Saturday, October 24, 2009
Greetings from Charlottesville
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Hello from Scott Stadium, where it's a dreary, humid day and the rain just started to come down steadily. Maybe it's the weather that's keeping folks away, but there was a bigger line at Bodo's Bagel Bakery this morning than there was to get parking. If it continues to rain during the game, it would be the first time it's rained during a game in Scott Stadium since the 2002 game against NC State. The forecast is calling for a tenth to a quarter of an inch of rain during the game.
Here's what really matters on the field, though: Virginia will be missing defensive end Matt Conrath, arguably the top defender, against one of the most difficult offenses to defend. Conrath is out with an ankle injury. Filling in for him will be Zane Parr, who has been used mostly in dime and pass-rush situations this year, and Will Hill, a true freshman who enrolled in January.
The good news for the Cavs is that standout running back Mikell Simpson will be back in the lineup after sustaining a neck injury two weeks ago. He was held out of the Maryland game last week for precautionary reasons, but practiced all week. Because of the weather, turnovers and running the ball will be key. Having Simpson back will help even the ground game out, but the defense will have to be disciplined and play harder without Conrath if an upset is to occur today.