Even though his in-game role moving forward has been reduced from conducting full series to executing specific plays, Virginia true freshman quarterback David Watford remains next in line to take over the offense in the event sophomore starter Michael Rocco were to be injured or ineffective, Coach Mike London said Wednesday.
Watford has played in every game this season – at times extensively – for the Cavaliers (4-3, 1-2 ACC), but after his three-interception performance during Saturday’s 28-14 loss to North Carolina State, London announced that Watford’s in-game responsibilities would be scaled back for the remainder of the season.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Watford would not assume the offense’s reins if Rocco, for whatever reason, needed to be replaced mid-game. Virginia will play at Miami (4-3, 2-2) on Thursday night.
“With the opportunities that were afforded David during the course of the year, the natural progression would be that if something happened to Michael that David would be next,” London said during his segment of the ACC coaches’ teleconference.
In regards to redshirt sophomore quarterback Ross Metheny, who saw limited action during Virginia’s season-opening 40-3 win over FCS William & Mary but has not played since, London said his weekly preparation will be important for the remainder of the year, as well. Metheny played sparingly in five games last season.
“I think part of the practicing and part of the new plan in terms of Michael being a starter and thinking more plays for David, that Ross has always been a young man that has prided himself in being prepared with the game plan,” London said. “He signals the calls in, so he’s very much in tune to what’s going on. He’s observed what’s gone on from the sidelines.
“Ross is not excluded from any opportunity that might present itself. Who knows how the situations will occur in the game? But I can just say that his preparation, his being a team player, being a guy that wants what’s best for the team has shown itself. And if a situation creates itself – we’re always talking about ifs – he’s not precluded from … going in the game and taking snaps.”
London has had to answer questions about his team’s quarterback situation on a weekly basis this season, but the quantity of quarterback questions increased noticeably in the past four days with the announcement on Watford’s playing time being reduced. When the coach was asked a third question Wednesday on the topic – out of seven questions total – he showed subtle hints of irritation.
Midway through his teleconference segment, London was asked for his thoughts on still having to answer questions regarding his team’s quarterback situation eight weeks into the season. His response lasted 2 minutes 42 seconds. Here it is in full:
“The way I look at it is we have a true sophomore that’s starting at quarterback and played in some games last year and a true backup freshman, and so the reality of it is would you like a guy that’s a fifth-year guy or a senior? Sure you would,” London said. “But the reality of it is we don’t at this point. And the only way you address that is through recruiting and separating guys as you go on. So you do the best you can with what you have in the evaluations that the coaching staff makes and you live with it.
“If we had to do it all over again, we would answer the question about the quarterback situation, developing the quarterbacks that we thought gave us the best opportunity. And coming out of the fall and going into the first game, it was Michael Rocco and David Watford. And so, I don’t know how many other times you can answer the question.
“If you look at where we are from a maturation standpoint and then you look at where we are from guys that have now played in games, Michael is now seven games, a sophomore true quarterback, is playing, is having an opportunity to say, ‘Okay, here you go. You have it. You take it.’ And then David Watford, a true freshman, and Ross Metheny, a redshirt sophomore.
“So instead of getting hung up on the who and the what, we understand that where we are right now as far as quarterbacks in the program, we’ve just got to develop them and do the best we can and put the best players out there that can give us a chance to win. That’s all we’re trying to do.
“I know it’s frustrating sometimes, not only for the players, but people who think you should do this and do that, but you know what? You’ve got to make decisions that are best for the team at the time the decisions need to be made. And so we are here now going into the Miami game with Michael being the starter and with David having a limited role with plays more than series, and a young man like Ross Metheny that has been doing everything. He’s been competitive and staying on top of the game plan, doing everything he can do.
“So I don’t know how many times I can answer it, but the situation is where we are now, and now … it’s huge, it’s big about moving forward now with the remaining games that we have on the schedule and trying to put together, not just for the offense, but defensively and on the special teams too to help us win games. So thanks for the question.”