ACC: Bill Lazor

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
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Steelers fan stuck in Baltimore.
Considering Bill Lazor’s history with the NFL -- and his flirtations with the league last year -- it should come as no surprise that he left his job as Virginia's offensive coordinator to join the Philadelphia Eagles. It seemed inevitable. The hire of former NC State coach Tom O’Brien as associate head coach probably didn’t do much to sway Lazor to stay, given that move could have blurred the chain of command, but the overriding factor likely boiled down to Lazor’s interest and experience in the next level.

The bigger question is what’s next for Virginia’s offense.

This is an important hire for coach Mike London (and apparently his boss, executive associate athletic director Jon Oliver, who seems to enjoy weighing in on these things). It comes at an inopportune time, as signing day is only a week away, but more importantly, it comes at a time when Virginia needs to find stability and development at the quarterback position.

The Cavaliers -- particularly in the running game -- underachieved in 2012, especially considering the talent they had on the offensive line with Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi. They also had a seasoned quarterback to work with in Michael Rocco, who has since transferred, but the puzzling use of Rocco and backup Phillip Sims made the position an ongoing storyline instead of a strength.

Once again, the quarterbacks will be the focus in Charlottesville this offseason, as they have for the past several years. Sims isn’t the only option, as David Watford also has significant experience and has drawn praise from London. Rookie Greyson Lambert will also be given a chance to earn the starting role. The next coordinator will not only have to choose the next starter, but he will also have to be on the same page as London, who openly favored the two-quarterback system in the past.

The Cavaliers could turn to O’Brien, who was Virginia’s offensive coordinator for six years under George Welsh, but both O’Brien and London have made it clear that O’Brien’s role is to guide London and be a resource to him, and help manage the program. Juggling those responsibilities and acting as offensive coordinator and calling the plays on game day would be a lot to ask.

With seven starters returning on defense and four starters back on the offensive line, Virginia can and should be better in 2013. Hiring O’Brien was a huge step in the right direction, but it likely wasn’t the last step.

UVa confirms OC Bill Lazor to NFL

January, 29, 2013
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Virginia offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor is leaving for the NFL, the school confirmed on Tuesday. ESPN has reported Lazor will join the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I appreciate Bill Lazor’s time here as a member of my staff,” coach Mike London said in a prepared statement. “We are now wrapping up our recruiting and starting our preparation for the 2013 season. We will move quickly to find a new offensive coordinator to keep the program moving forward.”

From the release:
Lazor joined London’s staff in 2010 after spending the previous seven seasons in the NFL. He was the quarterbacks coach for the Seattle Seahawks in 2008 and 2009. Lazor spent four seasons with the Washington Redskins. During the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Lazor was the quarterbacks coach for legendary head coach Joe Gibbs. In his first two seasons in Washington, Lazor was an offensive assistant. Lazor got his NFL start in 2003 under Dan Reeves as the Atlanta Falcons offensive quality control coach.

Lazor was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University at Buffalo in 2001 and 2002. Lazor spent seven seasons at his alma mater, Cornell. He started as a part-time assistant in 1994 and progressed to the passing game coordinator, recruiting coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 1999 and 2000. He also spent time as the running backs, tight ends, wide receivers and junior varsity head coach during his tenure with the Big Red. He is a native of Scranton, Pa.

Source: Bill Lazor headed to Eagles

January, 29, 2013
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Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will become the new quarterbacks coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

CBSSports.com first reported the news.

Lazor has an extensive coaching history in the NFL. His departure continues the staff shakeup at UVa. Lazor is the fifth assistant to depart. Four others were fired in December.

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 29, 2013
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Is there a Big 12-ACC alliance in the works?
Virginia has had its share of struggles offensively this season, a big contributing factor to the Hoos' 2-6 start to the season.

I had a chance to catch up with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to get his thoughts on what has gone wrong, and what Virginia focused on during its bye to prepare for the stretch run, beginning Saturday against NC State.

What was your No. 1 priority to fix on offense during the bye week?

Bill Lazor: I thought we had a really nice week as far as putting pressure on them. We made it a difficult week of practice, did a lot of blitz drill, a lot of two-minute drill, things you can do to put the most pressure on the quarterback. It isn’t often in the game that you might go 20 or 25 plays in a row being blitzed and having to handle a blitz, but that’s what we did in practice and you just feel like when you put a quarterback under those kinds of extreme conditions, it’s like you’re baking them in the oven, you’re putting them under fire but that’s how they grow. That’s how they turn into quarterbacks. I thought we had a good week of doing that. We made a couple mistakes we’ll learn from but at the same time, I saw our quarterbacks grow in that area. As we look at where we are at this point in the season, we know our No. 1 issue is turning the football over. That certainly leads to not scoring as many points as we’d like to, so we tried to deal with that.

How much has the quarterback change impact the consistency of your offense?

[+] EnlargePhillip Sims
AP Photo/Steve HelberPhillip Sims took over the starting quarterback job, but has struggled recently, throwing four picks in the past three games.
BL: There are a lot of changes that have been going on this year, but there aren’t any excuses for not playing as well as we’d like to play. Coaches and players are very focused on what their job is and Coach [Mike] London and the staff, we’re making what we believe are to be the best decisions for the team so I don’t think we can look back and just say it’s that. The guys that are playing, whether it be from injury or earned playing time or rotation -- whoever is on the field is who we feel is the best.

Why has the run game been up and down this year?

BL: We’ve had some really good weeks. I think two weeks ago, we played Maryland. They come into the game as one of the top rush defenses in the country and I thought we ran the ball well enough to win that game. When you look at the first half of the game against Wake Forest, we did not run the ball in the first half at all. So it has been up and down. We’re trying to stay true to what we think we’re good at. We do play a number of different running backs, and I’ve got to make sure I’m putting each of the running backs in to do the things he does well. I feel confident that the young guys we’ve had play on the offensive line are ready to go now. Wake Forest will be a blip on the screen. The rushing offense you saw two to three weeks before that will end up being who we are the rest of the season. I feel we’ve developed that and we’re on track.

How much have injuries at receiver impacted your passing game?

BL: Tim Smith returning to us shows why he is a key component to that group. When we looked at the kind of production we had last year and the big plays down the field, Tim was involved in a pretty high number of those. In the bye week as we looked at our explosive plays for the small amount of time he played for us, he gets a large portion of plays for us also. He’s the only player in that group who’s a junior or above so when Tim’s missing, they’re all freshmen and sophomores. It makes a difference, even to how the other guys play. Getting him back was very important for us. I think he’ll be productive going forward. I’m really excited about the future. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the present and all these young receivers have to no longer be young receivers. We’ve really got to produce right now. It can be an exciting group because they’ve got some speed and some ability to make plays.

Did you see an increased sense of urgency this past week, because you guys need to win out to become bowl eligible?

BL: I don’t know if it was as much about how our record is or just getting back to the basics or fundamentals, giving guys an opportunity to compete in practice. I think the No. 1 thing you’ve got to teach players at this level is that it doesn’t take a losing streak to make you motivated to practice. You need to come out every single day and be intense about getting better. You need to teach them to have a little bit of anger, to set a standard in practice that’s going to be good enough to use that to win in the game. That’s our job as coaches. We all know some guys get it faster than others and some have it inside of them and some you have to teach that. But I know this: An old coach taught me a long time ago a streak starts with one and so we’re hoping to start a new streak. But we have to be focused on that one game and that’s where we’re focused right now.

One good reason: Virginia

July, 13, 2012
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VIRGINIA

This series gives one good reason why each school in the ACC will win this year, and, just to make sure we cover both sides of the story, one good reason why it won’t. For most schools, the focus is on winning the ACC title. For the programs that missed out on the postseason entirely last year, the focus is on getting back to a bowl game (at least it is here in the blogosphere). We’re going in alphabetical order, and the Cavaliers are up next.

The series continues today with one good reason why …

Virginia will win the Coastal Division. Knowledge of the system. After two full years under coach Mike London, the players are now much more knowledgeable about his 4-3 defense and understand the pro style philosophies of offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. There hasn’t been any staff turnover, and London said the continuity made for a much smoother spring. Virginia finally has a dependable starting quarterback in Michael Rocco (although he will be challenged by Alabama transfer Phillip Sims this fall), and the Hoos are coming off their best record and first bowl appearance since 2007. Last year’s surprising success, which included a shot at the Coastal Division title against rival Virginia Tech, was something the Hoos could learn from and build upon.

Why it won’t: Too much talent and experience was lost on defense. A total of seven starters from 2011 who combined for 221 career starts are gone. Only four starters return, and three starters have to be replaced in the secondary and on the defensive line. The linebackers should be an area of strength, but the defensive backs are a major question mark. Demetrious Nicholson, who started as a true freshman last year, is now the veteran of the group. The secondary lost more than 90 career starts from the other three starters, including standout corner Chase Minnifield. Virginia's offense threw for more than 400 yards in the spring game, revealing some weaknesses in the secondary that must be addressed during fall camp.

More in this series

Q&A with UVa QB Michael Rocco

March, 20, 2012
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At this time last year, Virginia’s quarterbacks were involved in one of the better offseason competitions in the ACC. This spring, it’s a different story, as Michael Rocco has asserted himself as the leader of the offense and is looking to build upon a strong debut in 2011. Last year Rocco completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,485 yards, with just four interceptions, nine touchdowns and a 141.00 pass efficiency rating. I spoke with Rocco recently about his outlook on 2012. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

What’s the next step for you? What can you build on and get better at next season?

Michael Rocco: My first priority really has been lifting and being a leader in the offseason, just getting down what I need to work on through film. I’ve been doing that the past couple of weeks. And then really just going out and working on that in my spare time with other quarterbacks and receivers, just making sure I’m a leader during our offseason workouts.

How much more enjoyable has this offseason been because there haven’t been questions about who’s going to be Virginia’s quarterback and the uncertainty of the position and your role in it?

MR: I think it’s just more enjoyable that I’m going to be the leader I knew I could be this whole time and people are looking to me for leadership and accountability. Last year I was trying to develop my leadership and this year, I am a leader now. I need to watch my step and make sure I’m leading through example.

What was the most important lesson you learned from last season?

MR: Really that it’s a team game, and that I have to rely on my playmakers to make plays for me, and I can’t get it all done alone from the quarterback position. I have great players around me. I just have to do my part in leading the offense and good things will happen. Our offense really got better towards the end of the year and throughout the year.

How big of a deal is it from your perspective that coach [Bill] Lazor ended the speculation about him going to the NFL and he’ll be your coordinator again this year?

MR: It’s huge, especially having a coordinator for three years in a row now. This offense is really taking off, and I know I have become a way better quarterback, just from being under his tutelage, and making sure that I’m using all of his information. I meet with him weekly, and just knowing that he’s here and having him for another year in this offense is really something special.

As a group, where do you guys think you made the most progress offensively last year?

MR: I know we ran the ball respectively for most of our games, and in just another year in the offense, we knew that we were going to excel and get better and I believe our offensive line took a huge step forward this past year. The running backs did a great job of running through those holes they opened up. This next year we’re really looking to take our passing game to get to the level of the running game we had this past year.

Are you going to be able to do that without Mr. [Kris] Burd?

MR: It’s going to be tough. He is a really good receiver, but we have good receivers coming back, and we have a good recruiting class of receivers coming in. It’s exciting to work with our receivers right now in the offseason and I look forward to the guys coming in this summer to see who can play right away. It’s going to take a little time to progress, but it’s going to be a great experience and we’re ready for it.

You guys totally jumped the gun on expectations last year by getting to a bowl game and contending for the Coastal Division title. What do you think are realistic expectations for Virginia fans for you guys for this season?

MR: Our expectations on ourselves are really all that matters, and I know all of our guys are expecting us to improve upon last year. Our record was 8-5 last year. That’s not all we look at is our record, but improving as players and teammates, and we know we have the players and the playmakers to do something special next year, even though we lost a lot. We have the guys in place, the recruits in place to take this program to the next level. I know I’m working as hard as I can to be the leader I need to be this offseason and I know other leaders on the team are, too. We’re expecting a lot out of this season and not looking to skip a beat.

Virginia OC Bill Lazor staying put

February, 13, 2012
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There had been some speculation regarding the future of Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor with the program, but Lazor squashed the notion of him leaving for the NFL with the following statement:
"Like coach [Mike] London, I too have had a number of inquires about my future at Virginia and I am excited to let everyone know I am still a Cavalier and will be a part of coach London’s staff for the upcoming season.

I appreciate coach London recently allowing me the chance to discuss a unique opportunity with an NFL team. I think all of us on his staff appreciate the comments he made the other day about professional growth and development. He truly cares about the people that work with him.

In my two years in Charlottesville I have grown to appreciate coach London, the University and the things he is doing with our football program. We are all very privileged to work at such a fine University and to coach a really outstanding group of young men. Yes we’ve made some progress, but he have even higher goals we want to achieve and I’m excited that I will be here to be a part of that ongoing process."

It had been reported that Lazor interviewed for the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Whether or not he was actually offered the position or knew Tampa Bay was going in a different direction is irrelevant at this point. What should matter to Virginia fans is that Lazor is good, he's made a difference and he'll be back -- at least for 2012.

Mike London on Bill Lazor and the NFL

February, 8, 2012
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Virginia coach Mike London has issued a statement on the speculation surrounding offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's future, and confirmed that his offensive coordinator has met with an NFL team about a job opportunity. FOXSports.com reported on Tuesday that Lazor is a candidate for the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here's what London had to say about it:
"I have received a number of inquiries regarding the status of Bill Lazor on our staff. Bill recently met with a NFL team regarding an opening on its staff. Considering his background in the NFL and the outstanding job he has done as our offensive coordinator, that does not surprise me.

I’m a firm believer in the continuity of the overall staff and I think the combination of quality assistant coaches and support staff have contributed to our success thus far. At the same time, opportunities present themselves that I feel are important for our staff to investigate and possibly pursue for their personal development and to allow them to meet their personal goals."

This would be a big loss for the Hoos, especially as they prepare for spring practice and build off of the momentum from 2011, but so far, there's nothing concrete. If and when there is, you can find it here.

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 8, 2012
2/08/12
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Anybody else wanna join the Big East?

Week 1: Upset watch

August, 30, 2011
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It happens when you least expect it.

Just ask Virginia Tech.

Can the ACC get through Week 1 without an embarrassing loss? Will JMU strike again?

Here are the top three games on upset watch for Week 1 in the ACC:

1. William & Mary at Virginia: The last time these teams met, in 2009, William & Mary won, 26-14. UVA was 4-8 last year. William & Mary was 8-4. The Tribe is led by former UNC backup quarterback Michael Paulus, who played in six games last season. Virginia is introducing rookie quarterback Michael Rocco. The Tribe ranked seventh in the FCS in passing offense last year and No. 19 in scoring offense at 48 points per game. UVA's offense was much improved under Bill Lazor and averaged 38 points per game.

2. Appalachian State at Virginia Tech: This is the fourth straight season that the Hokies have played a past FCS national champion, but these programs haven't met since 1982. App State quarterback DeAndre Presley is one of four players in FCS history to pass for 2,000 or more yards and rush for 1,000 or more in the same season.

3. James Madison at North Carolina: Mickey Matthews is entering his 12th season at JMU, and interim head coach Everett Withers will be coaching his first game as a head coach. Despite its upset of Virginia Tech last season, JMU didn't exactly thrive in the CAA, finishing with a 3-5 league record and 6-5 overall. The offense was one of the worst in the FCS, and shouldn't present too many problems for the UNC defense. The JMU defense, though, was one of the best in the FCS.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 10, 2011
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Lotta links ...

Coaching 'em up: Virginia

July, 28, 2011
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The series highlighting one assistant coach from each program whose position group will steal the spotlight this fall continues today with the Cavaliers.

Coach: Bill Lazor

Position: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks

Experience: Lazor is entering his second season with the Cavaliers. He came to Virginia after seven seasons in the NFL, most recently as the quarterbacks coach in 2008 and 2009 with the Seattle Seahawks.

With the Seahawks, Lazor coached Pro Bowler Matt Hasselback for two seasons. Prior to his stint in Seattle, Lazor spent four seasons with the Washington Redskins. During the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Lazor was the quarterbacks coach for Joe Gibbs. In his first two seasons in Washington, Lazor was an offensive assistant. He got his NFL start in 2003 under Dan Reeves as the Atlanta Falcons' offensive quality control coach.

Lazor's last collegiate stop was as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Buffalo in 2001 and 2002, just after the Bulls rejoined the FBS ranks in 1999. Prior to his days heading the Bulls' offense, Lazor spent seven seasons at his alma mater, Cornell.

Of note: He’s an Ivy Leaguer. Lazor graduated from Cornell in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in human development and family studies. Lazor was a three-year starting quarterback and graduated with 26 passing and total offensive school records. He was team captain in 1993 and Cornell’s MVP as a senior. He played in the 1994 Epson Ivy Bowl in Tokyo, Japan.

His challenge: Find a quarterback and make him a winner. Virginia enters summer camp still looking for a successor to Marc Verica, and there are four candidates to choose from. Michael Rocco and Ross Metheny are the only two who have played in games and have a combined 42 passing attempts. Michael Strauss was redshirted last year, and David Watford is a true freshman who showed some promise this spring but also made the expected freshmen mistakes. None of them have separated themselves, and there’s one thing Lazor can’t help them with -- leadership. Cornerback Chase Minnifield called the quarterbacks out at ACC media days and said he wanted to see more leadership from them. Mike London wants to see better decision-making. Virginia fans just want to see a starter. It’s Lazor’s job to coach ‘em up.

More in this series

Video: Virginia coordinator Bill Lazor

April, 12, 2011
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Heather Dinich talks with Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.

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