Why didn’t Lindell Stone get in at the end of the UVA loss?
Some fans were wondering why UVA quarterback Kurt Benkert was still on the field in what amounted to garbage time in the Cavs’ 34-17 loss to Indiana on Saturday.
Mainly because, everybody knows how thing Virginia is at QB, and how the slim hopes of the team doing anything of significance this season hinge on Benkert staying healthy, with the No. 2 on the depth chart being a true freshman, Lindell Stone.
Getting Stone into a game, goes the line of thinking, could do a couple of things for you: in addition to getting Benkert to the sidelines to live to fight another day, it also gives Stone live action that could aid in his development as Virginia’s quarterback of the future.
Ah, but there’s this thing about being the quarterback of the future: do you want that future to be three years, or four?
If Stone takes a single snap this season, the ability to use this year as a redshirt year is burned.
Being listed No. 2 on the depth chart does nothing in terms of using up the year of eligibility in that respect.
It’s a sign of how painfully thin UVA is at quarterback that even something as simple as Benkert losing his helmet on a play could force Stone into a game for a snap that costs him an entire year toward his four.
Ideally, having Stone as the No. 2 speeds up his development by having him participate more fully in the implementation of the weekly game planning and game prep, getting whatever percentage of snaps in practice that a No. 2 gets in the Virginia system, and having him in a headset as play calls are being transmitted to Benkert in live game action, getting those mental reps that will make him that much more ready to take over when the job is his beginning next spring.
Then, he enters the spring and next fall as a redshirt freshman in terms of eligibility, and has four more years to grow as the starter.
Throw Stone out there for a few forgettable snaps at the end of a deflating loss, and unless he suffers a season-ending injury before playing in four games, he’s a sophomore next year, and arguably no further along in terms of his development.
The only way the play Stone now story is a boost to his development is if he ends up becoming the starter at some point this season.
Then he gets, in addition to the work during the week on game planning and game prep, something to measure himself against in terms of game play, and not just garbage time game play that can be hard to quantify.
It’s not a guarantee that things work out the way you want them to if Stone ends up getting action this year, of course.
UVA fans will remember two top QB recruits, Anthony Martinez and Kevin McCabe, who struggled as freshmen and ended up washing out as a result.
You have to be extra careful trying to develop quarterback talent. That’s why you don’t throw a kid out there at the end of a blowout loss.
Column by Chris Graham