- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2003

GREENSBORO, Ga. — It wasn’t enough that Virginia quarterback Matt Schaub has been on numerous preseason magazine covers, now his Heisman Trophy campaign has hit the Internet.

He’s learning when you become one of the nation’s leading passers, people want to know more about you. On the Web site Schaub4Heisman.com there are baby pictures of him with a football, live chats and even trivia on his favorite food (steak), color (blue) and superhero (Superman). In order to “protect my image,” he vetoed embarrassing photos provided by his mother.

“They asked me for ideas, but I don’t have the greatest imagination,” Schaub said jokingly at the ACC Kickoff. “I was excited [by the Web site]. It’s not often you get the opportunity to go through something like [a Heisman campaign]. It’s good to be mentioned in that standard, but it’s not something I look to be.”

The returning ACC Offensive Player of the Year led Virginia to a surprising 9-5 season capped by a 48-22 victory over West Virginia in the Tire Bowl. Schaub topped the ACC and was sixth nationally in passing efficiency (147.5) as a junior while setting 10 Cavaliers single-season passing marks. He was second nationally in passing percentage (68.9) while leading the ACC in touchdowns (28), completions (288) and attempts (418). Schaub admitted even he was surprised by the Cavaliers’ offensive success.

“We were in situations when you had to decide whether we wanted to take a shot or settle for a 6-yard gain,” he said. “Sometimes I’d look up at the press box, like, ‘Are you sure?’”

There will plenty of orange-and-blue jerseys of No.7 — Schaub chose the number in honor of his favorite player, John Elway — around Charlottesville when the Cavaliers begin practice Aug.5. However, Schaub’s roommates aren’t impressed with his new-found celebrity, which includes constant autograph signings, so they still make him take out the garbage.

Schaub spent the offseason trying to become a better leader. Maybe throwing for 312 and 315 yards against Wake Forest and Duke, respectively, in consecutive weeks last season gave him more confidence and led to a school-record 41 completions in 58 attempts for 372 yards against Georgia Tech. Schaub also completed 23 of 27 for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the 48-13 victory over Maryland which ended the Terrapins’ ACC title chances.

“[Leadership] is something you grow into,” he said. “Just knowing when to say something.”

Said Virginia coach Al Groh: “Who’s meant more to his team than Matt Schaub has? Certainly our team … could not have achieved what it did were it not for his play. He also epitomizes our team. His only agenda is winning. He’s not interested in his numbers. That really has become the personality of the team.”

FSU still No. 1

Florida State edged N.C. State as the conference’s preseason favorite in the ACC media poll yesterday. FSU got 35 of 84 first-place votes in an overall 672-664 decision. N.C. State drew 26 first-place votes.

“I’d love to ease into it without anybody expecting us [to win],” FSU coach Bobby Bowden said.

Most ACC opponents expected the Seminoles to be the team to beat. FSU has won all but one title since it joined the ACC in 1992.

“They have so much talent they can always do it,” Maryland running back Bruce Perry said. “They may be living in big houses, but plenty of others are living in nice houses, too.”

Said Groh: “Until they’re removed from top status, they deserve top billing.”

Maryland was third with 18 first-place votes while Virginia was fourth with five. Clemson was fifth, followed by North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Duke respectively.

Bowden joked it might be FSU’s final preseason poll victory considering that Miami and Virginia Tech join the ACC next year.

“Miami being in there might help us a little bit by getting people mad at them instead of us,” he said. “They can share the madness.”

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