Virginia (1-0) makes its first ever trip to the Carrier Dome this Saturday to take on the Syracuse Orange (1-1). Kickoff is set for noon. ESPN 2 will televise the out of conference game. Both come off wins, and carry momentum into this matchup. The contest is Syracuse's third consecutive home game.
Damien Rhodes and the Orange defeated
Buffalo last Saturday 31-0.
Rhodes was responsible for each of
Syracuse's four touchdowns, rushing
for a total of 236 yards, 16 short of the school record. The senior tailback
should will be key in this weekend's match-up as well, but can not succeed
without the Orange's offensive line.
coach Greg Robinson said he was pleased with the line's performance last
Saturday but also notes that
Virginia is a higher caliber
"The offensive line is going to get tested this week," he said. "I've
watched them grow and develop. I thought in the West
Virginia game there was a lot of good things to take
from it. Then the other day I think
Buffalo exposed themselves and our
offensive line took advantage of that.
(Virginia) is a tougher challenge.
These guys are very good. They'll give us a real challenge."
Another difficulty the line will face on Saturday
is the absence of senior starter Kurt Falke. The tackle hurt his leg in last
week's game and isn't likely to play this Saturday. Falke caught a pass intended
for Rhodes, and in doing so, injured his left knee. As of
now, nobody knows the date of Falke's return.
Orange's passing game is not up to
par yet as quarterback Perry Patterson attempted 22 passes, completing only 10
of them for 139 yards last Saturday. Patterson showed some mobility though,
rushing for 22 yards against
Buffalo. A vast improvement over the
33 he lost against West Virginia.
The Syracuse defense has been
consistent throughout the Orange's
two games. The defensive line and linebackers held
Buffalo to a mere 50 yards rushing
and 73 passing, shutting the Bulls out. Senior free safety Anthony Smith tallied
two interceptions on the game while senior defensive end Ryan LaCasse totaled 3
quarterback sacks. But, LaCasse and fellow defensive end James Wyche will have
their work cut out for them this week against talented
Virginia quarterback, Marques Hagans.
"If (Hagans) was 6'1" they would be talking about him as a Heisman
candidate because it isn't just escaping," Robinson said of the senior QB. "He
escapes, but he can also throw the ball. I saw him throw sliding to his right
with his shoulders turned the sidelines throw a ball 55 yards dead on the money.
He fired it down the field without his whole body to give him momentum. He's
very accurate when he throws, he can fire it or take something off of it. We
still haven't talked about his legs yet. He threatens you in lot of
The quarterback ran for two touchdowns and threw for one in
Virginia's 31-10 victory over the
Orange last season. He had 202
passing yards in the game.
Junior tailback Wali Lundy, and junior guard Elton Brown lead the Cavaliers rushing attack. Tight end Heath Miller is
Virginia's best receiver. The
senior is the front-runner for the Mackey Award. Last season he tallied 70
catches for 835 yards and six touchdowns.
As for the Cavalier defense, there is a whole where junior linebacker
Ahmad Brooks usually plays. The All-America candidate had surgery on his right
knee over the summer and is still recovering. He missed the Western
Michigan game last weekend and isn't expected to play this Saturday
Brooks is one of the top linebackers in the
country. He was a first team All-American last season and named to every
pre-season All-America team this year. In Brooks' absence, the rest of the
defensive line and linebackers will need to step up. Defensive end Chris Canty
and linebacker Darryl Blackstock are two of
Virginia's best. Their main task
will be to shut down Syracuse's
Rhodes and put pressure on QB Perry Patterson early
Virginia is at a
disadvantage in that is has not only never played at
Syracuse, but never played in an
"This is, mentally, a little bit different
atmosphere," said Cavalier head coach Al Groh. "Obviously, none of these players
have experience playing in a dome. None of them have any experience playing on
FieldTurf. And, all of them have limited or no experience against this
particular opponent," he added. "So, taking all of those things together, we'll
try to, as we do every week, fill in more information in the who/what/where/when
This game is especially important for
Syracuse, because the
Orange starts a two game road trip
after next week's bye. The Orange
heads down to Florida
State, and back up to
State is #8 in the Associated Press
Top 25 poll, and Connecticut has
not allowed a point this year, so needless to say,
Syracuse doesn't want to go into
that difficult road trip with a 1 and 2 record.
Syracuse tailback Damien Rhodes
isn't looking that far ahead though, he's just excited to play a good team at
"It's just a chance to play another big game
in the dome again," Rhodes said. "You got to love it, you
know, every time you get the chance to play a big game at