When Phillip Sims took the field last Saturday, Virginia was in the process of an epic meltdown of 31 unanswered points to Louisiana Tech, going from up 24-10 to down 41-24. Sims and a reenergized defense lead the comeback charge before ultimately falling 44-38 on what could only be described as a total lapse of judgment.
One thing about such a meltdown is that it sparks change. In this case, it sparks a kind of change that the Virginia fan base has been clamoring for for several games now. In the minds of most Virginia fans, QB Michael Rocco had a short leash from the beginning. It's fine if the Hoos are winning, but starting with the first loss, there was just too much hype surrounding the Alabama transfer to be ignored. It didn't matter if mistakes were made that was not Rocco's fault. It only mattered that Sims be given the chance to live up to the hype.
That chance is now.
"It is hard sometimes when you have a son that you have to guard against," London said Monday during his weekly Coach's Corner radio show. "Their hopes dreams and aspirations. I understand that, [but] this is football and we have to get our best players on the field. Michael's done a great job for us."
"Michael's been fantastic throughout all of this process," London said. "We understand that you have to be able to perform and perform at a high level. It's just that Phillip has performed - every time he's gone in, he's performed well."
On this week's released depth chart, the quarterback for Saturday's contest against Duke is listed as Michael Rocco OR Phillip Sims. So what does that mean?
"If you remember the scramble at the sideline, [Phil] took a blow to his leg and we wanted to make sure that he's able to function and move around as well as he needs to. So it's listed as ‘OR' because if he's one hundred percent and ready to go, then he will get the snaps with the first team unit. If he's not because he can't perform because of the lower leg injury, then obviously you have to Michael be in that position to run the helm there. So that's why it's listed as ‘OR.' It's as honest as I can be about the situation. We want everyone to know that we want what's best for the team as well."
According to reports, Sims did indeed take first team reps on Tuesday, so it appears that, at least so far, his injury is not limiting and that he will likely get the start this upcoming week.
On Saturday, Sims completed 10/17 of his passes (58.8%) and threw for 166 yards (9.8 per completion). He had two touchdowns and no interceptions. Rocco completed 14/23 (60.9%) and threw for 278 yards (12.1 per completion), but threw for two touchdowns and three interceptions. (Outperforming both of them was Perry Jones, who threw a perfect 1/1, averaging 36 yards per completion. He also ran for 18 carries and 82 yards.)
"If [Sims's] leg is okay, if he goes in and performs well, then he performs well," London said. "If not, back to the same situation."
The Rocco-Sims saga is nowhere close to complete. But it appears that the near-comeback from Saturday was enough to turn the page to the next chapter. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure, at the end of the day you might end right back to where you started, or on a space ship, but that's part of the fun of the journey.