Virginia Coach Mike London not concerned about high number of batted-down passes against Indiana


Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco had three of four passes batted down during one stretch of the Cavaliers’ game against Indiana on Saturday. (Matt Kryger/AP)

In fact, offensive line coach Scott Wachenheim said Wednesday it was “the most passes I’ve seen knocked down in a game before.” 

When asked Monday whether he thought Rocco had enough elevation on his passes, London responded in the affirmative. The coach stated that Indiana’s defensive linemen did a good job of mirroring Rocco’s movements, rather than focus on rushing the passer. 

“Whether it was a crossing route or whatever the pattern they might have called for, instead of getting push up the field, they were more content to control the rush,” London said. “And when Michael released, they put their hands up in the throwing lanes.”

London said there are techniques the offensive linemen can use to prevent opposing defensive linemen from sticking their hands in the air when Rocco passes. He also said that when Rocco is running into this issue in the future, the coaches could call for deeper drops in the pocket or for Rocco to roll out of the pocket more frequently when looking to pass.  

Wachenheim had a different take on the high number of batted-down passes. 

“Generally, the funny thing is batted passes come when the offensive line is doing a good job of pass protection,” Wachenheim said. “Because what you do is you stop the defensive line at the line of scrimmage and so they can’t rush the passer, so all they can do is stick their hands up in the throwing lanes and bat a ball down.” 

Wachenheim said the offensive line needs to do a better job in the future of cut-blocking opposing defensive linemen during plays that call for Rocco to make a three-step drop. That, he said, will keep the defensive linemen’s hands down. 

Here’s guessing that batted down passes might not be as big of an issue this week against a hyper-aggressive North Carolina defense. Unlike Indiana’s front line, the Tar Heels’ defensive linemen probably aren’t going to be as content to simply control the rush instead of trying to press into the Virginia backfield.

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