Thomas Jones averages 170.7
yards per game, tops
in the nation.
Nov. 15, 1999
Virginia vs. Maryland
Nov. 20, 1999 * Noon
College Park, Md.
The Game: Virginia attempts to secure its 13th seven-win season in a row this Saturday (Nov. 20) against Maryland at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. The game is scheduled to kick off at noon. The Cavaliers have won their last two with impressive offensive performances. Virginia's offense was in high gear against Buffalo last Saturday, rolling up 615 yards of offense, the fourth-highest total in school history, en route to a 50-21 win. UVa is 6-4 overall this season and 4-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. A win would also mark the seventh year in a row the Cavaliers have won at least five conference games.
Maryland is 5-5 overall this season, including 2-5 in the ACC. The Terrapins need a win to become bowl eligible. They fell to Florida State 49-10 in Tallahassee last weekend.
Television: The game is being televised regionally along the ACC/JP Sports Network. Mike Hogewood calls the play by play, while Rick "Doc" Walker is the color analyst. Jim Szoke provides the sideline reports.
Radio: All UVa games are heard on the Virginia Sports Network originating at WINA/WQMZ in Charlottesville. Mac McDonald calls the play by play. Frank Quayle, the 1968 ACC Player of the Year, provides the color commentary, while former UVa signal caller Mike Groh provides sideline analysis and conducts the postgame interviews.
The Series vs. the Terrapins
This is the 64th game in a rivalry that goes back to a 1919 meeting against the "Old Liners." Virginia is riding a seven-game winning streak against Maryland, but the Terrapins lead the series 37-24-2, including a 17-9-2 mark in College Park.
The years from 1972-87 were dry ones for UVa in the series as the Cavaliers lost 16 consecutive games to Maryland, including all eight at Byrd Stadium. Virginia's current seven-game winning streak over the Terrapins is its longest winning streak in series history. Maryland has scored just two touchdowns (both in last season's contest) in the last three games against Virginia.
During their winning streak, the Cavaliers are averaging 33.6 points per game, while giving up an average of 15.0. Virginia has scored at least 40 points in three of the last five games in College Park. 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 three years ago to become the first coach in ACC history to win 100 games.
Virginia looks for its fourth consecutive win over the Terps at Byrd Stadium (with wins in 1993-95-97). Virginia has never won four straight games against Maryland on the Terps' home field.
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 63 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). The rivalry has historically been played in November. This is the 43rd meeting since 1957 and the 35th to occur in November.
Maryland Limits UVa Passing Game
Virginia has failed to pass for at least 100 yards in only five of its last 77 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' 247 yards passing in 1997 meeting was their most vs. Maryland since gaining 200 yards in 1992. Virginia hasn't passed for more than 250 yards in a game against the Terrapins since 1968 (256 yards). Jones Leads Nation in Rushing and All-Purpose Heisman Trophy candidate Thomas Jones has put together the best all-around season in school history this fall and leads the nation in rushing AND all-purpose yards.
He is averaging 170.7 yards rushing and 195.1 all-purpose yards per game. If Jones can maintain his rushing lead, he would become the first Cavalier to lead the nation in rushing (and join former Wake Forest great Brian Piccolo in 1964 as the only ACC players to lead the nation in rushing). Also if he leads the nation in all-purpose yards he would be the fourth Virginia player to lead the nation in that category. Bill Dudley led in 1941, John Papit in 1949 and Frank Quayle in 1966 are the others. Jones has almost completely rewritten the Virginia record book in both categories. He has rushed for 1707 yards this season, while compiling 1951 all-purpose yards.
He reached the 1000-yard mark in just seven games, joining John Papit (1949) as the only players to get to 1000 yards in seven games. Jones then set the school single-season mark in just nine games, breaking the record that took Tiki Barber 12 games to set in 1995 (1397 yards). Jones topped Barber's school record for all-purpose yards in just 10 games. Barber held the record with 1906 all-purpose yards in 12 games in 1995. Not surprisingly, Jones has been the game's leading rusher in every game for Virginia this season.
Jones has been at at his best as the season heads into "crunch time", averaging 200.8 yards in his last five games as the Cavaliers fight for a bowl spot. In fact, his performance in this span is by far the best stretch in school history (and would qualify as one of the best seasons). His 164 yards vs. Florida State are the most the Seminoles have allowed since UVa's Tiki Barber rushed for 193 yards in 1995, a span of 50 games. Jones has gained 200 or more yards on the ground in three of the last four games. What makes this so remarkable is prior to Jones the ACC record for CAREER 200-yard games was three and the season record two. Jones has four 200-yard games this season and six for his career.
He has rushed for 200+ yards in the last two games, the second time in his career he has back-to-back 200-yard games. Former Cavalier Terry Kirby and Maryland's Charlie Wysocki are the only other ACC players to do it once. Jones is also the only player in ACC history to have more than one 200-yard effort against one team. He rushed for 207 yards vs. Georgia Tech last season and 213 this season.
A look at Jones in the last five games is below.
|#1 Fla. State||26||164||6.3||1|
|#2 Ga. Tech||39||213||5.5||2|
|avg. last 5||33.2||200.8||6.0||1.8|
Cavaliers Conclude Regular Season
A long-time late-season rival, this is the first time in 10 years the Cavaliers have closed their regular season against Maryland. Since the formation of the ACC in 1953, the two teams have been frequent combatants in the final game of the season. In fact Virginia closed its regular season against Maryland 21 times between 1958-89, making the Terps the most common season-ending opponent during that time. This is the 22nd time Virginia has closed with Maryland. Only North Carolina (54 times) has been UVa's final game opponent more often. Virginia has compiled a 42-63-4 all-time record in regular season finales.
This Game Features Two Remarkable Tailbacks
Saturday's Virginia/Maryland contest features some intriguing plots and subplots. The Cavaliers try to extend their streak of seven-win seasons to 13, while the Terrapins look to clinch a winning season and qualify for a bowl berth.
In addition, the game features two of the leading running backs in the country-Thomas Jones for Virginia and LaMont Jordan for Maryland. Easily the top opponent rushing tandem in ACC history, Jones and Jordan already are the only same-season rushing duo among the ACC's top-10 single-season rushers. Modest afternoons for both will leave them with the #1 and #3 single seasons in ACC history.
Jones needs just 14 yards to set the conference's single-season mark, while Jordan needs 82 yards to finish with the third-best season in ACC history. Interestingly, neither player has rushed for 100 yards against Saturday's opponent.
Tough Defense vs. Terps
Virginia's defense has been particularly tough against Maryland the last few years helping to key the Cavaliers' seven-game winning streak over the Terrapins.
Over the last several seasons Virginia's rush defense has been among the best in the nation and it has been evident against Maryland. Since 1992 the Terps have rushed 246 times for 470 yards (67.1 ygp) and are averaging just 1.9 yards per carry.
Known for their proficiency at pass interceptions, the Cavaliers have picked off 13 Maryland passes in the last seven meetings, while recording 20 quarterback sacks.
Maryland had 338 yards of total offense last season (188 rushing, 150 passing), its most vs. Virginia since 1993. The Terrapins failed to failed to gain more than 175 yards in both 1996 and 1997.
Maryland has rushed for 100+ yards only twice in the last seven contests (117 yards in 1993 and 188 last season). In 1994, Virginia set a school and ACC record (since broken) by holding the Terps to -42 yards rushing. The Terps haven't thrown a touchdown pass vs. UVa since 1994 (109 attempts since last TD pass). Overall, Maryland has scored only 13 touchdowns (7 pass, 6 rush) in the last seven games vs. UVa and haven't scored more than two touchdowns in a game since 1994.
Closing in on 300 Points
Virginia has scored 290 points this season, an average of 29.0 points per game. If UVa scores 300 points this season it would mark the 10th time in the last 11 seasons the Cavaliers have topped 300 points. UVa scored at least 300 points every season from 1989-96, but fell short with 277 points in 1997.
Cavaliers in November
Virginia head coach George Welsh calls November the most important time of the season. But November hasn't been the best time for the Cavaliers recently. They are 19-13 overall in November in the 1990s, including a 12-9 mark in November ACC games. Over the last three seasons, UVa is 7-2 in November. George Welsh's Virginia squads have a 34-25-1 overall record in November since 1982. The Cavaliers are 5-4 in road ACC games in November under Welsh during the 1990s.
Holding the Lead vs. Maryland
During Virginia's current seven-game winning streak over Maryland, the Cavaliers have outscored the Terps 235-105. After a series of slow starts in the first quarter (Virginia has scored just 18 points in the first quarter of the last seven games), the Cavaliers have gotten the engines revved up against Maryland. After the first quarter, UVa's scoring by quarter looks like this: 80-62-75.
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 demonstrated an ability to keep the lead against Maryland. The Terrapins have had the lead only twice in the last four games and both were short-lived.
The Terrapins had the lead for 3:37 of last season's game following a Brian Kopka field goal at the 1:09 mark of the first quarter. But Virginia answered the score on its next drive on a two-yard touchdown run by Tyree Foreman. That began a 17-point run by the Cavaliers en route to a 31-19 victory.
The last seven games broken down by time of lead is listed below.
|Time||% of Total|
Ellis Erupts vs. Buffalo
Quarterback Dan Ellis suffered a concussion just before halftime against Florida State three weeks ago . He missed the next game against Georgia Tech as David Rivers led the Cavaliers to a big win over the #7 Yellow Jackets. Ellis didn't show any ill effects of his injury when he returned to action against Buffalo last Saturday. Virginia head coach George Welsh has a rule that a player doesn't lose his starting position due to an injury and the rule proved beneficial to both Ellis and the Cavaliers.
The visitors from New York seemed to concentrate on stopping tailback Thomas Jones and dared Ellis to beat them with his passing. Ellis completed his first nine passes and clearly made the Bulls pay for their defensive strategy. For the game he completed 16 of 19 passes (84.2 percent) for a whopping 363 yards and six touchdowns.
His six touchdowns tied the ACC record set first by Duke's Steve Slayden in 1987 (and tied later in the afternoon by Florida State's Chris Weinke). The 363 yards eclipsed his previous career high by 130 yards and is the second-highest total in school history, while his 84.2 percent completion percentage is fourth-best in school history.
Ellis is third in the ACC in passing efficiency. He has completed 60.3 percent of his passes (135 of 224) for 1774 yards and 16 touchdowns. His 16 touchdowns are tied for eighth in a season in school history, while his 1774 yards are 11th most.
Jones Takes Just Nine Games to Set Record
As his career at Virginia was coming to a close in 1996, Virginia's all-time leading rusher, Tiki Barber, mentioned that Thomas Jones (then a true freshman) would be the one to break his records. Barber was very prescient regarding the performance of the player who was his understudy three years ago as Jones has erased Barber's name from the top spot on many lists.
The most recent record to fall is UVa's single-season rushing mark. Barber rushed for 1397 yards in 12 games in 1995, but Jones needed just nine games this season to move past Barber. Jones has rushed for 1707 yards this season and needs just 14 yards to add another ACC record to his bag of records. North Carolina's Don McCauley rushed for 1720 yards in 1970.
Perhaps it's fitting that Jones and Barber are the only players in school history to put together back-to-back 1000-yard seasons. (Terry Kirby had two 1000-yard seasons but they weren't consecutive.) Between Barber and Jones, they hold the top-four seasons in school history.
Jones is also averaging 170.7 yards rushing per game this season, tops in the nation. If he breaks McCauley's record he will also set an ACC record for highest single-season average. McCauley averaged 156.4 ypg in 1970. Below is the list of all 1000-yard rushers in UVa history.
|Player, year||Yds Rushing|
|1. Thomas Jones, 1999||1707|
|2. Tiki Barber, 1995||1397|
|3. Tiki Barber, 1996||1360|
|4. Thomas Jones, 1998||1303|
|5. Barry Word, 1985||1224|
|6. John Papit, 1949||1214|
|7. Frank Quayle, 1968||1213|
|8. Terry Kirby, 1992||1130|
|9. Marcus Wilson, 1989||1098|
|10. Tommy Vigorito, 1979||1045|
|11. Terry Kirby, 1990||1020|
Kiddie Corps Get Pickoffs
Virginia has intercepted 15 passes this season, including eight by freshmen safeties. The safety tandem of Shernard Newby and Chris Williams (both red-shirt freshmen) have teamed to intercept passes in the same game twice-North Carolina and Wake Forest. The North Carolina game was the first college game for both.
True freshman Jerton Evans intercepted a pass against Clemson in the second game of his brief college career and came back with two crucial interceptions against Brigham Young to help lead UVa to the win. Evans' first interception vs. the Cougars came in the first quarter and set up UVa's third touchdown in a 21-point first quarter, while his second pick came in the end zone with 1:37 to play in the game that ended BYU's hopes for a comeback win.
Evans intercepted Florida State's Chris Weinke late in the first quarter for his fourth interception of the season, which ties the school record for most interceptions by a true freshman. Kevin Cook had four in 1986. Evans is also bidding to become just the second true freshman to lead the team. Carl Smith (no relation to the former football player who gave the donation to expand UVa's football stadium) tied for the team lead with two in 1991.
Looking to Extend Seven-Win Streak
Virginia needs to win Saturday against Maryland to stretch its streak of seven-win seasons to 13. The streak looked like it might be in jeopardy following a loss at home to Duke, but the Cavaliers have regrouped and won three of their last four games, including two in a row. If the Cavaliers can down the Terrapins and finish 7-4, it would mark the 13th consecutive season they have won at least seven games. Only three other teams in the nation can make that claim-Florida State, Michigan and Nebraska.
McMullen Among Top Rookie Receivers
Wide receiver Billy McMullen has shown flashes of brilliance this season, particularly lately, and is one of the top true freshman receivers in the nation. He leads the team with 405 receiving yards and an 18.4-yards per catch average this season and is second with 22 receptions and five touchdowns. McMullen needs just two receptions to tie Herman Moore's school record for most receptions by a freshman.
He has been more of a focal point of the passing game lately, particularly as Kevin Coffey's production has gone down. McMullen first strutted his stuff last month in a big win over N.C. State in Raleigh. He led the team with 109 yards receiving (a career high), while his four receptions tied Ahmad Hawkins for team honors. He came up big again vs. #7 Georgia Tech despite catching just two passes. He hauled in a 39-yard pass from David Rivers in the second quarter to help set up Virginia's second touchdown that cut the Yellow Jackets' lead from 17-0 to 24-14.
McMullen and Rivers teamed up again early in the fourth quarter on a 42-yard scoring play that proved to be the game-winner. Faced with second-and-23 on the Tech 42, Rivers hit McMullen in stride with a perfect toss to put the Cavaliers in the lead for good. He hauled in two touchdown passes from Dan Ellis last Saturday against Buffalo among his three receptions. Using his 6-4 frame to great advantage against the Bulls, both were of the "alley-oop" variety made famous by Shawn and Herman Moore in the early 1990s.
Research shows that McMullen is only the fourth true freshman to catch two TD passes in a game for Virginia. The others are Germane Crowell vs. Florida State in 1994 (his first college game), Demetrius "Pete" Allen vs. Navy in 1992 and John Ford against VMI and Virginia Tech in 1984.
Greene Sends Kickoffs to the End Zone
For the second year in a row, David Greene is handling the kick-off duties for the Cavaliers, while Todd Braverman is the kicker for field goals and extra points. Greene possesses the stronger leg, which makes him the ideal kick-off man. Last season in his first action, he did all the kicking off. In 59 kickoffs he had 14 touchbacks, while typically placing the ball deep. Building on a fine finish to last season, Greene has boomed 34 of 56 kickoffs this season into the endzone, resulting in 20 touchbacks. The opponents are averaging 21.8 yards per return against UVa's kickoff coverage team.
Jones Shows Up Every Day
Despite leading the ACC in rushing by nearly 400 yards and standing as the leading rusher in the nation this season, Thomas Jones fails to get the attention he deserves. He ran for 1303 yards last season, then the eighth-highest total in ACC history, and tied the ACC record with two 200-yard games. And the player with the common name continues to display his uncommon abilities.
Jones leads the nation in rushing, with a 170.7 yards per game average as he threatens the ACC single-season rushing mark of 1720 yards by North Carolina's Don McCauley in 1970. In his third year as the starting tailback, perhaps it's important to also note his durability. A testament to his offseason work ethic, Jones has not missed a game in his career, while starting the last 33 at tailback.
He made the 31st consecutive start of his career against Florida State to add to his list of school records- most consecutive starts by a tailback. Terry Kirby got the starting nod 30 straight games from 1990-92 and held the previous record. Just as amazing as his streak of consecutive starts is the fact that Jones has never missed so much as a practice during his career at Virginia.
Anderson Quietly Turning in Fabulous Year
As the oldest member of the defensive front, Maurice Anderson has used the wisdom that comes with age and experience to his advantage this season. He has turned in the best season of his career in 1999 despite a series of nagging injuries that might have sidelined other players. Throughout most of his career he has had to play behind more heralded linemen including Antonio Dingle, Patrick Kerney and Todd White, but this season he is showing what he can do.
Anderson began the year in fine fashion by leading Virginia in tackles for the first time in his career with a career-high 10 stops vs. North Carolina. He turned in his second double-digit outing of the year against Duke with 10 tackles. Adept at plugging the middle of the line, Anderson has made at least seven tackles in five games this season.
With two games of at least 10 tackles, he is the first UVa defensive tackle to have as many as two double-digit performances since Todd White had two in 1995. He is also the first UVa defensive tackle to lead the team in tackles in a game since White in 1994 and is the first Cavalier defensive tackle to lead twice in a season since at least 1989. Anderson is fourth on the team with 61 tackles, far surpassing his previous career high of 31 in 1997. The 61 tackles are the most by a UVa defensive tackle since White had 77 in 1995.
Coffey Leads Team in Receiving
Wide receiver Kevin Coffey looked as if 1999 was going to be a big year for him. And for the first few games this season it seemed like he would indeed have a big season. Quarterback Dan Ellis made his first career start in the season opener against North Carolina and frequently looked Coffey's way. Coffey caught four passes for 101 yards and one touchdown. In addition to his touchdown grab (a 32-yarder), his other three receptions all went for first downs. He had four catches for 48 yards and one touchdown the following week against Clemson, but since then his numbers have fallen off somewhat. Coffey has caught 16 passes in the last eight games, and is averaging 14.6 yards per catch (well off his career average of 19.8 yards).
He bounced back somewhat in the last two games. He had his best performance since early in the season against #7 Georgia Tech with three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. He followed that with three receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns vs. Buffalo last Saturday. The two-touchdown performance was the first of his career. Coffey is Virginia's leading receiver with 24 receptions and seven touchdowns. His 383 yards trail Billy McMullen for the team lead.
Welsh Seventh Among Active Wins Leaders
Head coach George Welsh, tabbed last season by The Sporting News as the nation's best coach, is ranked seventh in wins among active Division I-A coaches. Welsh has won 182 games in a 27-year career at Navy (1973-81) and Virginia (1982-present), 27th in NCAA Division I-A history. His overall career record is 182-125-4 (.592).
The dean of ACC coaches, Welsh is the only coach in league history to win at least 100 games. He has a 127-79-3 record in 18 seasons at Virginia. His 79 wins in ACC games is also a record.
A look at the winningest active coaches is below.
|1. Joe Paterno, Penn State (34 years)||316 wins|
|2. Bobby Bowden, Fla. State (34)||302|
|3. LaVell Edwards, BYU (28)||251|
|4. Lou Holtz, So. Carolina (28)||216|
|5. Don Nehlen, West Va. (29)||194|
|6. John Cooper, Ohio State (23)||184|
|7. George Welsh, UVa (27)||182|
Isabelle Reaches Double Digits Four Times
Junior linebacker Yubrenal Isabelle gets better with each game as he attempts to fill the rather large shoes of current NFL starter Wali Rainer in the Cavalier defense. Isabelle, who saw limited action in his first two seasons behind Rainer, led the Cavaliers with 14 tackles against Clemson early in the season. The 14 tackles is a career high, topping the eight he had against Florida State as a freshman two years ago.
He paced the team against with 10 tackles against Wake Forest as Virginia held Morgan Kane, the nation's leading rusher coming into the game, to just 65 yards. Putting up Rainer-like numbers, Isabelle's 14 stops vs Brigham Young led the team for the third week in a row. He did not play against Virginia Tech due to the death of his mother, Deberah, but returned vs. Duke to lead the team once again with 10 tackles. A very smart player who is still learning on the job, Isabelle leads the team with 78 tackles despite missing one game.
A look at his game-by-game stats are below.
|Duke||5||5||10*||QBS, hurry, PBU|
Jones Sixth All-Time in ACC
As his career at Virginia was coming to a close in 1996, Virginia's all-time leading rusher, Tiki Barber, mentioned that Thomas Jones (then a true freshman) would be the one to break his records. Barber knew what he was talking about as Jones has taken the football world by storm this season.
Jones, Virginia's all-time leading rusher, now has 3907 career rushing yards sixth in ACC history. With the final regular season game of his collegiate career coming up Saturday against Maryland, Jones needs just 93 yards to become the fourth player in league history with at least 4000 career yards.
Jones' place on the ACC all-time rushing list is below.
|Player, school||Rush Yds.|
|1. Ted Brown, N.C. State||4602|
|2. Amos Lawrence, North Carolina||4391|
|3. Robert Lavette, Georgia Tech||4066|
|4. Mike Voight, North Carolina||3971|
|5. Warrick Dunn, Florida State||3959|
|6. Thomas Jones, Virginia||3907|
Turnovers Important to Outcome
Virginia has been involved in several games this season that have been influenced greatly by turnovers-both for and against UVa. The Cavaliers have had a tendency to compound their turnovers with a double whammy-turnovers in the red zone and an inability to prevent scores after turnovers.
Dan Ellis threw three interceptions in the opener against North Carolina, two coming inside the red zone (including one returned 89 yards for a touchdown). Against Clemson, Thomas Jones lost a fumble inside the Clemson 10-yard line as UVa was attempting to cut into a 17-0 deficit in the second quarter. After having just two turnovers in the next three games, mistakes proved to be the Cavaliers' undoing in the overtime loss to Duke last month. An Arlen Harris punt return for a touchdown early in the game was brought back due to a penalty.
On Duke's next possession, Dwayne Stukes intercepted a pass to give UVa the ball on Duke's 44-yard line. Following a first down, Ellis had a pass intercepted in the end zone to end that drive. Punter Donnie Scott was unable to handle a bad snap in his end zone and tried to pass. The pass was incomplete, giving Duke possession on the 11-yard line. The Blue Devils scored a touchdown four plays later. Tim Spruill blocked a Duke punt to give the Cavaliers the ball at the Duke 35-yard line. But Jones lost a fumble at the 12-yard line to kill another drive. Duke drove down field to kick a game-tying field goal.
Virginia's final possession of the game ended as Ellis threw his second interception of the day in the second overtime. In UVa's game against N.C. State, the Wolfpack turned the ball over on three of their first four second half possessions. Virginia turned the miscues into 22 points (in a 30-point quarter). The 30 points helped erase a 19-10 halftime deficit as Virginia rolled to a 47-26 win.
Virginia used a Yubrenal Isabelle interception to great advantage in the upset win over Georgia Tech two weeks ago. Isabelle returned the interception to the Tech 40-yard line to set up UVa's final drive of the first half. Seven plays later quarterback David Rivers found Kevin Coffey in the end zone for a 12-yard scoring strike that brought UVa to within three points at 24-21 with nine seconds to go in the half. That touchdown proved crucial as the Cavaliers held on to complete the comeback 45-38.
Of UVa's 16 turnovers, 10 have been turned into points by the opposition. Clemson scored two touchdowns and a field goal off UVa miscues, while the week before North Carolina's defense scored on an interception return and scored its lone offensive touchdown following an interception. Brigham Young returned Ellis' only interception for a touchdown three weeks ago, while Duke scored a just one field goal off three UVa turnovers. Virginia has forced 22 turnovers this season (15 interceptions, seven fumbles) and blocked one punt. From these mistakes the Cavaliers have scored just 10 touchdowns.
Experienced Line Opens Holes for Jones
Head coach George Welsh has always emphasized the need to have a strong running game and this year is no different. Virginia features the nation's top running back in Thomas Jones. Jones has rushed for 1707 yards this season (170.7/g), tops in the country. Leading the way for Jones is a battle-tested line that features three returning starters and another player who started five games last year. Virginia's top offensive lineman is left guard Noel LaMontagne. A senior tri-captain, LaMontagne is the most experienced lineman with 28 career starts under his belt.
Joining LaMontagne on the left side of the line is Josh Lawson, a first-team All-Freshman by The Sporting News last season. However, Lawson has missed two of the last three games, forcing LaMontagne to start the last three games at left guard. LaMontagne's left guard spot has been manned by Jared Woodson.
Second-team All-ACC John St. Clair is the center. One of the top (and most underrated) centers in the country, he is quietly molding himself into one of the top center prospects available in the upcoming NFL draft. Pro Football Weekly listed him on its midseason All-America team.
Sophomore Evan Routzahn, a starter in five games at left guard last season, has moved to right guard and is considered a very promising player by Welsh. He is joined by junior Brad Barnes, the right tackle. Barnes saw limited action in his first two years, but has worked hard to forge his way into the line-up and is considered by Welsh the most improved player on the offensive line. Barnes was selected the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his play in UVa's win over N.C. State.
Primary back-ups along the line include George Seals at center and Dustin Keith at tackle. Keith has also seen action at center.
Braverman Boots 50-Yard Winner
Place-kickers live a strange existence, always walking on the cusp between hero and goat. Over the last two seasons Todd Braverman can surely attest to the fine line kickers walk.
Last season he booted a 30-yard field goal with 49 seconds remaining to defeat Clemson 20-18 in the season's third week. But from that point on, the up-and-down nature of kickers seemed to be mostly down for him. He missed a field goal that could have sent the Georgia Tech game into overtime, but to be fair it was from 54-yards out and didn't miss by much. He then missed an extra point and a 48-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the Peach Bowl loss to Georgia. The field goal, if good, would have won it for Virginia, but instead the ball drifted wide right. (Braverman shouldn't be blamed for either loss as Virginia held 21-point leads in both contests.)
The uncertainty of his position continued into this preseason and he wasn't announced as the kicker for this season until the week of the North Carolina game. But things swung upward for Braverman when he was named the starter. He wasted little time justifying Welsh's decision and erasing the memories of last season in the opener against North Carolina with two field goals against the Tar Heels.
Called on to be the hero, Braverman answered the call with a 50-yard boot with 27.4 seconds remaining to give Virginia a 20-17 victory. The kick didn't clear the crossbar by much, but it was enough to make Braverman the sixth kicker in school history to make a 50-yarder. His 50-yard victory kick vs. the Tar Heels is the longest game-winning field goal in school history. He has made 33 of34 extra points and and eight of 11 field goal attempts this season. He had a streak of 70 consecutive successful PATs end last Saturday against Buffalo.
Building a different streak, Braverman has made his last four field goal attempts and five of his last six.
Taylor Returns with a Vengeance
Linebacker Shannon Taylor sat out last season for personal reasons. But the lay-off hasn't seemed to be a setback based on his performance this season. He was recruited as a quarterback, but moved to linebacker shortly after his arrival in Charlottesville and has alternated between linebacker and defensive end during his career. He lettered as a linebacker in 1996 and at defensive end in 1997. A gifted athlete who excels at getting to the quarterback, he has been in on seven sacks in his career.
He was one of the few defensive bright spots against Clemson. He tied his career high at the time with seven tackles (since broken) against the Tigers, including two stops behind the line of scrimmage. His career high for tackles didn't last long, however because he followed that with a 10-tackle performance against Wake Forest. He had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including his second sack of the season. The big plays for Taylor continued against Brigham Young as he turned in eight tackles, including two more tackles behind the line. That marked the third game in a row Taylor had two tackles for loss.
He tied his career high with three tackles for loss against top-ranked Florida State. That is also the team high this season. Taylor is second on the team with 69 tackles (6.9/g), while leading the team with 12 tackles for loss and six quarterback sacks.
Jones vs. Heisman Trophy-Winning Backs
Thomas Jones leads the nation in rushing, averaging 170.7 ypg and is approaching the ACC record for most rushing yards in a season. Former North Carolina standout Don McCauley rushed for 1720 yards to set the ACC standard.
Jones' numbers through 10 games this year measure very favorably with running backs who won the Heisman Trophy. A look at the last 20 running backs to win the Heisman Trophy with their rushing yardage at similar stages of their trophy-winning campaigns is shown below. Winners prior to 1961 have their season total listed. (Thanks to Wisconsin for doing most of this research.)
|Player||10 games||11 games|
|Thomas Jones, Virginia, '99||1707||TBD|
Others at this stage of season:
|Ricky Williams, Texas, '98||1,865||2,124*|
|Eddie George, Ohio State, '95||1,593||1,826*|
|Rashaan Salaam, Colorado, '94||1,796||2,055*|
|Barry Sanders, Okla. State, '88||2,296||2,628*|
|Bo Jackson, Auburn, '85||1,644||1,786*|
|Mike Rozier, Nebraska, '83||1,658||NA|
|Herschel Walker, Georgia, '82||1,590||1,752*|
|Marcus Allen, USC, '81||2,123||2,342*|
|George Rogers, So. Carolina, '80||1,613||1,781*|
|Charles White, USC, '79||1,803*|
|Billy Sims, Oklahoma, '78||1,553||1,762*|
|Earl Campbell, Texas, '77||1,522||1,744*|
|Tony Dorsett, Pitt, '76||1,725||1,948*|
|Archie Griffin, Ohio State, '75||1,311||1,357*|
|Archie Griffin, Ohio State, '74||1,510||1,620*|
|John Cappelletti, Penn St., '73||1,362||1,522*|
|Steve Owens, Oklahoma, '69||1,525*|
|O.J. Simpson, USC, '68||1,709*|
|Mike Garrett, USC, '65||1,440*|
|Ernie Davis, Syracuse, '61||823*|
|Joe Bellino, Navy, '60||834*|
|Billy Cannon, LSU, '59||598*|
|Pete Dawkins, Army, '58||428*|
|John David Crow, Texas A&M, '57||562*|
|Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, Ohio State, '55||958*|
|Alan Ameche, Wisconsin, '54||641*|
|Johnny Lattner, Notre Dame, '53||651*|
|Billy Vessels, Oklahoma, '52||1072*|
|Dick Kazmaier, Princeton, '51||861*|
|Vic Janowicz, Ohio State, '50||314*|
|Doak Walker, SMU, '48||537*|
|Glenn Davis, Army, '46||712*|
|Doc Blanchard, Army, '45||718*|
|Les Horvath, Ohio State, '44||905*|
|Frank Sinkwich, Georgia, '42||795*|
|Bruce Smith, Minnesota, '41||446*|
|Tom Harmon, Michigan, '40||844*|
|Nile Kinnick, Iowa, '39||374*|
|Clint Frank, Yale, '37||667*|
|Jay Berwanger, Chicago, '35||577*|
Jones in UVa and ACC Record Books
Thomas Jones has etched his name throughout the Virginia and Atlantic Coast Conference record book this season and has one more game that will enable him to probably set a few more. Here's a look at some of his records and possible records. *=modern era (since 1937)
ACC Records Set
Most 200-Yard Games in a Season-4
Most 200-Yard Games in a Career-6
Most Consecutive 200-Yard Games-2 (twice!)
First player in ACC history to have 200 yards rushing AND 100 yards receiving in same game-vs. Buffalo, 1999 (221 rush, 110 receiving)
Virginia Records Set
Most Yards Rushing in a Career-3907
Most Yards Rushing in a Season-1707, '99
Most Rushing Attempts in a Career-781
Most Rushing Attempts in a Season-306, '99
Most Rushing Touchdowns in a Career*-36
Most Total Touchdowns in a Career*-40
Most 200-Yard Games in a Season-4
Most 200-Yard Games in a Career-6
Most Consecutive 200-Yard Games-2 (twice!)
Most Rushing Attempts in a Game-39 vs. Georgia Tech, '99
Most All-Purpose Yards in a Season-1951, '99
Most All-Purpose Yards in a Game-331 vs. Buffalo, '99
Most Consecutive Starts by a Tailback-33
Fewest Practices Missed-0
Most Times Just Missing UVa's single-game rushing record (within 15 yards of record)-4
Virginia Records Within Reach
Most Touchdowns in a Season*-18, Bill Dudley, '41
Most Rushing TDs in a Season*-17, Bill Dudley, '41
Best Rushing Avg. in a Season-141.3, Terry Kirby, '92
Best All-Purpose Avg. in a Season-186.9, Frank Quayle, '68
Most 100-Yard Games in a Season-9, Tiki Barber, '96
Most 100-Yard Games in a Career-19, Tiki Barber
ACC Records Within Reach
Most Yards Rushing in a season-1720, Don McCauley, UNC, '70
Best Rushing Avg. in a season-156.4, Don McCauley, UNC, '70
Most Rushing Attempts in a season-334, Charlie Wysocki, Maryland, '80
Most Rushing TDs in a season-19, by two players
Most Total TDs in a season-21, Don McCauley, UNC, '70
Most All-Purpose Yards in a season-2021, Don McCauley, UNC, '70
Best All-Purpose Avg. in a Season-186.9, Frank Quayle, UVa, '68
Margin of Error Gone for CavaliersMen's Lacrosse4/29/16To become eligible for an NCAA men's lacrosse tournament bid, Virginia (7-7) must upset second-ranked Brown (13-1) on Saturday night.UVA Spring Football NotebookFootball4/27/16With spring practice over, Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall and his assistants have turned their focus to recruiting.Cavaliers Push On With Heavy HeartsBaseball4/25/16No. 21 Virginia, coming off an emotionally draining weekend in Coral Gables, Fla., meets ODU at noon Tuesday in Norfolk at Harbor Park.
Director of News Content
A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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