Our choice for the player who will transform tomorrow and make a big impact in Week 11: Virginia running back Kevin Parks.
First: Parks has really come on strong for the Hoos, rushing for more than 100 yards twice in the past three weeks. In both games, he was the team's offensive MVP. First up was a big game against Maryland, when he ran for a career-high 129 yards.
Then last week in a 33-6 upset win against NC State, Parks had 115 yards and a touchdown, contributing to the largest rushing output of the season for the Hoos -- who racked up 248 yards. It was the first 200-yard rushing day of the season.
Parks leads the Hoos in rushing, with 618 yards and a team-high four touchdown runs, as he shares backfield duties with Perry Jones.
"Kevin, over the last couple years has shown that when he has an opportunity to run the ball downhill and he has an opportunity to run over or run through arm tackles, that he's shown that," coach Mike London said. "So I think just being his strength, such a low center of gravity, he's very rugged, and he can catch the ball too coming out of the back field. So it makes him a multi-dimensional type of player. But his ability to really hit it downhill, down field is something that is a positive for us."
Second: For those who have been following Miami, you know the Canes have not been very good at stopping the run. Miami has given up more than 200 yards rushing in eight of its nine games this season and ranks No. 119 in the nation in rushing defense. In the meeting between these schools last year, Virginia had 207 yards rushing, and Parks led the way with 85 yards. In 2010, the Hoos had 185 yards on the ground.
So this game presents a big opportunity for Virginia to have another good day on the ground, which should help quarterbacks Phillip Sims and Michael Rocco manage the game the way they did last week against the Wolfpack. Virginia has made tremendous strides with its running game over the past few weeks, bumping its rushing average from 104.7 yards per game through the first three games to 159.8 in the past six.
If Parks and Virginia run well and limit the turnovers, the Hoos could very well keep their bowl hopes alive.