After all their complaints and criticisms about his performance, Virginia football fans finally saw what the squad was like without Dan Ellis.
Florida State battered third-year Ellis like a piñata at a 10-year-old's birthday party, culminating in a hit on the final play of the half as he released the ball. The pigskin ended up in Florida State cornerback Chris Hope's hands, and Ellis ended up on the sideline with a concussion.
"It's what I've been saying all year, you get hit too much," Virginia Coach George Welsh said. "He knew he wasn't going in" after the half.
With Ellis out of the game, Welsh put the ball in third-year David Rivers' hands. In one half of play, the backup quarterback completed four of 11 passes for 32 yards and threw one interception. Ellis connected on seven of his 14 passes, with the pick at the end of the half, for a total 44 yards.
"Rivers missed some practice in the off week because of a groin injury, and two days this week, but he was ready to go," Offensive Coordinator Gary Tranquill said. "I think maybe we pulled back a little bit. He's capable of doing what Danny does. It was hard [for Rivers]. He hasn't played very much. I don't know if he's ever played prior to this year. That's always a tough situation, to go in cold."
Rivers, however, maintained after the game that he was ready.
"You've got to want this opportunity," he said. "You've got to want to do well, to play well."
No matter how much Rivers desired his chance, coming in as the conductor of Virginia's offense after throwing only two passes in his entire career proved difficult. In the second half, with the Cavs in field goal territory, Rivers and Virginia were flagged for a delay of game, and FSU sacked Rivers on the next play.
"That's an inexperienced quarterback there," Welsh said. "He should've taken the timeout."
Meanwhile, Ellis can only wait for full clearance to return to the field. He can't wait too long, though; the Cavs face Georgia Tech at home Saturday, the third foe ranked in the Top 10 that Virginia has faced this season.
Despite Ellis's condition, during the post-game conference Welsh said he would not use first-year Matt Schaub.
"We can always use Will Thompson. I don't want to use Schaub," he said. "I don't want to burn a year of eligibility."
And with Jerton Evans injuring his knee and ankle against the Seminoles and Arlen Harris nursing a bad hamstring, the Cavs have several key players injured, and not much time to get healthy before a pivotal showdown with the Yellow Jackets.
The Cavaliers, however, still are hopeful.
"I can't say I'm getting frustrated," cornerback Dwayne Stukes said. "I still have faith"