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Scattershooting: Expect UVa to run the ball against VMI

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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 4:03 pm, Thu Sep 19, 2013.

Scattershooting around the ACC, while thinking Mike London will work hard on running the ball and passing downfield against VMI on Saturday…

That’s what the Cavaliers worked on in practice the past two weeks and you can expect offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild to build some confidence in those phases of the game against the Keydets. London wants Virginia to be a power running team, which is difficult to do if the offensive line doesn’t dominate.

“We talked about being able to run the ball,” London said about last week’s bye. “The biggest thing for us was trying to get some running backs back. We had some ankle issues and they’re back on the slow mend.”

Heading into the meat of the schedule, at least one of the tailbacks really needs to step up and become a runner who can become a 100-yard back and make big plays.

Look for Fairchild to use quarterback David Watford on some designated running plays, something that will come in hand in loosening up defenses that crowd the line of scrimmage in weeks ahead.

Of course, the passing game will do that as well, but more predictably than Watford taking off for big gains.

“I think we have fast enough receivers to get even or behind secondary guys,” London said.

If the Cavaliers are going to have a shot at the postseason, all this needs to develop quickly over the next two weeks or offense could be a struggle for most of the season.

Virginia is currently tied for No. 115 in the nation in scoring offense, tied for 99th in rushing offense, No. 111 in passing offense and No. 118 in total offense.

Loneliest guy in town

That probably was Virginia Tech kicker Cody Journell after last week’s narrow win over East Carolina when he missed several field goals and an extra point.

Coach Frank Beamer said he’s talked to his kicker and believes Journell is back to normal after last week’s near disaster.

“I think it started out mechanical and then maybe, I can’t speak for him, but you know, maybe got to be a little bit of a mental thing,” Beamer said. “I think his plant foot was a concern early and then that caused a hoodwink.”

Marilyn would like Jackets’ offense

Film star Marilyn Monroe was famous for her song, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” She’d probably like Paul Johnson’s new offensive formation that may help open up things for the Yellow Jackets’ offense.

It’s a Diamond formation and Johnson was understandably quiet about the details of the new set during Wednesday’s ACC Football Coaches teleconference.

“It’s just a little change-up. It’s out of the gun, which last year, we ran a lot of widespread out of the gun,” Johnson divulged. “I shouldn’t say a lot, but we ran some.”

This year, all three backs are in the backfield and for the lack of a better name, Johnson tabbed it the Diamond formation.

North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, who will face the formation on Saturday, said it’s a totally different style of offense and gives opposing defenses even more to prepare for, if getting ready for the triple option wasn’t enough.

“It’s two different styles of offense,” Fedora said. “They are able to do it because of Vad Lee (QB). It makes it very hard on your defense.”

It’s not Hannah Montana

Syracuse will host Tulane this weekend at the Carrier Dome and Orangemen coach Scott Shafer’s ears perked up when he heard the name of the Green Wave’s quarterback: Nick Montana.

Yes, Nick comes from football royalty. The 6-foot-3 platinum blonde is the son of Hall of Famer Joe Montana. Nick transferred to Tulane in January after throwing for 2,878 yards and 25 TDs at Mt. San Antonio Junior College in California last season.

“He’s a good player,” Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said of the younger Montana. “I idolized his dad. I was a quarterback in college and Holy Cow, you see the Montana name, you know, that guy was the best. His son knows how to play the game.”

End of rivalry

Will Saturday’s Maryland vs. West Virginia game be the end of a long standing rivalry? The Mountaineers have said they’d like to continue scheduling the Terps because many of WVU’s new opponents in the Big 12 have little tradition with Mountaineer fans and are so far away.

The Terps, who are scheduled to move to the Big 10 next season and will likely find the same issues as West Virginia, might want to continue to play the Mountaineers, but no official word has come.

Maryland will likely only have three nonconference games in the future, so Coach Randy Edsall said he would have to talk with AD Kevin Anderson about scheduling philosophy once the Terps exit the ACC. In addition, Edsall said Maryland is booked through 2021 and may not have room for WVU.

Stat of the week

Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee would lead the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 243.61 if he had three more pass attempts, but doesn’t appear in those statistics because quarterbacks must average 15 throws per game to qualify.

Lee is tied for the ACC lead in TD passes with Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Maryland’s C.J. Brown, each with six.

Quote of the week

Virginia’s Mike London on playing VMI on military day:

“I played in a couple of games where you play an academy or military school and I don’t know if they’re going to march their cadets in, but that’s one of the most impressive things you’ll ever see. I grew up in a household like that (London’s father is a 30-year Air Force veteran) and I still say yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am. And that is the way it will always be.”

Short yardage…

…Clemson lost wide receiver Charone Peake due to an ACL injury but Coach Dabo Swinney said that the Tigers will continue to throw the ball just as much. …

The picks

Last week: 9-1. To date: 30-5. Tonight: Clemson 42, N.C. State 17. Saturday: Army 24, Wake Forest 20; Pitt 19, Duke 14; Florida State 56, Bethune-Cookman 3; Georgia Tech 27, North Carolina 24; West Virginia 23, Maryland 17; Miami 45, Savannah State 0; Syracuse 26, Tulane 17; Virginia Tech 33, Marshall 20; Virginia 54, VMI 7; Louisville 44, Florida International 10; Notre Dame 27, Michigan State 24.

Hootie’s Power Rankings

1. Clemson. Last week: 1. Record: 2-0. Tigers are riding high and should have no trouble rolling over N.C. State just like last year.

2. Florida State. Last week: 2. Record: 2-0. Seminoles get another softie this weekend and may not be tested until Oct. 19 at Clemson.

3. Miami. Last week: 3. Record 2-0. Hurricanes should easily blow through this weekend but has Georgia Tech in a week.

4. Georgia Tech. Last week: 6. Record: 2-0. Yellow Jackets are a better offense with Vad Lee at QB and this weekend will be a huge test at home against the Tar Heels that we think they’ll pass.

5. North Carolina. Last week: 4. Record: 1-1. A lot is riding on a trip to Atlanta. Heels can make a lot of noise with a win.

6. Virginia Tech. Last week: 5. Record: 2-1. Do we detect offensive shortcomings in Blacksburg? And kicker problems, too? Can the Hokies keep winning with only a premiere defense?

7. Syracuse. Last week: 7. Record: 1-2. The Orange plays at home again and should have enough to fight off Joe Montana’s son and the Green Wave.

8. Virginia. Last week: 8. Record: 1-1. The Cavaliers should be able to name their score against the Keydets. Tell me why again they play this game?

9. Boston College. Last week: 9. Record: 2-1. Eagles didn’t stink it up against Southern Cal and now get a week off to recover.

10. Maryland. Last week: 10. Record: 3-0. A 3-0 team ranked 10th in the league? You dare say? Terps struggled against a really bad UConn team. We’re not convinced.

11. N.C. State. Last Week: 11. Record: 2-0. Wolfpack is unbeaten, but hasn’t played anybody.

12. Duke. Last week: 12. Record: 2-1. Blue Devils are decent, but they’ll struggle against most ACC teams.

13. Pittsburgh. Last week: 13. Record: 1-1. Lots of issues to resolve, but the Panthers will beat the Blue Devils if they have learned to play pass defense.

14. Wake Forest. Last week: 14. Record: 1-2. The biggest disappointment in the league thus far. Deacs’ option offense hasn’t clicked.

Follow Jerry Ratcliffe on Twitter

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