Keys to the Game – North Carolina

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Jason Snelling and all of the Cavs’ ballcarriers should be excited to play vs. UNC.

For the second time this season, the Virginia football team faces a short rest period between games. The Hoos didn’t do so well with that scenario the first time, falling to Georgia Tech on Thursday night in Atlanta. The Cavaliers try to reverse the result tonight when North Carolina comes to Charlottesville. Here are 5 “Keys to the Game” for the Cavaliers with a little help from some Bruce Springsteen song titles.

Born To Run

The use of this song title is pretty self explanatory. Run the football. Every opponent that UNC has faced this season has gained at least 100 yards rushing. That included Division I-AA Furman, which racked up 211 yards on the ground in a 45-42 loss. In other words, Carolina has yet to show it can stop the run.

That means the Hoos need to get the ball in the hands of Jason Snelling, who has gotten his game on track the last several weeks. Mix in some Cedric Peerman between the tackles and some Mikell Simpson as a change pace and the Heels will have their hands full. Oh, the Cavs might want to use some more designed runs for quarterback Jameel Sewell too – he had 92 yards and a touchdown on the ground last week. That actually takes us to Key No. 2.

Born In the U.S.A

Surely, Jameel Sewell wants to celebrate his birthday in style with a win on ESPN.

Sewell is celebrating today. Born in the U.S.A (Richmond, Virginia, to be exact) in 1987, he his celebrating his 19th birthday today. That means he’ll be ready to put on quite a show for his family, his team, Scott Stadium, ESPN, and anyone else that wants to tune in for the game.

Besides, he already has reason to be excited. Other than one costly throw against Maryland, Sewell put together an outstanding performance. In addition to the rushing yards mentioned above, Sewell also completed 13 of 21 passes for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was only sacked one time.

But more important than the statistics, perhaps, was his demeanor. Sewell has become a leader in the last few weeks. He wanted to go for it on fourth down in Maryland territory. He bounced back after the interception with a lot of moxie, leading his team to a touchdown. In other words, a lot of the intangible signs that are important with the quarterback position are starting to show.

Add in the intangible of a birthday celebration and the Hoos could let Sewell lead the way to victory tonight.

My Hometown

Virginia coach Al Groh said this week that the Cavaliers’ long Charlottesville winning streak against North Carolina really has nothing to do with the team’s preparation for the Heels this week. You know what, he’s right. It has nothing to do with the team’s prep.

But it has a lot to do with the fans’ preparation. Virginia fans hate North Carolina. To some alums, this game means more than Virginia Tech. Since that’s the case, Cavalier fans need to remind the Tar Heels just where they are tonight. If Scott Stadium rocks with noise from beginning to end, it just might help the Hoos post a blowout.

Cover Me

Kevin Ogletree had two touchdown catches last week.

Of course, one reason Sewell had such a good outing against the Terps was Kevin Ogletree . The Cavaliers’ young receiver had an explosive game last Saturday, catching three passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

Much of Ogletree’s success came while he was playing as the slot receiver, the position at which he practiced for the majority of his spring reps. When Deyon Williams suffered an injury in the preseason, that meant Ogletree had to slide outside to take his place. Now that Williams is back in action, it allows Ogletree to line up in the slot sometimes – the advantages of that were apparent against Maryland. He has the speed to stretch the defense and a knack for getting open. Plus, the slot receiver can often find mismatches against safeties, linebackers, or nickel backs (just ask Virginia about Calvin Johnson as the slot receiver).

The best part about last week’s showing by Ogletree, however, is the similarity between the defenses of Maryland and UNC. Neither team has particularly strong cover safeties, which means Ogletree – or, at times, the tight ends – could have quite an advantage again tonight. Can the Heels cover him?

Prove It All Night/Drive All Night

I couldn’t decide which song title fit the best here, but the message is the same. Virginia needs to come out strong for the second straight game. This time, however, there can be no letting up. That means no settling for field goals in the red zone – get aggressive down there. That means taking some risks – mix in a reverse, a trick play, a fake punt, and a long bomb on 2nd-and-short. That means no matter how big the halftime lead looks, hang some more on the Heels. It won’t be running up the score until the fourth quarter.

The Cavaliers need to prove all night that this program isn’t going the same direction as UNC’s ship.

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