Virginia Coach Mike London said Thursday no decision yet had been made as to whether sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco will make his fifth consecutive start Saturday against Idaho.
But London did confirm that, in the event the coaches decide not to go with Rocco, true freshman David Watford will make his first career start. Rocco has been dealing with a rib injury this week that he suffered late in the first half of Virginia’s 30-24 loss to Southern Mississippi last Saturday.
“Michael looked better today and continues to get better,” London said. “He was making some good throws that they were asking him to. … He’s getting better, and he says he feels fine, a little soreness.”
London said the coaches would see how Rocco feels following Friday’s walk-through and then make a final determination Friday evening or Saturday morning. …
Redshirt freshman linebacker Henry Coley has sat out the past two games because of a hamstring injury, and in his absence, junior Tucker Windle has seen some time in reserve at middle linebacker. Coley had been the team’s primary backup to starter Steve Greer at middle linebacker, and Windle had been practicing mostly at the strong-side linebacker spot behind Ausar Walcott and Aaron Taliaferro.
But London said Thursday he wasn’t sure when Coley would be healthy enough to return, and so the team has been aided by Windle’s willingness and ability to learn multiple linebacker positions.
“Tucker’s a smart player,” London said. “He’s done a pretty good job of being able to know the defense and what (all three linebacker positions) do. I guess when you’ve been watching guys take reps in front of you and you’re trying to get on the field, instead of just saying, ‘Okay, I’m the backup. I’m the third-team (strong-side linebacker),’ he took it to the extreme and he knows and he’s learned” the responsibilities of all three linebacker spots. . . .
London said the Idaho defense likes to blitz, and more than that, the Vandals like to be risky with their blitzes. London said there will be times when Idaho brings eight or nine defenders on a pass rush, which puts a lot of pressure on the Vandals’ cornerbacks.
“They’re hoping that they don’t get the deep balls thrown” against them, London said.
Idaho has recorded just two sacks this season. Meantime, the Vandals have allowed opposing offenses to average 301.8 passing yards and to throw 10 touchdown passes.
“Sometimes it’s feast or famine with them,” London said. “If they get to you, whether they hit the quarterback or put pressure and make the ball get out quickly, then they succeed. But if you can block them and you can get your throws off, if you can throw the ball deep and take advantage of their zero blitz, then you’ve got a chance. I think that’s the way the game is going to go.”