Streaks in focus as Virginia hosts No. 18 Heels Print
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Friday, 17 October 2008 08:47
NCAAF Headline News

 CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -Marc Verica and the Virginia football team are feeling a lot better about things now that they've ended their inept start by winning two games in a row.
What the Cavaliers can't do, the sophomore quarterback said this week, is act like they've got everything figured out as they prepare for a visit from No. 18 North Carolina on Saturday.
Virginia (3-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) has looked like a different team in its past two games, riding the rugged running of finally healthy tailback Cedric Peerman and an increasingly comfortable Verica to impressive victories against Maryland and East Carolina.
``To get these last two wins, it's been really uplifting for our team's confidence and for my confidence,'' Verica said. ``Hopefully we can get another one this week.''
since they were No. 12 in the preseason a decade ago.
To keep their winning streak going, North Carolina will not only have to do it without dynamic receiver and kick returner Brandon Tate, who is out for the year, but to end a skid that has seen them drop their last 13 visits to Scott Stadium, a streak stretching to 1981.
It would be the kind of victory the team could build on, UNC linebacker Mark Paschal said.
``That'd be a huge step, just to get that off our back,'' he said. ``Every year it seems like we play Virginia - 'Oh, you haven't beaten them there in 30 years or whatever.' I would love for some guys next year to be sitting in this seat not having to answer these questions.''
Quarterback Cameron Sexton notes that the Tar Heels have already ended other droughts.
``We haven't'' won in Charlottesville in a long time, he said, ``but we also haven't had any success on the road before this year, and we had it this year. We're just concerned about, not the history of whatever we are, but at Virginia, we're just going to try to play well.''
Earlier this season, the Tar Heels won at Rutgers, 44-12, and then at Miami, 28-24. They will arrive having won their last two games at home, with a 38-12 rout of the same Connecticut team that dismantled Virginia 45-10, and last week's 29-24 victory against Notre Dame.
But both sides know none of that will matter on Saturday.
t there's still so much more work we have to do, so many things we have to get better at,'' said Peerman, who has run for 283 yards and three touchdowns the last two weeks. ``I think we're just unifying in the fact that there's more work to do ... to keep on winning.''
Second-year North Carolina coach Butch Davis said his team should expect to see the kind of Cavaliers team that won 22-20 at North Carolina last year, rather than the one that was outscored 128-20 in early losses to No. 6 Southern California, Connecticut and Duke.
``On film I don't see much difference between the 9-3 team we played last year and the team that's playing this year,'' he said, noting that the offensive line averages about 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds and the linebackers who dominate the defense are tall, fast and physical.
It helps, too, that Verica has gained confidence.
Since throwing four interceptions in a 31-3 loss at Duke that ended the Blue Devils' 25-game winless streak in the ACC, Verica is 50-for-66, a 76 percent completion rate.
He figures he'll have to keep his hot hand going to keep Virginia winning, too.
``What it comes down to is what's going to happen between the white lines on Saturday,'' he said, dismissing the significance of the losing skid. ``It's a long streak, but they're a really good football team right now. I think we're capable of being a really good team.''
 

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