Redshirt sophomore David Watford will be Virginia’s starting quarterback.
Coach Mike London said Monday that he and new offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild called Watford and Greyson Lambert in on Sunday night and told them that Watford would be the starter. The decision came after the first week of practice, and after Watford was impressive in the team’s first live action scrimmage on Saturday.
"I don’t know if there was anything specific," Fairchild said, adding that all three quarterbacks played well. "David protected the ball, didn’t take a sack, got us in the right protections a few times, got us into the right runs a few times."
Watford played sparingly as a true freshman two seasons ago, completing just 30 of 74 passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. He redshirted last year when Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims shared the job in a revolving door situation that London pledged not to repeat this season.
"It’s his, and that’s the decision. He has to perform, but he doesn’t have to look over his shoulders," London said of the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Watford.
Watford was listed as the Cavaliers’ No. 1 quarterback after spring practice, and his experience and mobility as a dual threat were factors in the decision. London said Watford also received the most votes when the Cavaliers did balloting to pick members of the team’s leadership counsel for this season.
"I think that’s part of it," he said of Watford’s mobility, noting that the offense being installed does provide opportunities for the quarterback to run. "That’s a skill set that he has."
Lambert, a classic drop-back passer, has never appeared in a college game.
The mobility advantage is not just important for running plays, Fairchild said.
"We run the same offense for both guys," he said on a teleconference. "Mobility is a factor in college football. It’s not so much running plays as being able to just create plays that aren’t necessarily going well after the snap."
Rocco started eight games and Sims four last season, when Virginia finished 4-8. Rocco transferred to Richmond after the season, and Sims was dismissed from school during the summer.