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Scouting Report: Virginia

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Opponent #2: Virginia Cavaliers

2010 Record: 1-0 (34-13 over Richmond)

2009 Record: 3-9 (2-6 in the ACC)

Series History: 1-0 USC (Only meeting: 52-7 Trojans in 2008)

Head Coach: Mike London (1st season)

London was the head coach at Richmond the past two seasons, but he promptly dispatched the Spiders in his first game as the Cavs head man.  He was UVa's defensive coordinator before taking the Richmond job.

Players to Watch: RB Keith Payne (Senior, Herndon, VA); CB Ras-I Dowling (Senior, Chesapeake, VA)

Payne is a bruising 255 pound 23-year-old back, who returned from a year off to run for a career-high 114 yards and a UVa modern record-tying 4 TDs in the opener.  He'll test the Trojans tackling ability.

Dowling is one of the top corner prospects in the nation.  The preseason Thorpe Award candidate missed the Richmond game with a slight hamstring pull, but he's unlikely to sit out a primetime matchup with Ronald Johnson.

Strength: Balanced Offense

While Richmond is not USC, the Cavs were efficient and effective in all aspects of their offense in game one.  QB Marc Verica was 24/35 for 283 yards and 1 TD.  He'll primarily aim for receivers Kris Burd and Dontrelle Inman, who are coming off career games.  And of course, Payne brings the power from the backfield.

London plans to use that balanced attack to control the time of possession against the Trojans.  "USC is a team that plays fast and tries to capitalize on the things that you don't do.  So, we need to make sure that we keep the clock running with the running game, with short passes that are caught, keep the clock moving, keep the chains moving."

Weakness: All Talent, No Results

Virginia has won just 22 games in the last four seasons, an average of 5.5 wins per year.  Yet, they continue to produce top NFL draft picks like OL D'Brickashaw Ferguson (#4 overall in '06), DE Chris Long (#2 overall in in '08) and OL Branden Albert (#15 overall in '08).

While they look better on paper than Hawaii, their traditional pro-style offense plays into the hands of what USC does best.

London on USC: "When you look at the game, you see athleticism - from everybody.  Even the water boy is athletic and fast."

Virginia Verdict

If you can believe it, this is Virginia's first ever football game in the state of California.  More importantly, they'll be kicking off at 10:30 pm body time, so they'll be fighting weary legs if they don't manage the trip well.

Schematically, Virginia is far more traditional than Hawaii, which will give the Trojans a chance to work against similar formations that they do in practice. 

They were +2 in the turnover battle against Richmond, including a clean game from the Cavs offense, so they'll need to capitalize on Trojan mistakes and then work the clock with their power running back if they are going to pull off a Coliseum upset.

With a balanced offense and a defensive-minded head coach, Virginia could win some ACC games this season, but they'll likely be out of their depth Saturday.

Ronald Johnson caught a memorable TD pass from Mark Sanchez vs. Virginia in 2008.








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