Virginia Preps For Rival Maryland's Arrival At Scott Stadium Saturday

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM Womack and company look to win this years rivalry against Maryland.
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
Womack and company look to win this years rivalry against Maryland.
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

Oct. 2, 2000

2000 Football Cumulative Stats
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Virginia (3-2, 2-1) vs. Maryland (2-2, 0-1)
Oct. 7, 2000
Noon ( ACC/JP Sports Network)
Carl Smith Center, home of David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium
Charlottesville, Va.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Virginia looks to win its third Atlantic Coast Conference game in four attempts at home this Saturday (Oct. 7) against Maryland. The Cavaliers rebounded from a loss to Clemson two weeks ago with a 27-10 win over Wake Forest last Saturday. As the midpoint of the season approaches the Cavaliers are 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the ACC. The Cavaliers have had remarkable success against Maryland recently by winning a record eight straight over the Terrapins. Virginia's success against Maryland seemed likely to end last season in College Park. Tailback LaMont Jordan ran wild, gaining a Maryland-record 306 yards, including a 90-yard scoring jaunt as Maryland held a 30-27 lead in the game's final minute. Quarterback Dan Ellis proved to be the hero of the afternoon as he guided the Virginia offense downfield in his version of "The Drive." With just 26 seconds to play he lobbed a pass to a closely-covered Billy McMullen who managed to get one foot in-bounds for the game-winning score as the Cavaliers pulled out a 34-30 win.s Maryland has had a little extra time to prepare for Saturday's game. The Terps are 2-2 overall and lost their ACC opener at home to Florida State 59-7 last Thursday night.

Television: Saturday's game is being televised on the ACC/JP Sports Network. Steve Martin calls the play-by-play, while Rick "Doc" Walker provides the color commentary. Scott Pryzwansky is the sideline reporter.

Radio: All UVa games are heard on the Virginia Sports Network originating at WINA/WWWV in Charlottesville. Mac McDonald calls the play by play. Frank Quayle, the 1968 ACC Football Player of the Year, provides the color commentary, while Quayle's former teammate and quarterback Gene Arnette provides sideline analysis.

The Series vs. the Terrapins

This is the 65th game in a rivalry that goes back to a 1919 meeting against the "Old Liners." Virginia is riding an eight-game winning streak against Maryland, but the Terrapins lead the series 37-25-2, including a 19-14 mark in Charlottesville. Virginia pulled out a dramatic last-minute victory last season to run its winning streak to eight straight over the Terrapins, but the Cavaliers still have a ways to go to equal Maryland's longest winning streak in the series (16 games from 1972-87, that included eight wins at Scott Stadium). Virginia's current eight-game winning streak over the Terrapins is its longest winning streak in series history. Virginia is also attempting to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive game against Maryland in Charlottesville. Maryland scored three touchdowns in last season's game, which is more than the Terrapins had scored in the three games combined vs. Virginia prior to 1999 (two).

During their winning streak, the Cavaliers are averaging 33.6 points per game, while giving up an average of 16.9. Also during the current winning streak, the Cavalier defense has totaled 13 interceptions and 20 quarterback sacks (but didn't have one of either last season). Both of Virginia's ACC championships have been clinched with wins in College Park (1989, 1995), while head coach George Welsh won his 100th game at Virginia against Maryland four years ago to become the first coach in ACC history to win 100 games. Virginia and Maryland have played each other every season since 1957, the second-longest current streak for a Virginia opponent behind North Carolina. The Tar Heels have been a mainstay on Virginia's schedule every year Virginia has played since 1910. Virginia and Maryland have met 64 times on the gridiron, making the Terps the fourth-most played opponent in UVa history (Virginia has faced North Carolina 104 times for the school record). This game has historically been played in November (35 of 43 meetings since 1957 have been in November), but curiously, this year's game marks the fourth time in the last five meetings in Charlottesville that the game hasn't been played in November. Meanwhile, the last three games in College Park have occurred in November.

Maryland Limits UVa Passing Game

Virginia has failed to pass for at least 100 yards in only five of its last 82 contests going back to 1993 and two of those games have come against Maryland. Virginia passed for 93 yards in 1995 and 60 the following season. The Cavaliers' 276 yards passing last season marked the first time since 1968 they passed for more than 250 yards in a game.

Defense Typically Tough vs. Terps

Maryland tailback LaMont Jordan ran wild in last year's game by rushing for a Maryland-record 306 yards and scoring on a 90-yard burst. What made his performance so unusual is that Virginia had used outstanding defensive play recently in winning eight straight over the Terrapins. Last season's game also was the first time since 1994 that the Terrapins scored more than two total touchdowns vs. Virginia, while Randall Jones' touchdown pass to John Waerig in the second quarter of last year's game is Maryland's only touchdown pass since 1994 (a span of 128 attempts) vs. UVa. During Virginia's winning streak over the Terps, Maryland has rushed for a total of 915 yards (114.3 ypg), with 445 coming in last season's meeting. The Terrapins are averaging just 2.9 yards per carry since 1992 and have scored eight touchdowns on the ground. In 1994, Virginia set a school and ACC record (since broken) by holding the Terps to -42 yards rushing. Maryland's passing game hasn't fared much better either in the last few meetings. The Terps are averaging just 180.5 yards passing per game since 1992 and have thrown 13 interceptions (vs. eight touchdowns). In addition, Maryland has suffered 20 quarterback sacks in that span. Overall, Maryland is averaging 294.9 yards of total offense and 4.1 yards per play against Virginia in the last eight games.

Holding the Lead vs. Maryland

During Virginia's current eight-game winning streak over Maryland, the Cavaliers have outscored the Terps 269-135. After a series of slow starts in the first quarter (Virginia has scored just 35 points in the first quarter of the last eight games), the Cavaliers have gotten the engines revved up against Maryland. After the first quarter, UVa's scoring by quarter looks like this: 80-72-82. The Cavaliers have scored at least 21 consecutive points in a game against Maryland four times during their current winning streak over the Terps-1993 (21), 1994 (36), 1995 (21), and 1997 (45). Virginia has also typically been able to keep the lead against Maryland. The Terrapins have had the lead only four times in the last five games and two of those leads occurred in last season's see-saw battle. The Terps led for 13:04 of last year's game, which is by far more than they led in the three games combined prior to last season.

Ellis Moves Up UVa Passing Charts

Quarterback Dan Ellis used a torrid late-season run last season to finish eighth in the country in passing efficiency. He hasn't seemed to let the offseason slow him down. In fact, he's done even better. Through the first four games of the season he has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 1198 yards and six touchdowns. Ellis has frequently made the opposition pay this season for concentrating on stopping the run. Last month against Richmond he completed 19 of 28 attempts for 299 yards and a score. Duke put good pressure on Ellis in UVa's first road game but he was undeterred by the Blue Devils with 20 completions in 30 attempts for 333 yards and three touchdowns. Ellis has moved very quickly up several of Virginia's all-time passing charts during the first half of the season. He has thrown 27 career touchdown passes, fifth in school history. He has also thrown for 3530 yards, sixth in school history. His place on the career yards passing and career touchdown passes lists is shown below.

Five Cavaliers Return as Graduate Students

Five members of Virginia's 2000 football team are participating this fall as graduate students. The group includes: offensive tackle Brad Barnes, wide receiver Kevin Coffey, center Dustin Keith, linebacker Byron Thweatt and fullback Patrick Washington. Barnes and Keith received their undergraduate degrees in sociology, while Coffey and Thweatt earned their degrees in history and Washington in economics. The UVa program has had approximately 70 players participate as graduate students over the past 11 seasons.

UVa in Elite Company

Virginia is one of only four Division I-A programs in the country which has posted at least 13 consecutive seasons of seven or more wins. UVa joins Florida State as the only other Atlantic Coast Conference team to accomplish that feat. The other two schools are Nebraska from the Big 12 and Big Ten power Michigan.

Thweatt Leads Team in Four Straight

All-America candidate Byron Thweatt seems to have put last season's disappointments behind him. Plagued last year by a shoulder injury that limited his effectiveness and caused him to play basically with one arm, Thweatt has returned with a vengeance and looks like he's prepared to turn in a career year. Through the first month of the season he is averaging 11.2 stops per game and is among the national leaders in tackling. He was fifth last week, but this week's ranking won't be known until later in the week. Thweatt began the year by tying his then career high with 13 tackles against Brigham Young. It was his first 10-tackle effort since late in the 1998 season. Thweatt topped the BYU performance against Richmond by recording a another career-high with 14 tackles, including 10 solo stops. His career high for tackles lasted just a week once again as he led the team in tackles with 15 in the win over Duke and was named the ACC Defensive Back of the Week for the first time this season. He failed to reach double figures in the last two games, but did lead the defense for the fourth time this season against Clemson. Last week against Wake Forest two of his five tackles occurred behind the line. He also broke up two passes.

Eight True Frosh See Action in 2000

Tailback Jonathan Ward rushed for 33 yards against Duke three weeks ago in his collegiate debut and is the eighth true freshman to play for UVa this season. Linebacker Rich Bedesem (saw first action from scrimmage vs. Richmond), defensive tackle Andrew Hoffman, defensive end Raymond Mann and cornerback Art Thomas all saw action in the opener vs. Brigham Young. Cornerback Almondo Curry, wide receiver Michael McGrew and safety Jamaine Winborne saw their first action the next week against Richmond. The eight true freshmen to play this season represent Virginia's largest group since 1983 when 10 rookies played. Offensive Line Replaces Two All-Americans Last season consensus All-American tailback Thomas Jones had the luxury of running behind one of the best offensive lines in school history. But this season, Arlen Harris, Antwoine Womack, Tyree Foreman and Dan Ellis will not have the benefit of All-Americans Noel LaMontagne and John St. Clair, who graduated and moved on to the NFL. Despite the notable losses, the line is a strength for this year's offense once again. Right tackle Brad Barnes headlines the returnees. Named the team's most improved player last season, he is considered among the top tackles in the ACC. Left tackle Jermese Jones, the team's biggest player, missed last season due to injury, but he has unlimited potential. He made the first start of his career against Brigham Young and if he can remain healthy, his presence will be a boost for the line. Fifth-year player Dustin Keith has moved into the center spot vacated by St. Clair. He spent the last two years at tackle, but was moved to center in the spring (after spending a brief amount of time at defensive tackle). Evan Routzahn returns to the right guard spot next to Barnes. An underrated performer, Routzahn is a powerful blocker who rarely comes out of the game. Junior Jared Woodson, a local product from Western Albemarle High School, started the first three games of the season, but has been lost for the season due to a herniated disc in his neck. Despite being hampered by back problems earlier in the season, junior Josh Lawson is one of the line's most versatile and significant performers. He spent the early part of the season backing up Jones and Woodson, but has moved into the starting line-up the last two weeks due to Woodson's injury. He was the starter at left tackle the two previous season and was named a freshman All-American two years ago.

Womack Joins 1,000-Yard Club

Junior tailback Antwoine Womack didn't seem to be affected by a year away from the game based on his performance in the season opener against Brigham Young. In his first game since 1998, Womack erupted for a then career-high 160 yards on just 15 carries. He scored twice, including a 67-yard jaunt early in the fourth quarter. The performance pushed him over the 1000-yard mark for career rushing, just the 33rd player in The game was the fifth 100-yard game of his career as he became the 33rd player in school history to top the 1000-yard mark for his career. After being held to a combined 173 in the next three games against Richmond, Duke and Clemson, Womack broke loose last Saturday against Wake Forest in what is probably the best all-around game of his career. He carried 26 times for 180 yards (both career highs) and scored on a 40-yard burst in the first quarter for UVa's first touchdown. He also caught two passes for 22 yards (which also represent career highs). Womack is currently second in the ACC in rushing with an average of 102.6 yards per game and tied for second in the league with six rushing touchdowns.

Thweatt Named to Butkus Award List

Linebacker Byron Thweatt is among 70 players named to the initial list of candidates for the 2000 Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation's outstanding linebacker by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando (Fla.). This marks the third year in a row Thweatt has been named to the list. The list will be trimmed to 10 semifinalists on Oct. 19 and the three finalists will be announced on Nov. 9. The winner of the Butkus Award will be announced on Dec. 8. He has been listed as one of the top outside linebackers in the country this season and his play this season will go a long way in determining the Cavaliers' success. He is rated as the #5 outside linebacker in the nation by Lindy's , #10 by Rivals.com and #14 by The Sporting News. Perhaps most noteworthy is that Rivals.com listed him as the 27th-best defensive player in the nation regardless of position. He has been in on 318 tackles in his career, second among active ACC players and ninth in UVa history. He is only the fifth linebacker in school history to be a four-year starter.

Welsh Seventh Among Active Wins Leaders

Head coach George Welsh, tabbed by The Sporting News as the nation's best coach two years ago, is seventh in wins among active Division I-A coaches. In his 28th season as a collegiate head coach, Welsh has won 186 games at Navy (1973-81) and Virginia (1982-present), and is 23rd in NCAA Division I-A history. Welsh is the winningest coach in the history of both UVa and Navy. The legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant (Alabama, Kentucky) and Arizona's Dick Toomey (Arizona, Hawaii) are the only other coaches to be the winningest coach at two different schools. Welsh's overall career record is 186-128-4 (.591). The dean of ACC coaches, Welsh is the only coach in league history to win at least 100 games. He has a 131-82-3 record in 19 seasons at Virginia. His 82 wins in ACC games is also a record.

Tailback Quartet Replaces Jones

Thomas Jones finished his career last season as UVa's all-time leading rusher. Not surprisingly, his loss figured to leave a rather large void in the offense this season. However, as expected throughout the preseason it looks as if a committee at least three?Arlen Harris, Antwoine Womack, Tyree Foreman?will serve as his replacement. A knee injury to Harris has placed true freshman Jonathan Ward into the mix as well. If their performance in the season opener against Brigham Young is an indicator, this trio looks ready to pick up where Jones left off. Against the Cougars they combined for 37 carries, 263 yards (7.1 avg.) and four touchdowns. Just as important to know is that these three only had one carry for a loss (of just one yard). Harris gained the starting nod for the opener and rushed for a career-high 79 yards on 18 carries. He scored the first touchdown of his career on a 28-yard bolt up the middle for UVa's first score. He also caught a 17-yard pass from Dan Ellis late in the game. Womack was the game's leading rusher with a 160 yards on just 15 carries. Womack scored two touchdowns, including one on a 67-yard gallop, against BYU for the first multi-touchdown performance of his career. Foreman rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown on just four carries to complete the triumvirate's performance. Harris injured his knee vs. BYU and underwent arthroscopic surgery on Sept. 8 and is expected to be out until later this month. Ward, a high school All-American from Poway, Calif., saw his first action against Duke with 33 yards on just seven carries. Womack is UVa's leading ground gainer with 513 yards. He is second in the ACC in rushing, averaging 102.6 ypg. Overall Virginia is second in the ACC in rushing with an average of 168.8 ypg. The Cavaliers are averaging .42 yards per carry and join Clemson as are the only ACC teams averaging more than four yards per carry this season.

Virginia's Secondary is Very Young

Of prime concern to the coaching staff this season has been the shape of the secondary. With just one returning starter?sophomore safety Jerton Evans?things look dicey at first glance for Virginia's last line of defense. In the opener vs. Brigham Young, the corners were manned by seniors Ahmad Hawkins and Tim Spruill. No stranger to defensive backs, Hawkins switched from wide receiver to cornerback in the spring. His knowledge of playing wide receiver certainly gives him some insight into the mind of receivers. Spruill was a starter two years ago and started six games last season in what proved to be an up-and-down campaign. Still he's the team's most experienced defensive back who brings leadership and stability to the secondary. Spruill suffered a toe injury against BYU, forcing sophomore Rashad Roberson into the starting line-up for the Richmond and Duke games, but Spruill returned to the starting line-up against Clemson and has remained there. Evans, a freshman All-American last fall, started the final 10 games of the season and led the team with four interceptions. Despite being just a second-year player, he is the most experienced safety on the roster. Sophomore Shernard Newby has started at the other safety spot throughout this season. He played in every game last season as a redshirt freshman with two starts. Among the reserves only junior safety Devon Simmons had any collegiate experience prior to this season. He was a key reserve two years ago, but did not play last season for personal reasons. True freshman Jamaine Winborne is the only other safety to see action this season. True freshmen Almondo Curry and Art Thomas join Roberson as the top back-ups at cornerback.

Thweatt is Rare Four-Year Starter

All-America candidate linebacker Byron Thweatt looks like he's put last season's injury plagued campaign behind him. Hampered with an injured shoulder in 1999 that limited his effectiveness, Thweatt's value to the team became evident when he wasn't able to take a break. Currently the team's leading tackler with an average of 11.2 tackles per game, Thweatt is ninth in school history with 318 tackles and has a good shot at completing his career in the top five now that he's back in good health. With 40 consecutive starts under his bet, It is also interesting to note that he is just the fifth linebacker in school history to be a four-year starter since freshman eligibility was restored in 1972. The short list currently includes Bryan Hollomon, Charles McDaniel, Jamie Sharper and Russ Swan. The list of players who have been four-year starters at Virginia for George Welsh include WRs Demetrius "Pete" Allen and Tyrone Davis, Ps Will Brice and Jeff Walker, OG Roy Brown, DT Ron Carey, OT Jim Dombrowski, DEs Mike Frederick and Chris Slade, Ss Tyrone Lewis and Keith McMeans, LBs McDaniel, Sharper and Swan, and C Tim Morris.

Receiving Corps is Deep and Experienced

The strongest unit on the offense this season is likely the receiving corps led by senior Kevin Coffey, sophomore Billy McMullen and tight end Billy Baber. Coffey and McMullen tied for the team lead with 28 receptions last year, while McMullen's 483 yards paced the team. In fact, McMullen set a school record for most receptions by a freshman. Coffey hauled in seven scoring tosses, while McMullen had six. McMullen is the team's leading receiver once again with 23 catches for 369 yards and two touchdowns. Coffey has caught just 13 passes (for 178 yards and two touchdowns), but has extended his streak to 28 consecutive games with a reception. Joining them are senior Demetrius Dotson, sophomores James Johnson and Tavon Mason and true freshman Michael McGrew. Dotson was putting together a fine season last year until he injured his knee in the season's sixth game and missed the rest of the season. While healthy he caught 11 passes and averaged nearly 20 yards per catch. In what might be the best performance of his career, the Staten Island, N.Y., native gained a career-high 99 yards on four receptions. Two of his receptions were magnificent diving grabs, including a 42-yarder and a 35-yarder. He scored the first touchdown of his career on a eight-yard play late in the first half against Duke. He is second on the squad with 15 receptions for 213 yards and a score. Johnson showed promise as a true freshman two years ago, playing in 10 regular season games, but he missed last season and was red-shirted. He caught two passes in his return vs. BYU. He electrified the crowd by out-leaping a Richmond defender to snatch a pass and scoot 50 yards for the first touchdown of his career. He also returned a punt 61 yards, but the return was nullified by a penalty. Mason, one of the team's fastest players, caught 12 passes last fall as a primary back-up. He has caught two passes this season. The tight end position is also strong with Baber, a senior, and junior Chris Luzar seeing the most significant action. Baber has been a spot starter throughout his career behind the oft-injured Casey Crawford. He caught 17 passes, including four for touchdowns, the most by a UVa tight end since 1994 and has 46 career receptions. Luzar has been hampered by an injury throughout much of the preseason practice period. A very tall target (6-7) who caught eight passes in 1999, he teams with Baber to give the Cavaliers a talented duo of tight ends.