Virginia Football: David Watford, Freshmen Look to Play Key Role in 2011
Youth will be served at Virginia.
The Cavaliers have not had a winning season since 2007 but head coach Mike London picked up a top 25 recruiting class this past spring and does not intend to waste it.
Clearly he has no illusions of waiting and trying to redshirt these talented frosh to make a run down the road. You have to win, baby, win, and that is what London knows will ultimately define any head coach.
Instead of learning on the practice field it will be a baptism of fire for these athletes as they try to resurrect a dormant program.
On one hand, this is not very surprising. Cornerback Demetrious Nicholson has been impressing everyone with his stellar play-making early on.
Wide receiver Darius Jennings is a big piece of a wide receiving corps looking to bail out an inexperienced quarterback.
Linebacker Daquan Romero, running back Clifton Richardson and maybe up to eight more true freshmen are going to see the field.
The biggest surprise though is just how definitive coach London was when it came to quarterback David Watford.
Who will be the starting QB by the end of the year?
This August, sophomore Mike Rocco has gotten the majority of the snaps and the praise from the coaching staff. The inexperienced signal caller seems to have the most going for him mentally and physically.
Yet Watford has pushed him the final few weeks, even as a true freshman. His athleticism has given Virginia something it so desperately needs, a playmaker.
Coach London spelled it out on Monday; Watford is playing in the season opener against William and Mary. Rocco may start, but he is not going at it alone.
Virginia is clearly looking to change the culture now. They need a bowl game to keep the momentum going. They need to honor a commitment they made to these recruits to let them play.
Still, opening up a two-quarterback system is always a Pandora's Box.
While it may have worked at Florida with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, that is the exception, not the rule.
Every Virginia fan remembers the debacle of the Bryson Spinner/Matt Schaub battle. Neither player looked comfortable out there and both had trouble moving an offense.
It was not until Spinner left that offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave could groom Schaub into an All-ACC player.
Rocco is an unknown commodity. He could be great, he could be the next Anthony Martinez or Christian Olsen.
If David Watford can move like former Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell, how does his accuracy compare?
Giving Watford playing time so early can divide a locker room, it can lead to discontinuity on offense with players taking sides.
Coach London is taking a risk and he knows it. Winning means that players have to step up when called upon, no matter how old they are.
It may not be the ideal working condition for either one, but it is the hand they have been dealt.
By the end of the year, he expects to have a quarterback for the future. We just do not know who it is yet.
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