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12 Days of ACC Football

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•  Virginia Pre-Season Video

• Head Coach Al Groh
• 2007 Roster
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2007 Schedule
Sept. 1 at Wyoming
Sept. 8 Duke
Sept. 15 at North Carolina
Sept. 22 Georgia Tech
Sept. 29 Pittsburgh
Oct. 6 at Middle Tennessee State
Oct. 13 Connecticut
Oct. 20 at Maryland
Oct. 27 at NC State
Nov. 3 Wake Forest
Nov. 10 at Miami
Nov. 24 Virginia Tech
Head Coach Al Groh

Named Virginia's 38th head football coach on December 30, 2000, Al Groh owns a record of 42-33 in his six years with the Cavaliers, including a 25-23 record against ACC competition. Virginia posted back-to-back victories in the 2002 and 2003 Continental Tire Bowls, marking just the second time in school history a UVa team won consecutive bowl games. Groh has led Virginia to bowl games in four of its last five seasons, and was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2002 after guiding the Cavaliers to a 9-5 record, a second- place conference finish with a 6-2 mark and a 48-22 Continental Tire Bowl victory over 15th-ranked West Virginia.

Prior to his arrival in Charlottesville, Groh was head coach of the NFL's New York Jets, where he posted a 9-7 mark in his only year at the helm. He was the Jets' linebackers coach for three seasons (1997-99) before being named head coach. Prior to his tenure with the Jets, Groh was an assistant coach under Bill Parcells with the New England Patriots from 1993 to 1996. He spent the 1992 season as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach on Bill Belichick's staff with the Cleveland Browns. Groh joined the New York Giants' staff in 1989, coaching the Giants' linebackers from 1989 to 1990, and was defensive coordinator in 1991. He got his first taste of NFL coaching when he joined the Atlanta Falcons as special teams and tight ends coach in 1987.

His first collegiate head coaching assignment was at Wake Forest from 1981-86, where his teams compiled a 26-40 overall record. At the time, he was the second-winningest coach in school history. He began his coaching career at Albemarle High School in Charlottesville in 1967. The following year, he moved to Tom Cahill's staff at Army where he was the defensive coach for the plebe squad and worked with Parcells for the first time in his career.

He returned to Virginia in 1970 to serve as the head coach of the freshmen team and as the defensive line coach through the 1972 season. From 1973 to 1977 he served as an assistant at North Carolina. He joined Parcells at Air Force in 1978 as defensive coordinator before moving to Texas Tech in 1980 as defensive coordinator.

 
Virginia
 
Virginia

2006: 5-7 Overall, 4-4 ACC
3rd in Coastal Division

2007 Preseason Pick: 4th in Coastal Division

2007 Preview
Much Anticipated 2007 Season Arrives for the Cavaliers

By Al Featherston for theACC.com

A year ago, Al Groh joked that he was playing the 2006 season with his 2007 team.

Actually, it wasn't so much a joke as an honest explanation for what was clearly a rebuilding season. Virginia's coach had just three senior starters in the 2006 lineup and he had to rely on a freshman quarterback and a host of newcomers at a number of other key positions, especially along the offensive line.

But now 2007 is finally here and Groh's talent has caught up with the calendar. He has 19 returning starters, including 10 on a defense that finished the nation ranked No. 17 in fewest total yards allowed.

"It's a season that the staff and the players have looked forward to with significant anticipation," Groh said at the ACC Football Kickoff. "I think everybody feels very positive, but I'd say it's more of a little attitude toward performing the way that we think this team can perform. I can clearly see that there are a lot more players that are much more familiar and comfortable that they can do their job. A lot of them were sticking their toe in the water for the first time last year."

That includes quarterback Jameel Sewell, a mobile lefthander, who was one of four freshmen quarterbacks who saw significant starting action in the ACC last season. The Richmond, Va., product moved in as a starter in the fourth game of the season and remained behind center for the team's final nine games. While his overall numbers weren't eye-popping, he showed considerable promise late in the season, especially when he led the Cavaliers to a 17-7 victory over Miami - hitting 22 of 33 passes for 217 yards and running for two touchdowns.

Sewell underwent surgery on his right (non-throwing) wrist last December and was limited during spring drills. But Groh sounds confident that his talented young signal caller will be ready for the new season.

"He's been a full participant in the summer off-season program," Groh said. "He's positive about where he is. We're positive about where he is. He told me they were working one day on the field and he tripped and put his hand out to cushion himself. He got up after the play and it was like, 'Wow, this is still good.' "

Sophomore Quarterback
Jameel Sewell
Sewell is especially important on a team that will be breaking in several new skill performers. Despite the wealth of returning talent, Groh does have to replace do-everything running back Jason Snelling, who led the team in rushing last season and finished as the team's No. 2 receiver. He's also expecting to replace top receiver Kevin Ogletree, who underwent ACL surgery in the off-season and will probably sit out the season.

"Miracles do occur, but as we stated when it occurred, it is a 12-month injury and sometimes it's longer than that before the player is ready to perform at the level he was on the day that he was injured," Groh said.

The departure of Snelling and the unexpected loss of Ogletree makes it more tempting for Groh to utilize Sewell's mobility as a big part of his offense.

"It's a skill that he has," Groh said, "but you've got to balance that with, 'He's our key guy right now.' We don't want to overexpose him to unnecessary hits. We spend a lot of time trying to protect the quarterback so he doesn't get hit."

The demands on Sewell probably will depend on how much help he gets from Virginia's other potential playmakers. Junior Cedric Peerman, an outstanding kick returner in his first two seasons; speedy redshirt freshman Raynard Horne; and redshirt freshman Keith Payne, a powerful 6-3, 234-pounder, are vying to take Snelling's place as the team's primary ground threat. Sewell's top receiving target is likely to be veteran tight end Tom Santi, the pre-season All-ACC pick and a worthy successor to position that previously has been filled by such standouts as Chris Luzar, Heath Miller and Patrick Estes.

Senior Defensive End
Chris Long
If Virginia's offense still has something to prove, the Cavalier defense merely has to maintain last season's level of excellence to be successful. That should not be hard with the likes of defensive end Chris Long, linebacker Antonio Appleby and safety Nate Lyles returning from a unit that shut out two ACC opponents last season and limited two more to a single touchdown.

Groh, who gave up an NFL head coaching job to return to his alma mater, has won 42 games and led the Cavs to four bowls in his first six seasons in Charlottesville. His 5-7 record last year was just the second losing season in his Virginia tenure, matching the record in his first season on the job.

A year after Groh's 2001 team finished 5-7, his 2002 Virginia team won nine games and finished second in the ACC.

Is a similar surge possible this year?

"Thinking specifically of the years when I was the head coach, this will be the 14th time," he said. "Each year has felt the same for me going into the season. There is just an urgency to try to win games. I feel the challenge on a season-by-season basis to make our team add up to everything it can be. It's an ongoing thing. It's what we live with, but it sort of energizes us, too."

Several of Groh's players sound energized by criticism from critics disappointed by last season's losing record.

"No disrespect to anybody's opinion, but I wouldn't rather play for anybody but Coach Groh," Chris Long said. "He's made me the player and the man that I am today. Coach Groh is a hard-nosed, old-school guy."

And the Cavaliers hope to demonstrate that last season was merely a case of a painfully young team growing through a learning experience.

"I couldn't feel any more pressure this season than I put on myself," Santi said. "People can think what they want and read what they want, but all the greatest intentions aren't going to win a football game for you."

STRENGTHS: A proven, experienced defense, anchored by Long, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long ... depth at tight end ... a stable, experienced offensive line that returns intact ... the return of QB Jameel Sewell and a season of on-the-job training.

CONCERNS: The health of Sewell after off-season wrist surgery ... replacing injured wide receiver Kevin Ogletree ... finding a dependable running back to replace Snelling.

EARLY BELLWEATHER GAME: The Cavaliers travel to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina in Sept. 15. The Tar Heels, another young team hoping to show improvement this season, have often tested Virginia in Kenan Stadium.

Pre-Season Information
 

Junior Wide Receiver
Kevin Ogletree
A Look Back
Virginia won three of its last five games to finish 5-7 overall and third in the Coastal Division with a 4-4 league mark ... the Cavaliers held 10 opponents to under 350 yards of total offense and finished 15th nationally in passing defense (170.2) and 17th nationally in total defense (289.5) ... freshman QB Jameel Sewell completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,342 yards and five TDs and finished 11th in the ACC in total offense (139.5) ... WR Kevin Ogletree caught two or more passes in 11 straight games and was third in the ACC in receptions (4.3) and eighth in receiving yardage (48.5).

Who’s Gone
The Cavaliers lose just three starters, an ACC low. On offense, leading rusher Jason Snelling departs after rushing for 772 yards as does wide receiver Fontel Mines. The Cavaliers could be without their leading receiver from last year, as Kevin Ogletree suffered a knee injury during spring practice which could force him to miss the entire 2007 campaign. On defense, the one loss is an important one. Marcus Hamilton completed his career with 15 career interceptions which put him tied for 13th on the all-time ACC interception list.

A Look Ahead
Virginia enters the 2007 season with more returning starters--19- -than any other school. In all, 10 starters return to a defensive unit which ranked 17th nationally in total defense. Defensive ends Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald combined to make 24 tackles for loss...Long earned 2nd-team All-ACC honors, while Fitzgerald was named a firstteam Freshman All-America by The Sporting News and the AFCA...All four starting linebackers also return from last fall including Clint Sintium, Jermaine Dias, Jon Copper and Antonio Appleby. On offense, all five starters return to the line including sophomore Will Barker, who was named a second-team Freshman All-America by The Sporting News...Quarterback Jameel Sewell started the final nine games and was named an Honorable Mention Freshman All-America by The Sporting News.

Numbers
3 - The number of times Virginia’s defense held its opponents to less than 200 yards of total offense in 2006.

7 - The number of ACC football players--which includes Virginia’s Chris Long-- who are on the pre-season watch list for the prestigious Bronco Nagurski Trophy. The Nagurski is given annually to the top defensive player in college football.

24 - Defensive ends Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald combined to make 24 tackles for a loss (12 each), last year throwing opponents for a total of 109 yards in losses.

27.3 - Junior tailback Cedric Peerman tied for third in the ACC for kickoff return average, having returned 19 for an average of 27.3. He also ranked 12th nationally.

58 - Sophomore quarterback Jameel Sewell completed 58 percent of his passes last fall as a freshman, connecting on 143 of 247, while throwing just six interceptions.

61 - Number of career receptions for tight end Tom Santi heading into his senior season. Santi ranked 4th among all ACC tight ends last fall with 29 catches.

81 - Linebacker Jon Copper, who returns for his junior season this fall, led all Virginia defenders with 81 tackles in 2006.

196 - Virginia holds the ACC record for scoring in the most consecutive games. The Cavaliers scored in 196 straight games during the 1984-2000 seasons.

1,542 - QB Jameel Sewell totalled 1,542 total yards in his nine starts at quarterback as a freshman, the 12th best total by a freshman in ACC history.

 
 
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