When Virginia begins its 2012 regular season Saturday afternoon, it won’t be the only team at Scott Stadium with a quarterback who had to win his starting job during a heated training camp competition.
Under first-year Coach Danny Rocco, the uncle of Cavaliers quarterback Michael Rocco, Richmond will start senior John Laub under center after he beat out Virginia transfer Michael Strauss in a training camp battle. And it’s Laub who will go a long way toward determining Virginia’s fate, because he’s going up against an untested secondary that some believe will be the potential weak spot in the Cavaliers’ defense this year.
If Laub can throw the ball successfully, it could open up running room inside for Richmond fullback Kendall Gaskins, one of the top Football Championship Subdivision players in the country this year. Although since this is Danny Rocco’s first game at Richmond, there are some unknowns involved in terms of what philosophy the Spiders will have on both sides of the ball.
But the Spiders might have trouble keeping up with a Virginia offense loaded with more weapons than Coach Mike London has had since returning to Charlottesville in 2010. Richmond lost its last eight games a year ago and allowed close to 175 rushing yards per contest, which doesn’t bode well going against Virginia running backs Perry Jones, Kevin Parks and Clifton Richardson.
Another interesting story line will be the Virginia debut of quarterback Phillip Sims. If the Cavaliers take a big lead, expect him to play. But the more intriguing subplot will be if London and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor give Sims some playing time even if the game is close.
That, though, seems unlikely. I’m taking the Cavaliers in the Rocco Bowl.
My prediction: Virginia 38, Richmond 17
But what do you think? Will the Cavaliers have an easy time with the Spiders, or are they in for an opening day scare? Or perhaps you think Richmond will prevail in the Battle of the Roccos. Vote in our poll and let me know what you think.