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London won’t delay QB decision

Watford going into camp at No. 1, but Lambert has shot

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GREENSBORO, N.C. Mike London said he won’t wait long into August before naming a starting quarterback for his Virginia football team. And he gave every indication Monday that the starter will be sophomore David Watford.

“Going into this season, there is no quarterback controversy,” London said Monday during the second day of Atlantic Coast Conference media days. “Early on in August camp, you’ll know definitively who the starting quarterback is.”

London went on to say Watford, who redshirted last year after playing as a true freshman, ended the spring as the Cavaliers’ No. 1 quarterback and will open fall camp holding that spot.

But, London said, redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert will still be given the chance to compete to be U.Va.’s starter.

“The reins are not handed to David, because (Lambert) is going to be special as well,” London said. “We want to be able to, with the new coaches we have on staff, let’s pick a guy early, let’s get it established and let’s go.”

A year ago, a quarterbacking carousel helped cause the Cavaliers to sputter to a 4-8 record, the team’s second in London’s three-year tenure. London shuffled Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims in and out of the lineup.

The results were an offense that struggled to move the ball and score.

“I think the impact was the inability to put points on the board like we needed, not being able to sustain long drives,” London said. “Obviously, the quarterback situation you could say, may have contributed to some of that.”

Rocco struggled with interceptions, throwing 10 to go with 13 touchdown passes. Sims struggled with accuracy and consistency. He went 114 for 203 (56.2 percent).

Meanwhile, Watford, who was 30 for 74 for 346 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions as a true freshman, sat out.

But while doing so, he impressed London with how he handled the situation.

“Not once did David ever complain about anything,” London said. “He wanted to do what was best for the team. … A lot of guys in a playing situation, they gripe and moan about where they are, how come they’re not playing, where they are on the depth chart. David? He just closed his mouth, worked out, lifted, ran, studied.”

Neither Rocco nor Sims is still with the program. Rocco transferred to Richmond after the season rather than battle Sims for playing time.

Sims, who had transferred to U.Va. from Alabama, became academically ineligible after last season and left the school this summer.

And London’s coaching staff underwent an overhaul. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor left for the Philadelphia Eagles. Virginia hired Steve Fairchild to replace him and added former Boston College and N.C. State head coach Tom O’Brien to the staff.

And one of the things London and the new coaches quickly agreed on was the need to identify a starting quarterback early in the preseason.

“I think for our team, we’ve gone through the growing pain of selecting a quarterback,” London said, looking back on last season. “Who do you play? When do you play them?”

And while London said the spring didn’t end with a decision, he said coaches came away with a good idea of what they’d do this fall with Watford and Lambert.

“I think there are personal opinions on each,” London said. “David is listed as No. 1. Greyson knows that he’s competing for that spot as well.”

mbarber@timesdispatch.com

804-980-6188

@RTD_MikeBarber

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