Verica’s improvement drives Virginia’s turnaround

By Lee Roberts  |   Friday, October 31, 2008  |  Comments( 1 )

Virginia Cavaliers
Got something to say?

Log In above and share your thoughts on this topic with other fans!

One month ago, the Virginia Cavaliers were 1-3 and reeling from a 31-3 debacle against Duke. Quarterback Peter Lalich had been dismissed from the team and backup Marc Verica took over. Based on Verica’s play to that point, UVA fans had every reason to believe it would be a long fall in Charlottesville. Since the Duke game, Verica’s steady improvement has led UVA to an undefeated October and into first place in the ACC Coastal Division.

Commentary: Verica’s first game was against Connecticut, a 45-10 loss for the Cavaliers. Verica was decent in his first start, completing 22 of 30 passes. Of course, those 22 completions only went for 158 yards, so you can tell the Cavaliers weren’t taking a lot of shots down the field. The next week, UVA traveled to Durham to face Duke – not exactly the most daunting road trip. A 31-3 loss ensued. Verica completed 19 of 42 passes and threw four interceptions. There was little hope in Charlottesville for this season or Al Groh keeping his job.

Now, we sit on the verge of November and those losses seem to be a distant memory. Verica rebounded against Maryland, completing 73.5 percent of his passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Since the Duke game, Verica has found UVA receivers on 72 percent of his passes, thrown five touchdowns and most importantly won four games. He still throws the occasional interception, but he was able to protect the ball against North Carolina, the nation’s leader in picks. He also led a two-minute drill late in the UNC game to bring UVA back from the dead.

Verica’s play has been complemented by an improved running game that's led by Cedric Peerman and a stingy, attacking defense. Groh’s coaching job since the Duke game has silenced his numerous critics. The entire team bought into Groh’s philosophy and is able to find ways to win. If the Cavaliers are able to navigate through November undefeated or even with just one loss, they’ll be playing for an ACC championship.

Fan Pulse: Virginia fans are warming up to Verica, but they still think he has a lot of room for improvement.

Injury Watch: No major injuries for the Cavaliers this week. Fullback Keith Payne is questionable.
Got something to say?

Log In above and share your thoughts on this topic with other fans! (1)

About Lee Roberts

Born in Richmond, Va, I moved south to UNC-Chapel Hill for college and received a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. I currently live in Charlotte, NC and cover Auburn, LSU and the ACC.
Article Tools Share!   |  RSS  |  Bleacher Report About Bleacher Report