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More carries for Payne in the Cavs' future?

Fifth-year senior tailback Keith Payne averaged 4.0 yards per carry Saturday against Georgia Tech. Per usual, it seemed like it required at least three or four defenders to wrestle him to the ground whenever he got the ball.

And yet, on third and two from the Georgia Tech 31 yard-line late in the third quarter, Virginia elected to attempt a pass to junior wide receiver Kris Burd in the end zone. Burd caught one pass on the day, and it did not come on that play. The ball fell incomplete, which ended up not mattering because Payne was called for holding and the line of scrimmage moved back 10 yards. The Cavaliers -- who trailed by 13 at that point -- failed to convert on the resulting third and 12 and ended up punting.

On Virginia's next offensive series, the Cavaliers had first and goal from the Georgia Tech nine yard-line early in the fourth quarter. With the way Payne was running, it seemed a good bet that if he were to be handed the ball three or four times in the next four plays, one of them would end in the end zone. Again, Virginia trailed by 13 at that point. The game was not out of reach.

First down: Incomplete pass intended for Payne. Second down: Payne ran for a five-yard gain. Third down: Payne ran for a two-yard gain. Fourth down: Incomplete pass intended for junior wide receiver Matt Snyder. Virginia turned the ball over on downs, and Georgia Tech proceeded to march 98 yards and score a touchdown.

It's easy in retrospect to question the play-calling. And there's no question Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor ran plays in each of those situations that he thought would provide the Cavaliers the results for which they were searching.

But might Payne -- who stands 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds and is averaging 4.9 yards per rush attempt on the season -- see more carries in short-yardage situations in the future?

"I think Keith is starting to become a player that, you know, wants the ball," Coach Mike London said Sunday. "You look at opportunities for him to fall forward for two yards because of his big stature and everything like that. You can’t ignore that. You know, we’ll make sure that, you know, in situations, again, based on how defenses are playing us -- but at the same time know that he’s done a pretty good job and he’s demonstrated that, as far as getting the tough yardage and things like that that the good way to go would be to hand it off to him and let him try to get two or three yards.

"We’ll look at that and make sure we do the right thing the next time we get an opportunity."

By Steve Yanda  | October 11, 2010; 10:53 AM ET
 
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