The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Squad faces Wolfpack

Coaches, players look to avoid letdown against unranked N.C. State at home

One week after the Virginia football team's biggest win during the Mike London era, the Cavaliers look to extend their two-game winning streak against another conference opponent, N.C. State, tomorrow in Scott Stadium.

Fresh off playing its best 60 minutes of football all season, Virginia will first and foremost attempt to keep its eyes fixed on the team ahead and not on the emotional highs of last week's thrilling 24-21 upset of then-No. 12 Georgia Tech.

"After a big win, teams usually come out flat," sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco said. "So we have to come out prepared and ready to get another victory and make another statement."

Despite the surge in confidence which undoubtedly accompanied that victory, the Virginia coaching staff is taking no chances as the Cavaliers wrap up a home stretch which has already featured four games settled by less than seven points.

"Just because you won a game like we won last week doesn't guarantee that you're going to win again the following week," coach Mike London said. "We won a football game against a very good team, and there is another very good team coming into Charlottesville that's hungry for a victory."

Last year, the Wolfpack rode then-quarterback Russell Wilson's 3,563 passing yards and 28 touchdowns to a 9-4 record and bowl win. N.C. State finished the season nationally ranked for the first time since 2002, but coach Tom O'Brien announced during the spring that senior Mike Glennon would replace Wilson under center.

Wilson transferred to Wisconsin, where he has emerged as one of the Big 10's elite quarterbacks and leads the league in passing touchdowns, yards and efficiency.

Without Wilson, N.C. State (3-3, 0-2) has failed to replicate last year's success and is still searching for its first conference win. Glennon has yet to match his predecessor's gaudy statistics, but still leads a pass-heavy pro-style offense which averages almost 260 passing yards per game. London said N.C. State's rapid-fire offense was "very fast and very athletic" and described the 6-foot-6 Glennon as "a big, tall, strong-arm guy."

Senior wide receiver T.J. Graham has found himself on the receiving end of many of Glennon's throws. Graham has racked up 484 yards through the air this year for an average of more than 80 yards per game. To counter, Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid almost certainly will line up senior cornerback Chase Minnifield against the prolific Wolfpack pass-catcher in an attempt to shut down Glennon's favorite target.

"[Minnifield has] relished the role of being the guy that [says], 'Whoever the best receiver is, put me over there, I'll guard him,'" London said. "He [also] takes great pride in being the guy that can come off the edge and make sacks, make tackles and get involved in the running game."

Minnifield has done plenty of both this year after being named an honorable mention for last season's All-American roster. Through six games, the senior standout leads the team with two interceptions, bringing his career total to 12, while also making plays in the backfield and in run support by notching two sacks and four tackles for loss. Minnifield was also named this week's Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week after he recorded five tackles and one interception against the Yellow Jackets.

On offense, Virginia hopes to continue its new-found efficiency on the ground with the three-headed rushing attack of junior Perry Jones, redshirt freshman Kevin Parks and freshman Clifton Richardson. The three tailbacks accounted for 267 of Virginia's total offense of 409 yards against Georgia Tech last week and collectively averaged nearly 6 yards per carry.

"I think it's the most yards we've had rushing in quite some time, so that was something that really predicated the play calling," London said. "We [just] have to keep guys accountable."

Virginia already made a memorable statement after London's signature win last Saturday, but after the emotional, field-storming celebration of such a huge win, Virginia can prove a whole lot more by playing with identical intensity and focus.

At the midpoint of the 2011 season, the Cavaliers find themselves in great position for their first bowl bid since 2007, and each and every Virginia player wants to be a part of it.

"People in the past have basically put us on the back-burner, put us to the side, and I'm glad we came up with a statement victory like this, and I think we're going to do that the rest of our games this year," Jones said. "It's definitely the biggest win of my career, but we're hoping to have wins much bigger than this"

Comments