Virginia held its 2011 Football Media Days today, where the media got a great opportunity to hear from the coaches and some of the players.
Much of the information today is things we had already heard about - and frankly a lot of it was the fluff that regular media outlets just need to fill their columns with - but there were a few tidbits that jumped out. We've got some nuggets about the quarterback situation, running back, defense and special teams Let's take a look
The Quarterback "Situation"
I'm just going to go ahead and get this one out of the way. Just about every coach and player was asked about the quarterback situation. The answers were the same as they have been: It's still up in the air.
Coach Lazor stated that all four (Rocco, Metheny, Strauss and Watford) will have equal opportunities to show where they are now after the spring. He stated that the coaches will let the situation play itself out. They want to have a decision sooner, rather than later, but they still want it to play itself out.
It sounds to me like they already have an idea of who the starter will be and who the backup will be. But they're going to give all of them a chance to show if any of that has changed since the spring. Remember, the coaches haven't been able to work with the players since spring practices ended, so their progress (particularly that of a young player like Watford) is probably a little hard to gauge until they get on the practice field again.
It sounds like Kevin Parks will be the Keith Payne replacement (convenient, given their initials) in the "thunder and lightning" combination with Perry Jones. Lazor talked briefly about how much he wanted to be on the field last year and how ready he is this year. I'm sure other backs will get looks during fall camp, but Parks looks to be the complement to Jones at this point.
I thought it was interesting that Coach Reid said that the defense last year had been simplified for the transition to 4-3 and the new staff... and that that had been a mistake. According to him, the defense this year will have all of the challenges and complexities that are supposed to be there.
I'm not sure whether that makes me excited or scared. If the defense performed so poorly with the simplified scheme, how will they handle the complex scheme? Or is it that it was too simplified and that made it difficult for the players to be successful? I guess we'll find out in about a month.
It sounds like Rijo Walker will definitely be in the mix in the backfield this year. That makes sense given that he got time on the field as a freshman last year, but its good to see that the staff still feels similarly after spring ball.
It was noted that the team returns pretty much the entire kicking unit intact - punter, kickoffs and field goals as well as the holder - but the long snapper will be different. Replacing Danny Aiken is something Coach Dex says has been keeping him up at night.
Probably one of the more interesting tidbits from Dex was that he mentioned three true freshmen (Jennings, Terrell and Richardson) as potential punt and kick returners this year. No idea whether that means they're just being looked at when fall camp starts or if they really will be squarely in the mix (since its likely that some or all of them will be on the field on offense anyway).
Mike London Note
I had to mention one non-football related topic: It should be noted that Coach London mentioned that his dad was not doing well. When talking about his dad (Wilson London), he became visibly emotional. We should all keep London, his dad and his family in our thoughts.
That's all for now. The players report to the coaches tomorrow and the first public practice is on Friday. Go Hoos!