has gained 178 yards on 39 attempts (4.6 per attempt)through the first two games, and he's got some speed.

The receivers are the kind you would expect at Virginia- very tall. Billy McMullen (6'4, 205) leads the way with 12 catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns through the first two games of the year. McMullen has been deadly in the red zone so far this season and he has the ability to go up and fight off defenders for the crucial late-game catch.

Defensively, Virginia has a suspect secondary. The Cavs were 94th nationally last season in passing defense as they allowed almost 240 yards a game through the air. Wisconsin's back up quarterback Jim Sorgi completed two long touchdown passes (38 & 78 yards) in the 2nd half to help seal the deal in Madison.

The linebackers are impressive- strong and very quick to the football. However, the Wisconsin game saw several occasions where some missed tackles probably helped pad the stats towards the end of the game.

The defensive line is probably the strong point of this team. At the ends are seniors Darryl Sanders and Ljubomir Stamenich, both of these guys hassled the Badgers' two quarterbacks to start the season. The interior linemen are also strong and fairly quick for their size. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers' offensive line responds to their first true challenge of the season.

You have a feeling that Woodrow Dantzler might be thinking this will be his break out game of the 2001 campaign. Woody gained 220 yards on 18 carries, including scoring runs of 45 and 75 yards in last year's 31-10 win, and Clemson destroyed Virginia the year before in Death Valley. (Tommy Bowden's first win as Clemson's head coach.)

One word describes the 2001 campaign of the Tigers so far- FLAT. Will this be the week that the secondary rises to the occasion, or the week that the defensive line becomes a relentless force, or when Woody throws for over 300 yards?

We'll find out Saturday night.

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