With an off week behind them, the Clemson Tigers can now turn their focus on trying to turn around their season this Thursday night against the 12th ranked Virginia Cavaliers.
This will be the 44th meeting between the Tigers and Cavs. Clemson dominated this series early on, winning the first 29 games played, but Virginia has gone 7-6-1 since winning their first game ever against the Tigers in 1990.
Recently, the series has been extremely close, with each of the last three meetings being decided by five points or less. Last year, the Tigers won 30-27 in overtime on a walk-off touchdown pass from Charlie Whitehurst to Kevin Youngblood.
The Tigers will alter their practice schedule this week due to the game being played on ESPN this Thursday night. The team will hold their first practice of the week Sunday afternoon, and continue preparations Monday and Tuesday before heading to Charlottesville, VA on Wednesday.
Incidentally, the Tigers haven't won a game played on Thursday since defeating South Carolina in 1963 on Thanksgiving Day. Clemson is 0-5 in Thursday night ESPN games, and 0-4 under Tommy Bowden.
While Clemson has started the year off slowly, Virginia remains undefeated after a comfortable 31-10 win over Syracuse last Saturday.
The Wahoos have been impressive in their four victories, leading the ACC in total offense at 500.5 yards per game. The Cavs are also sixth in the country in rushing offense, averaging 284 yards per game, and fourth in Division I-A in scoring offense with an average of 45.5 points per game.
RB Wali Lundy has helped pace the Cavs on the ground so far this year. The junior has become a virtual touchdown machine with 10 scores in just four games. He also has rushed for 399 yards with a 5.2 per-carry average.
While there hasn't been much negative news out of Charlottesville this year, it's important to note Virginia hasn't exactly played the nation's toughest schedule. Temple (1-4), North Carolina (2-3), Akron (1-4), and Syracuse (3-2) are the four teams that UVA has defeated through the first part of the 2004 schedule.
The Cavs also learned of an unexpected set back last week when head coach Al Groh found out that he lost the services of All-ACC DE Chris Canty for the entire year.
"Chris is one of the guys who have built the heart of the team," Groh said. "He has a great passion for football and his teammates. That will be missed even more than his playmaking ability."
Canty was leading the Cavaliers in tackles and still leads in tackles for loss (7). He had nine tackles against Temple, four against North Carolina, a season-high 10 against Akron and five against Syracuse before his injury. He led all ACC defensive linemen in tackles a year ago and was 15th overall among conference defenders while averaging eight stops per game.
Canty is scheduled for surgery and is lost for the season, effectively ending his career because he has used his redshirt season and has appeared in too many games in 2004 to apply for a medical redshirt.
The only other area that Virginia appears to be struggling this season is punting.
The Cavaliers rank last in the ACC in net punting, averaging only 30.2 yards per game. Sophomore Sean Johnson is averaging only 31.4 per attempt, though six of his 11 tries have been downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line. He also has a long of 53.
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