2002 ACC player of year looks to return

Updated: September 25, 2003, 8:12 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Quarterback Matt Schaub practiced with the Cavaliers this week for the first time since he was injured in the season opener and could return to the lineup against Wake Forest on Saturday.

"Matt's progress has been very positive," coach Al Groh said Thursday. "We need to see another practice to decide just how much he can go and what he can do. ... I think there's a very good chance that he will be ready to play in the game."

Groh had said that he feared bringing Schaub back before he was ready to get hit in a game and having to start over after four weeks of rehabilitation. The Cavaliers allow their quarterbacks to get hit in practice, but not to get tackled, Groh said.

"I had decided earlier in the week that we weren't going to jump to any one-day conclusions, whether it was he's in or he's out," Groh said, adding that the determination of who starts Saturday would be made after Thursday's practice.

"It's not just being able to throw it," Groh said of Schaub's potential to play. "It's his velocity, it's his range, it's the stability of the joint against contact."

A message left at Groh's office was not immediately returned Thursday, and the school's policy is that football players are not available after Wednesday.

Virginia had planned a Heisman Trophy campaign for Schaub, the ACC player of the year last season after he threw for 2,976 yards and 28 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. He completed 68.9 percent of his passes and led the Cavaliers to four second-half comebacks, three in the fourth quarter, and a 9-5 record overall.

But he separated his throwing shoulder on the opening drive of the season against Duke and has served as a sideline mentor for his two replacements since.

The Cavaliers have gone 1-1 without their leader, with redshirt freshman Anthony Martinez struggling as the Cavaliers lost 31-7 at South Carolina on Sept. 6, and wide receiver Marques Hagans leading a 59-16 victory at Western Michigan the next week.

Hagans started one game at quarterback last season, then moved to wide receiver for this season when Schaub emerged as a star. Groh resisted moving Hagans back to quarterback, saying it didn't seem fair after Hagans invested so much time in playing receiver, but did it after Martinez threw for just 54 yards against the Gamecocks.

Against the Broncos, Hagans was 12-for-20 for 162 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 68 yards and would start Saturday if Schaub is not ready to go.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press