Jameel Sewell, QB - the fifth-year senior quarterback has had his share of ups and downs with the Cavalier program. In 2007, he started all 13 games during Virginia's 9-4 campaign that ended with a berth in the Gator Bowl. But Sewell injured his knee in the fourth quarter of that game, and then received worse news two weeks later. That's when he learned he'd been suspended from the university for poor grades. He spent the 2008 fall semester working as a counselor at a local high school and helped coach their high school football team before being readmitted to Virginia in January. He's now back under center for Coach Al Groh's team and is undoubtedly the focal point of the offense. Sewell is a dual-threat quarterback who hasn't been overly accurate this year (51.4% completion percentage, five interceptions), but he has a hand in just about every Cavalier play. In addition to his 162.5 yards/game through the air, he's also rushed the ball 70 times this season, more than double anyone else on the roster.
Ras-I Dowling, CB - the strength of the Cavaliers is clearly the defense, and the secondary is probably the team's biggest strength. Of those covermen, Dowling is probably the best of the bunch. Dowling was a second-team All-ACC pick as a sophomore last fall after totaling 43 tackles, three interceptions and 11 passes broken up. In addition to having 4.5 speed, Dowling is 6'2" and 200 pounds so he has the kind of size that allows him to match up with other team's big, physical wide receiver. That's why he's already being talked about as a first or second-round NFL Draft pick when he does eventually go to the next level, and it's a good bet that he'll draw the Tandon Doss assignment on Saturday.
Chris Cook, CB - starting opposite Dowling will be Cook, who shares the traits of both excellence size (6'2", 204 pounds) and experience (23 career starts) with his teammate. Unfortunately for Cook, he also has something in common with Sewell. Like the Cavaliers' quarterback, Cook also missed the 2008 season after he was suspended from the university for poor grades. Cook was originally declared academically ineligible back in December of 2007 and had to miss Virginia's Gator Bowl contest against Texas Tech. Cook had toyed with the idea of declaring for the NFL and actually filled out the paperwork to make himself eligible but never did turn it in. He's now back in the starting line-up and has a pair of interceptions to go along with 12 tackles in the season's first four games.
Jimmy Howell, P - it's not too often that a punter makes the list of players to know, but let's face it – there are probably going to be a lot of punts in the game Saturday. The combination of Virginia's less-than-dynamic offense and its stout defense make it likely that Howell and IU punter Chris Hagerup will be oft-used players this weekend. In the season's first four weeks Howell is averaging 7.0 punts/game, ranking him fourth in the nation for most punts. He's averaging 41.8 yards per punt, a solid improvement over the 39.0 yards/punt he averaged last year as a true freshman. Special teams figures to play a very prominent role in this contest, and the Cavaliers are hoping that Howell can be a weapon.
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
VIRGINIA: Four Days and Counting
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