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Cavaliers aren't having a ball in practice
Rested Cavaliers prepare for Georgia Tech

 Virginia wide receiver Dominique Terrell (2) scores a touchdown in overtime during their NCAA college football game against Idaho, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Charlottesville, Va. Virginia won 21-20. (AP Photo/The Daily Progress, Sabrina Schaeffer) ------ 1 col color
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Date published: 10/11/2011

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

CHARLOTTESVILLE

--There has been something missing from the Virginia football team's defensive practice sessions lately.

The Cavaliers have decided to shun the one thing that most would assume is necessary for preparation: a football.

Virginia (3-2, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) isn't using the pigskin as it prepares to host No. 12 Georgia Tech on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets (6-0, 3-0) are known for their triple option offense, so the Cavaliers believe it's better to concentrate on hitting every person, not chasing the ball around.

"You never know who's going to get the football in this offense," junior defensive end Billy Schautz said yesterday. "So we want to tackle every option."

It may take a focused effort to slow down Georgia Tech's potent rushing attack. The Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 4 in the nation in rushing yards per game (360.5).

Schautz said because of the uniqueness of Georgia Tech's system, Virginia's players have met more individually with position coaches to ensure they know their assignments.

Schautz said coaches have also focused heavily on simulating Georgia Tech's offense rather than the usual practice matchups.

Virginia senior holder Jacob Hodges, a Mountain View High School graduate, has played the role of Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington in practice.

Hodges was a quarterback at Mountain View. He previously played at Halifax High School, and he has some experience in an offense similar to Georgia Tech's.

Schautz said the scout team can't simulate the Yellow Jackets' speed, but every little bit helps.

"I wouldn't think he's quite as dynamic as Tevin Washington," Schautz said of Hodges. "But he's put in a lot of work. He knows how to take the steps and where to go."

NOT SO SPECIAL

The Cavaliers are coming off a bye week. Head coach Mike London said he used the opportunity to address the team's issues on special teams, particularly at punt returner.

True freshman Dominique Terrell has struggled in the role. London said that's partly because Terrell returned many punts in high school after they rolled on the ground for several yards.

The Cavaliers rank 83rd in the nation in punt returns (6.1 yards per attempt). So during the bye week, London held an open competition. He used Terrell, Darius Jennings, E.J. Scott and Chase Minnifield at punt returner.


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GEORGIA TECH (6-0) at VIRGINIA (3-2) WHEN: Saturday, 3:30 WHERE: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville TV: ESPNU RADIO: WGRQ-FM 95.9