Jay James WINA Sports
Once again Virginia is seeing inconsistency at quarterback, and Mike London told reporters yesterday that both Greyson Lambert and David Watford will see time against Virginia Tech on Saturday. “Looking at the fact that it’s our last game,” London said, “and we have no bowl opportunities and the next opportunities will be winter workouts and spring practice, we’ll give Greyson some opportunities to go in the game and play as well. It’s important that he gets some development as the season winds down.” So Saturday against a very good Virginia Tech secondary and pass rush, London will definitely see what Lambert’s got under pressure. Given Virginia’s quarterback debacle last year, it’s obvious why Coach London stayed with one quarterback for the majority of the year. Like most football scenarios, if Lambert was playing well enough in practice to beat out Watford, we probably would have seen him earlier, now we will see what the highly coveted recruit out of Georgia has got.
So Virginia’s quarterback scenario once again is unsettled. So despite all of the analysis and the questions about why UVA has not had much success since 2007, all you have to do is look at the quarterback situation. Virginia has not had any consistency at the most dynamic position on the field, and there hasn’t been consistency offensively from the coordinators either. When you combine those two factors, you get UVA’s at times very anemic offense over the last few years. So it’s time to ask the question…What If?
First, what if Peter Lalich had never come to Virginia? Lalich was one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, and committed to Virginia over several top D-1 offers. No one could have anticipated the tumultuous stay he would have at UVA and his ultimate departure amid a myriad of off the field issues. Lalich was definitely a talent, and at the time, Virginia had been through Christian Olsen, and Kevin McCabe, and Jameel Sewell was coming off of a nine win season when all of a sudden he was academically ineligible in 2008. Had Lalich stayed, he would have been the outright starter, but when he was asked to leave the program, enter unproven, and erratic Marc Verica…who it’s safe to say was never intended to be a starter. Then Jameel Sewell comes back in 2009, but UVA changes coordinators to Greg Brandon, who elects to use Vic Hall and Jameel Sewell at quarterback, so once again no consistency. Brandon coming in was a proven commodity and highly respected as an offensive mind. Well, as we all know, that experiment did not work. Thus Virginia finished 3-9, and the Mike London Era began.
One thing also to consider, is that UVA recruited Scott Deke out of California over some guy named Sean Glennon, who was best friends with teammate and now NFL wide out Eddie Royal. Tech got Glennon, and Royal and UVA got Deke, who never played. More problems at quarterback, and when Lalich committed, Mike Glennon ( now with the Tampa Bay Bucs) elected to go to NC State. So several misses at quarterback set the program years behind with no consistent starter.
It appears that Mike London is dealing with a similar frustration, no consistency at starter. While in 2011 Mike Rocco out dueled David Watford for the starting job, both guys were getting their first real opportunities to play in college football games. Rocco ends up having a great year, and things were looking up, Coach London was the coach of the year, and UVA had a returning starter at QB with 8 wins and a bowl appearance. Then in the offseason, enter 5-Star Alabama transfer Phillip Sims. At the time, UVA had to take Sims, he was a Virginia kid, and the former number one QB in the country coming out of high school. No one new the issues Phillip had, and he got an endorsement from the great Nick Saban. The arrival of Sims, despite Mike London’s best efforts to reassure him, undercut Rocco’s confidence. So looking over his shoulder, he didn’t play well, but he had a much better grasp on Bill Lazor’s offense, and he showed flashes. We all remember the 300 yard first half against La. Tech. Part of Rocco’s issues were protection, and the same wide receivers who have underperformed this year. Unfortunately for Rocco, and UVA, he and his family made what now looks like a hasty decision to leave following a bitter ending at Va Tech when he threw a critical interception. That interception by the way was caused by pass interference that was not called. So Sims leaves due to off the field issues, which were solely his responsibility and Virginia is stuck with no experience yet again at the most important position on the field! It’s beyond maddening, a string of unfortunate circumstances that no one could have forseen.
Think about this…Lalich and Greg Brandon were guys with great resume’s that didn’t pan out, and no one would have thought that both Rocco and Sims would be gone. Plus Bill Lazor’s leaving hurt significantly, because three years of foundation in an offense was out the window. You can call Fairchild’s system similar, but no coordinators are the same, and ask NFL quarterback Jason Campbell how he fared in the league with the multiple college and NFL OC’s he had to play for. Lambert and Watford were familiar with Lazor’s system, and clearly David has not adjusted well to Fairchild’s system( not necessarily Fairchild’s fault). There has been no line of succession at quarterback, no mentorship at the position, it’s been one gigantic mess, and it has drained the life out of the team’s performance. So now, back to another decision, hopefully Lambert and Watford can settle the score in spring ball, but something has got to give, you cannot have a good football program without a definitive starter, even Virginia Tech has struggled under the inconsistency of Logan Thomas, with back to back disappointing years. Ironically, they have changed offensive coordinators too. So inconsistency at offensive coordinator, and quarterback spells disaster offensively. We’ll see what the Hoos can do Saturday, one game to break a streak, and hopefully build toward the future.
The hard part is, the Hokies thoroughly enjoy stomping on what has now become their little brother in football. But remember, just like in every family, eventually the little brother gets big enough to hit back, Saturday should be interesting. Coverage of Virginia and Virginia Tech on WINA begins at 1pm Saturday.