As Mike London prepares the Virginia Cavaliers for the 2013 season, pressure is building for this roster to perform. There are numerous questions at multiple positions after a somewhat rocky offseason that saw the team’s two most experienced quarterbacks leave the program. That puts the onus on some of the veterans on this team to step up their game next seasons, and nobody has more on their shoulders than receiver Darius Jennings in the passing game.
Jennings returns to the Cavs for his junior season after leading the team in receiving yards in 2012. He finished his sophomore year with 48 catches for 568 yards and a team-high five touchdowns. He’s the leader of a receiving corps that boasts excellent depth as one of four wide receivers coming back in 2013 who had at least 20 catches a year ago. Their ranks are also boosted by tight end Jake McGee, who had 28 catches last season for 374 yards and five touchdowns.
That experience at receiver will be a major boost to the wavering quarterback situation. David Watford and Greyson Lambert are the front runners after both redshirting during the 2012 season. Watford last played back in 2011 when he saw action in 10 games but completed just 40.5 percent of his passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions as a freshman. Lambert, meanwhile, has yet to take a snap in a college football game.
Whoever wins out will have to lean on Jennings and the rest of the receivers to help expand the passing game next season. While Virginia had seven pass catchers that caught 20 passes or more, two of them were running backs and it was actually running back Perry Jones who led the team with 49 receptions. He gained just 397 yards, averaging 8.1 yards per catch and scored zero touchdowns, so most of his work was in dump offs. Dinking and dunking isn’t going to get Virginia’s offense rolling, however, in 2013.
That puts the pressure on Jennings to emerge as a leader and keep the passing game focused on big plays down the field. If the passing offense is allowed to sputter once again, the Cavaliers have no shot of turning things around in 2013.