Matt Snyder working toward bigger role in Virginia offense
With two minues, 23 seconds remaining against Georgia Tech last Saturday, Virginia started a drive from its own two yard line. On first down, fifth-year senior quarterback Marc Verica lofted a pass down the right sideline, and junior wide receiver Matt Snyder leaped up and grabbed it for a 39-yard gain.
Three plays later, Verica again sent a jump-ball pass down the sideline, and again, Snyder rose up above a Georgia Tech defender and snagged it, this time for a 40-yard gain to give Virginia first and 10 at the Yellow Jackets 15 yard line.
So, Wide Receivers Coach Shawn Moore, how often do you guys practice those jump-ball throws in practice?
"No, the ball was just underthrown and Matt went up and made two good plays last week," Moore said Wednesday. "That's what he does in practice, though."
After sophomore Tim Smith was lost to a season-ending ankle injury in late September, the No. 3 wide receiver position was up for grabs. Given his recent performances -- and the dogged work ethic he has displayed for the new coaching staff since last spring -- Snyder appears to be moving closer to that role. Snyder caught four passes for 96 yards Saturday at Georgia Tech, pushing his season totals to seven catches for 141 yards. He entered the season with one career reception.
Mike London has told the story several times this season of how Snyder -- a former walk-on -- approached Virginia's new coach during the spring and asked to be considered for a scholarship, if he earned it during spring practices. He did earn it, and he was rewarded with a scholarship.
"Matt has earned a right to get himself in the game and in situations that require somebody being reliable," London said Monday. "I'm very, very happy for his success, for his sake, because he earns it and deserves it."
According to Moore, Snyder -- who is considered one of the team's best blocking wideouts -- is the type of player that "wants to take absolutely every repetition in practice." There are times, Moore said, when the coaches have to tell Snyder to back off.
"That's why he looked the way he did at the end of that Georgia Tech game," Moore said. "He was still fresh and still going up and making plays. And it also helps that he knows abolutely every position on the field. Matt could probably be our third quarterback."