Virginia coach Mike London said on Wednesday's ACC teleconference that quarterback Phillip Sims "will more than likely be the starter" against Duke in place of Michael Rocco on Saturday. Sims injured his knee in last weekend's loss to Louisiana Tech, but has shown improvement in practice this week, according to London.
"This is the second day in a row he's moved around and done a nice job," London said. "He doesn't seem to be hampered by anything, so that's kind of the game plan right now."
Sims, who transferred from Alabama, will be making his first start of the season. He has thrown for five total touchdowns off the bench in the past three games with no interceptions. Rocco has thrown six touchdowns and eight interceptions. Heading into the season, London had said one of the things keeping Sims off the field was his knowledge of Virginia's offensive scheme. That's not the case anymore.
"The level that he's caught up is [showing] in his performance in games," London said. "Every week is always a better week in terms of his knowledge of the offense. Him having performed the last three and a half weeks or so, he deserved an opportunity to start a game, to get the reps at practice and get the concentration on the finer details of things. I think we feel pretty good [that] he's ready to handle those things of the offense, how to run it, and will match that with the physical skills and tools he has."
Duke coach David Cutcliffe said his team won't prepare much differently, as he expects Virginia to run the same offense it did with Rocco, but obviously tailor it to the strengths of Sims.
"It’s the same offense," Cutcliffe said. "They have a system, a very versatile system. Any coordinator will call something to the strength of a player, but not outside of their system."
Cutcliffe has his own quarterback questions to answer, as starter Sean Renfree suffered an elbow injury in last weekend's win against Wake Forest. On Sunday's teleconference, Cutcliffe said Renfree would be day-to-day. He said Renfree's status will next be updated on Thursday's injury report. Anthony Boone is Duke's backup.
"We won't change, disregard who's at quarterback," Cutcliffe said. "We're going to be who we are."