Is Phillip Sims the Answer at Quarterback for Virginia?

By Patrick Schmidt
Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia did not have a great 2012 season finishing with a 4-8 record and finished last in the ACC Coastal division with a 2-6 conference record, but needs steady quarterback to improve in 2013.

Head coach Mike London rebounded after a 4-8 rookie season in 2010 with an 8-4 mark in 2011 that saw the team beat Florida State for the first time in the history of the program and also picked up a win at Miami. So after a disappointing 2012 season, the onus will be on him to put together another rebound effort and it starts with the game’s most important position.

The biggest question mark heading into 2013 is who is going to be the starting quarterback after both Michael Rocco and former Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims saw extensive action for the Cavaliers. Rocco led the team in every passing category, but decided to transfer to Richmond with one year of eligibility remaining.

Rocco showed flashes of being the quarterback of the future last season when he threw for 300 yards on 78.4% passing and tossed four touchdowns in the one-point win over Miami, but also looked over-matched as evidenced by his seven interceptions in a three-game losing streak that opened the door for Sims to take his job.

Sims transferred from Alabama after AJ McCarron beat him out for the job and the Chesapeake native played sparingly in his first year at Virginia, but failed to capitalize on his opportunity as a starter when Rocco was ineffective. He threw nine touchdowns to only four interceptions, but his accuracy was a detriment as he completed only 56% of his passes.

Sims takes over as the full-time starter and won’t have to look over his shoulder and can play free and won’t have to worry about being replaced if he makes  a poor throw. Sims has proven he can be an effective game manager for a short period of time last year, but will need to do more if Virginia is going to win more than the four games they did last year.

Sims will be aided by a rushing attack led by returning starter, Kevin Parks and highly touted freshman Taquan Mizzell (Virginia Beach, Va. Bayside) that will keep opposing defenses from stacking the box and thus opening up bigger windows for the quarterbacks to deliver the ball.

Bottom line: Virginia has an opportunity to win six games and make it back to a bowl game if Sims takes the next step in his development and plays like the guy that was once an Alabama recruit.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” on airing Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

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