The big news coming out of Charlottesville on Monday didn’t have anything to do with Virginia’s loss to Louisiana Tech or the Cavaliers preparations for the surging Duke Blue Devils. It was instead about their backup quarterback, or I should say their former backup quarterback. On Monday, UVa head coach Mike London announced that sophomore quarterback Phillip Simms will start on Saturday “if healthy.”
Is this the proper move for London and the Cavs or is this just an overreaction to a three game losing streak?
If Simms is indeed able to start then he will be taking the job away from junior Michael Rocco. Rocco has had his fair share of struggles early this season, but he is also the same quarterback that led the Wahoos to an 8-5 record last year and a berth in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl.
Simms transferred from Alabama earlier this summer, and is obviously a special talent. However, he has only had a few months to learn the Cavaliers’ playbook and it is doubtful that he is comfortable with all of the intricacies of their system after such a short period of time.
Statistically, these two aren’t exactly evenly matched. As a starter Rocco has thrown six touchdowns and eight interceptions, while Simms in a much smaller sample size has thrown five touchdowns and zero picks.
Simms is Virginia’s quarterback of the future; that much is evident. Simms appears to better than Rocco in all aspects of the game except for one: experience. That is the reason I think this move by London is a slight overreaction. Rocco knows this system and thrived in it last year, to just dismiss that seems a little foolhardy.
The Cavaliers are playing Duke this weekend, and while the Blue Devils are currently streaking they are far from unbeatable. Duke’s defense is porous and could have been the perfect chance for Rocco to turn his season around. If Rocco were to continue to struggle then London could pull him early for Simms and that would be the right moment to make the switch for good.
UVa’s current three game losing streak has come against three solid teams in Georgia Tech, TCU and LA Tech, and to be perfectly honest Virginia isn’t as a good a team as any of them with either quarterback under center.
This conversation could all be for naught though, because Simms is recovering from a minor knee injury he suffered against LA Tech and if he isn’t 100% then Rocco will still be under center against Duke.
This move for London seems quick and it will go one of two ways; either it is a complete success or a total bust, there isn’t an in-between.