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15 Virginia A young team with experience counts on senior passer Matt Schaub to lead it to the ACC championship

Aug. 11, 2003
Aug. 11, 2003

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Aug. 11, 2003

College Football 2003

15 Virginia A young team with experience counts on senior passer Matt Schaub to lead it to the ACC championship

Of all the honors senior quarterback Matt Schaub received over the
past 12 months, including ACC Player of the Year last fall, one
of the most meaningful to him was the one he wasn't formally
awarded. In late April coach Al Groh took Schaub aside and told
him that he was one of the most improved players in spring
practice. But Groh likes to spread the accolades around, so
instead of piling more hardware on Schaub, the coaching staff
gave the Rock Weir Award for the team's most improved player to
three of Schaub's teammates: junior tight end Patrick Estes,
junior safety Jermaine Hardy and redshirt freshman center Phil
Sims. "I was honored that the coaches noticed how much I had
done," says Schaub. "I worked hard to improve my play and our
team."

This is an article from the Aug. 11, 2003 issue Original Layout

Already one of the nation's most efficient passers--68.9%
completion rate, 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions last
season--the 6'5", 240-pound Schaub focused on sharpening his
drops, improving his scrambling ability and developing rapport
and timing with an assortment of wide receivers. More than
anything, he wants to get off to a good start this season. As a
sophomore he went 1-5 as a starter; last year he was booed and
then benched in a season-opening 35-29 loss to Colorado State.

Schaub has plenty of talent around him, including sure-handed
sophomore tight end Heath Miller, who has All-America potential.
Schaub can expect the maturing Virginia defense, which has seven
starters returning, to be more formidable than the one that
surrendered 24.9 points a game in 2002. "We have a lot of young
guys who are ready to break out," says senior cornerback Almondo
Curry. "We've started to believe in Coach Groh [entering his
third season]. We realize what it takes to win."

Still, Schaub remains the key. His perseverance exemplified
Virginia's resilience as a team; the Cavaliers outscored their
opponents 260-132 after halftime last season. "All we have to do
is focus on the little things and not get caught up in who we're
playing," Schaub says. "If we do that, we'll be successful
against anybody." --Jeffri Chadiha

COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK BURTON/AP BREAKOUT THREAT After slow starts the last two years, Schaub, the ACC Player of the Year in '02, wants to burst out of the gate.

FAST FACTS

2002 RECORD 9-5 (6-2, T2 in ACC)
FINAL AP RANK 22
RETURNING STARTERS 19

KEY RETURNEES (2002 stats)

QB Matt Schaub (Sr.)
147.5 passer rating ranked sixth in the nation

RB Wali Lundy (Soph.)
826 rushing yards, 58 receptions, 10 touchdowns

LB Darryl Blackstock (Soph.)
Led nation's freshmen with 10 sacks

TE Heath Miller (Soph.)
Team-high nine touchdown receptions

DE Chris Canty (Jr.)
Led all ACC linemen in tackles per game (7.8)

TELLING NUMBER

357.1
Yards per game of total offense generated by the Cavaliers last
season, the lowest average in the ACC and 80th in the nation.

SMART MOVE

Shifting sophomore QB Marques Hagans to WR solves two problems:
It gives the Cavaliers an added replacement for the graduated
Billy McMullen and gets Hagans, a superior athlete, off the
bench. Seniors Michael McGrew and Ryan Sawyer are reliable
receivers, but Hagans will be an explosive target.

SCHEDULE

AUG. 30 DUKE
SEPT. 6 AT S. CAROLINA
13 AT W. MICHIGAN
27 WAKE FOREST
OCT. 4 AT N. CAROLINA
11 AT CLEMSON
18 FLORIDA ST.
25 TROY STATE
NOV. 1 AT N.C. STATE
13 AT MARYLAND
22 GEORGIA TECH
29 VA. TECH