The last time Virginia quarterback Phillip Sims and North Carolina State signal caller Mike Glennon were on the same field, records were broken in a Virginia AAA Division 6 state semifinal game in 2007.
Just a sophomore at the time, Sims completed more passes (26) and threw for more yards (480) than any quarterback in state playoff history, while one of his wide receivers set a new mark for catches and receiving yards in a Virginia playoff game. But Glennon and Westfield High still emerged with a come-from-behind 24-21 victory.
“That was one of the toughest losses I had to take in high school,” said wide receiver Tim Smith, then a teammate of Sims at Oscar Smith. “I always joke with [Glennon] about beating us.”
How that quarterback duel plays out Saturday when Virginia visits North Carolina State will likely determine whether the Cavaliers can snap a six-game losing streak Saturday. But the stakes for each are much different this time.
Glennon, a senior, still has an outside shot at winning the ACC’s Atlantic Division based on the Wolfpack’s upset of Florida State last month. Sims is simply trying to keep his starting job for a Virginia team that Coach Mike London said “desperately” needs to win a game.
When North Carolina State has the ball, Virginia must get pressure on Glennon, a classic pocket passer who shreds defenses when given time to survey the field. He averages more than 300 yards per game, and teams have been taking advantage of Virginia’s sophomore-laden secondary all season. The one silver lining is that the Wolfpack have been very one-dimensional this year. They rank No. 102 in the nation in rushing offense.
When Virginia’s offense is on the field, Sims must take advantage of a North Carolina State secondary that is giving up more passing yards per game (278.1) than anybody in the ACC this year. Prolific cornerback David Amerson, who had a national-best 13 interceptions last season, has seen his play slip and North Carolina State has been susceptible to the big play.
Only six teams in the country have allowed more plays of 30 or more yards than the Wolfpack this year. That would seem to play right into Sims’s strengths, but the redshirt sophomore must improve his timing with a receiving corps that lacks a true deep threat. Smith’s renewed health could be a deciding factor Saturday.
But Virginia has mustered just more than 30 points the past two games, and its special teams remain a wild card in the worst kind of way. Until the Cavaliers win another game – and that might not be until next season – it’s hard to pick them against anybody at this point. Bet on North Carolina State winning in round two of Glennon vs. Sims.
My prediction: North Carolina State 38, Virginia 21
What do you think? Can Virginia avoid a seventh straight loss? Or will the Cavaliers finally get in the win column for the first time since week two and put an end North Carolina State’s remote shot at claiming the ACC’s Atlantic Division? Vote in the poll below and let me know how you think Saturday’s game plays out in the comments section.