Although Virginia is 4-0 and off to its best start in 31 years, Cavaliers Coach George Welsh is not confident about his team's chances Saturday at Maryland. The Terrapins routed Virginia, 45-14, last year and have beaten the Cavaliers 11 straight times.
"Last year, Maryland just lined up and the game was over that quickly," said Welsh, whose team is 2-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference but has never won three straight conference games. "There was a big difference between the two teams. We are better in every area than we were last year, but just whether we've closed that gap enough, I'm not sure.
"I don't know if we're in the same league as Maryland. We don't have the tradition they do. They've got a big-league quarterback and are a lot quicker than we are."
The Cavaliers have outscored their opposition, 112-74. Running backs Howard Petty (291 yards) and Derek Jenkins (230) are among the area's rushing leaders. Quarterback Wayne Schuchts has completed 44 of 83 passes for an area-high 703 yards and five touchdowns.
"Maryland is a tough team to get ready for because of its (wide tackle six) defense," Welsh said. "It's not that hard or difficult, but it's seldom used and hard to get used to. I expect they'll be blitzing a lot. I know we can't stuff the ball down their throats."
Virginia's only injured starter is safety Rich Riccardi, who missed last week's 26-14 victory over North Carolina State. Maryland quarterback Boomer Esiason is expected to take advantage of the Cavaliers' weak secondary, which has given up an average of 186 yards passing per game.
Esiason missed Maryland's 13-7 victory over Pittsburgh last week with a bruised shoulder, but will start against Virginia. Esiason has completed 40 of 73 passes for 523 yards. Receiver Greg Hill has caught eight passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
Maryland (2-1) will be without fullback Dave D'Addio, the team's leading receiver and third-leading rusher, who has a thigh injury. Rick Badanjek will start in his place.