George Welsh watched some remarkable physical specimens struggle to stretch new orange jerseys over outsized shoulders today and noted that brawn was one positive factor his Virginia football team possesses in contrast with the Navy team he left in December and must face Sept. 11.
"There is more size overall, no doubt about that," Welsh said after watching six 260-plus pounders, topped by tackle Jim Dombrowski at 295, participate in a media preview to Friday's commencement of two-a-day drills.
The presence of three solid quarterbacks -- Gordie Whitehead, Wayne Schuchts and Mike Eck -- was another plus, as Welsh recalled the Navy days when he sometimes found his No. 1 quarterback -- Fred Reitzel, for example -- in his defensive backfield.
"It was kind of lean there, if one or two guys didn't make it," Welsh said. "We do have a lot of quarterbacks here, and a lot of running backs, but we also have a lot of decisions to make. There are a lot of things that are unsettled. We have no idea about a lot of people.
"We have problems at linebacker (where none of the candidates ever has started a college game) and in the secondary, even though we have people around who have played before. And our offensive line is kind of thin, from tackle to tackle."
At least, Welsh knows he has a punter, since sophomore Jeff Walker averaged 38.6 yards in 76 kicks a year ago. Today, when Welsh's son Adam, 11, kicked one 25 yards on the Scott Stadium AstroTurf, he wasn't far off last year's Navy average of 30.6.
Welsh made it clear to the players when they reported Wednesday night that nobody was assured of starting, regardless of his credentials.
"We're going to play people who want to pay the price," Welsh said. "We have to use spring practice as a basis for something, because you can't practice 20 days without getting something out of it, but we will not hesitate to make changes until we put the best possible team on the field.
"A lot goes into winning; a lot of subtle things. Attitude is the key. We showed a little bit more zip and intensity the last week in the spring and that's a positive sign, but we need to improve more.
"I've had a great reception here -- from the university, the town of Charlottesville and throughout the state. I've made a lot of personal appearances and people seem excited and enthusiastic."