Virginia Ready To Take On Georgia In Jeep Oahu Bowl.

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM Head Coach George Welsh will coach his final game for Virginia in the Jeep Oahu Bowl.
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
Head Coach George Welsh will coach his final game for Virginia in the Jeep Oahu Bowl.
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

Dec. 15, 2000

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Virginia Cavaliers (6-5) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (7-4)
Dec. 24, 2000 * 3:30 (HST) * Aloha Stadium * Honolulu, Hawaii

Jeep O'ahu Bowl Information
The game: This is the third annual Jeep O'ahu Bowl.
The date: December 24, 2000
Site: Aloha Stadium (50,000), Honolulu, Hawaii.
Teams: Virginia (6-5 overall/5-3 ACC) vs. Georgia (7-4 overall/5-3 in the Southeastern Conference)
Rankings: Georgia is 19th in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls. The Bulldogs were ranked as high as #9 in the AP poll early in the season. Virginia is unranked.
Kickoff Time: 3:37 p.m. (HST)
Television: The Jeep O'ahu Bowl is being televised nationally on ESPN. Steve Levy calls the play-by-play, while Todd Christensen provides the color commentary. Dave Ryan 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 provides the color commentary and Gene Arnette is the sideline reporter.

Series History
Georgia leads the all-time series by a slim 8-7-3 margin. This is the third bowl meeting in the last five years between the two teams. Virginia gained a 34-27 win in the 1995 Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Ga., while the Bulldogs pulled out a 35-33 in in the 1998 Peach Bowl.

Virginia's Bowl History
This is the Cavaliers' 12th bowl game overall and the 10th in the last 12 years. Virginia won the 1984 and 1995 Peach Bowls, the 1987 All American Bowl and the 1994 Independence Bowl. The Cavaliers lost the 1990 Florida Citrus Bowl, the 1991 USF&G Sugar Bowl, the 1991 Gator Bowl and the 1994 and 1996 Carquest Bowls.

Virginia to Face Georgia in O'ahu Bowl
The George Welsh era concludes on Christmas Eve as Virginia makes its third consecutive bowl appearance, and 10th in the last 12 seasons, with another match-up against Georgia in the 2000 O'ahu Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii on Dec. 24.

This year's bowl appearance marks the third time in school history the Cavaliers have played in a postseason bowl as many as three years in a row. Remarkably, all three occurrences have come with George Welsh at the helm of the Virginia program.

The Cavaliers come into the game with a 6-5 overall record (5-3 in the ACC) and need a win to extend their streak of 7-win seasons to 14 straight.

Virginia finished fourth in the ACC this season, the 14th consecutive season the Cavaliers have finished in the upper half of the league standings.

Georgia began the season with a 6-1 record and were ranked as high as ninth before losing three of its last four to finish with a 7-4 overall record. The Bulldogs were 5-3 in the eastern division of the SEC and tied South Carolina and Tennessee for second place.

Welsh, who has guided the Virginia program since 1982 announced on Dec. 11 that he was retiring after the season. He took over a Virginia program that had just two winning seasons in the 30 seasons before he came to Charlottesville and quickly turned the Wahoos into consistent winners.

The winningest coach in ACC history, Welsh is coaching in the 223rd and final game of his illustrious career at UVa.

Welsh to Retire Following Season
One of the legends of the coaching profession, Cavalier head coach George Welsh called it a career by announcing his retirement in a press conference on Dec. 11.

Citing concerns about his health as a primary reason for his decision, Welsh called the 2000 season "physically and emotionallly the toughest of my career." He added later, "I've always wanted to get out before my physical health deteriorated."

While not wanting to deal with the possibility of declining health, he knew as much as anybody about how to revive declining football programs. Known as a master rebuilder of struggling programs, Welsh got his first taste of rebuilding as the head coach at his alma mater, Navy, where he guided the Midshipmen from 1973-81. While there he led his Navy squads to a 55-46-1 record and three bowl appearances before leaving as the school's all-time winningest coach (a title he still holds).

Hired by then UVa Athletic Director Dick Schultz, Welsh came to Charlottesville in 1982 to revive the school's sagging football fortunes. Prior to his arrival Virginia had had just two winning seasons in 30 seasons and won just 33 ACC games since joining the league in 1954. Displaying the ability to get the most out of what he had to work with, Welsh quickly turned the Cavaliers into consistent winners.

Following a 2-9 initial campaign in 1982, Welsh's 1983 squad finished with a 6-5 mark, assuring themselves a winning record with a 17-14 upset of fierce rival North Carolina.

By the third year at the helm, Welsh directed the Cavaliers to the first bowl game in school history--the 1984 Peach Bowl where a 27-24 win over Purdue closed out a joyous 8-2-2 campaign.

Following a 3-8 season in 1986, Welsh's squads have been a model of consistency with a streak of consecutive seven-win seasons that is rivaled by only Florida State, Michigan and Nebraska.

The 1989 season marked several prominent firsts in school history--an ACC championship, a 10-win season and a berth in a New Year's Day bowl game.

The following season, with one of the nation's most high-powered offenses, Welsh placed the Cavaliers in a position many never thought possible--the number-one team in the nation. They stayed there for three weeks before falling to eventual national champion Georgia Tech 41-38 in early November in one of the classic games in college football history. The Cavaliers claimed their second ACC championship in 1995, a season that included another classic game--a 33-28 win over perennial power Florida State in a game that went down to the last play. Virginia finished with a 9-4 overall record that season and the second top-20 finish in a row.

This season marks the 10th bowl game since 1989, not a bad record for a program that had never been to a bowl game before Welsh's arrival. Fourteen of the 20 first-team All-Americans produced by UVa played under Welsh, who has also had eight players selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

Welsh is 24th in NCAA Division I-A history in wins, with a 189-131-4 (.590) record.

The dean of ACC coaches, Welsh is the only coach in league history to win at least 100 games. He has a 134-85-3 record in 19 seasons at Virginia. His 85 wins in ACC games are also a record, as are his 36 ACC road wins.

The Series vs. Georgia
This is the second meeting between Virginia and Illinois. Making their first-ever New Year's Day bowl appearance, the Cavaliers fell to the Fighting Illini 31-21 in the 1990 Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The two teams have never met in the regular season. Illinois joins Georgia, Virginia's opponent in last year's Peach Bowl, as the only schools the Cavaliers have played more than once in a bowl game. The Cavaliers are 2-6 all-time against the Big Ten. Virginia's two wins over Big Ten schools were a 47-0 triumph over the University of Chicago in 1939 and a 27-24 win over Purdue in the 1984 Peach Bowl. (Chicago left the Big Ten in 1940).

Virginia is 1-1 vs. Purdue, 0-3 vs. Michigan and 0-1 vs. Illinois and Ohio State.

UVa is 1-4 vs. Penn State, but every game occurred prior to Penn State's entry into the Big Ten in 1993.

Virginia Makes First Trip to Hawaii
This is a rare game for Virginia west of the Mississippi River and an even more rare game outside the continental United States. The Cavaliers have played 1,091 games in their history, but this is just the 12th played west of the Mississippi River and the first played in Hawaii. Since this is the first game in school history played in Hawaii it's not surprising that this is also by far the farthest the team has ever played. The longest trip before this was a game against Washington in Seattle to open the 1976 season.

Virginia is 4-7 in games played west of the Mississippi. The last time the Cavaliers went past the Mississippi was last season's 45-40 win over Brigham Young in Provo, Utah.

Virginia vs. the Southeastern Conference
The 2000 O'ahu Bowl match-up against Georgia is Virginia's fourth bowl game against an SEC opponent. The Cavaliers lost to Tennessee 23-22 in the 1991 Sugar Bowl, defeated Georgia 34-27 in the 1995 Peach Bowl and lost to Georgia 35-33 in the 1998 Peach Bowl.

The Cavaliers have played many games against SEC schools throughout the years although most occurred in the early part of the 20th century. Virginia is 30-45-6 against schools currently in the SEC. The Cavaliers are 12-19-1 against South Carolina (a former member of the ACC), 7-8-3 vs. Georgia, 7-12-2 vs. Vanderbilt, 2-1 vs. Kentucky, 1-1 vs. Auburn, 1-3 vs. Tennessee and 0-1 vs. Florida.

Virginia has played every school from the SEC's Eastern Division (Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt), while Auburn is the only school the Cavaliers have played from the Western Division (UVa has never faced Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi or Mississippi State).

Finally a True Neutral Site for this Match-Up
The O'ahu Bowl marks the first time that Virginia and Georgia have ever met on a true neutral site. The teams have clashed 18 times on the gridiron but every game was played in either Athens, Atlanta or Charlottesville.

The last two meetings have occurred in Atlanta in the Peach Bowl, but given that the Georgia Dome is approximately 75 miles from Georgia's campus in Athens, it's not surprising to know that the Bulldogs had a huge crowd advantage each time.

The teams have played four games in Atlanta, nine in Athens and five in Charlottesville.

One Common Opponent in `00
The Cavaliers and Bulldogs share a common opponent this season--Georgia Tech.

Virginia suffered its first shutout in 195 games against the Yellow Jackets in early November. The homestanding Jackets scored the first three times they had the ball and won 35-0 on Nov. 9.

Sixteen days later the Jackets met the Bulldogs in the regular season finale for both teams. Again Georgia Tech jumped to a big lead, but the Georgia got close in the third quarter before falling 27-15.

They've Seen The `Dawgs Before
The Virginia roster lists 25 players who played against Georgia in the 1998 Peach Bowl as either red-shirt or true freshmen or sophomores. Among those who played include seven players who started--WR Kevin Coffey, LB Donny Green, LT Josh Lawson, DT Monsanto Pope, LG Evan Routzahn, CB Tim Spruill and LB Byron Thweatt.

Others who played in a reserve capacity include TE Billy Baber, LB William Clark, WR Demetrius Dotson, LB John Duckett, QB Dan Ellis, PK David Greene, WR Ahmad Hawkins, MLB Yubrenal Isabelle, WR James Johnson, RT Dustin Keith, ST Parker Lange, TE Chris Luzar, DE Darryl Sanders, S Devon Simmons, LB Earl Sims, DE Ljubomir Stamenich, FB Patrick Washington and TB Antwoine Womack.

Ellis saw brief action in the second quarter and misfired on two pass attempts. Womack had four rushes for 10 yards and returned two kickoffs for 31 yards. Johnson returned one kickoff for 13 yards.

Green finished as UVa's second-leading tackler in the game with 10 stops, including nine solos. Spruill intercepted a Quincy Carter pass in the second quarter and returned it 22 yards to set up UVa's third touchdown. Spruill also was in on four tackles. Duckett, playing linebacker, made three tackles, while Lange, Sanders, Simmons, Sims made one each.

Please note that the players listed above are listed with the position played in the `98 Peach Bowl, several players now play different positions.

Cavaliers Seek 14th Consecutive Winning Season
If the Cavaliers are able to win the O'ahu Bowl vs. Georgia, the victory will not only send retiring head coach George Welsh out with a victory, it will also mark their seventh win of the season.

Virginia has won at least seven games every season since 1987, a current streak of 13 seasons. UVa is the only team in ACC history to compile as many as 10 consecutive seasons of 7+ wins.

Virginia joins Florida State, Michigan and Nebraska as the only schools in the nation that have won at least seven games every year since 1987.

Regardless of the outcome of the bowl game, UVa has one of the nation's longest runs of seasons of .500 or above. A list of the schools with the longest stretch of non-losing seasons is below.

Virginia on Artificial Turf
Virginia's home stadium, Scott Stadium, featured an artificial surface from 1974-94 before the fake grass was replaced with the real thing prior to the 1995 season.

Since 1995 it has been rare for Virginia to play on an artificial surface, mainly since no schools in the ACC play on it. In fact, this is UVa's fourth game on an artificial surface since 1995 and the first since losing to Georgia in the 1998 Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The Cavaliers played two games in 1995 on artificial turf--a last play 17-16 loss to Texas in Austin and a dramatic last minute 34-27 win over Georgia in the `95 Peach Bowl in the Georgia Dome. If there is a common denominator in all three games, it's that they have all gone down to the wire with thrilling finishes.

Five Cavaliers Play 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.

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 Division I-A coaches active this season.

Calling it a career after 28 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Welsh has won 189 games at Navy (1973-81) and Virginia (1982-present), and is 24th 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 Dick Tomey (Arizona, Hawaii) are the only other coaches to be the winningest coach at two different schools.

Welsh's overall career record is 189-131-4 (.590).

The dean of ACC coaches, Welsh is the only coach in league history to win at least 100 games. He has a 134-85-3 record in 19 seasons at Virginia. His 85 wins in ACC games are also a record, as are his 36 ACC road wins.

Opening Drive Success
Virginia scored touchdowns on its opening drive in five games this fall. In the regular-season finale at Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers were pinned deep in their own territory following a magnificent coffin corner punt that died at the four-yard line by the homestanding Hokies. But red-shirt freshman Bryson Spinner, starting just his third game, ignored the noisy Tech fans and directed the offense crisply downfield. It took the Cavaliers just seven plays to cover the 96 yards to the end zone. Tyree Foreman scored from seven yards out to put the Cavaliers on the board first on what is their longest drive in terms of yards this season. In the win over Maryland on Oct. 7, the Cavaliers received the opening kickoff and promptly marched 80 yards in 13 plays to reach paydirt on Foreman's four-yard dash to the end zone.

Virginia forced Wake Forest to punt and began its initial possession at the 16-yard line. It took UVa nine plays to cover the 84 yards to the end zone as Antwoine Womack bolted 40 yards on his second carry of the game to put the Cavaliers on the board.

Virginia also scored on its first possession against Brigham Young and Richmond in the season's first two games.

Against BYU, the Cavaliers marched 80 yards in eight plays as Arlen Harris burst 28 yards for his first career touchdown.

The next week against Richmond, Womack started the scoring with a five-yard run that ended a 13-play, 78-yard drive and put Virginia ahead for good.

Womack Lone First-Team All-ACC Cavalier
Tailback Antwoine Womack, the leading rusher in the ACC this season, was the only Cavalier named first-team All-ACC as selected by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association for The Associated Press. Womack gained 1028 yards this season and is the third Cavalier in a row to lead the league in rushing. Thomas Jones finished atop the league in 1998 and 1999.

Right guard Josh Lawson, who began the season in a reserve capacity at both left tackle and left guard, was named second-team All-ACC. He was joined on the second team by linebacker Byron Thweatt, the lone defensive player named all-conference. Thweatt finished sixth in the league in tackling this season with 125 stops.

Honorable mention selections include TE Billy Baber, RG Evan Routzahn and CB Tim Spruill.

Second Half Scoring Drought
Virginia encountered a second half scoring drought throughout the season that almost rivalled the rain drought Central Virginia experienced during the fall. The Cavaliers scored just 81 second half points this season, including 26 in the fourth quarter.

Overall, the Cavaliers were outscored 133-81 in the second half this season.

In the third quarter Virginia was outscored by a slim 61-55 margin, but the margin was much greater in the fourth quarter when the Cavaliers were outscored 69-26.

Virginia's 16 points (10-6) vs. Duke was its best second half output. The only other times the Cavaliers reached double figures in the second half was 14 points (7-7) vs. both Brigham Young and N.C. State, and 10 points (7-3) against North Carolina.

UVa failed to score in the second half against both Clemson and Georgia Tech, scored three points against Maryland and Florida State, and scored seven points vs. Richmond, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.

Womack Continues Tradition of Rushing Leaders
Junior tailback Antwoine Womack didn't seem to show much ill effect after not playing last season. He returned from his leave of absence to lead the ACC in rushing this season with 1028 yards (93.5 ypg).

In the season opener against Brigham Young, his first action 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. That was the first of four 100-yard performances for the speedy back out of Hampton, Va.

He broke loose for a career-high 180 yards against Wake Forest in what is probably the best all-around game of his career. He carried 26 times and scored on a 40-yard burst in the first quarter for UVa's first touchdown. He also caught two passes for 22 yards.

The following week against Maryland he toted the pigskin 29 times for 133 yards (4.6 avg.) to mark the first time he rushed for over 100 yards in back-to-back games in two years. He also caught one pass that he turned into a 41-yard gain for the Cavaliers' longest pass play of the afternoon and was named the ACC co-Offensive Back of the Week for his play. Curiously, he is the first running back named the league's offensive back of the week this season.

He completed the season with a 134-yard effort against Virginia Tech. Womack highlighted his day's effort by bolting 53-yards early in the contest to get the Cavaliers out of the shadow of their own end zone. This season Womack continued Virginia's line of outstanding tailbacks over the last 15 years.

His performance marks the third year in a row a Cavalier topped the charts (Thomas Jones led in 1998-99) and the seventh time a Virginia ballcarrier has led the conference since 1985.

Womack is also Virginia's third 1,000-yard rusher in a row and the fifth in the last six years.

It is also interesting to note that Womack, the only Cavalier named first-team All-ACC, is the only running back to win ACC Offensive Back of the Week honors this season (Oct. 7).

Womack 14th in Rushing at UVa
Junior tailback Antwoine Womack didn't seem to be affected by a year away from the game based on his performance this season.

In the season opener against Brigham Young, his first action 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 school history to top the 1000-yard mark for a career.

After being held to a combined 173 yards in the next three games against Richmond, Duke and Clemson, Womack topped the century mark in the next two games.

He broke loose for a career-high 180 yards against Wake Forest in what is probably the best all-around game of his career. He carried 26 times and scored on a 40-yard burst in the first quarter for UVa's first touchdown. He also caught two passes for 22 yards.

Against Maryland he toted the pigskin 29 times for 133 yards (4.6 avg.) to mark the first time he rushed for over 100 yards in back-to-back games in two years. He also caught one pass that he turned into a 41-yard gain for the Cavaliers' longest pass play of the afternoon and was named the ACC co-Offensive Back of the Week for his play.

He used a strong finish with 134 yards on just 20 carries against Virginia Tech to win the ACC's rushing crown.

He finished the year with 1028 yards on the ground and averaged 93.5 yards per game.

Womack's rushing total this season in 11 games, topped his career total of 916 yards coming into this season (16 games).

He is 14th in school history in rushing and needs just 56 yards to become the 14th player in school history to rush for at least 2000 yards in a career.

Experienced Line Opens Holes For Ground Game
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, Antwoine Womack, Tyree Foreman, Dan Ellis and Bryson Spinner (among others) did not have the benefit of All-Americans Noel LaMontagne and John St. Clair, who graduated and moved on to the NFL.

Nonetheless, the line has been a strength for this year's offense once again. Junior guards Josh Lawson and Evan Routzahn headline the men in the trenches.

Despite being hampered by back problems, Lawson is one of the line's most versatile and significant performers. He served as a back-up to Jermese Jones at tackle and Jared Woodson at guard, but moved back into the starting lineup following Woodson's season-ending neck injury in week three and was named second-team All-ACC.

Routzahn, a mild mannered sort with a no-nonsense approach on the field, has been the Cavaliers' most consistent grader this season. An ironman, as well, it's estimated that Routzahn played approximately 98 percent of the team's snaps this season. Look for him to be a solid All-America candidate next season.

Junior left tackle Jermese Jones, the team's biggest player, missed last season due to injury, but he has just started to show why the coaches have thought so highly of him throughout his career. He made the first start of his career against Brigham Young and held Florida State's Jamal Reynolds to just three tackles and no sacks when the two met this season.

Brad Barnes anchors the right side of the line opposite Jones and next to Routzahn. Named the team's most improved player last season, he is considered among the top tackles in the ACC despite fighting back problems for most of the season.

Fifth-year player Dustin Keith moved into the center spot vacated by St. Clair. He spent the two previous seasons at tackle, but was moved to center in the spring (after spending a brief amount of time at defensive tackle). Given the lack of depth and experience behind him, Keith's play proved to be crucial to the offense's success this fall.

Ellis Finishes Fifth on UVa Passing Charts
Quarterback Dan Ellis was on track for a record-setting fall before suffering a hamstring injury in the game against Maryland in early October.

He didn't practice the week following the injury as Virginia had an off week. He returned to practice for the Florida State game and made the trip to Tallahassee although he did not play.

He returned to guide the Cavaliers to a 17-6 win over North Carolina on Oct. 28, but was hampered in the loss to Georgia Tech and gave way to red-shirt freshman Bryson Spinner against N.C. State and Virginia Tech. Prior to his injury he was making teams pay for stacking the line in an effort to stop Virginia's running game. In the season's second game 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.

For the season Ellis completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 1642 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Exton, Pa., native finishes his career fifth on UVa's all-time yards passing (3,974 yards) and touchdown passes (28) lists.

His place on the career yards passing and career touchdown passes lists is shown below.

Offense Ailing Since Maryland
Starting quarterback Dan Ellis suffered a hamstring injury just before halftime of the Maryland game in early October.

Prior to the injury Ellis had the Cavalier offense clicking on all cylinders as it built a 28-10 lead, while rolling up 317 yards of total offense (109 rushing, 208 passing).

Since the first half of the Maryland, the offense has pretty much sputtered, gaining more than 290 yards in a game twice.

With Ellis out due to his injury, back-up quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Bryson Spinner were able to generate just three points and 168 yards of offense in the second half against Maryland.

Spinner started the next game against Florida State and with Schaub was able to muster three points and 199 yards of offense against one of the nation's top defenses.

Ellis returned to action the next week against North Carolina, but didn't seem to be at full strength. The Cavaliers scored 17 points and had 227 yards of offense in what was the Virginia's defense's best game of the year. UVa scored on back-to-back possessions (TD, FG) late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to mark the first time since the first half of the Maryland game that UVa scored on back-to-back possessions.

Virginia then suffered its first shutout in more than 16 years, falling to Georgia Tech 35-0 the following week. The Cavaliers fell behind early and weren't able to generate much on the attack and finished with 290 yards of offense.

Spinner started his second game due to Ellis' injury and led the Cavaliers to a 24-17 win over N.C. State in the final home game. He turned in two big plays--a 61-yard run and a 68-yard touchdown pass to Billy McMullen--as UVa scored more than two touchdowns for the first time since the Maryland game. For the game UVa had 380 yards of offense and averaged 6.2 yards per play.

The Virginia offense started out on fire against Virginia Tech in the final regular season game. Spinner, starting for the second week in a row, led the Cavaliers on two impressive scoring drives to take an early 14-7 first quarter lead. The offense stalled after that, however, punting nine times the rest of the game. All told UVa recorded 328 yards of total offense, but just 159 after the first two possessions.

Spinner's Big Plays Lead to Victory
Red-shirt freshman Bryson Spinner started at quarterback last Saturday in place of an injured Dan Ellis and led the Cavaliers to a 24-17 win over N.C. State. The start was just the second of his young career--he made his first start vs. Florida State last month.

Spinner, a mobile signal caller in the mold of former UVa signal callers Don Majkowski, Shawn Moore and Aaron Brooks, completed seven of 17 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown. He didn't throw an interception and was the victim of several drops. He also tied Tyree Foreman as the game's leading rusher with 83 yards. Among his 14 carries was a 61-yard option keeper in the first quarter.

That 61-yard run is the longest by a UVa quarterback since Bob Davis raced 88 yards for a touchdown against N.C. State in 1964.

Spinner connected with wide receiver Billy McMullen on a 68-yard scoring play late in the third quarter for his first touchdown pass and the longest play from scrimmage by Virginia this season.

Since the restoration of freshman eligibility for the 1972 season, Spinner is just the second freshman (true or red-shirt) to start and win at quarterback for UVa. As a true freshman, Scott Gardner guided the Cavaliers to a 15-12 win at Wake Forest on Nov. 18, 1972 (28 years to the day before Spinner's win).

Linebackers Lead the Way
The linebacking quartet of Angelo Crowell, Donny Green, Yubrenal Isabelle and Byron Thweatt were among Virginia's leading performers on defense this season.

Not surprisingly, they finished as the team's leading tacklers this season.

Isabelle finished the season on a mission, compiling 64 tackles in the final four games of the regular season (16.0/g). He was the leading tackler in five of the last seven games and finished as the team's leading tackler for the second year in a row. A solid performer in the middle, he was in on 128 tackles this fall, the fourth-highest single-season mark in school history.. He reached double figures on seven occasions with a high of 17 against both Georgia Tech and N.C. State in successive games.

Thweatt, a second-team All-ACC selection who doesn't get the attention he deserves, finished close behind Isabelle in the tackling race with a career-high 125 (11.4/g). One of the few four-year starters in school history, Thweatt put last season's disappointing year behind him. He paced the team in tackles five times, and received ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors twice. Most recently, he was the ACC Defensive Back of the Week for his play in the North Carolina game when he made a then career-high 19 tackles. His career high lasted just 12 days as he came back with 21 stops (third-highest total in school history) vs. Georgia Tech.

Donny Green sat out last season due to personal reasons, but bolstered the defense with his play this fall. A starter in the last seven contests of the regular season, Green averaged 9.9 tackles per game. His 109 tackles this fall are a career-high and he completed just the second trio in school history to top the century mark in tackles. Green reached double figures six times this fall, including the final four games. He made a career-high 13 tackles in each of the last two games--N.C. State and Virginia Tech.

Sophomore Angelo Crowell, younger brother of Detroit Lions wide receiver Germane Crowell, began the season in the starting line-up but gave way to Green recently. Nonetheless he is still considered a "starter" by defensive coordinator Rick Lantz because he sees lots of time from scrimmage. He reached double figures in the first three games of the season with a career high of 13 in the opener against Brigham Young. Crowell averaged 7.9 tackles per game and surpassed his tackle total from last season in only three games.

Virginia's Secondary Grows Throughout 2000
Of prime concern to the coaching staff coming into season was 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.

But despite the lack of an overpowering pass rush, UVa's pass defense proved to be an area where too much concern was unwarranted.

Despite giving up 103 more yards through the year this season vs. last, the Cavalier pass defense was greatly improved in other areas. In 1999 Virginia relinquished 19 touchdown passes, while this fall it gave up only 10 (while facing some of the nation's leading quarterbacks).

The defense also allowed an average of 12.4 yards per reception this season, which is almost two yards per completion less than last fall (14.3).

Manning the corners this season are 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 and that knowledge paid off as he led the team with four interceptions.

Spruill was a starter in 1998, but lost his job last season in what was a subpar campaign. He rebounded this fall and used his experience and intercepted two passes, while making 34 tackles.

Lending primarly backup support at cornerback is Rashad Roberson.

Prior to this season he had very little experience in the backfield this season, but his hard work in the offseason paid off in increased playing time.

Evans headlined the safeties this year because he was the most battle tested of the group. Despite missing one game with an injury, he led the defensive backs with 50 tackles this season.

Sophomore Shernard Newby started every game next to Evans. He was in on a career-high 45 tackles, made one interception and broke up three other passes.