Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

September 21, 2013

Cavaliers expected to have new-look offense against VMI

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia players routinely gush about how fast quarterback David Watford runs when he pulls the ball down and takes off. Cavaliers opponents may start getting to see some of that in the weeks ahead.

The Cavaliers (1-1) host VMI (1-2) of the Championship Subdivision on Saturday.

Coach Mike London’s team is coming off a bye week after a 59-10 loss to No. 2 Oregon. The extra time was mostly used to address offensive deficiencies, and much of it focused on Watford, London said.

“One of the things that we had to address is also using David as an option to run the ball as well,” London said this week, “so teams have to defend the field, not only vertically and horizontally, but know where he is at all times. There were some things that we could do to allow him to do that.

“He’s talented enough to be able to do that, and we did a lot of things to focus on that.”

Virginia has only two pass completions of more than 15 yards, the lowest figure among 125 teams at the Division I level, and the coaches would also like to see their speedy receivers used more downfield.

Watford and the Cavaliers might get to see how that kind of approach looks against the Keydets.

Quarterback Eric Kordenbrock has thrown for 683 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games. He threw for 369 yards and two touchdowns last week, but much of that came after the Keydets fell behind 23-7 against Division II North Greenville. Kordenbrock was 27 of 47 in what became a 34-27 home loss.

Virginia is paying VMI $325,000 for the game, but Keydets coach Sparky Woods said more than a payday, the team views it as a chance to line up against the best, and gain valuable exposure for the school.

“Is it good to make some money? Yeah, I think there’s certainly reason behind that,” Woods said, “but the notoriety it brings to your school as well. You can look at the obvious reasons that it’s not a good things to do, but I’d rather look at the reasons that are good and try to accomplish those.”

VMI, which plays in the Big South, is returning to the Southern Conference after this season.

———

Here are five things to watch when VMI plays at Virginia:

EXPANDING THE OFFENSE: The call for Watford to become more of a dual threat is meant to open things up for the Cavaliers, but with conference play just ahead, it’s unlikely they want to show too much just now — and unlikely they will need to unwrap anything new or fancy against the vastly undermanned Keydets.

VMI PASSING GAME: Kordenbrock became just the second VMI QB to throw for 300 yards in consecutive games with his performance last week, and the Keydets will need to him to repeat that efficiency. His 27 completions also tied the school record, and he hasn’t throw a pick in his last two games (six TDs).

FAST START: It’s priority No. 1 for the team expected to dominate, and for the underdog hoping to hang around. If Virginia takes command quickly, it could be a long day for the visitors, while if the Keydets’ passing game can come up with some early strikes, the tension gets cranked up for the home team.

GROUND GAME: Virginia has yet to put together a consistent running game, and needs to do that to build some kind of confidence with its ACC opener against Pittsburgh next up on the schedule. VMI has averaged just 68.3 yards rushing, so anything it does against Virginia’s huge front seven will be a bonus.

IGNORING HISTORY: With 83 meetings against the Keydets, Virginia has only played North Carolina (117) and Virginia Tech (94) more, and this is the last scheduled meeting of the teams. It’s time to cut ties. The Keydets are 0-26 against FBS teams since 1982 and haven’t had a winning season since 1981.

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