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Virginia forced to prepare for two styles of Eastern Michigan offense

During its first six games of the season, Eastern Michigan operated a pro-style offense that averaged 17.5 points and 304.5 yards per contest. The Eagles lost all six of those games, continuing a losing streak that dated back to the 2008 season.

Last Saturday, Eastern Michigan tried out a spread offense against Ball State and pulled off a 41-38 overtime victory. The Eagles tallied a season-high 490 total yards against Ball State and were fairly balanced in doing so. They recorded 265 rushing yards and 225 passing yards.

Eastern Michigan's drastic scheme change has complicated Virginia's preparations somewhat this week. Instead of scouting one style of offense, the Cavaliers are having to scout two different approaches.

"That's definitely challenging," junior strong safety Rodney McLeod said Tuesday. "You never know what you're going to get on that first snap, what they're going to come out in. But you've just got to be alert. All you can do is practice the plays that we script and get ready for it. And after that, in the game, if they come out with something new, just try to make adjustments as best we can."

Containing Eastern Michigan quarterback Alex Gillett will be one of Virginia's primary concerns. The Eagles new spread offense consisted of heavy doses of jet sweeps and quarterback rushes. Against Ball State, Gillett set program records for most rushes (35) and most rushing yards (189) by a quarterback in a single game. He scored two touchdowns on the ground and threw for three additional touchdowns. Gillett completed 10 of 18 passes for 225 yards.

"It was interesting in the Ohio State game, he threw the ball a lot," Virginia Coach Mike London said Monday of Gillett's 13 for 22 passing performance in a 73-20 Eastern Michigan road loss Sept. 25. "Last week in the Ball State game, kind of a wildcat formation, he ran the ball a lot. He's very talented, very athletic and he's one of the guys that we will definitely have to hone in on because of what he does."

By Steve Yanda  | October 20, 2010; 9:02 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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