Virginia tailbacks Keith Payne and Perry Jones expected to play Saturday
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 12:15 AM
CHARLOTTESVILLE - Virginia football coach Mike London said Monday he was "guarded but optimistic" that fifth-year senior tailback Keith Payne, who is tied for the lead in scoring in the Atlantic Coast Conference, will be available to play Saturday at Boston College. Payne suffered what London described as a "lower leg injury" during last weekend's 42-23 loss to Maryland.
The Cavaliers' other primary tailback, sophomore Perry Jones, might have suffered a concussion during a kickoff return against Maryland. London described Jones's injury as "a collision issue." The coach said he was optimistic Jones will play against Boston College, which possesses the nation's top rushing defense (74.6 yards allowed per game).
Payne and Jones have taken 75.4 percent of Virginia's rushing attempts this season. Payne has registered 741 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Jones has recorded 568 yards. Jones also has tallied 22 receptions, fourth on the team.
"They are two significant parts of our offensive approach," London said. "They'll be on the plane on Friday going to Boston College, put it that way."
Redshirt sophomore tailback Torrey Mack is listed behind Jones and Payne on the team's depth chart, though fifth-year senior Raynard Horne took a majority of the snaps when Jones and Payne were out against Maryland.
Dowling done for season
Senior cornerback Ras-I Dowling will miss the final two games of the season after suffering a left ankle fracture Saturday in the first quarter of the Cavaliers' loss to Maryland. Dowling, a two-time second team all-ACC selection, was hampered by three separate injuries this season that limited him to two starts in five games.
London said Dowling would undergo an MRI exam in the near future to determine the severity of the injury, as well as the necessary recovery time.
Dowling missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury. Prior to the Maryland game, Dowling played three snaps combined in the previous four games because of a left knee injury. He started against the Terrapins, but played just five snaps before suffering the ankle fracture.
"It's bizarre just to see," London said. "I think he'll probably be looked at more from the playing side by how he played last year, obviously, than this year. And he'll be ready for his pro day, and I think he'll do outstanding things at his pro day to warrant the first-round tag that a lot of people put on him initially."
In other injury news, London confirmed junior offensive tackle Landon Bradley will undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday. Bradley injured his left knee during Virginia's 55-48 loss Nov. 6 at Duke. London said Bradley also may undergo shoulder surgery that could prohibit him from taking part in spring practice. Virginia coaches are expecting to have Bradley back at full strength at some point next summer.
Penalties remain an issue
In an effort to cut down on the high number of penalties that have plagued his team in the past three games, London said he has hired an official to referee Tuesday's practice. Only two of the 120 division I-A teams in the nation have averaged more penalty yards per game this season than the Cavaliers.
London said that offensive holding calls have constituted 25 percent of all the penalties charged against Virginia this season.
"That's way, way too many," London said. "And it's not just the linemen. It's maybe the wide receivers on the edge trying to capture the edge with their hands outside."