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Virginia OC Brandon says Cavs have personnel for spread

8/16/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Virginia quarterback Vic Hall compared it to Texas Tech. So did cornerback Ras-I Dowling.

Gregg Brandon, though, speaking publicly for the first time since he was hired, compared his offense to Bowling Green's.

After all, that's where he came from, and that's what Virginia's offense will look like this year.

"It's kind of a different system than what Virginia is going to be used to," Brandon said.

Fans will see an up-tempo, no-huddle offense designed to get the ball to the perimeter quickly, open up the running lanes and rack up yards after the catch. Brandon wants to get the ball into the hands of players who can break tackles and yes, he said, Virginia has the personnel to execute his version of the spread offense.

"We're not thin at receiver, but we're young there," he said. "Those guys will continue to mature and grow. ... But we're certainly good at running back, quarterback, our offensive line, four of those kids have started. We're pretty solid that way."

The depth chart, though, has yet to take shape, and that's only because coach Al Groh and his staff want to take their time in evaluating the players and give them all ample opportunity to compete for the jobs. During the spring, the core of the offense was installed. This summer, Brandon has opened the playbook more, and said he was impressed by how much the players retained from the spring.

He still has to find a quarterback, though, and at the end of the day, Groh will make the final call. One thing is clear, though -- this offense is best-suited for a quarterback who can run, and that puts Hall and Jameel Seweel at the top of the list. Hall ended the spring as the No. 1 quarterback.

"The offense is built for a quarterback who can run," Brandon said. "Sewell, Hall they're pretty nifty on the perimeter. Marc's [Verica] not as quick, fast as those two guys, but he can make a guy miss out there and get yards. The system is predicated on reading defenders and exploiting what they can do. I can tweak and fit the system to the talent I have at quarterback, and that's what I'll do, but the element of a quarterback running, that's one of the X factors of the offense. A lot of defenses don't account for it, so it's like a 12th guy."

Receivers coach Latrell Scott said about eight different receivers caught the ball in Virginia's scrimmage on Saturday, which was closed to the public, and he's excited to lead a group that will be featured more in the new offense.

"You have the ability to have anywhere from one to five kids on the field at one time," Scott said. "It's a lot of responsibility. A lot of work was put in by those guys, and they're proud of it, just the ability to spread the ball around. ... It's fun for me."

Of course, the players weren't the only ones who had to learn the offense.

"The schematics of it, I had never been in a wide-open offense like this," Scott said. "It was a little bit of an adjustment for me, but Gregg did a great job of teaching us the offense. He allowed us to do some of the things we had done, and we brought some experience from ourselves. We always want to make sure we feel good about what we're teaching them."

And how quickly they can learn will make all the difference in how the 2009 season unfolds.