Orange Wins Spring Game

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Jason Snelling scored one of only two touchdowns scored on the day.

Charlottesville couldn’t hold off the rain for the entire length of the Virginia football team’s Spring Game on Saturday. Similarly, the Blue team couldn’t hold off the Orange team for the whole afternoon either. The Orange team drove down the field in the final minute of a rainy fourth quarter to win the Spring Game 10-7 on a Noah Greenbaum 44-yard field goal.

By that time, part of the announced 7,869 fans in attendance had fled because of the weather, but that didn’t stop the Orange team from rushing the field in celebration.

“Certainly, it was not an atypical Virginia game. Coming down to the end of the game like that kind of reflected the last game that we played, so I guess that’s fitting,” UVa coach Al Groh said.

As a whole, however, the winning and losing squads didn’t matter. The day was about showcasing the players who are emerging as the Cavaliers’ next generation of stars after a hard spring practice period. A number of the usual suspects had solid days including Chris Long , Marcus Hamilton, and Jason Snelling.

Three quarterbacks had impressive stats as Christian Olsen (7 of 11, 67 yards), Kevin McCabe (9 of 13, 88 yards), and Jameel Sewell (6 of 15, 53 yards) all showed flashes of strong play. Sewell also posted the game-high in rushing with 46 yards on six carries, including a pair of late scrambles that set up Greenbaum’s field goal. As for running backs, Mikell Simpson had 24 yards on 7 carries and Cedric Peerman had 14 yards and a touchdown on 4 carries to go with 4 receptions for 29 yards. Snelling posted 15 yards on 6 carries to go with 2 catches for 24 yards.

On the receiving end, Kevin Ogletree had 2 catches for 45 yards and Andrew Pearman grabbed 4 balls for 25 yards. All three returning tight ends – Jonathan Stupar , Tom Santi , and John Phillips – had a catch.

Groh, who watched from behind the offense throughout the game, was impressed with Olsen’s control of the team during the game.

“I thought Chris managed his team well. He was on top of a lot of situations. He interjected a lot of points about the situation or the play to his offensive huddle – be alert of this circumstance or this is where they like to blitz or we have to hurry up now, we don’t have too much time left on the clock,” Groh said. “It’s been a positive spring for Chris, mostly because he’s had an increased opportunity to demonstrate his skills now that he’s taken a majority of the turns. Today would certainly go on the positive side of the ledger for him.”

Clint Sintim leaps to disrupt a pass.

Defensively, Long and Hamilton showed their experience, but some newer names made their presence felt as well. Guys like linebacker Clint Sintim , defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald , linebacker Jon Copper, and linebacker Aaron Clark drew some attention in the front seven. In the defensive backfield, safeties Byron Glaspy, Jamaal Jackson , and Ryan Best had flashes of strong play. On the corners, Vic Hall, Mike Brown, Chris Cook , and Chris Gorham all made plays as well. Cook had an interception on the afternoon.

All in all, the day was an abbreviated look at some of the names that could contribute this fall when the season rolls around. The approach on both offense and defense could be described as basic. That shouldn’t be surprising considering that keeping players healthy while getting them some simulation of game experience was the order of the day.

“It’s really too early and probably harmful to draw conclusions. We’re allowed 44 practices before the first game and we’ve had 15,” Groh said. “We’ve made positive progress here through this time frame. It’s been a good offseason program. It’s been a positive and productive spring camp. We’ve got a lot done, we’re going down the right road, and we’ve got a lot more to do. … We have a lot of talented young players so they just need a lot of days like this to come along and it’s going to be very important that we bring them along as fast as we can. The clock is running whether they’re young or old.”

Yards After the Catch …

  • The Rock Weir Award winners for most improved players of the spring practice period were announced before the game. Jeffrey Fitzgerald and Clint Sintim were the winners on defense, while Mikell Simpson was given the honor on offense.
  • Michael Johnson sat out the game after re-injuring his ankle during Wednesday’s practice.
  • Chris Cook ‘s interception was set up by a pass deflection from junior safety Ben Parziale.
  • Chris Gould missed a go-ahead field goal from 46 yards after Cook’s interception. Christian Olsen pushed the team into range with a completion to Deyon Williams .
  • Punter Ryan Weigand punted 7 total times for the two teams. His average was 39.3 yards per punt.
  • While punts weren’t being returned, Alvin Pearman and Mike Brown were two players that went back to receive punts.
  • Vic Hall got flagged for pass interference trying to defend Fontel Mines in the end zone. Jason Snelling ended up scoring a touchdown after the penalty.
  • The captains for 2006 were selected by the team. Christian Olsen and Deyon Williams will represent the offense, while Marcus Hamilton and Chris Long will be defensive captains.

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