Virginia Has a Problem at Quarterback

By Ryan McCart

The Virginia Cavaliers are off to a 2-2 start early this season, but a quarterback controversy may already be brewing for the Wahoos. The Cavaliers’ offensive woes started in a 17-16 win over Penn State in week 2. Since then, the offense has had trouble hanging on to the football and putting points on the board. UVa currently ranks 100th in the nation in scoring offense, only averaging 21.8 points per game.

Quarterback Michael Rocco has been the starter for the Cavs in the first four games of the season, but backup Phillip Simms has started to receive more and more playing time. In the last two games, it can be argued that Simms has actually outplayed Rocco. Simms transferred from Alabama at the beginning of summer, so he is still learning all of the intricacies of the Cavaliers’ offense.

Simms and Rocco have given head coach Mike London a lot to think about over the next week.  Rocco is completing 60.2 percent of his passes and he has thrown four touchdown passes in his first four games. However, he has also thrown five interceptions. Simms, on the other hand, has thrown three touchdowns and no interceptions in less playing time. Simms was responsible for 14 of the 20 points that Virginia scored against Georgia Tech in week 3 and he threw the only touchdown that UVa scored against TCU on Saturday.

London has experimented with a two quarterback system for the past two seasons, but it is very rare that such a system works. Arguably, the last two quarterback system to work in the ACC was with Virginia Tech in 2007, when Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor shared the backfield. UVa hasn’t shared the same success with their archrival.

I believe that London must pick one quarterback and stick with him, and while Simms has a higher upside, I think that the Cavaliers should keep Rocco as the starter. Rocco struggled early last season when the Cavs attempted to use two quarterbacks, but once London decided to stick with Rocco, he began to excel at the position and led Virginia to their first winning season since 2007.

The quarterback controversy may already be in full swing up in Charlottesville, but London shouldn’t remove Rocco from the starting lineup until he is given the chance to be the only quarterback on the field. If he gets that chance and still struggle,s then I would have less of a problem with pulling him for Simms, but until such a time comes, Rocco is the answer.

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