Going for the Hat Trick
If Virginia senior Alvin Pearman runs for 100 yards against Miami today, he would become the 15th Cavalier to run for 100 yards or more in three consecutive games. Junior Wali Lundy did it against Western Michigan, Wake Forest and North Carolina last season. Former Virginia star Tiki Barber ran for 100 yards or more in each of the first eight games of the 1996 season; Thomas Jones did it in five straight during the 1999 season. Pearman's 393 rushing yards combined in the Cavaliers' 37-16 victory over Duke and 16-0 win over Maryland are the best two-game total by a Virginia player since Jones ran for 434 yards against Georgia Tech and Buffalo in November 1999.
Virginia junior Kurt Smith has one duty on Virginia's football team: Kick the ball out of the end zone. That's what Smith mostly did in the Cavaliers' first five games, as nearly half (17 of 39) of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. But in the past three games, opponents have returned 12 of his 13 kickoffs. Maryland's Jo Jo Walker had a 39-yard kickoff return in last week's game. Virginia can't afford to kick it deep against Miami sophomore Devin Hester, who has returned three punts and one kickoff for touchdowns. "That is an issue," Virginia Coach Al Groh said. "You know that commercial where the kids go, 'More Ovaltine, mom?' Maybe we need that at the pregame meal."
Virginia's seniors and their players will be recognized before today's game. Along with Pearman, the Cavaliers will lose seven other senior starters: center Zac Yarbrough, guard Elton Brown, wide receiver Michael McGrew, nose tackle Andrew Hoffman, linebacker Dennis Haley, and safeties Jermaine Hardy and Marquis Weeks. Also, defensive end Chris Canty, who injured his knee in the second game against Syracuse and hasn't played since, will be recognized. "Last time I get to play at this stadium," Brown said. "I try not to think about it. I told my mom she might have to walk out by herself."
Flashback to 1996
The Cavaliers have played the Hurricanes once before, losing 31-21 in the 1996 Carquest Bowl. Miami safety Tremain Mack was the star of the game, returning a fumble 79 yards for a touchdown and an interception 42 yards for another score.
Of the 44 starters in that game, 20 were drafted by NFL teams, 11 from Virginia and nine from Miami. Some of the best players in Virginia history played in the game: quarterback Aaron Brooks, linebackers James Farrior and Jamie Sharper, tailback Barber, defensive back Ronde Barber and wide receiver Germane Crowell.