How Will Matt Snyder's Injury Impact Virginia's Chances Against N.C. State?

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IOctober 22, 2011

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 09:  Kris Burd #18 of the Virginia Cavaliers fails to pull in this reception against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When you are a team trying to reach your first bowl game since 2007, injuries are the last thing you need.

Yet, Virginia will enter this pivotal contest against the North Carolina State Wolfpack without their third-leading receiver Matt Snyder.

Snyder, a former walk-on, has grown more than maybe any player so far in the first half of the season. In the Indiana game, his dropped balls had fans gathering torches and pitchforks.

Snyder simply seemed over-matched for the role he was being thrust into.

However, Snyder had stepped up as of late, becoming quarterback Michael Rocco's second-favorite target behind senior Kris Burd.

Snyder had a great ability to use his size to force himself open and provided range for Virginia's shaky passing game.

Now that a foot injury requiring a screw has him out for several weeks, the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of Virginia's young, but relatively unproductive, core of receivers.

Tim Smith, in particular, has been one of the bigger disappointments so far this season. Smith's speed looked to make him a go-to player in 2011 after coming off season-ending surgery in 2010.

While his numbers of 16 receptions for 210 yards and one touchdown may not seem that bad, he has not nearly been as consistent as people might hope. In Virginia's two losses this season, Smith had a combined two receptions.

Smith can be a home run threat but he needs to be more of an every down player, run in routes and prove that he can handle the physicality not just in getting tackled but delivering blocks.

Snyder's physicality will be the biggest loss for the wide receiving core and Smith knows that he must step up to fill that void.

Virginia is facing a team that has more interceptions than any team in the ACC averaging two per game. The Cavaliers would love to pound the ball with their revamped running game, but there will be critical junctures where Virginia has to throw.

If Burd is covered, who will fill that void left by Snyder?

That question will go a long way in determining today's outcome