- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 14, 2009

CHARLOTTESVILLE | Virginia and Boston College have been virtual strangers since the Eagles entered the ACC in 2005, meeting only during that season.

That was also two coaches ago for the northernmost team in the ACC, but Cavaliers coach Al Groh said not much has changed on the field since then.

“Through all the changes they have had, they maintain a lot of continuity in their style of play,” he said. “They’re very fundamentally sound in their execution, they have certain things that they want to accomplish, and they’re going to play the game on those terms.”

The Eagles (6-3, 3-2) also have a lot to play for. They enter Saturday’s contest a half-game behind Clemson at the top of the Atlantic Division. The Eagles are also coming off a bye week that set them up for a closing stretch including games against bottom-feeders North Carolina and Maryland.

Virginia (3-6, 2-3) has lost three straight and is on the brink of not qualifying for a bowl game for the third time in four seasons. That has fueled speculation that Groh’s tenure as coach will end after this season but also has changed the motivation for the players.

“Pride. You’re playing to win games obviously, but a sense of pride,” senior linebacker Aaron Clark said. “Nobody expects the season to go the way it’s gone, and you just try to turn it around every week. You’ve got to look within yourselves and within your team to find that energy to re-establish some sort of respect.”

The Cavaliers have not beaten the Eagles in three tries but might take some comfort, if not gain some confidence, from the fact that BC is winless in three games on the road. Of course, the Eagles are eager to change that at Scott Stadium.

“We’re thirsty,” quarterback Dave Shinskie said. “We’ve got to bring the enthusiasm that we play with at home and take it on the road.”

Jameel Sewell, Virginia’s primary starter at quarterback, is recovering from a shoulder injury. He and backup Marc Verica, listed as having a head injury, are both questionable. That means redshirt freshman Riko Smalls, who has never played at Virginia, could be pressed into duty.

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