Friday, November 24, 2006

Game Preview - vs. Virginia

Game Preview – vs. Virginia
by Brian “Where’s the Ice?”

This week the Virginia Cavaliers square off against the Virginia Tech Hokies. This rivalry grew and has continued to exist as one of the most fierce in the conference. For all practical purposes, this serves as the Texas – Texas A&M rivalry of the ACC. The winner of this contest takes home the yearly awarded Commonwealth Cup, named after the Commonwealth of Virginia. (As a brief historical aside about this name, Virginia is not technically a state, but one of the country’s four commonwealths.)

Virginia has had a difficult season which began with suspensions of some of their top players. Their quarterback, Jameel Sewell has struggled through most of his season as well. In spite of all these challenges, the Wahoos have put together a 5-6 (4-3 in conference) record. On Saturday, UVA fights for bowl eligibility while the Hokies have their sights on a high profile, but non-BCS, bowl. Each respective team has a lot at stake on this game.

Let’s examine the Virginia offense. Quarterback Jameel Sewell has a completion rate just under 60% with 133 completions over 226 attempts. He’s passed for 1276 yards on the season, and towers at 6’3”. As a Freshman, you can argue that he has a great deal of experience yet to gain, but many UVA fans will tell you that he’s developed greatly over the course of this season and has finally, “figured out how to play.”

Sewell has Jason Snelling for the UVA running game. Standing 5’11” and weighing in at 233 lbs., he has amassed 751 yards of rushing over 170 carries. Sewell places second behind Snelling in rushing with 180 yards, so the ‘Hoos don’t really have a reliable secondary running back. For passing they’ll look to receivers Kevin Ogletree and Tom Santi. Ogletree standing 6’2” has 50 receptions for 551 yards. The Hokie defense will have to cover this receiver well, but like their running game, UVA doesn’t have a comparable secondary go-to receiver in Santi who has only 29 receptions and 253 yards in passing.

As a team, UVA’s defense doesn’t have the same numbers as Virginia Tech, who ranks first in the ACC for total defense and first in all of College Football in pass defense. Virginia Tech has allowed 1472 yards in passing and 1069 in rushing while UVA’s offense has produced 1821 yards of passing and 1153 yards of rushing, the third worst in the ACC. Considering that UVA’s defense has not faced the teams that have the most offensive potency of the ACC, that further shows UVA's defense is unequipped to stop the Hokie offense while that same Hokie offense has produced good numbers against some of the ACC’s strong defensive teams. {Editor's note: The Hokie offense has also struggled against Kent State}

Virginia Tech’s offense has produced 2070 yards in passing and 1276 yards in receiving while UVA has allowed 1896 yards in passing and 1276 yards in rushing. You can notice the large gap in passing yardage between the two defenses. I’ve repeated this throughout the season: Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon needs to make more use of his receivers. The Hokie receiver squad has a great deal of depth, and they’ve had to rely too heavily on the Branden Ore running game (and Kenny Lewis considering last week’s game against Wake Forest). While part of the blame for this does fall on the shoulders of the developing Hokie offensive line, Glennon could look to his receivers in some greater capacity, and Saturday’s contest against UVA with their weak passing defense (as shown by the stats) serves as the perfect opportunity. Should the Hokies find themselves in a high profile bowl at the end of the season, they’ll most likely need a well balanced running and passing game to win. The time for this high powered offense to prove that it can do that comes on Saturday!

Virginia Cavaliers (5-6, 4-3) vs. #17 Virginia Tech Hokies (9-2, 5-2)
12:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, November 25
Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA
XM Radio

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