No. 25 Virginia looks for its first 3-0 start since 2005 when it hosts Florida State in the ACC opener for both teams on Saturday night in Charlottesville.
That was the same season the Cavaliers (2-0) posted their most recent home victory against the Seminoles (1-1), who hold a 15-3 lead in the all-time series.
Following Virginia's 26-21 upset of No. 4 Florida State on Oct. 15, 2005, Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden remarked, "We couldn't stop that dadgum No. 18." He was referring to UVA quarterback Marques Hagans, who completed 27 of 36 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns.
Fourteen years later, second-year FSU coach Willie Taggart will be watching out for that dadgum No. 3 at Scott Stadium. That would be senior QB Bryce Perkins, who last week became the fastest in Virginia history to 3,000 career passing and 1,000 rushing yards in just his 15th game -- 16 fewer than the previous record set by Shawn Moore (1987-90).
Perkins passed for 192 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 68 yards and a score in last Friday's 52-17 defeat of William & Mary.
"I'm excited to play FSU," Perkins said "They're a great team with a great history, and it's going to be a fun one."
Taggart is also concerned with Virginia's D, which ranks 14th nationally (No. 2 in the ACC) in total defense, allowing 228 yards per game. The Cavs are giving up just 70.5 rushing yards per game but will be tested by junior Cam Akers (36 carries for 193 yards and two TDs vs. Louisiana Monroe). And star UVA cornerback Bryce Hall will have his hands full with sophomore playmaker Tamorrion Terry.
"They've got some talented guys in the secondary. Up front, they're strong. Linebackers are big and strong, physical," Taggart said. "They're well coached and can play hard."
As for his own quarterback, Taggart is sticking with sophomore James Blackman after Saturday's 45-44 overtime escape against ULM and a season-opening loss to Boise State.
"James played well," Taggart said. "He graded out higher than he did the week before. He did make better reads than what he did the week before, so he played well."
This is the first time in the series that the Cavaliers are ranked and the Seminoles aren't, but Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall knows his opponent is dangerous. Blackman has thrown six touchdown passes to six different receivers this season.
"They're dynamic and explosive and capable of putting a lot of points on the board and doing it really quickly," Mendenhall said. "The number of balls that go downfield, I'm not sure I've seen as many in teams that I've prepared for. They're certainly talented enough at every position."
The Seminoles are nearly at full strength. Senior punter Logan Tyler remains suspended indefinitely and 6-foot-7 junior left tackle Jauan Williams is questionable with a sprained ankle.
For Virginia, sophomore running back Wayne Taulapapa was held out last weekend with an undisclosed injury and his status is uncertain. He started the opener against Pitt and ran for 66 yards and a TD.
--Field Level Media