UVa has two quarterbacks, needs just one

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UVa has two quarterbacks, needs just one

By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

At 4-7, Virginia is in a familiar situation: playing for pride and another winter break without a bowl trip.

At the center – or rather, under center – of it all is Michael Rocco, the workmanlike junior quarterback who gives five-star effort. In giving that effort, Rocco takes snaps away from Phillip Sims, perhaps the more talented signal caller.

Excluding tonight’s game against North Carolina, Rocco has started six of UVa’s games, with Sims leading the way for the other four.

Throw out the Richmond and Penn State games, and each quarterback has piloted the Cavaliers to one win – Rocco the thriller over Miami, Sims the beat down of NC State.

Along the way, the two quarterbacks have put up similar statistics, with Rocco’s edging Sims – albeit slightly – across the board: completing 61.5% of his passes to Sims’ 57.5%, accounting for 12 touchdowns and 8 interceptions against Sims’ 10 scores (eight passing, two rushing) and 4 picks, for an efficiency rating edge of 132.5 to 124.3.

The real difference between the two is felt on the field; Rocco looks like an overachiever while Sims exudes raw potential and flashes of brilliance.

With another season drawing to a close, and a youth movement in full swing at the other skill positions, which player should take the remainder of Virginia’s snaps?

Recruiting rankings aren’t everything, or even close to it - otherwise, Al Groh would still be in town. However, Sims parlayed his Parade All-American, top-ranked high school quarterback status into a scholarship offer from Nick Saban and Alabama.

At Alabama, Sims acquitted himself well enough to push and share time with A.J. McCarron – who currently has a top-10 quarterback rating and Heisman candidacy. In limited action (eight games), Sims completed 64% of his passes, and spent the balance of his time preparing to take the reins of a National Championship team.

The Cavaliers haven’t had a quarterback with this much raw talent in a decade or more. The saying goes that if your team has two starting quarterbacks, you don’t have one. 

UVa. needs to figure out who that quarterback is. 

College Football Playoff projections: From contender to pretender in just four weeks

College Football Playoff projections: From contender to pretender in just four weeks

There were high hopes for LSU at the start of the season. With the collection of talent the Tigers boast on their roster, there was no reason to think they could not challenge Alabama for SEC supremacy.

Even my preseason College Football Playoff projections at the start of the season had LSU as one of the four teams to make the playoff.

SEE THE NEW COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PROJECTION HERE

The Tigers' championship hopes took a hit with an opening loss to Wisconsin. Now just four games into their season, Les Miles been fired and their playoff aspirations appear to be completely dashed after a devastating loss Auburn.

With Alabama looking as dominant as ever and what was believed to be their main rival already looking down and out, who else can challenge the Tide for supremacy of the SEC? Who else joins the Alabama in the projected top four?

Find out here in this week's College Football Playoff projection.

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Jerod Evans said that he needed to clean up some things during Virginia Tech's upcoming off week.

The Hokies' fan base may be wondering what exactly that is. His play so far has been sparkling.

Evans, the Hokies' starting quarterback, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for one to lift Virginia Tech over East Carolina 54-17 on Saturday.

The Hokies (3-1) scored on their final five possessions of the first half, including all four of their second-quarter possessions, to overwhelm East Carolina (2-2) and snap a two-game losing streak to the Pirates.

Evans completed 13 of 20 passes for a career-best 282 yards and rushed for a career-best 97 more. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three of the Hokies' first four games and is completing 67 percent of his passes.

"I missed a couple of things here and there," Evans said. "I have a lot of things that I can get better at for sure."

Evans entered the game with an ACC-best 10 touchdown passes this season. Of more importance to Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, he has thrown just one interception.

"I think he's pretty good," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said of Evans. "He's been judicious with the ball and he's going to the right place most of the time. He's been pretty efficient."

Following a punt return for a touchdown by Greg Stroman and a touchdown run by Marshawn Williams that gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Evans threw touchdown passes of 24 yards to Isaiah Ford, 13 yards to Travon McMillian and 55 yards to Cam Phillips. That final score gave the Hokies a 38-0 halftime lead.

ECU quarterback Philip Nelson had 362 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to Jimmy Williams. The Pirates had 443 yards of offense, but committed three special teams mistakes, fumbled once and were sacked six times.

"We studied the film well and they had a lot of keys when they were sliding the protection," said Ken Ekanem, who had two of the Hokies' six sacks. "We had a lot of indicators and we knew when someone was going to be left one-on-one. We look forward to one-on-one matchups and pride ourselves on winning those. We did a good job of that today."

THE TAKEAWAY

EAST CAROLINA: Coming off a 20-15 loss at South Carolina and playing its third consecutive game against a Power 5 opponent, the Pirates looked a step slow and out of sorts from the opening kick. They went three-and-out on five first-half possessions. The Pirates hope to regroup now that they have finished the non-conference portion of their schedule.

"That was clearly the best football team that we have played," ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said. "The most physical. The biggest. The fastest. The strongest. The smartest. I thought they competed well in their scheme. They played great emotional football. They leaned on their crowd. They played a complete football game -- as complete as it gets."

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies dominated on special teams, scoring three touchdowns as a result of those units. Greg Stroman scored on an 87-yard punt return, and Cam Phillips blocked a punt that led to an Evans touchdown pass to Travon McMillian. A sack of ECU punter Worth Gregory in the fourth quarter led to a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Brenden Motley.

UP NEXT

EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates open AAC play next Saturday with a home game against UCF. ECU blasted the Golden Knights 44-7 last season for their first win in Orlando since 2008.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies are off next week before taking on North Carolina on Oct. 8 and will be looking to avenge last year's 30-27 overtime loss. The Hokies have won nine of the 12 meetings with the Tar Heels since joining the ACC.