The identity of Virginia’s starting quarterback for the season opener against Richmond has become the best-kept secret in Charlottesville since training camp began. Coach Mike London said this week he plans to release an updated depth chart on Monday, and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor wasn’t offering many hints Friday on a teleconference with reporters.
When asked if his decision would involve picking just one quarterback or rotating in multiple signal-callers, and whether he’s agonizing over the choice, Lazor stuck to the non-committal tone he used at Virginia’s media day last month. “I don’t know if I have a clear answer on that,” he said.
“People on the street say you’ve got a quarterback problem,” added Lazor, who actually called depth along the offensive line his biggest concern heading into the season. “We don’t have a problem. We’ve got five great ones.”
There are just three, however, vying for the starting role after London announced there was a “high probability” freshmen Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns would redshirt this season.
On Friday, Lazor detailed the type of training camp each signal-caller had. Below you’ll find his depiction of incumbent Michael Rocco, Alabama transfer Phillip Sims and sophomore David Watford. Until an official announcement Monday, all we can do at this point is read between the lines.
“The first thing on the first day of practice that I noticed as far as his improvement was his ability to throw the ball down the field. . . . What it showed to me was he spent some time on that aspect of his game, so I was excited about that.
“Just like anyone, through 20-some practices there are ups and downs, and just like everyone, Mike has experienced those. But the thing that he’s shown us is when he has his up days, when he’s on his game, he looks like a returning starting quarterback in the ACC who knows where people are. He’s playing at the right tempo. He’s able to command the huddle. If you were standing on the sideline watching, you’d say that’s what a quarterback is supposed to look like.”
“The number one thing that shows up is tremendous on the field accuracy. Everything from deep balls to medium-range balls, he has arm strength and tremendous accuracy down the field and that’s shown from the first day. It’s clear to me working with Phillip, he’s a guy that’s been around college football before. He has an acumen for the game. He understands concepts.
“He’s in a position right now where he’s learning a whole new language. I think we’re 22, 23 practices into him learning a new language and doing things differently, maybe in some regards than he’s ever done before, and I think he’s doing a great job fighting through that. I can see it’s coming more natural to him as we go, but he’s a very coachable young man, very willing to work and do what we ask him to do. I’m excited that’s he’s here. I’m really glad he came and his future is bright.”
“I have never discussed redshirting or a position change with him. I think David’s got the ability to be a quarterback. If you watch him . . . from where he was last year at this time even to where he is today, it’s unbelievable the amount of consistency he’s gained, the technique, the way he looks. Even the defensive coaches at times say, ‘Man, it looks like he’s come so far.’ ”