After relying almost exclusively on sophomore David Watford as its quarterback this year, the Virginia football team will return to a platoon under center when it closes its season against rival Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Coach Mike London announced during his weekly Sunday evening teleconference that redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert “will get some opportunities to play” after consecutive impressive performances in relief of Watford.
London said Monday that Watford would start the game.
Lambert completed 13 of 19 passes for 134 yards after he entered Saturday’s 45-26 loss at Miami midway through the fourth quarter. With the Hurricanes still playing many of their defensive starters, he led the Cavaliers on one touchdown drive and had another drive deep into Miami territory end when he was sacked and stripped. The Hurricanes returned the fumble 72 yards for a touchdown.
Lambert also passed for 73 yards and one touchdown when he played during the fourth quarter of Virginia’s 45-14 loss at North Carolina on Nov. 9. This week, though, likely will be his first playing time with the outcome undecided.
Watford has thrown six interceptions over the past three games, including one returned for a touchdown on the first play of the Cavaliers’ eighth straight loss Saturday. He finished 10 for 25 for 106 yards and tossed one touchdown and three interceptions against Miami.
Watford leads the ACC with 15 interceptions and hasn’t completed more than 50 percent of his pass attempts since a loss to Georgia Tech on Oct. 26.
“The opportunities that Greyson had, obviously he did a nice job at moving the team with completions. . . . He did a nice job distributing the ball,” London said about Saturday’s game. “Looking at the fact that it’s our last game and we have no bowl opportunities and the next opportunities will be winter workouts and spring practice, we’ll give Greyson [the chance] to go in the game and play as well. It’s important that he gets some development as the season winds down.”
Lambert, a 6-foot-5 native of Jesup, Ga., is more in the mold of a classic pocket passer than Watford, and the two competed for the starting job during spring practice and into the first week of the preseason. London named Watford the team’s starting signal caller Aug. 12.
Until Sunday, he hadn’t wavered in that decision after the Cavaliers ended last season using both Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims under center. London said he isn’t sure yet how the rotation between Watford and Lambert will work Saturday.
“Tuesday is the first day of practice [this week], and we’ll get more into specifics as far as what we’ll ask him to do,” London said of Lambert.