ACC notebook: Virginia remains undecided at quarterback

Virginia unveiled its post-spring camp depth chart Monday without a defined starter named at quarterback.

The depth chart lists, in order: “David Watford or Greyson Lambert or Phillip Sims.” Coach Mike London and his staff refused to acknowledge a pecking order. But some reports suggest there’s more to the list than happenstance.

When Michael Rocco left a few months ago, it seemed like the natural next move would be to appoint Alabama transfer Phillip Sims as the new full-time starter. But that hasn’t happened.

Watford, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound sophomore, sat out last season but saw significant action in two games in 2011. In consecutive contests against Southern Mississippi and Idaho at home, Watford combined to complete 20 of 40 pass attempts for 176 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. On the season, he was 30-for-74 for 346 yards, three scores and four interceptions. 

Lambert is a 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman who was rated the No. 9 quarterback in the Class of 2012, according to The Jesup, Ga., native was also offered by Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and Miami, among others, but opted to play for London. Lambert reportedly has tremendous arm strength and sees the field well, but isn’t as quick as Watford and Sims. 

Sims, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior, was the No. 2 quarterback in the nation in 2010, but attempted just 28 passes in a backup role for the Crimson Tide before leaving for Virginia. The NCAA granted Sims a waiver to play right away last fall because of an illness to his father. He pushed Rocco and for a few weeks replaced him, turning in some decent numbers. 

For the season, Sims completed 114 of 203 pass attempts for 1,263 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. 

Watford started the spring game with the first team and many around the program believe he will get the nod when the Cavaliers open the season Aug. 21 against BYU. But London won’t make a definitive statement on the top spot.

“Trust me, we are committed to having our quarterback named in the early part of August, without a doubt,” London said. 

More of the same on The Flats

Georgia Tech played its annual spring game at night this season, going at it last Friday evening at Bobby Dodd Stadium. 

The Gold team beat the White team, 22-10, in a game that shouldn’t have surprised many Yellow Jacket fans. Paul Johnson didn’t have his team throw the ball all over the field, that’s just not the Jackets’ way. Instead, the team ran its triple option offense ramming dive play after dive play with some solid results. 

Sophomore quarterback Vad Lee completed just four of his 13 pass attempts for 34 yards, including a touchdown and an interception. He also gained 62 yards on nine carries, including a game-long 34-yard bolt. 

Overall, Georgia Tech’s teams combined to run the ball 79 times for 386 yards while passing for only 92. Ten different players had runs of 10 or more yards. Twenty-four of the 28 first downs were gained on the ground. 

Clemson suffers key loss

Clemson tight end Sam Cooper’s injury was overshadowed by backup quarterback Chad Kelly suffering the same injury during the Tigers’ spring game on April 13. Both Cooper and Kelly tore their ACLs in the public scrimmage.

Cooper started three games last season and was slated the starter this season. Unlike in some spread offenses, Clemson uses its tight ends a lot – 218 receptions by tight ends and 32 touchdowns in the last four seasons – and Cooper was going to be a big part of the offense. 

Cooper suffered his injury nine plays earlier in the scrimmage before Kelly did. Ironically, he caught a touchdown pass from Kelly in the game. 

“This was certainly going to be his time at tight end,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We have had quite a run of production at tight end the last few years. … Sam is the most experienced tight end we have and this is a tough loss. He was coming into his own.”