Watford vs. Lambert: the Showdown

What's the plan? - Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Who should start Saturday?

After a couple an eternity of rough games for the Wahoo Football team, Tiki and Caroline from the STL staff debate who should be Virginia's starting QB against Georgia Tech. Let us know in the comment section below who you think should start, and on twitter using the associated hashtags (#apologies if you #hate #hashtags).

The Case for Watford (#teamTiki):

I think we'll all agree that UVA's OL is terrible. The team averages barely 4 yards per carry, and gives up nearly 2 sacks per game even with a mobile QB. Furthermore, it's not like we have dynamic WRs that are capable of getting open or even...ya know...catching the ball. How many more sacks would we have given up if Watford hadn't been able to get out of the pocket and buy time? How many more completions would he have if our WRs could catch?

Look at the TD pass he threw to Darius Jennings in the BYU game. (Two minute mark of this video.) There isn't another QB on the roster who is capable of throwing that pass. He was out of the pocket, rolling right and he threw a bullet to the back corner of the endzone. Greyson Lambert doesn't have the wheels to get out there, and doesn't have the arm strength to throw that pass.

The problem with Watford isn't Watford. The problem with Watford is Steve Fairchild and the offensive coaching staff. Whoever is coming up with the gameplans for this team has their head up their ass (can I say ass on this site?). Running countless WR screens against defenses that aren't afraid of the deep ball doesn't make sense. It also requires intricate timing on the part of everybody involved. This is something that simply hasn't been there at all this season with such a young offense. To their credit, we've seen the WR screen less and less as the season has gone on. But, largely it has been replaced by hand-offs up the middle.

David Watford's biggest strength is his legs. The prospect of a running QB is the scariest thing for a defense. Defenses are used to accounting for just 10 guys on a running play. When the QB runs, that is an extra player that the defense must account for. This usually gives the offense an edge. Why haven't we seen the designed QB runs for Watford? Third and short? Maybe a QB draw? First and 10? How about a QB sweep with a few lead blockers?

Half the team's we've played this season have based their offense around the read-option. None of them, with the exception of Oregon, had a QB as dynamic as David Watford. But all of them used the read-option to put their QB in a position to succeed. We haven't done that. Watford has run the read-option maybe 5 times all year. Part of that is on Watford, because he seems to be not very good at the "read" part of the read-option. But that read is nearly impossible to learn in practice. Let him work on it in game situations. Maybe he'll make the wrong decision a few times, but when he makes the right decision, it's off to the races.
I don't know who the Hoos best QB for next year is. Greyson Lambert has a lot going for him. But right now, this year, there is no question that Watford is the only guy who can make the offense work. The offense just has to be one tailored for Watford. And that hasn't been the case yet this season.

The Case for Lambert (#teamCaroline)

I feel bad for Watford, I really do. I think he's a highly skilled player, and he has all of the great qualities that Tiki mentioned (very eloquently) above.

I just can't take anymore.

Watching the Duke game last week was like watching the wheels fall off of an 18-wheeler...one wheel at a time. While dropped passes have ABSOLUTELY been a plague on Virginia's offense this season, Watford has his flaws. Ill timed turnovers (not that any turnover is really welcomed...but ending a possible comeback with an interception is more painful) and just bad passes have happened more often than not. I have seen more high passes this season than I have pastel shorts at lax game, and that's not a stat to be proud of.

What Virginia needs right now (besides maybe some coaching changes and a Peyton Manning worthy offensive line) is a pocket passer. I miss Matt Schaub. Is it too much to ask to feel comfortable when the quarterback has the ball? Scrambling is an admirable skill, but the past 10 years have been reliant on that option, and my nerves can't take it anymore. Instead of relying on the scramble if the play fell apart, they're calling the scramble anticipating the play devolving into a fiery wreck.

Our anemic running game and withering offensive line definitely haven't helped Watford out, and Lambert does lack the arm strength that our current starter possesses. However, good ole Greyson has a really quick release, something that will hopefully negate (or at least help) the imploding pocket and reliance on the run game.

Once those quick passes connect with our wide receivers (who am I kidding? I mean Jake McGee), the running game should open up more. Right? Right? It's a perfect plan.

My other beef with Watford (read: Fairchild) is the lack of the 'read option'. Sure we run something that resembles a 'read option', but nobody anywhere on that field is reading anything.

I went to the spring game, and I was impressed with Lambert's composure and pocket presence then, as were a lot of the people in my section (all 13 of them). I'm not delusional enough to think that magically he is going to come off the bench and throw for 340 yards and 3TDs, but at this point we have to try something new.

What's that quote from Einstein? Oh yeah, "Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Well, we keep losing, and I'm beginning to feel like Mugatu with a fresh stash of crazy pills.
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