Virginia coach Mike London said Thursday following the team’s penultimate spring practice session that the quarterback situation remained cluttered and that the Cavaliers likely will enter training camp in August without a clear top two at the position.
London had said prior to the start of spring practice that his hope was to exit spring practice at least having settled on two of the team’s four quarterbacks as the top options to succeed Marc Verica as Virginia’s starting signal caller.
But no member of a group that consists of rising sophomore Michael Rocco, rising redshirt sophomore Ross Metheny, rising redshirt freshman Michael Strauss and freshman David Watford (who enrolled in January) was able to establish themselves as a standard-setter in recent weeks.
“It’s one of those things that, you know, we’re looking for, again, the separation,” London said. “They’re so close, because all of them do something really well, and some they’ve got to get a better job of doing. But these practices have allowed them to improve on that, and we’re actually all anxious to see who’s going to step out and be the front-runner.
“After watching the tape and going through these practices, they’re guys that are right neck-and-neck. They’re still close.”
London said the three quarterbacks that have spent a year in offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s system – Rocco, Metheny and Strauss – naturally are a little ahead of Watford at the moment. But London expects Watford’s knowledge of the offense to be much improved heading into training camp in August.
While Watford’s athleticism has impressed the coaching staff, London said Watford “is still learning how to be a college player.” Watford slept through the start of one of the team’s 6 a.m. practices earlier this week and, according to London, “came out in a panic.”
“He probably got more reps in today’s practice than in the past because he overslept and missed the one before that,” London said. “He’s going to be a good player, and whether or not he can be good enough that, between now and when we report in August prior to the season, close the gap to say, ‘You know what? This guy could be number two or number three’” quarterback.
Evaluating all of the quarterbacks this spring has been a process complicated by injuries that have limited or entirely excluded four of the team’s top wide receivers from workouts. Kris Burd (foot), Matt Snyder (knee), Tim Smith (ankle) and Bobby Smith (knee) have missed various amounts of time this spring.
But as Virginia’s wide receiving corps returns to good health and the quarterbacks are left to their own volition during the summer, London believes some sorting out may in fact be done without the coaches’ supervision in the coming months.
“I think that’s where a lot of separation is made sometimes is those times where you’re not looking over their back,” London said. “Because either you’ll find out that they have it and they want it, or that they went on vacation and they did this and they did that and watched the dog and watched the cat and did all those things like that, and they really didn’t, you know, practice or they ran or they lifted.
“It’s going to be important to see the guy that wants it or the two guys that want this position, how hard they work during this offseason because it’s going to be important to the team if it’s important to them.”