Photo Gallery: Practice at Scott Stadium
Video: Practice at Scott Stadium
Aug. 16, 2007
The Cavaliers practiced twice on Thursday, including a special teams practice in the evening.
One rule change this season on special teams can have a dramatic effect on the game. This season kickoffs are moving back five yards from the 35-yard line to the 30. "We think it can be a substantial change in field position," head coach Al Groh said. "(A) kickoff that was five yards deep in the past that was a touchback is now going to be on the goal line. That's a kick that is (now) going to get run back. Not only is the kick going to get run back, but the covering team is coming from five yards further away, so they've got a longer ways to go to get to the return man. We see it as having the potential to significantly alter field position on change of possession from what it's been in the past."
Kickoff return man Cedric Peerman has averaged more than 25 yards per return the last two seasons and stands to benefit from the extra five yards, while Chris Gould's kickoffs must sail five yards more to get a touchback. These competing factors create concerns for both phases.
"We're trying to do a real good job with our returns, and conversely that we're able to get the type of field position following kickoffs that we've been fortunate to get for quite a while because of the kickers," said Groh.
Last season Gould boomed 31 of 42 kickoffs into the end zone with 21 touchbacks. During training camp Groh has observed Gould's performance both in live situations and on tape to get a sense of where his kicks will be. "We're experimenting on a day-by-day basis and kick-by-kick basis when we're working on kickoff coverage to come up with out tactics," Groh said.
Covington, Woods Cited for Recent Practices
Junior wide receiver Maurice Covington is one player who may be looked to to pick up his game following the injury to Kevin Ogletree, last year's leading receiver. "For the third day in a row, Maurice has really played like a first-team player," Groh said. "When a player moving up to the top slot like he does starts to put together consecutive positive practices like that, it's a very encouraging sign that he is moving into that level of play."
Covington's high school teammate from Southern Durham HS, S Brandon Woods, has also made a bid for increased time in the secondary with this recent play. He had two interceptions in one practice last weekend and took another one back for a touchdown in Thursday morning's practice. "He's finding the ball and making some plays back there," said Groh. "We'd like to see that continue because for all his efforts in some respects, he was kind of stalled at a certain level for a while. If we're seeing those plays, we hope that's an indicator that (we can say) that he's having successive positive days which would show that he's really getting into a playing time position."
Order Your 2007 Fan-Shirt
The official 2007 Virginia football fan-shirt is now available exclusively at the online and the Cavalier Team Shop at the John Paul Jones Arena. The Virginia athletics department has partnered with Nike to produce this season's shirt. to order your shirt today!
Heath Miller, a former UVa tight end, current Pittsburgh Steeler and member of the Cavalier Nation, sports his 2007 Fan-Shirt