One of Mike London’s objectives for 2011 Virginia spring football practice was the establishment of separation of the four players vying for the starting quarterback position. Michael Rocco and Ross Metheny both saw limited backup duty last season and appeared to have the benefit of game experience while Michael Strauss and freshmen David Watford added to the mix.
While Saturday’s annual spring game may not have provided a slam-dunk winner, it did appear as the sophomore Rocco was able to distance himself from the group, leading all UVa. quarterbacks, completing 17 of 32 passes for two touchdowns and one interception. Rocco, playing for both the Orange and Blue squad, appeared poised in the pocket and avoided numerous potential sacks with some strong footwork.
For the record, the Blue Squad recorded a 17-7 win over the Orange in a standard game format consisting of four 10-minute quarters. The Blue team showcased some of the Cavaliers’ returning offensive starters while the Orange squad consisted of returning defensive starters.
Rocco and Metheny both saw action for both squads. With Rocco behind center for the Orange team, it scored its only points when he teamed up with Brendan Morgan for a three-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter. Metheny was a combined three of six passes for 60 yards. Watford, the State’s Gatorade player of the year who enrolled at UVa. in January in double-duty play completed one of six pass attempts. Straus finished with 85 yards passing completing six of 14 passes.
After the contest, a confident-appearing Rocco said he was fairly pleased with his performance. “I was able to stay fairly focused and saw the field really well, ” noted the true sophomore from Lynchburg. A shortage of experienced receivers may have given all the signal-callers problems. Due to some spring injuries and offseason surgeries the team was without receivers Kris Burd, Matt Snyder, Tim Smith and Bobby Smith. That fact did not seem to rattle Rocco. “I’m used to throwing to the guys that were out there today. They are talented and saw this as an excellent opportunity for themselves. Spring ball is about just that – opportunities, ” noted Rocco.
Defensively the Cavaliers on both sides of the ball did an excellent job of limiting long-yardage plays. Highlighting the defense for Virginia was junior linebacker Steve Greer (Solon, Ohio), who had nine tackles two sacks and a pass deflection. Greer said the defense may be the backbone of this year’s team. “We have some playmakers, and we are certainly anxious to show what we are capable of,” proclaimed Greer.
Today’s game was played after the Cavalier’s men’s lacrosse team played ACC foe Maryland. A crowd of over 10,000 was in attendance as the Terrapins posted a 12-7 win. Unfortunately for the football team mother nature paid a late-game visit to Scott Stadium bringing with her wind, rain and hail. That combination sent many fans scrambling, some of whom chose not to return for the gridiron battle.
At halftime London announced that Matt Snyder, Perry Jones, Rodney McCleod and Nick Jenkins would serve as captains for the 2011 season.