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Football squad looks to tame Tigers

After leaving Ronald Curry and the rest of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the dust last weekend, the No. 22 Virginia football team (1-0, 1-0 ACC) will roll into Death Valley tomorrow looking for their second ACC victory on the road. The Cavaliers kick off against Clemson at 3:30 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.

The Tigers, (0-1, 0-0), are recovering from a 13-10 season opener loss to Marshall, and have focused on strengthening the offensive line this past week to prepare for the Cavs' powerhouse defense.

"We are a little softer on offense than I had anticipated," Tiger coach Tommy Bowden said. "We need to be more aggressive and hard-nosed. It doesn't have to do with size, but with effort and intensity."

Despite the size deficit, Clemson traditionally is well known for its running game, so the Cavalier defense will have to be prepared to handle the Tiger's up tempo style in order to pull out a win.

Virginia Coach George Welsh hinted that defense would have to improve to effectively stop Clemson's offensive ground attack.

"I think our defense can play better," Welsh said. "The linebackers can play better, the ends can play better."

Though Clemson might thrive on its ground game, Virginia also features its own offensive punch. Besides virtually unstoppable tailback Thomas Jones, Virginia returns three offensive starters including last season's first-team All Freshman Josh Lawson. Second-year Evan Routzahn, who started five games in his rookie season, will add to the offensive strength tomorrow.

The preseason question of who will lead the Clemson offense remains, as the Tigers have no definite starting quarterback. Bowden has commented that both Brandon Streeter and Woodrow Dantzler will share the duties on the field. The quarterback pair managed a 64.3 percent completion percentage and threw for a combined 244 yards last Saturday against Marshall.

Virginia quarterback Dan Ellis will try to match the pair's output and keep Virginia in the lead.

Ellis' first stint as quarterback against North Carolina was made significantly easier by Jones' commanding presence. Jones matched his career high of 35 carries last Saturday and rushed for an impressive 149 yards.

When asked just how long the Virginia offense can rely so heavily on Jones, Welsh was reserved but optimistic.

"If he has to do it, he will get it done," Welsh said. "Hopefully we'll have a better passing game and won't have to run him that much in the future."

Still Ellis was able to hold his own in the game; completing 10 of 25 passes to tally 165 yards and one touchdown. He was hurt by three interceptions that marred his overall performance.

"He did a good job running the team." Welsh said. "He's just got to be smarter. He has to be smart enough not to throw the ball into traffic. This time we need to have a better passing attack and we've got to reduce the interceptions."


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