Tuesday Press Conference Notes ’08 – Wake Forest

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Chances are another barnburner is in store this week. After all, the Cavaliers have made a habit of playing close games the last two seasons. Even more relevant to this week, however, is just how tightly contested this series has been of late. The last four games have been decided by four points or less – Wake won 34-31 in 2001, UVa won 38-34 in 2002, 27-24 in 2003, and 17-16 in 2007.

Groh is impressed with how knowledgeable the Deacons’ seasoned players appear during the games because of their familiarity with the WFU system.

“Every adjustment that has to be made on defense, bam, they click right into it because they’ve been making that adjustment for a long time,” UVa coach Al Groh said. “Different pressures that come up offensively, they pick ’em up very cleanly. … The accumulated turns at doing different things is quite apparent.”

Hall Monitor

Virginia’s Hall Simmons is quickly becoming a special teams favorite among fans in the mold of Josh Zidenberg , Alex Seals, and Isaiah Ekejiuba. Simmons, a 5’9″, 203-pound junior running back, recovered a fumble and downed a kick on the punt coverage team last week.

“He’s a great kid. The players love him,” Groh said. “He’s so intense and with everything. He’s intense conversationally, even though he’s got a good smile, he’s intense in the offseason program, he’s intense in training. Every play in practice is full speed ahead. The players really respect what he’s put into it. He’s a very purposeful kid. His ambition is to be a Navy Seal if that gives you a little insight into him.”

After Further Review

Al Groh indicated Tuesday that UVa had submitted two inquiries to the ACC after the Miami game, a very unusual practice for the Hoos because they normally don’t send anything in after losses. The first was about the play clock expiring on the Hurricanes on 4th-and-2 in the first quarter; the clock appeared to expire before the snap, but Miami converted and eventually scored a touchdown on the drive.

The second, of course, was the Kevin Ogletree play that has been a heavy topic of discussion on The Sabre message boards and elsewhere. Ogletree appears to catch the ball, take one full step inbounds, take another step out of bounds, and then fall to the ground before losing the ball. The play was ruled incomplete on the field.

“I was a little shocked just because I knew I caught it. There was no reason to see I bobbled it or that a foot wasn’t inbounds,” Ogletree said. “I had to forget about quickly; you never question the ruling of the officials or anything, just hope they use their better judgment next time.”

A booth review failed to overturn the call as well. That meant the Cavaliers failed to convert the 3rd-and-2 play and had to punt the ball.

“That’s easily looked at. Multiple television angles … and I’m sure you all have seen it repeatedly. … What did we all see that the person that we’re paying to see it didn’t see? It’s a legitimate question to ask,” Groh said. “He hit the ground about two yards out of bounds. Everybody who’s looked at it – everybody, men, women, children, coaches, ACC representatives – everybody says it was a good catch. There’s only one person on the planet who didn’t see it that way. I’m not criticizing him, I’m just saying that’s the facts. We saw it one way, he saw it the other way, he had the vote. … I can see it on the field. We all miss things. It leaves you wondering what are we spending all this money on the technology for.”

John Phillips

Worth Quoting

“Tight ends, unless they’re real ‘wow’ players, are typically not early selections. You’ve got to be a Kellen Winslow type player. Who was a better college tight end than Heath Miller? And now that he’s gotten to the NFL, who’s been a much better NFL tight end than Heath Miller? And yet, he was the 31st selection. So that gives us a pretty good idea of how teams are willing to keep pushing that [tight end] back. … An advantage to the coach when John gets to a team is that he’s probably going to be a very good special teams player on four or five units, which means he’s got a good chance, even as a young player, to be one of the 45 players that goes to the game and if he goes, he’s going to play. He’s been on the kickoff return team here, the kickoff coverage team, the punt team, the punt return team in earlier years, he’s on the field goal team so there’s five right there.” – Al Groh on John Phillips ‘ NFL Draft prospects.

Cedric Peerman

The Simpson Effect

With Mikell Simpson now out for the season with a clavicle fracture, the Cavaliers will have a different situation at running back for the rest of the season. Simpson was the primary back-up and had logged 87 carries on the season. The only other non-quarterbacks to have at least five carries are Rashawn Jackson , Raynard Horne , and Keith Payne ; that trio has combined for 25 carries on the season (Jackson 15, Horne and Payne 5 each). Groh expects Jackson and Horne to be Peerman’s back-ups.

“Jackson and Horne have been regular participants in the team work [sessions all season],” Groh said.

How does the move impact Peerman? Groh doesn’t necessarily think it will have too much of a carry-over effect on Peerman because of his veteran status in the program and practice habits.

“We try to take care of Cedric curing the course of the week,” Groh said. “One, he’s a fifth-year player. He knows the looks. He knows pass protection. He knows when this linebacker comes, it’s his man. Because of the nature of the game he plays, as rugged and physical as it is, the most important thing is to have him … physically ready to go on Saturdays. We moderate his plays during the course of the week. That’s resulted in the other potential runners getting their looks.”

Voting Day

With Election Day capturing the attention of the United States, plenty of questions were hurled at the players on Tuesday about voting.

Clint Sintim was up at 5:45 a.m. to vote, thinking it would mean he wouldn’t wait in line. That plan didn’t work as he had to wait a few minutes to vote, but not too long. Jon Copper ended up at the wrong precinct, but planned to vote after his minutes with the media. Cedric Peerman apparently drove back to Lynchburg early in the day to cast his ballot.

Groh also said players voting or thinking about voting wasn’t as prevalent during his playing days more than 40 years ago.

“I don’t think we gave much thought to it. Of course, it wasn’t publicized the way it is now either,” Groh said. “They’ve been aware of it throughout the process. We talked about it a couple of weeks ago.”

Injury Updates

Nick Jenkins has been limited the past two weeks against Georgia Tech and Miami because of ankle injury, but Groh said Tuesday that the Cavaliers “should be back to having a rotation” at nose tackle this week.

Fullback/running back Keith Payne is close to returning to action after spending several weeks as “out” on the injury report with a hand injury suffered in the Duke game. “He’ll start to participate this week and we’ll see where that takes us,” Groh said.

Depth Chart Notes

Fun With Numbers

  • Virginia has won 10 straight road games against Wake Forest, dating back to 1985. In fact, UVa has won 20 of the last 21 meetings overall.
  • Last week marked the first time Virginia lost a game when Cedric Peerman gets 15 or more rushing attempts. The Cavaliers record in that scenario is now 11-1.
  • Based on opponent winning percentage, UVa ranks No. 1 in the NCAA’s Toughest Schedule Ratings this week. Cav opponents have a .6889 winning percentage.
  • Wake Forest has won 6 straight ACC home games.
  • The Demon Deacons rank No. 4 nationally in turnover margin at +11.
  • Wake QB Riley Skinner has attempted 110 straight passes without an interception.

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