With just 10 days standing between Virginia and its season opener against Richmond, the looming debate hanging over the last week of the preseason remains the same as when the Cavaliers began training camp three weeks ago. Coach Mike London and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor still must decide on a starting quarterback.
London reiterated Wednesday that he’s in no rush to declare incumbent Michael Rocco, Alabama transfer Phillip Sims or sophomore David Watford the winner of this three-way competition. But he will release a depth chart on Monday with an update on the situation.
“We’re not in a hurry to make any decision right now based on where they are,” London said. “We’re gonna take our time and do this thing right. . . . This is not just for Richmond. This is for the season.”
With no open practices since the first week of training camp, London has been reluctant to name a favorite in the race, instead offering praise for all three throughout the process. He wants to use the Cavaliers’ remaining practices – a scrimmage on Wednesday, two sessions on Thursday and one on Friday and Sunday – to evaluate the signal callers “thoroughly.”
Thus far, London said, Rocco and Watford have both shown progress from a year ago and have a firm grasp on the offense. Earlier this week London said nothing had changed on the depth chart, an indication Rocco remained the front-runner.
Sims, on the other hand, has shown off a strong arm, good mobility in the pocket and the acumen of an experienced player who received meaningful snaps for the Crimson Tide last season. But London wants to see how Sims handles having the entire playbook thrown at him in the coming days before making a final decision.
“The only thing that’s lacking, that’s left, is he has to understand the system and schemes that our receivers and linemen and everyone else knows. They know it pretty good,” London said. “He’s skillful, that’s for sure. But David and Michael are very skillful in their own right as well.”
Already armed with three quarterbacks and not enough snaps to go around, London also announced Wednesday that there is a “high probability” freshmen signal-callers Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns will redshirt this season.
London will meet with his three potential starters on Sunday or Monday before publicly disclosing his choice. But London emphasized again Wednesday that he doesn’t expect his decision to have an adverse effect on the players involved or the rest of the team.
“There’s no hidden agendas here,” London said. “There’s a maturity level that they’ve developed that’s really appreciated, that says whoever it is, this guy can be a pretty good college quarterback.”