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Virginia seeks redemption against No. 16 Texas Christian University

Cavaliers hope to upset Horned Frogs, address problems that plagued team in disappointing loss to William & Mary

Coming off its highest final ranking in nearly 50 years, No. 16 Texas Christian University opens its season against the Cavaliers in Charlottesville. While Virginia suffered a highly disappointing 26-14 loss to William & Mary last Saturday, TCU capitalized on the first week of college football season by squeezing in a few extra practices.

"We're limited by the amount of practices we can have on the game because our focus didn't really turn towards this game [until this week]," coach Al Groh said.

TCU coach Gary Patterson has built a very impressive program that finished 11-2 in 2008 and was No. 7 in the final AP poll.

"We expect intensity - a faster pace and level," Virginia senior nose tackle Nate Collins said. "It's a brand new system and after last week [against William & Mary], having [had] a chance to run it, we're more prepared."

Unlike Virginia, which has not won a season opener in the last four years, the Horned Frogs have won their last six - the past four by an average of 17.5 points - and have not given up a touchdown in their last two. Last season, TCU allowed only 18 total touchdowns, the third-fewest in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The team led the FBS with 217.8 scrimmage yards allowed per game, an impressive statistic that could be partially credited to All-American end Jerry Hughes. The Cavaliers should expect the 6-foot-3, 257-pound Hughes to return this season with the same level of talent that allowed him to lead the nation with 15 sacks and six forced fumbles last year.

This equation does not bode well for the Cavaliers, who finished near the bottom of the FBS with 16.1 points per game in 2008 and struggled with a new spread offense last Saturday.

Mistakes, such as the seven turnovers Virginia committed last weekend, will prove detrimental against the Horned Frogs, who led the FBS in time of possession and had a turnover margin of plus-13 in 2008. Virginia also attempted to use all three of its quarterbacks last Saturday, but none proved effective as the team totaled only 268 yards. And, with senior Vic Hall listed as doubtful after suffering an injury, the Cavaliers are still struggling to find their starting quarterback for Saturday's game. TCU's junior quarterback, Andy Dalton, on the other hand, enters his third year as a starter.

"When they get [the football] - they keep it - and they end up scoring with it," Groh said, "When the other team's got it, they take it away pretty quickly, and don't give away many points."

This impressive ball control has helped TCU improve to an 11-3 record in its last 14 games played against BCS teams.

For now, however, Groh intends to focus his team on the opportunities that lay before it.

"There were approximately 40 passes called - that's up to the receivers to get open," he said. "The quarterbacks had plenty of chances to run and pass with it - I certainly don't think they were inhibited from their opportunity to make plays. Did they execute their options well enough? Clearly had we done so, we would've scored more points."

Whatever advantage was to be gained from a film session dissecting last week's showing against William & Mary, Virginia fans hope it was absorbed.

"The morale's is high," Collins said. "We're just trying to win our first game."

These teams' only previous meeting was a 20-10 Virginia victory in the 1994 Independence Bowl. TCU will be playing its first game ever in the commonwealth and its first game in an ACC stadium since 1994 at UNC.

Kick-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Scott Stadium, where Virginia's reputation will be on the line.

"It's been a while since we got a W for some of the guys coming back from last year so this is a big game for us," Collins said. "We're just trying to get that first win and get this ball rolling"


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