Before the Wake Forest game, fans in Charlottesville were saying it was "the Start of a New Season" for the winless Cavaliers.
Coach George Welsh went along with the slogan, installing a new-look offense and the Cavaliers responded by breaking a losing streak at eight games with an impressive 34-27 victory over Wake Forest.
After being called "a terrible football team" by Welsh following a 48-0 loss to Clemson, the players called a meeting without the coach last Tuesday. They discussed their feelings and pledged to improve.
Welsh also was trying to regroup. Taking advantage of an offweek, Welsh put in a wing-T alignment, featuring second-team tailback Quentin Walker as the wingback.
Walker, a 200-pound junior, gave the offense balance and deception as he accounted for more than 100 yards. He gained 77 on only six carries and caught two passes for 37 yards.
"We had about eight practices with it," Welsh said of the new offensive alignment. "I wasn't real sure how well we would run it, but it worked well and we're going to stay with it."
With the defense spread, guarding against the wingback reverses to Walker, quarterback Wayne Schuchts was able to find holes in the secondary and set a school record with 320 yards passing.
"We put in seven or eight new pass plays," Schuchts said after completing 15 of 30 attempts, including one that went 93 yards for a touchdown to split end Nick Merrick. That play made the score 24-7 in the first minute of the second quarter.
"Wake Forest is a real good pursuit team, so we tried a lot of misdirection and reverses," Schuchts explained. "We used the wing-T at Colgate when I was there (he transferred to Virginia last year), so I was familiar with it."
Usually, Navy would be overjoyed to have won two straight games going into Notre Dame week. But six Midshipmen, four of them starters, were injured the last two games.
In Saturday's 28-3 victory over The Citadel, Navy senior quarterback Marco Pagnanelli suffered a broken right leg that will keep him out the rest of the season. Pagnanelli, who started only 17 games at quarterback, finished his career as the most efficient passing quarterback at Navy since Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach.
Pagnanelli finished seventh in career passing and ninth in total offense, four yards behind his former coach, Welsh, who is eighth.
Tight end Chris Weiler's collarbone was broken and defensive end Chuck Bresnahan tore the ligaments in his right knee; both are out for the season. Running backs Napoleon McCallum (shoulder bruise) and Rich Clouse (pulled hamstring) should be ready to play against Notre Dame, a Navy spokesman said yesterday. Cornerback Eric Wallace, who separated a shoulder two weeks ago against William and Mary, will not be able to play.
At Maryland, the Terrapins have started preparation for their important Atlantic Coast Conference game this week at North Carolina. Coach Bobby Ross said he has seen a "tremendous improvement in the overall pass defense."
The pass defense, which was the team's weak point coming into the season, has played superbly the last two weeks. It allowed no touchdowns two weeks ago against Wake Forest, despite 65 passes by quarterback Gary Schofield. And Saturday, against Ben Bennett, the third-ranked passer in the nation, the Terrapins allowed only 228 yards in a 49-22 victory over Duke.
Maryland will face a Carolina team that is almost at full strength with running back Kelvin Bryant recovered from a sprained left ankle and quarterback Rod Elkins cleared to play after suffering a knee injury against Army Sept. 25.
At Howard, Coach Floyd Keith said two of his three key offensive players are injured again. Quarterback Sandy Nichols, who completed 13 of 31 passes in Howard's 20-13 victory over winless North Carolina A&T, has a sore throwing (right) arm again. His status won't be determined until later in the week. And tailback Melvin Sutton is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle.
But there's nothing wrong with receiver Tracy Singleton, who caught seven passes for 141 yards and needs just three more receptions to become the all-time leading receiver in Division I-AA.
Nationally, Herschel Walker of Georgia broke another record by scoring his 43rd career touchdown on a 64-yard screen pass in the third-ranked Bulldogs' 27-14 comeback victory over winless Kentucky and Coach Jerry Claiborne. In another late-night game Saturday, No. 14 Louisiana State scored twice on first-half passes by quarterback Alan Risher and defeated South Carolina, 14-6. Scores, D4