Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Midseason report: Virginia
By Heather Dinich
Record: 3-2, 0-1
Knowing the uncertainty facing the quarterback position this year, and the youth movement within the program, expectations were tempered for Virginia, which was picked by the media to finish fifth in the Coastal Division this year. Those concerns have proven valid through the first five games of the season.
Virginia went 3-1 against its nonconference opponents with a surprise loss at home to Southern Miss, and the Cavaliers needed overtime to beat a 1-5 Idaho team. It’s been an underwhelming start for a program trying to get to a bowl game in just the second season under coach Mike London, but growing pains should have been expected.
Quarterback Michael Rocco earned the starting job, but true freshman David Watford has also worked his way into the rotation. Together they have combined for four touchdowns and eight interceptions. It hasn’t been a complete disaster, as Rocco has completed 63.1 percent of his passes and is averaging 206.4 passing yards per game. Turnovers, though, have held the Hoos back, as they have lost the ball 13 times this year. There has been enough help around the quarterbacks, though, to help ease their transition as running back Perry Jones and receiver Kris Burd are both among the ACC's leaders, and Kevin Parks is tied for the league lead in scoring with six touchdowns.
Defensively, Virginia has made strides and is more comfortable in the second season of the 4-3 scheme. The Hoos are No. 3 in the ACC in total defense, and No. 2 in pass efficiency defense and tackles for loss. The best competition has yet to come, though, and if Virginia needed overtime to beat Idaho, there might not be enough time left in the season to find six wins.
Offensive MVP: WR Kris Burd: He has had six 100-yard receiving games in his career and is fifth in the ACC with six catches per game. He is No. 8 in the ACC with 74.6 yards per game. Of Kris his 30 receptions on the season, 22 have resulted in a first down (73.3 percent).
Defensive MVP: CB Chase Minnifield: He has four pass breakups and one interception this season. He has 23 tackles, four tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks.