Morgan Moses has gotten used to looking across the line of scrimmage this season and routinely seeing eight snorting, salivating defensive players stacked up to stop
The problem for U.Va. (2-1 overall, 0-1
"When people load the box on us, it just tells you they respect our run game," said Moses, a starting left tackle who was expected before the season to combine with Oday Aboushi to form one of the nation's best tackle duos.
"It's going to break sometime. We just keep on telling (running backs) Perry (Jones) and Kevin Parks and all the other running backs to keep on running hard, because it's going to open up."
U.Va. enters Saturday's game at No. 17 Texas Christian (2-0) with the nation's 107th rated rushing offense (104.7 yards per game). TCU hasn't played a particularly ambitious schedule to this point (wins against Grambling State and Kansas), but it employs a 4-2-5 defensive alignment that shows eight-man fronts and boasts the nation's 10th best rushing defense (60.5 yards per game).
U.Va. could benefit from a healthier set of offensive guards this weekend than it had in the last two games against
Left guard Cody Wallace, who started the opener against Richmond, missed the last two games with a lower extremity injury. He's on the depth chart at No. 2 left guard behind Conner Davis and could be available this weekend. Wallace, Davis and right guard Sean Cascarano are all first-year starters this season.
"It just hurts a little bit with guys being fresh — a brand new starter maybe being able to take a series off and see what's happening and then go in there and be able to adjust quicker," U.Va. offensive line coach Scott Wachenheim said.
In U.Va.'s first three games last season (against
"You could help with the style of play-calling," said U.Va. coach Mike London regarding ways to help the offensive linemen, particularly on the interior of the line. "You could help with slide protection as opposed to man-on-man protection. There are little things you can do there to help those guys get more presence by the center."
All of U.Va.'s primary running backs from last season are back, but Menchville High graduate
After running for 915 yards in 2011, Jones entered this season with a real shot at becoming U.Va.'s first back to gain 1,000-plus rushing yards in a season since 2004, when Alvin Pearman had 1,037. Jones has just 81 yards thus far.
Some of the most frustrating shortcomings for U.Va.'s offensive line have come on fourth-and-1 situations. Parks, who leads U.Va. with 128 rushing yards, came up short on a fourth-and-1 run from Richmond's 20-yard line on the opening drive of the second half in U.Va.'s 43-19 win.
Jones couldn't get a yard up the middle of the line — over the guards and first-year starting center Luke Bowanko — last Saturday on fourth-and-1 from Georgia Tech's 11 midway through the second quarter when U.Va. was trailing 28-7. U.Va. didn't get that deep into Georgia Tech territory again until the fourth quarter, when the Cavaliers were trailing by 42 points in their 56-20 loss.
In addition to the short yardage and running game woes, seven of U.Va.'s 19 penalties have been on offensive linemen. U.Va. also has given up five sacks already after surrendering 16 last season in 13 games. Moses has his own way of getting the interior linemen back on track.