Rocco named starting quarterback, will lead UVA in season opener

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UVA's Michael Rocco led the Cavaliers to a dramatic victory against Penn State at Scott Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Matt Riley/UVa Media Relations UVA’s Michael Rocco led the Cavaliers to a dramatic victory against Penn State at Scott Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Matt Riley/UVa Media Relations

“I really believe it’s my job to lose, and I’m not going to lose it.”

Consider Michael Rocco 1-for-1 in 2012.

UVA coach Mike London named Rocco starting quarterback Monday, just 24 days after the junior publicly laid claim to the job.

“It became apparent that Michael has the best grasp of the offense right now,” London said. “He’s done nothing to lose his position. He’s improved.”

Rocco will make his 14th consecutive start Saturday when Virginia welcomes Richmond to Scott Stadium. Alabama transfer Phillip Sims, meanwhile, will become one of college football’s most acclaimed understudies – again.

ESPNU and SuperPrep magazine rated Sims the country’s No. 1 high school quarterback in 2009. He rewrote the Virginia High School League record book en route to 48 prep wins in four seasons. At Alabama, however, Sims logged just 28 pass attempts in a reserve role before transferring to UVA this summer. (Starting quarterback A.J. McCarron led the Crimson Tide to the 2011 BCS national championship).

A product of Chesapeake’s Oscar Smith High School, Sims was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA but could not unseat Rocco during Virginia’s month-long training camp. London said Monday it would have been unfair to expect him to have learned the entire offense in such a short time. Rocco, conversely, executed the system to the tune of eight wins in 2011. His 2,671 passing yards rank fourth all-time at UVA in a single season.

Virginia is 26-2-2 all-time against Richmond, including a 34-13 win in 2010 — Mike London’s Virginia debut. Richmond, which lost its final eight games a year ago, last topped UVA in 1946.

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