Virginia’s quarterback platoon a dicey proposition

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UVA junior quarterback Michael Rocco drops back to pass against Maryland. Photo: Ron Dressel UVA junior quarterback Michael Rocco drops back to pass against Maryland. Photo: Ron Dressel

Phillip Sims had thrown for 83 yards, one touchdown, and nary an incompletion when he was replaced by Michael Rocco in the first quarter Saturday against N.C. State. Virginia does not have a controversy at quarterback, but a timeshare – an unorthodox arrangement still waiting on its first sustained success story.

“They were both going to play and they both knew they were going to play and what’s important is that we won the game,” offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said.

UVA’s staff, however, could be risking future spoils because of its inability to settle on a signal caller. Good quarterback play is predicated on rhythm, timing, trust, and confidence. The Sims-Rocco rotation appears to be nothing more than a stopgap.

“It was a determination that we have two guys that are very talented players that provide different things to our team,” Mike London said.

Coach London has declined to speak publicly about their respective skill sets, though it would appear from afar that the two are quite similar, save Sims’ bigger arm. While Rocco managed 36 yards rushing a week ago, neither can be deemed a mobile quarterback. The coaches have intimated that Rocco is more comfortable picking up blitzes and making the quick throw, but the junior consistently misfired on hot reads Saturday, finishing 8-19 for 49 yards after an initial touchdown drive.

“It could have been that either one of them could have stayed in there and played well enough to win the game,” said Lazor, “but we’re not going to look back and second-guess. We’re just moving forward.”

Sims completed eight of ten passes for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns, one throwing, one rushing.

“You gotta deal with the situation you’re in each time,” Lazor continued “I may have said in the past that I didn’t like [rotating quarterbacks], but I liked what happened [Saturday].

“We reserve the right to make decisions as we go.”

When you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks, says the tried-and-true football adage. And while Virginia is unbeaten during its most recent QB shuffle, correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

“They both have bought into it,” London said. “There’s not an ego between Michael or Phillip. We have to get the job done when we do this. We will win. That’s all that matters to them.”

THIS SATURDAY

UVA (3-6, 1-4 ACC) will aim for its third consecutive win over Miami (5-4, 4-2 ACC) and fifth since 2006. The Wahoos beat the ‘Canes 28-21 last year, becoming the only team in college football history to beat Miami and Florida State on the road in the same season.

After losing consecutive games to Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Florida State, Miami topped Virginia Tech last time out to take control of the conference’s Coastal Division. The ‘Canes dominated VPI’s vaunted special teams units en route to a 30-12 win.

Miami is coached by dress shirt and necktie-clad Al Golden, who served as Virginia’s defensive coordinator under Al Groh (2001-05) and as a graduate assistant for George Welsh (1994-96). The school is reportedly considering self-imposing a postseason ban for the second consecutive season amidst an NCAA investigation into its compliance practices.

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