Virginia 44, Temple 14
Virginia's season opener at Temple was not long under way on Saturday before it became clear the Owls weren't going to pose much of a threat.
Minutes into what would become a 44-14 win, the 16th-ranked Cavaliers had forced two turnovers and converted them into scores. They had a strong running game, a pair of stellar kick returns and a cool, confident performance from new quarterback Marques Hagans. With 51/2 minutes left before halftime, the lead was 30-0.
"We did a lot of things we set out to do," Virginia Coach Al Groh said.
The Cavs (1-0) amassed 504 offensive yards, including 286 on the ground, while keeping Temple quarterback Walter Washington under constant pressure and holding the Owls (0-1) to 260 yards.
"Up front, they whipped us on both sides of the ball badly," said Temple Coach Bobby Wallace, now in his seventh year with a program that has endured 13 losing seasons in a row.
Virginia was especially impressive on the defensive front, where its linemen and linebackers lived up to the accolades heaped on them in the preseason by sacking Washington five times and holding him to 11-of-23 passing for 132 yards.
"We're striving to be a great football team," said defensive end Chris Canty, who was credited with a team-high nine tackles, which included one sack. "A lot of pressure this year is on the defense, because we have the experience and we have talent now to do that. We're ready to shoulder a lot of the burden."
Washington said what he saw from the Cavaliers on Saturday wasn't what he expected after watching game film.
"I didn't anticipate that kind of pressure," he said. "They forced me to throw a lot of bad balls and make a lot of bad reads."
Hagans, on the other hand, had a relatively easy time completing 17 of 22 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown. He looked comfortable in the pocket, while also proving capable of eluding pass rushers and making plays when necessary.
"He played like he did it before," said tailback Wali Lundy, who rushed for 104 yards on 25 carries.
"He looked good back there, very patient," right guard Elton Brown agreed. "In the huddle, he was a leader, and it showed out there today."
Brown was equally pleased as he scanned Virginia's final rushing numbers.
"It looks pretty good," he said with a grin. "All camp, that's what we emphasized: being a physical team, physical and rugged."
Perhaps the only bad news was the shoulder or arm injury that knocked sophomore Fontel Mines from the game in the first half, damaging Virginia's already shallow corps of wide receivers. Groh declined to detail the injury, saying only that it appears "long term."
The Cavaliers got off to a rousing start when multitalented linebacker Ahmad Brooks returned the opening kickoff 40 yards, but they didn't get on the board until the defense intervened. Kai Parham interrupted Temple's opening possession after only five plays by forcing Washington to fumble at its 35, setting up a field goal by Connor Hughes.
Andrew Hoffman popped the ball loose from tailback Tim Brown on Temple's next play. Set up at the 32, Virginia increased its lead to 10-0 with six minutes left in the first quarter when Lundy took a handoff at the 3-yard line, bounced left and out-ran a handful of defenders to the corner of the end zone.
It was 17-0, still in the opening quarter, after Hagans led the Cavaliers 80 yards, including big completions to Alvin Pearman and Michael McGrew. Two minutes later, Pearman returned a punt for a touchdown, 70 yards through a string of missed tackles. Lundy scored a third time with 51/2 minutes left in the half, pushing the margin to 30 points and rendering the second half all but a formality.
Cavaliers Notes: Brooks, last season's leading tackler, did not start, but he shared time equally with Parham and Rich Bedesem at inside linebacker. . . . Hughes missed two of three field goal attempts and failed on an extra point for the first time in 50 attempts. He was 23 of 25 on field goals last season. . . . Ron Darden, until last week the first-string left guard, did not make the trip because of an undisclosed injury.