Local News

Rivers, Schaub Top Stellar Group Of ACC Quarterbacks

Posted July 21, 2003 10:08 a.m. EDT

— The most important position on the football field is stacked this season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Eight of the nine schools return their starting quarterbacks, including ACC player-of-the-year Matt Schaub of Virginia and North Carolina State's Philip Rivers.

Both are on the cover of their schools' media guides. Both have Web sites, and both are being touted as Heisman Trophy candidates.

The two 6-5 QBs shook hands during a break Sunday at the ACC Football Kickoff, and they refused to say there is a personal rivalry developing as reporters crowded around both stars.

"I don't get into comparing because you're not going to win that argument," Rivers said. "We both just want to help our team win."

The ACC also returns Chris Rix of Florida State, Darian Durant of North Carolina and Scott McBrien of Maryland -- all proven QBs who could carry their clubs.

"If your quarterback is getting the job done, then you've got a chance to win a lot of games," said Wake Forest's Jim Grobe, the only ACC coach who has to replace his quarterback.

Rivers has flourished in spite of three different offensive coordinators. He has thrown for 8,993 yards and 61 touchdowns in leading the Wolfpack to a 26-12 record in his three seasons in Raleigh.

He's less than 900 yards away from breaking Chris Weinke's ACC career passing record of 9,839 yards.

"I would say going through three coordinators has helped me," Rivers said. "You never can know what would have happened if it was just one or two. But different coaches have different ideas, and they look at it from different standpoints, so it has allowed me to concentrate in different areas."

Unlike Rivers, who is a four-year starter, Schaub was benched in his team's opening game last season, only to blossom into a top-flight QB in mid-season. He threw for 2,976 yards and 28 TDs.

He ended up sixth in the nation in passing efficiency and was the surprise winner as the ACC's top player in 2002.

"I'm a lot more confident in myself, and what I'm able to do on the field," Schaub said. "I'm willing to take more chances.

"There is a feeling now that anything can happen since we had so many comebacks last year."

Schaub needed time to adjust to all of the media attention. But he now feels comfortable he can lead the Cavaliers to the ACC title.

"Wow, you can write a book about that," Schaub said when asked how his life has changed since last season.

He's wearing a tuxedo on the cover of the Virginia media guide, something coach Al Groh favored as he tries to get his quarterback some national name recognition.

"I don't mind it at all," Schaub said. "It helps with the program. It helps get Virginia's name out there. Our team deserves that recognition."

Quintin Williams has seen both QBs from his safety position at Wake Forest. The senior said Rivers is the most decisive quarterback he's seen, while Schaub makes more big plays.

"Man, you've got to get mentally prepared to play those guys," Williams said. "You don't know what they're going to throw at you, and they perform on such a consistent level. They are not going to make stupid mistakes, so you have to be on your toes the whole game."

After losing his starting job late last season, Rix will be back under center for Florida State. The junior may have the best overall package in the ACC and could also contend for league honors.

"I don't think anybody has forgotten about Chris Rix," Williams said. "The week we play them, I tell the guys: "If this guy pulls the ball down and runs, you better get ready to chase him because he can take off in a heartbeat.'"

Said Grobe: "I've got a feeling if Florida State can get squared away at the quarterback position they could get back to being the old Florida State."